Ships sailed - The 801st Engineer Batalion at Sea in World War II

These are the ships that carried the 801st in its over 19,000 miles of sailing across the Atlantic and Pacific.

Liberty Ship
S.S. John Clark
S.S. Gideon Wells
S.S. William S. Evarts

The Liberty ship was a standardized, mass-produced cargo ship. It pioneered the use of welding, which greatly cut construction time in comparison with traditional riveted ships. Eventually the average building time dropped to 42 days. Over 2,700 Liberty Ships were built during the war. The ships were crewed by the U.S. Merchant Marine, although they generally had a Navy detachment manning the guns.

The Liberty ship SS Carlos Carrillo off San Francisco around 1945-1946
photo courtesy U.S. Navy Historical Center

Displacement 14,245 tons
Length 441' 6"
Beam 56' 10 3/4"
Draft 27' 9 1/4"
Speed 11-11.5 knots
Complement 41
Range 23,000 miles
Armament one 4" gun for use against surface targets
other antiaircraft guns varied with ship and date
Propulsion two oil fired boilers, 2,500 HP triple expansion steam engine, single screw

Landing Ship Tank (LST)
LST 44
LST 205
LST 228
LST 243
LST 731
LST 790

The Landing Ship Tank was created to land heavy troops and heavy equipment directly onto the shore. Over a thousand were built in the United States, with more constructed in Canada and the United Kingdom. Despite its nickname (Large Slow Target) only 26 were lost due to enemy action. Thirteen others were lost due to weather or other accidents, including LST 228 during the Azores operation. LSTs were commissioned Navy vessels and carried an all-Navy crew.

Displacement unloaded: 1,780 t
fully loaded: 3,880 t
Length 328 ft
Beam 50 ft
Draft unloaded: bow 2 ft 4 in; stern 7 ft 6 in
loaded: bow 8 ft 2 in; stern 14 ft 1 in
Speed 12 knots
Complement 8 to 10 officers, 100 to 115 enlisted men
Troop Capacity about 140
Armament 1 x 3 in gun
6 x 40 mm gun
6 x 20 mm gun
2 x .50 cal machine guns,
4 x .30 cal machine guns
Propulsion two General Motors 12-567 diesel engines, two shafts, twin rudders

LST 325 shows two of its main design features: a flat bottom which allowed it to beach itself on a coastline, and bow doors and a ramp which allowed it to load and unload cargo without cranes. Unfortunately, the flat bottom also caused the LST to be relatively unseaworthy and the blunt bow doors limited its speed.

Attack Transport

USS Pondera (APA-191)

The attack transport was a variation of the Victory ship, which itself was a slightly larger, faster, tougher, longer-range version of the Liberty ship. The attack transport was designed to transport 1,500 troops and their combat equipment and land them on a hostile shore using its own landing craft. They were commissioned Navy vessels and carried an all-Navy crew. One hundred seventeen Haskell-class attack transports were built during the war.

The USS Pondera (APA-191) in San Francisco Bay in late 1945 or 1946
Photograph courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center, a donation of
Boatswain's Mate First Class Robert G. Tippins, USN (Retired)

Displacement 14,833 tons
Length 455'
Beam 62'
Draft 28' 1"
Speed 17 knots
Complement 536
Range 23,000 miles
Armament one 5 " Dual Purpose gun (for use against surface or air targets)
twelve 40 mm antiaircraft guns
Propulsion two oil fired boilers, 2,500 HP triple expansion steam engine, single screw

The USS Pondera was built by Kaiser Shipbuilding Co. in Vancouver Washington, launched on 27 July 1944 and commissioned on 24 September. The Pondera had made two runs to Okinawa and Leyte before carrying part of the 801st in a third trip. After dropping off the 801st on Okinawa she remained in western Pacific waters for some months carrying U.S. troops to Korea and Nationalist Chinese troops to Tsingtao before taking part in two Magic Carpet boatlifts of returning U.S. servicemen, ending in March of 1946. She then sailed for Norfolk for decommissioning on 6 June 1946 and was placed in the James River National Defense Reserve Fleet, where she remained until at least the 1970's.