USS Henry T. Allen (APA-15)

Operation Torch, 1942.
Career (USA)
Name: USS Henry T. Allen (APA-15)
Namesake: Probably Henry Tureman Allen, commander of the US 90th Infantry Division
Builder: New York Shipbuilding[1]
Launched: 25 May 1919[2]
Christened: Wenatchee[1]
Completed: June 1921[2]
Acquired: (by the Navy) 6 December 1941[1]
Commissioned: (As AP-30) 22 April 1942[1]
Decommissioned: 5 February 1946[1]
Renamed: Henry T. Allen (1940)[1]
Reclassified: AP-30 to APA-15, 1 February 1943[1]
to AG-90 January 1945[3]
Honours and
awards:
Four battle stars for World War II service[1]
Fate: Sold for scrap, March 1948[1]
General characteristics
Class & type: Harris-class attack transport
Displacement: 13,529 tons (lt), 21,900 t.(fl)[4]
Length: 535 ft 2 in
Beam: 72 ft 4 in
Draft: 31 ft 3 in
Propulsion: 2 x Westinghouse geared turbine drive, 8 x Babcock & Wilcox header-type boilers, 2 propellers, designed shaft horsepower 12,000.[4]
Speed: 16 knots[1]
Capacity: Troops: 107 Officers, 1,417 Enlisted
Cargo: 409,400 cu ft, tonnage unknown
Complement: Officers 52, Enlisted 673[4]
Armament: 4 x 3"/50 caliber dual-purpose gun mounts, 2 x twin 40mm gun mounts, 2 x quad 1.1" gun mounts, 15 x single 20mm gun mounts.[4]

USS Henry T. Allen was built as a United States Army transport, declared surplus and saw commercial service until reacquired by the Army and then transfered to the Navy in December 1941.[2] After initial Navy classification as the transport AP-30 the ship was reclassified to APA-15, A Harris-class attack transport that served with the US Navy during World War II.[1]

Army and commercial service

Henry T. Allen was launched as an Army transport under the US Shipping Board 25 May 1919 by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Camden, New Jersey and completed during June 1921 as Wenatchee after which she was determined in excess of Army requirements and placed for sale.[2] The ship was purchased by the Pacific Steamship Company and then the Admiral Orient Line in November 1922 to be renamed President Jefferson.[1][2] The ship was returned to the U.S. Maritime Commission in 1938 to be laid up in the reserve fleet at Seattle until reacauired by the U.S. Army Transport Service (A.T.S.) 1 November 1940 and renamed USAT Henry T. Allen for service with the A.T.S. Pacific Fleet home ported at Fort Mason, California under Captain James McPherson[note 1] from 11 November 1940 until 6 December 1941.[2]

Naval conversion

The ship was then acquired by the Navy 6 December 1941 and placed in partial commission for conversion to Navy use at Moore Dry Dock of Oakland, California.[1] The ship was at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 7 December 1941.[2] Henry T. Allen commissioned in full 22 April 1942, Captain P. A. Stevens commanding.[1]

World War II service

After completion of outfitting, Henry T. Allen made one troop carrying voyage to Honolulu and return. Arriving San Diego 18 June 1942, she took part in amphibious landing exercises until August, helping to mold the potent American assault forces which would be a decisive factor in the Pacific war. The ship sailed 22 August via the Canal Zone for Norfolk, Virginia, where she arrived 11 September for more landing training on the Maryland coast.[1]

Invasion of North Africa

Henry T. Allen departed 23 October for North Africa and Operation Torch as part of the Northern Attack Force under Brig. Gen. Lucian K. Truscott, Jr. and serving as flagship in that phase of the operation with headquarters remaining aboard during the landing of troops until it could be set up ashore.[5] The force arrived off Mehedia, near strategic Port Lyautey, 7 November and Henry T. Allen began that morning to unload her Army troops from the transport area. She remained off the beaches occasionally subjected to fire from shore batteries until 15 November. She then helped consolidate the successful landing by mooring at Casablanca to unload cargo. The transport sailed 17 November and arrived Norfolk the 30th.[1]

Pacific Theatre

Following the important North Africa landings, during which much was learned about amphibious operations, Henry T. Allen was assigned to the Pacific, a theater in which amphibious assaults were to play a central role. Carrying Marines, she sailed 17 December and arrived Tutuila, Samoa group, via the Canal Zone, 13 January 1943. The ship also transported troops to Noumea and Espiritu Santo and while at the latter port 1 February 1943 was redesignated an attack transport, APA-15.[1]

On 17 March, 1943 Allen was assigned as flagship, Commander Amphibious Force, Seventh Fleet, but was in poor condition and urgently needed for training and transport.[6] She was assigned to critical amphibious training for troops of Amphibious Force, Southwest Pacific reporting at Sydney.[7] The ships condition was such that on 10 April 1943 she had to be withdrawn from training for five weeks overhaul availability at Sydney.[8]

Until March 1944 Henry T. Allen operated between New Guinea and Australian ports, carrying both American and Australian troops in support of the Allied offensive in New Guinea and the Solomons. She made many passages through the dangerous waters of the Coral Sea, and on one occasion, 13 July 1943 detected a torpedo track approaching her port bow. Alert action brought the transport around and out of danger, the torpedo passing a scant 50 yards ahead.[1]

Invasion of New Guinea

Henry T. Allen sailed from Buna 26 March for training exercises on Goodenough Island with the U.S. 24th Infantry Division, completing 16 April. The ship then got underway 17 April for the important Hollandia operation, the joint attack on Central New Guinea. Henry T. Allen joined Admiral Barbey's group for the landings at Tanahmerah Bay 22 April and after their success was assured steamed to Cape Sudest, New Guinea, 24 April.[1]

The ship spent the next few weeks transporting troops into Hollandia to consolidate gains and prepare for the next step in the westward advance toward the Philippines. Henry T. Allen anchored at Aitape 15 May to load troops for the Wakde-Sarmi landings, and got underway the next day for a run of 120 miles undetected by the Japanese. Under a brisk naval bombardment the transport unloaded on the 17th and returned to Hollandia.[1]

Made a flagship

The veteran transport spent the rest of her career as a flagship for various amphibious commands. Until September 1944 she performed training exercises on Bougainville and New Guinea, and after a voyage to Queensland, Australia, arrived Hollandia 3 October 1944. There she received additional equipment and supplies to allow her to better perform her headquarters function. With Leyte approaching and USSĀ Blue Ridge destined to be the flagship for that operation on 7 October 1944 Captain H. J. Nelson, USN, Commander Administrative Command, Seventh Amphibious Force, established the Administrative Group of the Staff of Commander Seventh Amphibious Force aboard Allen.[9] Henry T. Allen remained at Hollandia until January 1945 as the administrative base of the famous 7th Amphibious Force. She shifted her base to Leyte Gulf as American forces swept north and west, arriving 28 January 1945.[1] She was reclassified AG-90 in January 1945.[3]

Decommission

After the final surrender of Japan Henry T. Allen steamed to Manila 3 September and departed for the United States 15 November. She arrived 10 December 1945, decommissioned 5 February 1946 and was redelivered to the War Department. After a period in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Suisun Bay, Benecia, California, she was sold to Boston Metals of Baltimore, Maryland, and scrapped in March 1948.[1]

Footnotes

References


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