Virginian II (ScStr)
The second Virginian, a transport, was originally built as the steel-hulled, twin-screw steamship Maine. Completed in 1903 at Sparrows Point, Md., by the Maryland Steel Co., Maine was operated by the Atlantic Transportation Co. until 1908. In that year, she was acquired by the American-Hawaiian Steamship Co. and renamed Virginian. Except for the brief period of service with the Navy in 1919, Virginian remained with that company, homeported in New York, into the 1940's.
Early in 1919, the Navy acquired the steamship for service with the Cruiser and Transport Force, United States Atlantic Fleet. She was commissioned at Hoboken, N.J., on 1 February 1919, Lt. Comdr. John S. Greene in command, and, soon thereafter, shifted to Fletcher's Dry Dock Co., Hoboken, for alterations and repairs. She remained at Fletcher's yard through the end of February.
On 11 March, Virginian got underway and anchored in New York harbor, abreast the Statue of Liberty. She then moved to pier 7, Bush Terminal, Brooklyn, N.Y., where she took on board cargo, billet steel, oats, and potatoes, and provisions for her crew. Repairs and alterations, necessary to convert the erstwhile merchant steamer to a troop ship, continued apace until she backed clear of her berth at 1713 on 21 March, with orders to proceed independently to France.
Virginian dropped anchor off Charpentier Point, near St. Nazaire, on 3 April, and shifted to that key seaport the following day. She unloaded her cargo there for the next two days before she began embarking Army troops for transport back to the United States. Her passengers included 74 officers and 4,097 men, from units that ranged from the 362d Infantry Machine Gun Co. to the 127th Convalescent Detachment. She got underway at 0740 on 8 April to return to the United States.
Arriving at the north side of Army dock number 7, Hoboken, on the morning of 20 April, Virginian discharged the troops before shifting to the Morse Dry Docks, Brooklyn, for repairs to her propellers. She shifted back to the Army dock at Hoboken on the 27th, only to get underway three days later to pick up returning Doughboys for passage home.
Virginian reached St. Nazaire on the afternoon of 11 May, took on board 56 officers and 4,069 men, and departed that port on the 13th, bound for Hampton Roads. After a 12-day passage, the transport moored at the C&O docks at Newport News on the afternoon of 25 May and had all of the troops disembarked within an hour. After a brief period of upkeep and repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va., Virginian again set sail for France.
The troop transport subsequently conducted two more round-trip voyages, bringing back men from "over there." She took the third group of troops back to Hampton Roads (the third voyage lasting from 1 to 25 June) and the fourth and final one to Hoboken (the voyage taking from 1 July to 3 August). After discharging the last troops, by 0945 on 4 August, Virginian began to prepare for demobilization. Over the next fortnight, yard workmen and ship's company bent to the task of taking down troop fittings, performing routine maintenance tasks, discharging ballasts, cleaning holds, and inventorying equipment. At 1600 on 19 August 1919, Virginian was decommissioned and formally turned over to the representative of the American-Hawaiian Steamship Co., Capt. John S. Greene (who had, incidentally, been the transport's first commanding officer). She subsequently resumed her mercantile service with the American-Hawaiian shipping firm, serving into the late 1940's. Her name ultimately disappeared from period shipping registers at the end of the decade.