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

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USS Hancock



 American Troopship  

USS Hancock

USS Hancock (AP-3) was a transport ship in the United States Navy. Acquired by the Navy in 1902, she participated in World War I and a number of US military and diplomatic ventures prior to that.

Hancock - the third US Navy ship to bear the name - was built in 1879 by J. Elder & Co., Glasgow, Scotland. Formerly Arizona, she was purchased by the War Department during the Spanish-American War and transferred to the Navy 8 November 1902. She was commissioned 20 November 1902, Lt. Comdr. F. W. Coffin, USN, in command.

Operational service.

Hancock sailed from San Francisco for the East Coast 14 December 1902 via Valparaiso, Chile; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Bahia, Brazil. She arrived New York Navy Yard 21 February 1903 and decommissioned 9 March for fitting out. Recommissioned 21 September, she served as receiving ship at the New York Navy Yard until relieved by Washington 6 August 1913.

Mexican revolution.

Hancock departed New York 15 September and arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard the following day to be fitted out as a Marine transport. She sailed for the Gulf of Mexico on the 4th January 1914 having embarked the 1st Regiment, Advance Base Brigade of Marines. She landed the Marines at Vera Cruz, Mexico, to assist in the occupation of that city resulting from the arrest of the crew of a whaleboat of Dolphin (PG-24) by soldiers of General Huerta, aspirant to the Mexican presidency. During the tense months that followed, Hancock transported refugees uprooted by the Mexican Revolution between the coast of Mexico and Galveston, Texas, as she delivered supplies for the United States Expeditionary Force in Mexico.

Caribbean operations.

Other trouble spots erupted in the Americas. Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic were going through a series of violent revolutions endangering the lives and property of foreigners and inviting foreign intervention. This situation demanded a buildup of American strength in the area. As a result as the diplomatic crisis with Mexico eased, Hancock embarked a battalion of Marines from Vera Cruz and transported them to Guantanamo, Cuba. She returned to Norfolk 25 July 1914 to embark the 5th Marine Regiment and got underway 30 July to cruise in waters off Haiti and Santo Domingo to be on hand to protect American interests against any eventuality. She returned to Norfolk 23 December for a general overhaul.

Hancock resumed duty cruising in the Caribbean. She continued to transport Marines, stores, provisions, mail, and other cargo to forces ashore in Mexico, Haiti, and Santo Domingo. From 12 to 30 September 1916 she assisted in the salvage of material from Memphis (CA-10) after the cruiser was driven ashore by a tidal wave in the harbor of Santo Domingo. Hancock carried the ill-fated ship's crew, stores, fittings, and ammunition to the Norfolk Navy Yard.

Takeover of Danish West Indies.

Hancock was at Guantanamo Bay 27 March 1917 when ordered to proceed to St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies, where the Danish Government was to transfer the islands to the United States. She sailed the next day, embarking a Marine Detachment at Santo Domingo before arrival at St. Thomas, 30 March 1917. On 31 March, Hancock's captain, Comdr. Edwin T. Pollock, USN, took over the islands in the name of the United States of America at 1600 when the transfer became effective,

When the United States declared war on Germany six days later, Hancock took possession of German steamers Wasgenwald and Calabria interned there.

Hancock arrived at San Juan, Puerto Rico, 18 May 1917 to take possession of two more interned German steamships, SS Praesident and Odenwald. She embarked 29 German prisoners of war 23 May, and stood out of San Juan harbor that afternoon to tow Odenwald to the Philadelphia Navy Yard where she arrived 1 June.

Hancock was assigned to the U.S. Cruiser and Transport Force to embark troops of the 1st American Expeditionary Force 13 June. She got underway 17 June as Flagship of Troop Convoy Number 4 and arrived without mishap at St. Nazaire, France, 2 July. Returning to Philadelphia 22 July, her principal service until September 1919 was transportation of Marine passengers and military stores to ports in the West Indies and the Gulf of Mexico. She returned to Philadelphia 3 September and decommissioned 18 October 1919.

John Doran


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