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Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42)


(AP-42: displacement 12,568; length 535'; beam 72'2"; draft 27'8"; speed 16.5 knots; complement 235; troop capacity 2,435)

Tasker H. Bliss, born at Lewisburg, Pa., on 31 December 1853, attended the United States Military Academy at West Point where he graduated in 1875 with a reputation for brilliance. He taught at West Point and at the Naval War College in the 1880's and was an advisor to Secretary of War Elihu Root in his reorganization of the Army. Although promotion in the peacetime Army was slow, his record was such that he became Assistant Chief of Staff in 1915 and Chief of Staff in 1917 shortly after the United States entered World War I. As Chief of Staff, Bliss played a key role in the swift mobilization of American forces for combat. He retired in May 1918 and died in Washington, D.C., on 9 November 1930.

Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42) was built in 1921 as President Cleveland in Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., and was owned and operated as a passenger liner by the American President Lines. The steamship was chartered by the Army in July 1941 and renamed Tasker H. Bliss. She was converted for troop use and made five Pacific voyages for the Army before being routed on to Baltimore, Md., where she arrived on 15 August 1942. There, the ship was transferred to the Navy on 19 August 1942; was converted for use as a Navy transport by the Maryland Drydock Co., Baltimore, Md.; and was commissioned on 15 September 1942, Comdr. Gerald L. Schetky in command.

Tasker H. Bliss arrived at Norfolk on 22 September and joined Task Force 34. After loading troops and equipment to participate in Operation "Torch," the invasion of North Africa, the ships of the task force sailed on 24 and 25 October for the coast of Morocco.

Tasker H. Bliss was assigned to Task Group 34.9, Center Attack Group, and arrived off Fedhala, Morocco, on 8 November. On the evening of 12 November, she was riding at anchor in Fedhala Roads when the. German submarine U-130 slipped in among the ships and fired five torpedoes at three transports. All torpedoes hit their targets, and they burst into flames. The victims were Edward Rutledge (AP-52), Hugh L. Scott (AP-43), and Tasker H. Bliss. All were abandoned, and the first two sank shortly; but Tasker H. Bliss burned until 0230 the next morning and then sank. She was struck from the Navy list on 7 December 1942.

Tasker H. Bliss received one battle star for World War II service.

Published: Wed Apr 26 14:45:23 EDT 2023