USAT Meigs

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S.S. West Lewark, later renamed USAT Meigs
SS West Lewark, later renamed USAT Meigs
Career (United States)
Ordered: Before September 1919
Completed: June 1921
Commissioned: 1923
Out of service: 19 February 1942
Renamed: 1923
Fate: Sunk by Japanese air attack
General characteristics
Displacement: 11,358 tons
Length: 430.7 ft (131.3 m)
Beam: 54.3 ft (16.6 m)
Draught: 26.2 ft (8.0 m)

The USAT Meigs, a United States Army transport vessel (sometimes incorrectly referred to as the USS Meigs), was sunk in Darwin Harbour during the first Japanese air raid against the Australia mainland on 19 February 1942.

Built San Pedro, California, in 1921 as the West Lewart, the Meigs had a steel hull, measured 12,568 Gross Tons (also cited as 11358 tons), 430.7 feet (140m) long, 54.3 feet (16m) beam and 26.2 feet draft. USAT Meigs was part of the Pensacola Convoy attempting to reinforce the Philippines during the early stages of World War II. As the largest vessel in Darwin Harbour she was frequently under air attack, and went down in flames after being struck by incendiary bombs. Two of its crew of sixty-six were killed.

Although the superstructure of the wreck was salvaged after the war by Fujita Salvage of Osaka, Japan, the cargo of munitions, railway lines, Bren gun carriers and trucks intended for Allied forces in Portuguese Timor remains. The Meigs is now a dive site, where the remnants of the cargo are as visible as the remains of the vessel itself. It lies in 18 metres (59 ft) [1] of water at coordinates 12°29.26′S 130°49.10′E / 12.48767°S 130.8183°E / -12.48767; 130.8183Coordinates: 12°29.26′S 130°49.10′E / 12.48767°S 130.8183°E / -12.48767; 130.8183.[2], and due to the large tidal movements creating strong currents and poor visibility, is only divable around neap tides.


The name "USS Meigs" is incorrectly applied to the USAT Meigs and also to the USS General M. C. Meigs (AP-116), which saw service in the Korean War.


  1. "World War II Wrecks" (HTML). Darwin Diver Center. Retrieved 04-March-2009. 
  2. "World War II Shipwrecks" (HTML). Northern Territory Government, Australia. Retrieved 04-March-2009. 

See also