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USS Mongolia in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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- USS Mongolia during the Great War -


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USS Mongolia



1st January 1917 American Troopship  

USS Mongolia

USS Mongolia.

SS Mongolia was a 13,369-ton passenger-and-cargo liner originally built for Pacific Mail Steamship Company in 1904. She later sailed as USS Mongolia (ID-1615) for the U.S. Navy, as SS President Fillmore for the Dollar Line and as SS Panamanian for Cia Transatlantica Centroamericano.

Ordered by E. H. Harriman's Pacific Mail Steamship Co. for its San Francisco-Far East service, Mongolia was laid down as Minnelora on 7 June 1902 in Shipway J at New York Shipbuilding in Camden, New Jersey. The 615-foot vessel was contract #5 for the young company, and the first passenger-cargo liner built by the firm. A sister ship, SS Manchuria, was ordered at the same time and delivered three months after Mongolia. The accommodations of both ships reflected the importance of emigration to shipping lines of the era: 350 first-class, 68 second-class, and 1,300 steerage.

In August 1915 Pacific Mail sold Mongolia to Atlantic Transport Line, for whom she plied the New York-London route. Following the German declaration of a submarine blockade around Britain, Mongolia received a self-defense armament of three 6-inch (150 mm) deck guns manned by U.S. Navy gun crews. One month later, Mongolia became the first American vessel to test the blockade, using those guns to drive off (and possibly sink) a U-boat seven miles southeast of Beachy Head, in the English Channel. That was the first armed encounter for an American vessel after the US's entry to World War I.

For the next year, Mongolia ferried American troops and supplies to Europe under a civilian flag. On 27 April 1918, the US Navy requisitioned the vessel, which was commissioned 8 May as USS Mongolia (ID-1615). She served as a troop transport, completing twelve turnarounds at an average duration of 34 days before her decommissioning 11 September 1919. According to an article dated 22 May 1917 in the "Chicago Tribune" 2 American nurses, Edith Ayers and Helen Wood, were accidentally killed during one of these crossings.. The women were on the deck of the Mongolia observing the firing of various weapons when they were struck by fragments of the 6-inch gun's propellant caps which had ricocheted off a stanchion.

John Doran


19th April 1917 American Liner SS Mongolia attacked by German submarine  En-route to England, off Beachy Head in the English Channel, the American passenger liner SS Mongolia was attacked by a German submarine, which passed from her port bow to starboard quarter. The US Naval Gun Crews on board, returned fire with three 6-inch deck guns, wrecking the submarine's periscope and conning tower, forcing her to submerge and possibly resulting in her loss. This engagement was the first of US Naval personnel against the enemy.

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Those known to have served in

USS Mongolia

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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June 2017

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