USS Great Northern (AG-9)
|USS Columbia (AG-9) At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, dressed with flags for George Washington's Birthday, 22 February 1922. This ship served as USS Great Northern in 1917-1919|
USS Columbia (AG-9) At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, dressed with flags for George Washington's Birthday, 22 February 1922. This ship served as USS Great Northern in 1917-1919
|Name:||USS Great Northern also USS Columbia|
|Laid down:||date unknown|
|Acquired:||19 September 1917|
|Commissioned:||1 November 1917|
|Decommissioned:||4 March 1922|
|In service:||11 August 1921|
|Out of service:||after World War II|
|Fate:||scrapped after World War II|
|Displacement:||8,255 long tons (8,387 t)|
|Length:||509 ft 6 in (155.30 m)|
|Beam:||63 ft 1 in (19.23 m)|
|Draft:||21 ft (6.4 m)|
|Speed:||23 kn (26 mph; 43 km/h)|
|Armament:||4 × 6 in (150 mm) guns|
Great Northern was built by William Cramp & Sons in 1915; acquired from her owners, Great Northern Pacific Steamship Co. on 19 September 1917, by the USSB; converted to a transport at the Puget Sound Navy Yard; and commissioned there on 1 November 1917, Captain W. W. Phelps in command.
World War I service
Embarking nearly 1,400 passengers at Puget Sound, including 500 "enemy aliens," women and children as well as men, Great Northern sailed for the U.S. East Coast on 21 January 1918, reaching New York on 9 February via the Panama Canal and Charleston, South Carolina. On 7 March, she sailed from Hoboken, New Jersey, for Brest, France with 1,500 members of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF). Great Northern returned to Hoboken on 30 March with wounded veterans. From then until August 1919, she made a total of 18 transatlantic voyages, first carrying troops to the fighting zones and then bringing home the victorious "doughboys". Great Northern decommissioned at New York on 15 August 1919 and was transferred to the U.S. Army Transportation Service the same day.
Assigned to the U.S. Army
While in the USATS, Great Northern was based mainly in the Pacific Ocean. In late 1919 and early 1920, she made two long trips from Honolulu to Vladivostok to pick up approximately 3,000 American officers and men returning from the Allies' campaign against the Russian Communists. Great Northern also took a Congressional party on a long Pacific inspection, touching at Hong Kong, Honolulu, Cavite, and then returning to San Francisco, California in the summer of 1920.
Great Northern name changed to Columbia
On 19 November 1921, Great Northern's name was changed by Presidential order to Columbia to honor a name long famous in Navy annals. She remained in New York harbor, functioning as a floating command post, through the rest of 1921. Columbia sailed for the Caribbean to join the annual Atlantic Fleet winter exercises on 7 January 1922, reaching Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, via Charleston and Key West, Florida on 18 January. Three days later she joined the battleships Wyoming, Arkansas, North Dakota, and Delaware at Guantanamo Bay.
Columbia sailed north on 24 February, reaching New York on 27 February. That same day, Admiral Jones shifted his flag to Maryland, and Columbia sailed for Chester, Pennsylvania. She decommissioned there on 4 March 1922 and was transferred to the U.S. Shipping Board. Returning to merchant service, she was renamed H. F. Alexander with Canadian Pacific Lines until 1942, when she was taken over by the War Shipping Administration for use as a troop transport.