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

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- USS Pocahontas during the Great War -

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USS Pocahontas

 American Troopship  

USS Pocahontas

USS Pocahontas (SP-3044) was a transport ship for the United States Navy during World War I. She was originally the SS Prinzess Irene, a Barbarossa-class ocean liner built in 1899 by AG Vulcan Stettin of Stettin, Germany, for the North German Lloyd line.

She was launched as Prinzess Irene on 19 June 1900 by Aktiengesellschaft Vulkan, Stettin, Germany for North German Lloyd Lines. On 9 September 1900, she started her maiden voyage to New York City. On 30 October 1900, she began the first of seven trips on the German Empire mail run to the Far East to Yokohama, the route she was built for.

On 30 April 1903, she went on the Genoa – Naples – New York run and stayed mainly on this service together with her sister ship SS König Albert and sometimes other ships of the Barbarossa class. In 1911 under, Captain Frederic von Letten-Peterssen, she was stranded for eighty-three hours on the Fire Island sandbars.

Her last voyage was to New York on 9 July 1914. With the outbreak of World War I in August, she was stranded in New York since the British Royal Navy controlled the North Atlantic. She remained there until seized by the United States by Executive Order 2651 on 30 June 1917, under the authority prescribed in the Enemy Vessel Confiscation Joint Resolution passed on 12 May 1917.

At the beginning of World War I the ship was in New York and was interned by the United States. She was seized when that country entered the conflict in 1917 and converted to a troop transport. As the USS Pocohantas, she carried 24,573 servicemen to Europe, and after the war returned 23,296 servicemen to the United States.

Although Pocahontas convey all of her passengers safely, she faced numerous dangers. The most serious incident occurred in the forenoon of 2 May 1918 when an Imperial German Navy submarine surfaced in her path and straddled her with 5.9 in (150 mm) shells. Captain Edward C. Kalbfus ordered the crew to battle stations and gave the signal to open fire. However, the U-boat was not in range of her guns. Fragments of enemy shells landed on the ship, but she was not directly hit and suffered no casualties. Captain Kalbus commenced zig-zag courses, and then at full speed drew away from the submarine, probably U–151, about twenty minutes after the attack began. Making a record of 16.2 knots (30.0 km/h; 18.6 mph), he kept the enemy out of range until her lost her. For his successful defense of his ship, Captain Kalfbus was awarded the Navy Cross.

Decommissioned by the U.S. Navy, the United States Shipping Board sold her back to the North German Lloyd line, where she saw mercantile service until being broken up in 1932.

John Doran

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Those known to have served in

USS Pocahontas

during the Great War 1914-1918.

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