Naval History and Heritage Command

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Zeelandia (Id. No. 2507)

1918-1919

The Navy retained the name carried by this ship at the time of her acquisition.

(Id. No. 2507: displacement 11,500 (normal); length 440' (regular); beam 55'7"; draft 27'; depth of hold 34'; speed 15 knots; complement 322; troops 781; armament 4 6-inch, 2 1-pounders, 2 machine guns)

Zeelandia -- a steel-hull, twin-screw passenger and cargo steamship completed in 1910 at Glasgow, Scotlland, by A. Stephens & Sons, Ltd. --  was operated in transatlantic service by the Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd line prior to the First World War. On 23 March 1918, three days after President Woodrow Wilson had issued a proclamation authorizing the Navy's acquisition of vessels of Netherlands' Registry, Third Naval District reopresentatives inspected the steamship and recommended that she be taken over for use as a troop transport. Consequently, given the identification number (Id. No.) 2507, Zeelandia was commissioned at New York on 3 April 1918, Cmdr. Robert Henderson in command.

Assigned to the Newport News Division of the Transport Force, Zeelandia carried troops across the Atlantic during the remaining months of World War I. She made five round-trip voyages to French ports between commissioning and the Armistice, 11 November 1918.

During those voyages, Zeelandia carried a total of 8,349 passengers, mostly troops, to Europe. Though she claimed to have sighted and engaged German U-boats on several occasions during her wartime service, only one encounter was verifiable. That event occurred at dusk on 31 August 1918 when a submarine surfaced to attack the convoy in which she cruised. The attacker, however, could not press home his attack because of zigzag tactics and a moderately strong escort.

The steamer remained in naval service between 11 November 1918 and 31 July 1919, making seven voyages between Europe and America returning troops home after the war. During those voyages, she repatriated 15,737 American soldiers and carried 3,170 passengers to Europe. On 31 July 1919, she was transferred to the custody of the Commandant, Third Naval District for disposal.

Zeelandia was decommissioned and stricken from the Navy list on 6 October 1919. She was simultaneously returned to her owner.

Published: Mon Dec 14 12:26:09 EST 2015