USS Thomas H. Barry (AP-45)

USAT Thomas H. Barry, formerly SS Oriente, off Norfolk, VA
Career (US)

SS Oriente (1930–41)

USAT Thomas H. Barry (1941–57)

Oriente Province, Cuba

US Army General Thomas H. Barry
Owner: Agwi Navigation Co, Inc[1]
Operator: Ward Line[1] (1930–41)
US Army (1941–50)
Port of registry: New York[1]
Builder: Newport News Shipbuilding[1]
Launched: 15 May 1930
Completed: 1930[1]
Acquired: for the US Army: June 1941
In service: 1930
Out of service: 1946
Renamed: Thomas H. Barry, June 1941
Reclassified: AP-45 (Never effective)
Homeport: New York

official number 230323[1]
code letters MJFB (until 1933)[1]

call sign KGOX (from 1934)[2]

Fate: laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet 1950; scrapped 1957
Status: scrapped 1957
General characteristics
Type: ocean liner, then troopship
Tonnage: 11,520 GRT[1]
NRT 6,449[1]
Length: 508 ft (155 m)[1]
Beam: 70.9 ft (21.6 m)[1]
Draft: 27 feet 3 inches (8.31 m)
Depth: 39.0 ft (11.9 m)[1]
Propulsion: steam turbo-electric transmission,[1] twin screws
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h)
Troops: 3,609
Complement: 50
Armament: 2 x 5"/38 caliber guns
4 x 3"/50 caliber guns
8 x .50 caliber MG
Notes: sister ship: SS Morro Castle

USAT Thomas H. Barry, formerly SS Oriente, was a Ward Line ocean liner that became a United States Army troopship in the Second World War. She was intended for transfer to the United States Navy and assigned the hull number AP-45, but was not transferred and remained with the Army.

Building and civilian service

Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company built Oriente for Ward Line as a sister ship to SS Morro Castle. Oriente was completed in 1930, two months after Morro Castle. Each ship was 508 feet (155 metres) long, measured 11,520 gross register tons (GRT) and had turbo-electric transmission, with General Electric twin turbo generators supplying current to propulsion motors on twin propeller shafts.[1] The two liners carried passengers between New York and Havana, Cuba.

In 1934 a fire destroyed Morro Castle, killing 135 people. Oriente remained in Ward Line service until 1941.

Army service

In June 1941 the US War Department acquired Oriente to be a troopship, and renamed her USAT Thomas H. Barry. The ship was one of the relatively few transports owned, rather than bareboat chartered, by the Army.[3]

Thomas H. Barry was one of seven transports hurriedly assembled in New York and sailing late on 22 January 1941 (23 January GMT) in what was then the largest troop movement attempted, movement of POPPY FORCE, also designated Task Force 6814, under General Alexander Patch to secure New Caledonia (codename POPPY) on the vital South Pacific link to Australia.[4] The seven ships had a troop capacity of almost 22,000.[5] Task Force 6814 was later organized in New Caledonia as the Americal Division.[6]

On 29 September 1941 the Acting Chief of Naval Operations, Rear Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll, sent a memorandum to the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, listing a number of Army transports, including Thomas H. Barry, that were to be "eventually taken over by the Navy".[7] Prewar plans had called for the transfer; however, the Army retained the right to obtain additional shipping if required. Delays in Navy manning and conversion and the demands of actual wartime conditions made the mass transfer unfeasable with the Navy concentrating on ships for combat loading, the "attack" transports and Army concentrating on convoy loading.[8] Thomas H. Barry was later given the Navy designation AP-45, but was never taken over by the Navy and remained under Army control through the end of World War II.[7]

The Barry was one of three transports, the others being USS Munargo and USS Siboney, sailing from the New York Port of Embarkation for the United Kingdom on 31 May 1942 implementing "double bunking" whereby two men were assigned one bunk in order to increase capacity up to the maximum allowed by lifesaving equipment and other safety rules.[9]

On the morning of 21 October 1945 at approximately 40.41º north, 67.18º west, about 150 miles (241 km) east of New Bedford, Massachusetts in heavy fog the Barry rammed and cut in two the 233 ton fishing trawler Medford with one person on the trawler killed, six missing and ten survivors picked up by Barry. The transport, destined for Le Harve, France with over 3,000 passengers composed of Red Cross workers, civilians and occupation troops returned to New York with a damaged bow for dry docking. The trawler had recently been one of those acquired by the Navy for offshore antisubmarine patrol and returned to be purchased by a New Bedford company. [10][11]

In the mass transfer of Army ships to the Navy in 1950 Thomas H. Barry was declared surplus to Navy needs, laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet on the James River, Virginia until 1957, when the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation scrapped her.[12]


External links

  • Thomas H. Barry (AP-45)

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