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

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- USS Arcadia during the Great War -

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USS Arcadia

1st January 1917 American Troopship  

USS Arcadia (SS Arcadia)

USS Arcadia.

Arcadia was built as the German commercial steamer SS Arcadia in 1896 by Harland and Wolff at Belfast, Ireland. Upon the outbreak of World War I in Europe in early August 1914, Arcadia sought refuge from Allied forces in the United States, where she remained inactive through the period of American neutrality in the war. After the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies on 6 April 1917, the United States Customs Service seized her as enemy property and turned her over to the United States Shipping Board. Armed with two 3-inch (76.2-mm) guns manned by a United States Navy Armed Guard detachment, SS Arcadia operated under Shipping Board auspices for the remainder of World War I. After the war ended, Arcadia's guns were removed at Baltimore, Maryland, on 4 December 1918, and her naval armed guard detachment was transferred off of the ship.

On 20 January 1919, Arcadia was transferred to the U.S. Navy for service with the Cruiser and Transport Force. Assigned the naval registry identification number 1605, she was commissioned the same day as USS Arcadia (ID-1605) with Lieutenant Commander Peter F. Johnsen, USNRF, in command.

U.S. Navy service

Arcadia was fitted out for naval service and filled with cargo before departing the United States for France on 2 February 1919. Reaching French waters on 17 February 1919, Arcadia put into St. Nazaire on 19 February 1919 and discharged her cargo over the days that followed. Taking on ballast and embarking United States Army soldiers returning from World War I service in France, she left St. Nazaire on 1 March 1919 and, after a rough passage, reached Newport News, Virginia, on 17 March 1919.

After disembarking her passengers, Arcadia put into the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company at Newport News for voyage repairs and alterations. After their completion, she departed Newport News on 1 April 1919 for another voyage to France. She reached Bordeaux, France, on 20 April 1919, where she embarked more troops and a return cargo of "aeroplane and gun parts" before getting underway on 26 April 1919. She arrived at the Bush Terminal at Brooklyn, New York, on 11 May 1919. She made one more voyage to Bordeaux during late May and early June 1919, returning troops to Newport News for the second time. Later that summer she made a voyage to St. Nazaire and return trip to Hampton Roads, Virginia, followed by a voyage to Brest, France, and return trip to Hoboken, New Jersey. In all, she brought more than 4,700 men home to the United States from Europe on her five westbound U.S. Navy transatlantic voyages.

After completing her fifth and final U.S. Navy transatlantic voyage at Hoboken on 11 September 1919, Arcadia headed south on 12 September 1919, proceeding down the United States East Coast to Hampton Roads, where she moored alongside SS West Loquassuck - formerly the U.S. Navy cargo ship USS West Loquassuck (ID-3638) - at the U.S. Army base at Bush Bluff, later that day. A brief trip to the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company then followed. She soon returned to Bush Bluff.

John Doran

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USS Arcadia

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