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SS President Taylor
Career (USA)
Builder: New York Shipbuilding
Launched: 1921
Fate: beached on Kanton Island, 14 February 1942
Status: scrapped
General characteristics
Class & type: 522 class cargo liner
Displacement: 21,100 LT[1]
Length: 522 ft 8 in (159.31 m)[1]
Beam: 62 ft 0 in (18.90 m)[1]
Draft: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)[1]
Propulsion: Twin screw, two 4-cylinder triple expansion steam engines rated at 3500 HP each at 105 RPM. Six Scotch marine single-ended fire tube boilers, 220 PSI WP and 50 degrees fahrenheit superheat.[1]
Speed: 14 knots[1]

President Taylor was a cargo—liner, ex President Polk, ex Granite State, requisitioned for war service in December 1941 and allocated by the War Shipping Administration (WSA) to the U.S. Army and operating as a troopship in the Pacific Ocean in World War II when grounded and eventually lost on 14 February 1942.[2][3]

Civilian career[edit | edit source]

Granite State was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation for the U.S. Shipping Board and launched 7 March 1921[4] for U.S. Lines North Atlantic service 1921-1922.[1] She burned to the main deck in 1924.[citation needed] She was transferred 1923, and renamed President Polk of Dollar Lines for worldwide trade, transferred 1938 to American President Lines and renamed President Taylor in 1940 accommodating 128 passengers.[1][4]

World War II[edit | edit source]

President Taylor was requisitioned for war service, placed under WSA control and allocated to the United States Army in December 1941.[1][2] She was re-fitted for use as a troop carrier in San Francisco in December 1941.[citation needed] Her initial voyage as a troopship was a round trip from San Francisco to Honolulu and back.[citation needed] The ship left San Francisco for the Philippines on 31 January 1942, under the command of Captain A. W. Aitken.[citation needed]

Wreck on Canton[edit | edit source]

President Taylor, taking part in an effort to reinforce islands considered vital to protect communication lines with Australia, carried two companies of infantry and two battalions of coast artillery, about 1,100 men, for the Canton (Kanton) Island garrison.[5] During that operation, possibly due to loss of an anchor while landing troops and equipment by means of shallow draft craft from outside the lagoon, the ship was firmly grounded on the coral reef. The ship was eventually a loss despite extensive efforts to re-float and save her.[1][3]

The grounded ship was unloaded under difficult conditions and salvage attempts made with first Taney and Seminole dispatched later joined by Navajo and by Argonne on 12 April 1942 with a salvage expert, LCDR Curtiss, being flown to the island. Argonne, a large ship of 8,400 tons displacement, embarked salvage equipment along with supplies and munitions for the island, sent salvage crews aboard Taylor before leaving to return to Pearl Harbor 5 May.[3][6][7][8] As of 22 February neither salvage nor offloading had been effective due to weather and extra barges for offloading were not due for about two weeks. No progress had been made by 24 February and Robin was sent towing a large and three small lighters to assist in unloading with arrival noted on 5 March along with an estimate of three weeks to re-float Taylor. By 10 March some progress was reported but effort to free the ship were unsuccessful and prospects to do so described as "most unfavorable." By 22 March the salvage units had been ordered to return awaiting a decision emerging from a meeting with salvage specialists. After the meeting on 1 April an order from CinCPac to COMSERFORPAC 3 April directed an expedition to salvage Taylor. On 2 May the effort to salvage Taylor was abandoned with the effort seen as good experience and an indication to the vessel owners that the Navy would make the attempt.[3]

In 1952 the remains of the ship were sold to North Coast Corporation, and scrapping began in 1954.[9][10]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 APL [American President Lines] (2013). "History - 1920-31 Vessel Statistics". APL. http://www.apl.com/history/timeline/stat5.htm. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Grover, David (1987). U.S. Army Ships and Watercraft of World War II. Naval Institute Press. p. 18. ISBN 0-87021-766-6. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Nimitz (1942). "‘Gray Book’ — War Plans and Files of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet". Operational Archives, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard, Washington D.C.. pp. Entries February—May 1942. http://www.ibiblio.organrs/docs/D/D7/nimitz_graybook1.pdf. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 T. Colton (June 9, 2011). "New York Shipbuilding, Camden NJ". ShipbuildingHistory. T. Colton. http://shipbuildinghistory.com/history/shipyards/1major/inactive/newyorkship.htm. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  5. Matloif, Maurice; Snell, Edwin M. (1999). Strategic Planning For Coalition Warfare 1941-1942. United States Army In World War II—The War Department. Washington, D.C.: Center Of Military History, United States Army. p. 151. LCCN 53-61477. 
  6. Naval History & Heritage Command. "Seminole". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s9/seminole-iii.htm. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  7. Naval History & Heritage Command. "Navajo". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/n2/navajo-ii.htm. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  8. Naval History & Heritage Command. "Argonne". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/a11/argonne-ii.htm. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  9. William F. Turner with collaborators Frank W. Kiel and Alice Ruth Kiel (January 3, 2009). "Hard and Fast on a Pacific Atoll—Views from the Bridge and the Bow". Shipwreck World. http://www.shipwreckworld.com/articles/hard-and-fast-on-a-pacific-atoll-views-from-the-bridge-and-the-bow. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  10. "USS President Taylor (Granite State, President Polk)". PacificWrecks.com. 25 October 2012. http://www.pacificwrecks.com/ships/usn/president_taylor.html. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 

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