USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50)

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Career (US) 100x35px
Ordered: as Excalibur
Laid down: 4 November 1929
Launched: 5 August 1930
Completed: 18 December 1930
Acquired: 8 January 1942
Commissioned: USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50),
1 May 1942
Struck: 7 December 1942
Fate: sunk by German Submarine,
11 November 1942
General characteristics
Displacement: 14,100 t.
Length: 450 ft (140 m)
Beam: 61 ft 6 in (18.75 m)
Draught: 26 ft 4 in (8.03 m)
Propulsion: steam turbines
Speed: 15 kts.
Complement: 358
Armament: one single 5"/38 dual purpose gun mount, four single 3"/50 gun mounts, 8 single 20mm gun mounts

USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50) was a transport for the United States Navy during World War II. She was built in 1930, acquired 8 January 1942, and was assigned the task of transporting troops to and from battle areas. After off-loading delays caused by the Naval Battle of Casablanca, she was sunk by a German torpedo while anchored along the North African coast.

Joseph Hewes was launched in 1930 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, New Jersey as the passenger liner Excalibur. As part of American Export Lines' original "4 Aces," she provided first-class service between New York and Europe. In August 1940, Excalibur carried the Duke and Duchess of Windsor from Lisbon to Bermuda.

Excalibur was acquired by the Navy 8 January 1942, and commissioned 1 May 1942, with Captain Robert McL. Smith in command.

World War II North Atlantic operations

After conversion and fitting out, Joseph Hewes sortied from Hampton Roads 24 October with the Center Attack Group of Admiral Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force en route to French Morocco. She was carrying 80 officers and 1,074 men of the reinforced 3rd Division, U.S. Army, plus vehicles and supplies.

North Africa operations

The transport arrived off Fedhala 8 November, by 0705 landed all troops, and then commenced unloading ammunition and supplies. By 11 November Joseph Hewes had completed unloading and had received 30 casualties from the beach.

Struck by a torpedo

At 1950 she took a torpedo hit in No. 2 hold from U-173. The transport settled by the bow and began filling rapidly with water. Captain Smith endeavored to pick up anchor or slip chain but, as the entire forecastle was under water, this was not possible. He then attempted to beach the ship by backing engines but her propeller was out of the water, so the order was given to abandon ship.

Abandon ship

Joseph Hewes went down at 2032, taking Captain Smith and approximately 100 seamen with her. By his coolness, calmness, and his devotion to duty in placing the safety of the crew and ship before his own, he instilled confidence in every officer and member of the crew. The U-173 paid heavily for her victory, for she was sunk 5 days later off Casablanca by American destroyers.

Joseph Hewes received one battle star for World War II service.

Prior to her loss, Joseph Hewes had been designated for reclassification in early 1943 as APA-22. Since the hull numerical sequence had already been assigned, APA-22 was never reissued. In the 1956 Universal International production Away All Boats, USS Randall (APA-224) wore hull number APA-22 while standing in as the motion picture's fictional USS Belinda.


External links

Coordinates: 33°40′N 7°30′W / 33.667°N 7.5°W / 33.667; -7.5