Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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President Warfield
(IX-169: t. 1,814; l. 320-; b. 56-6-; dr. 18-6-; s. 15 k.; cpl. 70; trp. 400)

S. Davies Warfield, president of Old Bay Line, Chesapeake Bay, and uncle of the Duchess of Windsor, wife of the former Edward VIII, King of England in 1936.

Built in 1928 for the Baltimore Steam Packet Co. by Pusey and Jones Corp., Wilmington, Del., S.S. President Warfield carried passengers and freight between Norfolk, Va., and Baltimore, Md., before being acquired by the War Shipping Administration at Baltimore 12 July 1942, and converted to a transport craft for transfer to the British Ministry of War Transport.

Manned by a British merchant crew led by Capt. J. R. Williams, she departed St. John-s, Newfoundland, 21 September 1942, with other small passenger steamers bound for the United Kingdom. Attacked by a German submarine 800 miles west of Ireland on the 25th, she evaded one torpedo, and, after the scattering of her convoy, reached Belfast, Ireland. In Britain, she served as a barracks and training ship on the Torrige River at Instow.

Returned by Britain, she joined the U.S. Navy as President Warfield 21 May 1944. In July 1944 she served as a station and accommodations ship at Omaha Beach, France. Following duty in England and on the Seine River, she arrived Norfolk, Va., 25 July 1945, and left active Navy service 13 September. Struck from the Naval Vessel Register 11 October and returned to the War Shipping Administration 14 November 1945, she was sold 9 November 1946, to the Potomac Shipwrecking Co. of Washington, D.C., an agent of the Jewish political group Haganah.

Departing Baltimore 25 February 1947, she headed for the Mediterranean. Loaded 12 July 1947 with 4,500 Jewish refugees bound for Palestine, she departed Sete, France, but came under the surveillance of British warships ordered to prevent further immigration into Palestine. Under master Itzak Aronowitz, she was renamed Exodus 1947. Upon arrival in Palestinian waters, she was conducted by British warships into Haifa Harbor. Her port side had been damaged by a nudge from a British warship, and her passengers were denied entry into Palestine.

When Israel achieved independence 14 May 1948, Exodus 1947 remained moored to a breakwater at Haifa Harbor. Selected by Leon Uris for the title of his novel Exodus, she later burned to the waterline 26 August 1952, and was towed to Shemen Beach, Haifa. In 1963 she was raised and scrapped by an Italian firm.