(Id.No. 1614: displacement 36,905; length 608'0"; beam 73'4"; draft 37'4"; speed 17 knots; armament none)
The steamship Minnesota, a large passenger-cargo ship, was built in 1904 at New London, Conn., for railroad tycoon James J. Hill's Great Northern Steamship Company. She made forty round trip voyages between the U.S. West Coast and the Far East between January 1905 and October 1915. Although Japanese competition and the doubling of her insurance rates following the loss of her sister Dakota in 1907 rendered Minnesota commercially unprofitable during those years, the First World War appeared to promise better opportunities for her enormous cargo-carrying capacity. Accordingly, in November 1915, Minnesota attempted to steam to the U.S. East Coast via Cape Horn. Her boilers gave out early in the voyage, however, and she was towed into San Francisco, Calif., to spend all of 1916 under repair and awaiting settlement of legal actions against her owner.
Sold in January 1917 to the Atlantic Transport Company of West Virginia, a line controlled by J. P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine Company, Minnesota finally reached New York, N.Y., in March, steaming by way of the Panama Canal. She was then armed with four four-inch guns in accordance with measures authorized for merchant ships by the U.S. government and received a U.S. Navy armed guard gun crew. The ship began her first trans-Atlantic passage late in March 1917 and was in English waters when the United States declared war on Germany in April.
During the remainder of the conflict, Minnesota completed seven more round-trip voyages between the U.S. and the United Kingdom. During one of her calls at New York in 1917, she was inspected for possible Navy use and was assigned the identification number (Id. No.) 1614.- Following the end of hostilities, her guns and Navy armed guard were removed
In early 1919, the U.S. Navy chartered Minnesota to help bring troops home from Europe. Renamed Troy in mid-February, she was placed in commission at the Army's Bush Terminal in Brooklyn, N.Y., on 27 February 1919 , Lt. Cmdr. Thomas W. Garlick, USNRF, in command.
On 28 February 1919, Troy moved to Fletcher's Dock in Hoboken, N.J., for conversion from a passenger and cargo ship to a troop transport. She remained there until moving to an Army pier at Hoboken on 1 May to complete conversion and prepare for the first of her three Navy trooping voyages. Troy sailed from Hoboken on 9 May and anchored in the roadstead at Brest on 22 May. The water barges Rintintin and Nancy and the Army supply ship King Fisher moved in to service her and the tenders Smeaton, Tudno, and Nenette then brought out a total of 134 officers and 5,735 enlisted men. By the evening of the 22nd Troy was underway back to the United States. She arrived at the Army pier at Hoboken on 3 June and disembarked her troops after waiting for the transport Imperator (Id.No. 4080) to clear her berth. She then sailed on 4 June to Boston for drydocking.
Troy departed Boston on her second trooping voyage on 10 June 1919 and anchored at Brest on 19 June. The water barges Nenette and Rintintin brought her fresh water on the 19th, and on the 20th, the tenders Amackassin, Knickerbocker, and Tudno brought out a total of 112 officers, 5,632 enlisted men, and 20 Army civilians. Troy departed Brest on 20 June and delivered her passengers to Hoboken on 30 June.
Underway again for Brest on 5 July 1919, the transport anchored there on 15 July. The tenders Nomadic and Traffic and the tug Adler with a barge ferried 134 officers and 2,263 men out to the ship on 9 and 10 August. Troy sailed from Brest later on 10 August and disembarked her troops at the Army's Bush Terminal in Brooklyn on 20 August.
Troy was decommissioned on 15 September 1919 and was returned to her owners, again becoming Minnesota. Although soon converted from coal to oil fuel for post-war commercial operation, the ship never resumed active service. She was used as a floating isolation hospital at New York during the great Spanish Influenza pandemic and was sold for scrapping in Germany in November 1923.
Stephen S. Roberts
11 December 2012