< Susan B Anthony AP-72

Susan B Anthony AP-72


Susan B. Anthony
( AP-72: t. 8,193; 1. 605'2; b. 63'6; dr. 25'; B. 18

Susan B. Anthony-a passenger steamer built at Camden, N.J., for the Grace Steamship Company—was launched in March 1930 by the New York Shipbuilding Company as the SS Santa Clara. She was acquired by the Navy on 7 August 1942; renamed Susan B. Anthony; converted at Bethlehem Steel's New York yard; and commissioned on 7 September 1942, Capt. Henry Hartley assumed command on the 29th.

After almost a month of drills and exercises in the lower Chesapeake Bay, the transport, carrying troops and equipment, steamed out of the bay on 23 October for the coast of North Africa. At the completion of a 15-day passage, she arrived in the transport area off Mehdia, French Morocco. Early the next morning, on 8 November, the Northern Attack Group opened the assault upon Mehdia and Port Lyautey. Despite the general difficulties encountered in handling landing craft, AP-72 disembarked her troops and unloaded their equipment in relatively good order. She remained in the area a week before sailing on the 15th for Safi to unload the rest of her cargo. She departed that port on 18 November bound for Norfolk, Va., and anchored at Hampton Roads on the last day of the month.

For the next seven months, Susan B. Anthony shuttled troops and supplies across the Atlantic to North Africa, making three voyages; the first to Casablanca and the other two to Oran, Algeria. After a brief excursion to the Gulf of Arzeu ferrying men and equipment, she returned to Oran on 25 June 1943 to prepare for the campaign against Sicily. She embarked men and loaded materiel on 30 June and 1 July, fueled on the 2d, and stood out from Oran three days later.

Anthony approached the coast of Sicily on the 9th near the town of Scoglitti. She spent the early hours of the following day landing troops and equipment. By 0435, the ships of the assault force were under attack by enemy aircraft. Bombs rained close to Anthony, but she emerged with only minor damage from bomb fragments. Just before 0600, she started toward the inshore anchorage, but withdrew after coming under fire from shore batteries. About four hours later, she was able to enter the anchorage and dispatch her salvage crew to aid broached and disabled landing craft.

Throughout that day and the next, air attacks kept her crew scurrying to battle stations. Just after 2200 on the 11th, a twin-engine plane singled out Anthony and commenced its run on her. By the time it had closed to within 1500 yards of the ship, Anthony's antiaircraft batteries had reduced it to a falling ball of fire. Less than 10 minutes later, another enemy bomber met a similar fate.

Late in the afternoon of 12 July, Susan B. Anthony weighted anchor for Oran. There, she loaded prisoners; sailed for the United States; and reached New York on 3 August 1943. For the next 10 months, Anthony moved back and forth across the Atlantic transporting soldiers and cargo between various points in the United States, England, Iceland, Ireland, and Scotland in preparation for Operation "Overlord," the cross-channel invasion of Europe at Normandy. During these voyages, she visited such places as Belfast Ireland; Holy Loch, Gourock, and Glasgow in Scotland; HvalfJordur and Reykjavik, Iceland; Mumbles and Milford Haven, Wales; and Newport England.

Early in the morning of 7 June 1944, while cruising through a swept channel off Normandy, she struck a mine which exploded under her number 4 hold. Immediately, she lost all power, and her rudder went hard left and stuck. By 0805, holds numbers 4 and 5 were shipping water badly, and the ship took on an eight degree list to starboard. In an effort to save his ship, the commanding officer, Comdr. T. L. Gray, USNR, ordered the embarked soldiers to move to the port side. This human ballast soon brought Anthony back to an even keel.

At 0822, Pinto (AT-90) came alongside, prepared to tow the paralyzed Anthony to shallow water. However, soon thereafter, fires erupted in the engine and fire rooms' and the transport began to settle more rapidly. At this point, the captain concluded that the ship was lost and ordered her abandoned. With Pinto and two destroyers alongside, the troops were evacuated expedition sly and without resorting to fireboats and rafts. Anthony's crew followed closely behind the soldiers. By 0905, the main deck was awash at the stern, and she was listing badly. The last member of the salvage crew hit the water at about 1000 with Comdr. Gray soon following. At 1010, Susan B. Anthony was gone. No one was killed, and few of the 45 wounded were seriously hurt. She was struck from the Navy list on 29 July 1944.

Susan B. Anthony was awarded three battle stars for World War II service.