Hosted websites will become read-only beginning in early 2024. At that time, all logins will be disabled, but hosted sites will remain on RootsWeb as static content. Website owners wishing to maintain their sites must migrate to a different hosting provider before 2024 (More info)
WWI Ships Histories main page

Troopships, Battleships, Subs, Cruisers, Destroyers

A History of how the United States Navy moved the Army to the war in Europe during WWI

In Convoy to the War Zone. Just before sun set, "The Danger Hour"

US Navy Armored Cruisers

USS South Dakota/Huron She carried the 56th Regiment CAC home from France.

USS Maryland/Frederick WWI Armored Cruiser and the USS Maryland/Frederick Ships Muster page

USS Colorado/Pueblo WWI Armored Cruiser and the USS Pueblo during WWI page

USS West Virginia/Huntington WWI Armored Cruiser

USS California/San Diego The only major US Warship lost to enemy action during WWI

USS Pennsylvania/USS Pittsburgh Cruiser that was the first ship that an airplane took off from and landed on

USS Tennessee/Memphis

USS Washington/Seattle

USS Montana/Missoula

USS North Carolina/Charlotte

US Navy Protected Cruisers

USS St. Louis Protected Cruiser

USS Columbia WWI Convoy escort ship.

USS Charleston WWI Protected Cruiser, See page 2 for the 1918 crew list.

USS Galveston A "Peace Cruiser" (page 1, page 2)

US Navy Destroyers / Torpedo Boats

USS McDougal DD-54 WWI "Thousand Tonner"

USS Ericsson DD-56 WWI "Thousand Tonner"

USS Jenkins Flivver Type Destroyer

USS Terry Flivver Type Destroyer

US Navy Battleships

USS Minnesota A Great White Fleet Battleship

USS Virginia A Great White Fleet Battleship

US Navy Sub Chasers, Gunboats & Minelayers

Sub Chaser SC110 These hearty little wooden hull ships protected the troopships during the crossings

USS Princeton Spanish-American War Gunboat

USS Aphrodite A converted civilian yacht used as a convoy escort ship

USS Housatonic One of the Minelayers that laid the North Sea Mine Barrage

British Royal Navy Cruisers

HMS Roxburgh British Royal Navy Convoy Escort ship

Former German Passenger Ships used by the US Navy as Troopships

USS Mercury A seized german Ship used as an Troop Transport ship for the AEF

USS Madawaska A seized german Ship used as an Troop Transport ship for the AEF

USS Covington She carried the 58th Regiment CAC to France

USS Zeppelin Future President Harry Truman returned from France on this ship

USS Aeolus Used as an Troop Transport ship for the AEF. She carried the 75th CAC back from France

USS Princess Matoika A siezed German ship used as a troopship

USS Nansemond A siezed German ship used as a troopship

USS President Lincoln A siezed German ship used as a troopship and later was sunk

Ships used by the US Navy as Troopships and Cargo Ships

USS Radnor This is the ship that my grandfather, Cpl. Edington returned from France on in May of 1919

USS Henry R Mallory This is the ship that carried Cpl. Edington to France in March of 1918

USS Henry R. Mallory USMC Survivor Stories and Stories of Men who died when She was sank 7 Feb. 1943

USS Henry R. Mallory Navy Survivor Stories and Stories of Men who died when She was sank 7 Feb. 1943

USS Henry R. Mallory Army Survivor Stories and Stories of Men who died when She was sank 7 Feb. 1943

USS Henry R. Mallory Merchant Marine Survivor Stories and Stories of Men who died when She was sank 7 Feb. 1943

USS Henry R. Mallory Masters and Commanders Histories of the Mallory's Civillian Masters and Wartime Officers

USS Mongolia She took the first official action of the war by sinking a German sub with one of her deck guns

USS Rijndam A Dutch ship used as a troopship

USS Celtic Fleet Provisions Store Ship

British Ships used to Carry US Troops

HMS Andania She carried the 57th Regiment CAC to France in August of 1917

HMS Otranto A collision that took the lives of 431 including 351 American soldiers

HMS Cardiganshire She carried the 2nd TM Bn to France

HMS Anselm British ship that carried American troops

RMS Cedric British White Star Liner that carried American troops

German U-boats

U-86 German U-boat that sank the USS Covington

U-90 The German U-boat that sank the USS President Lincoln

U-117 German U-boat that mined and nearly sank the USS Minnesota

U-156 The German U-boat that sank the USS San Diego

U-111 A German U-boat used during Victory Loan Bond Drives

Misc. Ships

HMS John Ebbs WWI English Trawler.

SS Strathfillian A Tramp Steamer

HMS Campanula British Royal Navy Corvette of WWII

Dewey Drydock A famous US Navy floating drydock of the Asiatic and Pacific Fleets

Fall River Steamer SS Plymouth A Fall River Night Boat

SS Dresden (1) a Norddeutscher Lloyd Line ship

The following is a reprint of a booklet that each soldier was given when he crossed the Atlantic. The voyage was not a easy one for the troops as crowed conditions and the thought of an attack by a u-boat and death in the cold Atlantic made it that much more difficult. For some the time on the Atlantic may have been a time to reflect what fate awaited him once the crossing was complete and for others it was just a daily struggle to keep your head up. Still for others this may have been the first time away from home. I hope that this page can shed some light on what the soldier of WWI went through on his voyage across the Big Pond.


B. B. Brown, U.S.N.R.F. Published for the National War Work Council of the Young Men’s Christian Associations of the United States. (Y.M.C.A.) 1918

Living Quarters

The voyage of a troopship may occupy an actual time anywhere from 10 days to three weeks; therefore as it is compulsory to remain on board a ship for that length the time, why not inquire into the matter before hand, and secure for yourself that peace of mind that comes with the possession of it accurate knowledge period during which you must remain on board can also be taken advantage of to improve yourself, but first of all, those measures should be learned which will ensure the safety of the ship and above all, the safety of those on board. Therefore I cannot urge upon you to strongly the necessity of acquiring before hand knowledge of that which will be demanded of every man in this expedition.

When you arrive at the gangway of the troopship, before embarking, you will be handed a slip of paper. This slip of paper is known as a "Billet". Do not, under any conditions, part with this, as it proves that you have the right to be on board that ship. It also tells you where you live, sleep, and eat while you are on board. In addition, it contains a few short instructions on how to get about on that particular ship, for there are hardly any to ships that are constructed alike internally.

A Typical Troop Billet Card showing the soldiers Bunk Number. This one is for the USS Radnor. Typical troop Billet Card back with the instructions for Troops printed.
During the voyage each soldier had to fill out a card that would, in the event that they had made it safely, be mailed back to thier family to let them know that they had arrived across the Atlantic and were safe. This is an example of such a card with the soldiers family address on the front side. This is an American Red Cross card and is quite typical of those used during the Atlantic crossings.
This is the reverse side of the card and the information is simple and only contained the soldiers name and unit. For obvious reasons the name of the ship is not given. This card is from a Lt. Gilman Drake of the 61st Artillery CAC. 1st Lt Gilman J. Drake sailed to France aboard the SS Wilhelmina, and was the second in command of Battery C of the 61st Artillery.

When you pass over the gang way and step on board, you will be directed to what is known as the "Berthing space". This is the place where you will live, eat, and sleep during the time you are on the vessel.

The bunk to which you will be assigned consists, essentially, of a strip of good, strong canvas hemmed it down the sides. A piece of iron pipe is thrust through this hem on both sides of the ends of these are supported by four iron uprights. There are usually three or four bunks together, won over the other, and this is known as a "standee". Each bunk bears a number, and this number must correspond with the number on your "billet". Each bunk contains one life preserver and this is also marked with a number, which also corresponds with the number on your "billet". So all three numbers agree, and you'll find that you'll be able to keep track of these things easily in this way. The bunks, you will find, are not all that unpleasant to sleep on. They are about 6 ft. long and about 3 ft. wide on the average, and are always clean out and disinfected after each voyage. The life preserver can be used as a pillow and, having it there, you will enjoy an added feeling of security.

Washrooms on the ship are designed so as to be as near your berthing space as possible. They are equipped with washbasins, and as fresh water is a very scarce article aboard ship, it is given out daily in small quantities to both officers and enlisted men of both services. Bring your own shaving outfit with you, as you will find that the barbershop space aboard ship is very limited and can accommodate but very few men at a time. It would be well, also, for every man to have his hair cut in military fashion before he leaves the port of Embarkation.

Smoking is absolutely taboo in the birthing spaces, for obvious reasons. Tobacco smoke in confined places has a sickening odor, and then there is always the danger of fire.

While on the subject of fire, I think it would be well to say a few words concerning it. Fires aboard ship are usually easily controlled, because ships have the most efficient fire fighting apparatus known. Powerful pumps down in the engine room of the ship, capable of delivering a pressure of several hundred pounds to the square inch, are tested out daily. You will find a fire plug, plainly marked, in each one of the berthing spaces, and it is all connected up, and all you have to do is to lead out the hose in turn on the water. In addition to this there are chemical extinguishers in every corner, and it would be well for you to familiarize yourself with the location of these.

Everything concerned with these birthing spaces is designed for your health and comfort, not forgetting your safety. Learned the various exits and entrances as soon as practicable after arriving aboard, so that you will not become confused in the event of an emergency.

Warships were also used to transport troops across the Atlantic. Here on the deck of what looks to be a Battleship simular to the USS Minnesota, are three doughboys posing for the folks back home.

Ship Construction

Ships are constructed on certain well-defined principles, which are governed entirely by the kind of service in which they will be engaged. A ship designed to carry grain in large quantities would hardly be suitable for the passenger trade. Practically all of the ships that are being used by us as troopships were formerly German passenger ships. They have been remodeled and made it suitable for the particular service to which they are now assigned, and as they were all originally engaged in the same kind of service when they were merchantmen; it follows that an explanation of the construction of one would suffice for nearly all.

A ship may be likened to a house afloat. It has its kitchens, which are called "Galleys", bathrooms, which are called "Heads", and floors, which are called "Decks". To learn the names of all parts of the ship would consume much time and would be quite as difficult as learning a new language; it is not necessary, but you should learn the names of those parts which will figure it in your actions daily.

A ship is practically built up of bulkheads and decks, one placed above the other. The number of decks and bulkheads varies with the size, tight, and character of the ship, but the system of naming them has been standardized and it is no longer a difficult matter to discover which deck you're standing on. The new methods is as follows: The decks are lettered from the upper deck downward, as "A" deck, "B" deck, "C" deck, etc., according to the number of decks that the ship possesses.

The "Compartments" of a ship, which are merely parts of the ship divided off by bulkheads, cause a vessel to resemble a honeycomb, built on a grand scale. Many doors and passageways connect these compartments and provide access to and from them. These "Compartments" are not named, but they also have a system whereby they can be easily located. They are numbered and the following method is now in use: The compartments are known as "Spaces", troop and crew, and each series of spaces has its own series of numbers. For example, troops space "E 1" and crew space "E 1" are two separate and distinct compartments, but both are on the same deck, for the designating letter "E" shows that it is on that the deck bearing that letter, which must be the fifth deck counting from the top, and the number "1" designates that it is the first space on that deck counting from forward. It is a simple matter to master this little detail, for you will soon notice that the troop spaces contain bunks and the other spaces do not, hence you can distinguish easily the difference between the two.

Troops walking up the gangway and heading for the home.

The Troops At Sea

When you're ship leaves the port of embarkation there will be no noisy demonstration attending it. More than likely you'll be tucked away in your bunk sleeping soundly, and dreaming of adventures awaiting you across the sea. The ship will slip quietly away from the pier and head downstream, and in the morning when you're arise and proceed on deck; you will be greeted with the sight of a broad expanse of water. Let us hope and suppose that it is a calm, clear day, and that nothing more than a gentle heave of the ship is all that is apparent. It will be a peculiar sensation at first if you have never been to sea before, and one thing that is never likely to be forgotten. But soon you'll become accustomed to it, and will learn to walk the decks as the sailors do, by spreading your feet apart, and by throwing your weight first on one side and then on the other.

You will be assailed with a terrible appetite, and you will now welcome the call to breakfast. As you go into the place set aside for mess, you'll pass long rows of large kettles, which are giving off savory odors, and as you walk by with your mess pan, you will receive your meal in the same manner as you do while in camp. The meal being over, you will be shown where you can clean out your mess kit. This apparatus consists simply of long tubs, filled with hot water. You dip your pan into the water, rinse it out, and the job is done. Mealtime is always a happy time aboard ship and I know that the reader will agree with me when he has settled down to a good old "Regulation dinner".

The Trail Of The Convoy

When the American battleship fleet made its memorable trip around the world, it was stated by an authority on naval matters at the time, that the path of these vessels could be clearly traced by the distinct trail of the refuse, which was thrown overboard during the progress of the voyage. And it is for this reason alone that it is prohibited to throw anything overboard while the ship is at sea. The captain of a submarine can tell almost to the minute when the refuse was dropped, because of its character, he can tell the number of ships that have passed from the number of trails left behind; and if his powers of observation are keen enough, he may tell the approximate size of the ship by the amount floating at different intervals.

So now it must be quite clear to you why these things are all considered in modern warfare. They may seem trivial to the uninitiated, but it is just because our enemy has proved himself such a master of detail, that we must expend every effort to outwit him, and this is only possible by thinking before you act.

Receptacles are provided for rubbish, and this is collected at certain times during the day, taken to the fire room, and burned. So strict is this order that guards are distributed about the decks with orders to arrest anyone who does not comply with it.

Smoking and Lights

It has already been stated that smoking is prohibited in the birthing spaces, and the reasons given their four. The smoking it proposition is a serious matter and too much thought cannot be given to it.

Smoking is allowed during the day only, out on the open decks, but the smokers are not allowed to throw their cigar stubs overboard. Certain places are provided for smoking and entertainment in the evening and NO SMOKING is allowed on the open decks at night. The ship must be made as nearly invisible as possible at night, and in the words of the poet,

"Our sailing was suspicious as we slipped away at night,
They corked up all the funnels and they doused each vagrant light,
As we slipped away to Europe with water, wind, and Steam,
To sail the grand old ocean in the fall of '17".

It is a well-known fact that the glow of a cigarette may be seen at a distance of one-half mile, hence the precautionary measure, for anything that designates the whereabouts of the ship at night makes her a target for the first submarine that happens all along. Vigorous steps are taken to prevent this occurrence and anyone, be he officer or enlisted man, who disobeys the regulation, is dealt with summarily, and usually finishes the balance of the voyage under guard and therefore under suspicion. Take no chances, and arrest ANY person you see about the decks showing a light of any character, for the entire safety of the ship may depend upon your watchfulness, and you will be up held in every case.

Matches and pocket electric lamps are strictly prohibited aboard the ship, and should you possess one of the latter, turn it over to some competent authority, immediately upon your arrival on board. Patent cigar lighters are provided for the use of troops and only these must be used.


A lookout is a person who is stationed in some particular place about the ship, whose duty it is to observe and report all that takes place around him. The movements of other ships, and anything that is seen floating submerged in the water, no matter how trivial it may seem, should be immediately reported. A periscope of a submarine may be concealed by a pork barrel or a log of wood may have a mine attached to it and a mine, by the way, is nothing more than a steel container charged with a high explosive so arranged that when any object strikes it an explosion follows, with disastrous consequences to the object struck. It takes a force of only 9 lbs. to explode a modern mine, so it becomes apparent that the vigilance of the lookouts is of the utmost importance. In addition to the regular lookouts stationed about the Ship, every person on board should consider himself a self-appointed look out.

On most of the ships there is some method of central control, which can be likened to the central of the telephone system in your hometown. You called Central and he transmits the news to someone in authority, who knows exactly what to do. The ship is divided it up it equally among the lookouts and each one of these equal parts is known as a " sector". A sector constitutes a lookout station. Assuming yourself to be standing in the center of a circle, which may be divided into 360 equal parts, each called a degree; you can easily see that assigning a certain number of degrees to the station makes a sector. When, therefore, the lookout telephones into central that he is on station number so-and-so, and that he sees an object bearing a certain number of degrees away from him, and this information is passed on to the navigators of the ship, they know exactly where to look for the danger and so can avoid it.

In order to facilitate the lookouts stating the exact bearing, or position, of an object from him, there is placed in every lookout station a small metal semicircle, with a pointer attached in such a manner that one can point it in any direction, and then read off the number corresponding to the Bering which is plainly marked on the semicircle.

When you are stationed as a lookout, never under any condition leave your post without being regularly relieved, for the safety of the ship depends on your integrity.

The eternal vigilance is the price of safety.

Ships Time

When you leave the "States" for Europe, you'll notice daily that all the clocks in the ship are set ahead. This may be explained as follows: The time kept by the clocks used for the internal administration of the ship is called "Ships time". When in port, for obvious reasons, it is found advisable to have the ship's time identical with that use ashore. Thus in New York the ship's time it would be that of the 75th meridian, and in Europe it would correspond with that of the Meridian of Greenwich, the place from which all time is reckoned by practically all of the civilized countries of the world.

During the voyage the ship's time is so regulated, that 12:00 agrees with local apparent noon, or in other words the sun and the ship are on the same meridian at noon. As it is 24 hours in the time between successive transits of the sun over the same place, it becomes evident that if the ship lay at anchor, the sun would be directly overhead or nearly so at 12:00 each day. But should the ship move and commence steaming toward the east, that is, toward the sun, the sun would be overhead as much earlier each day as the distance that the ship traveled toward it. Therefore, to have our noon on the ship coincide with the time that the sun appears overhead, we must set the clock ahead by an amount equal to the amount which the ship has traveled since the previous noon; this is nothing more than the distance run in miles converted into minutes of time, for who does not know that 15 degrees of arc equal one hour of time? We learned that in school long go, but perhaps have forgotten it.

While at sea, at the 11:00 each day, the navigator computes the time at which the sun and the ship will be on the same at Meridian. The clocks then being corrected, they will reach 12:00 when the sun is directly overhead.

If the passengers keep an accurate record of the difference in time between that of the place which they have left and that of the time on the ship's clocks each noon, they will be able to forecast the date of their our arrival on the other side as this difference will be then five hours. When steaming towards the west, the process is reversed, as the ship and the sun are both traveling in the same direction, and it becomes necessary to set the time back each day instead of ahead.

Now if, keeping that information in mind, we make an imaginary trip around the world, it is evident that if the some of the corrections, which would be applied to the ship’s clocks, were taken, it would be found to amount to 24 hours. If the voyage were to the eastward, the ship and the sun would be on the same meridian one time more than the number of days, which had elapsed since the ship's departure from the port where the voyage began. And conversely, if the trip were to the westward, the ship and the sun would be on the same Meridian one time less than the number of days that had elapsed. In other words, if the ship voyage to entirely around the earth, setting the time ahead or back each day according to the direction, and striking the days from the calendar consecutively each midnight, it would be found that the ship's time when the ship again return to the port of departure would be a day ahead of, or a day later than the indicated by the calendar ashore.

To correct our calendar for this difference, we must either skip a day or observed the same day twice in succession, so that the calendar ashore and our calendar will again agree. In order that there may be uniformity in doing this, there has been designated by international agreements a certain line, on crossing which, ships shall correct the calendar. This imaginary line it is situated in the Pacific Ocean. It is known as the "International Date Line" and follows very closely the 180th meridian. Eastward bound ships when crossing this line observe the same date twice. That is, passengers may go to sleep Wednesday night and find that it is still Wednesday when they arise the next morning. Westward bound ships when crossing the line skip a day, and passengers may go to sleep on Wednesday night and the next morning will be Friday.

The question of time when traveling is one of prime importance, and much thought must be given to the subject before it can be fully comprehended. It is hoped that the short explanation will be helpful and remove that peculiar feeling of doubt and uncertainty which comes while aboard the ship when one sees the man go around the ship each day, and push the hands of the clock ahead or backwards.

Former German ships now flying the Stars and Stripes.

The Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, issued an order directing that the following names be assigned to former German ships:

Former German Name New US Navy Name
Vaterland Leviathan
Kronprinzessen Cecilie Mount Vernon
Kaiser Wilhelm the Second Agamemnon
Amerika America
Hamburg Powhatan
Grosser Kurfurst Aeolus
Koenig Wilhelm the Second Madawaska
Nekar Antigone
Rhein Susquehanna
Prinzess Irene Pocahontas
Friedierich der Grosse Huron
Barbarossa Mercury

The following vessels retain their former names:

President Grant
President Lincoln
George Washington

Going Over... Blowing mess call for the little fishes.

This page last updated on December 20, 2018 This page owned by Joe Hartwell © 2005-2019
If you have research comments or additional information on this page e-mail them to: Joe Hartwell
[ Return back to the site map ]