Naval History and Heritage Command

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West Alsek (Id. No. 3119)


(Id. No. 3119: displacement 12,226; length 423'9"; beam 54'0"; depth of hold 29'9"; draft 24'2" (mean); speed 10.5 knots; complement 99; armament 1 4-inch, 1 6-pounder)

West Alsek, a single-screw, steel-hulled freighter built under a United States Shipping Board (USSB) contract at Seattle, Wash., by Skinner & Eddy Corp., was launched on 4 May 1918; acquired by the Navy for duty with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS); assigned identification number (Id. No. 3119); and commissioned on 4 June 1918, Lt. Cmdr. J. S. Gibson, USNRF, in command.

West Alsek departed the Pacific Northwest on 15 June 1918, with 7,067 tons of flour on board, for New York, where she arrived on 16 July. Soon after her arrival, she formed up with Convoy HB-8, eastbound for French ports, and got underway on 1 August. On the 15th, two weeks out of New York, German U-boats U-90 and U-107 singled out Montanan and West Bridge (Id. No. 2888), respectively, and torpedoed them, the former sank the following day, but the latter, after great feats of navigation and seamanship, reached Brest under tow on the 22nd. Meanwhile, West Alsek and the remaining vessels in convoy continued on to France, arriving at Verdon-sur-Mer on 18 August, and unloaded their cargo before heading back to the United States.

Arriving at New York soon thereafter, West Alsek departed again on 27 October 1918 with a slow convoy for Quiberon and Nantes, France. She remained at the latter port unloading from 15 November to 30 December before sailing on 30 December for the American east coast.

West Alsek reached New York on 19 January 1919 and was soon placed in line for demobilization. On 27 January, she was decommissioned and returned to the USSB, in whose custody she remained until abandoned due to age and deterioration in 1933.

Robert J. Cressman

3 Deember 2015

Published: Thu Dec 03 10:06:50 EST 2015