Friday, February 14, 2014

U.S.S. West Point During World War II

U.S.S. West Point
Originally built as the U.S.S. America, this ship was the largest merchant vessel built at the time of World War II. She was converted to a transport vessel, carrying U. S. soldiers to both the Pacific and the European theaters of the war. During WWII, she traveled more than 350.000 miles, more than 14 times around the world, transporting soldiers, the wounded, prisoners of war, and auxillary wartime personnel. Despite her mammoth size, 723 feet overall and 93 feet at the beam, the West Point was as graceful as a clipper ship. She traveled without escort around the world, even though her size made her a prime target of the enemy, particularly the wolf packs. that prowled the North Atlantic. 

Officers of the U.S.S. West Point
Her captain was Webb C. Hayes II (seated second from the right)

During one of his return trips across the North Atlantic during the winter of 1944/1945, Admiral Hayes guided her through a raging storm in which waves swelled to 50 feet. The West Point pitched and rolled. One wave struck the forward gun platform, 50 feet above the water line. The waves demolished the gun platform, crushing a gunner on lookout. Steel ladders were crumpled into shapeless debris and gun shields were ripped to shreds. Only her size and the sea worthiness of her construction allowed her to escape with only the loss of one sailor and minor damage. 

G.Is aboard the U.S.S. West Point

U.S.S. West Point transporting U.S. soldiers home from Europe after V.E. Day. The vessel had a crew of more than 800. She could carry as many as 7.,700 passengers

U.S.S. West Point
July 11, 1945
New York Harbor
Tugs nose the U.S.S. West Point  into her slip in the New York Harbor. Thousands of soldiers stand on  the top deck as they await a hero's  welcome home

U.S. S. West Point arriving in New York Harbor
July 11, 1945

These photographs are part of the Admiral Webb C. Hayes Collection at the Hayes Presidential Center

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