USS West Apaum (ID-3221)

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West Apaum painted in dazzle camouflage during sea trials on 20 June 1918
West Apaum painted in dazzle camouflage during sea trials on 20 June 1918
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Name: West Apaum
Owner: United States Shipping Board
  • 1918–1919: United States Navy, as USS West Apaum
Builder: Skinner & Eddy
Seattle, Washington
Yard number: 23[1]
Laid down: 19 March 1918[2]
Launched: 23 May 1918[2]
Completed: 19 June 1918[2]
Acquired: 20 June 1918[3]
Commissioned: 20 June 1918[4]
Decommissioned: 25 July 1919[4]
Identification: IMO number: 2216500[5]
Fate: abandoned, scrapped, 1933[5]
General characteristics
Type: Design 1013 ship
Tonnage: 5,537 GRT[5]
Displacement: 12,226 t[4]
Length: 409 ft 5 in (124.79 m) (LPP)[5]
423 ft 9 in (129.16 m) (overall)[4]
Beam: 54 ft 0 in (16.46 m)[4]
Draft: 22 ft 2.25 in (6.7628 m)[4]
Depth of hold: 29 ft 9 in (9.07 m)[4]
Propulsion: 1 × triple-expansion steam engine[5], 2,700 horsepower (2,000 kW)
Speed: 10.5 knots (19.4 km/h) (1918)[4]
Complement: 81[4]
Armament: 1 × 4-inch (100 mm) gun
1 × 3-inch (76 mm) gun[4]

USS West Apaum (ID-3221) was a cargo ship in the United States Navy during World War I. She had been built as SS West Apaum for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) as part of the West boats, a series of steel-hulled cargo ships built on the West Coast of the United States.

West Apaum sailed on three voyages for the U.S. Navy, two after the Armistice, before she was decommissioned in July 1919. Though little is available regarding West Apaum's civilian career, it is known that she was sailing on a New YorkRotterdam route in early 1927. By early 1929, West Apaum had been laid up by the USSB, which abandoned her in 1933. The cargo ship was scrapped in the second quarter of that same year.

Design and construction

The West ships were cargo ships of similar size and design built by several shipyards on the West Coast of the United States for the United States Shipping Board (USSB) for emergency use during World War I. All were given names that began with the word West, like West Apaum,[6] one of some 24 West ships built by Skinner & Eddy of Seattle, Washington.[1][Note 1]

West Apaum (Skinner & Eddy No. 23, USSB No. 88)[1] was laid down on 19 March 1918, launched on 23 May, and delivered to the United States Navy upon completion on 19 June.[4][5] West Apaum was built in a total of 78 working days,[3] 92 calendar days,[7] and was tied with three other ships for tenth place on a list of the ten fastest constructed ocean-going vessels compiled in 1920.[7][Note 2] Skinner & Eddy received a $25,000 bonus for completing the ship early.[8]

The ship was 5,537 gross register tons (GRT),[5] and was 409 feet 5 inches (124.79 m) long (between perpendiculars) and 54 feet (16.5 m) abeam. West Apaum had a steel hull and a mean draft of 22 feet 2.25 inches (6.7628 m).[4] She displaced 12,226 t,[4] and had a deadweight tonnage of 8,800 DWT.[2] The ship had a single triple-expansion steam engine powered by three coal-fired boilers that drove her single screw propeller, and moved the ship at a 10.5-knot (19.4 km/h) pace.[5]

Military career

USS West Apaum (ID-3221) was commissioned into the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) on 20 June 1918 with Lieutenant Commander J. S. Gibson, USNRF, in command.[4]

West Apaum departed Bremerton, Washington, on 27 June for Arica, Chile, to take on a cargo of nitrates for the United States. Sailing from there via the Panama Canal, West Apaum arrived at Savannah, Georgia, on 9 September. From there she sailed for Hampton Roads, Virginia, where she arrived on 10 October. Eight days later, loaded with rolling stock, steel rails, and other general cargo for the United States Army, the cargo ship sailed for France. Delayed at Halifax for repairs to her damaged propeller, West Apaum finally entered the harbor at La Pallice on 22 November, 11 days after the Armistice.[4]

West Apaum unloaded her railroad goods, loaded 2,214 long tons (2,250 t) of Army cargo, and headed for the United States on 13 December. She arrived at Hampton Roads on 3 January 1919. West Apaum made two more voyages to France under Navy control. On her final voyage, she carried airplane materials to France and returned 5,000 long tons (5,100 t) of Army ordnance to New York on 11 July. On 25 July, West Apaum was decommissioned and returned to the USSB.[4]

Civilian career

Little is known about West Apaum's subsequent civilian career. In the first quarter of 1927, it is known that West Apaum was sailing on a New York – Rotterdam route.[9] While in this service, The New York Times, in one of just a few mentions the ship received in contemporary news coverage, reported on the transfer of one of West Apaum's crew members to the United States Lines ocean liner Republic at sea. The crewman had fallen into an open hatchway and had fractured his skull. The two ships, located some 200 nautical miles (370 km) west of New York, came within a quarter-mile 0.25 nautical miles (0.46 km) of each other and the injured man was loaded on to a boat from Republic in the heavy seas. The crewman, though successfully transferred to Republic, died several hours later.[10]

By early 1929, West Apaum had been laid up, and was under consideration by the USSB for the installation of pulverized coal-fired boilers for testing purposes,[11] but lost out on the honor to West Alsek.[12] No further information on West Apaum's career is available, but it is known that she was abandoned by the USSB in 1933,[4] and scrapped in the second quarter of that year.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Colton, Tim. "Skinner & Eddy, Seattle WA". The Colton Company. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Skinner & Eddy (October 1918). "Consistent Building Record" (display advertisement). Pacific Marine Review (San Francisco: J. S. Hines): 143. OCLC 2449383. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Naval Historical Center (14 March 2004). "West Apaum (American Freighter, 1918)". Online Library of Selected Images: Civilian Ships. Naval Historical Center, Navy Department. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 Naval Historical Center. "West Apaum". DANFS. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 "West Apaum". Miramar Ship Index. R.B.Haworth. Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  6. Crowell and Wilson, pp. 358–59.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Hurley, pp. 92–93.
  8. United States House of Representatives, Select Committee on U. S. Shipping Board Operations, p. 624.
  9. "Movements of steamships". The Washington Post: p. 8. 21 January 1927.  "Movements of steamships". The Washington Post: p. 12. 1 April 1927. 
  10. "Sick man picked up at sea". The New York Times: p. 28. 6 January 1927.  "Tells Legion plans for Paris meeting". The New York Times: p. 8. 8 January 1927. 
  11. "Plan pulverized coal on more freighters". The New York Times: p. 59. 13 March 1928. 
  12. "West Alsek to get coal pulverizers". The New York Times: p. 55. 21 February 1929. 



External links

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