Ships That Transported the 79th NCB

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Length: 448 feet, Beam: 58' 3, Tonnage: 8,300 GT, Speed: 14 knots, Armament: Four 3" Guns, Crew: 286 crewmen, Disposition: converted to a hospital ship August 28, 1943

USS CHAUMONT (AP-5) was built in 1920 by American International Shipbuilding Corp., Hog Island, Pa.; requisitioned from the War Department 3 November 1921; and commissioned 22 November 1921. Prior to WWII, Chaumont transported military supplies, Marine expeditionary forces, and sailors throughout the Pacific.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, she eventually made two voyages from the West Coast to Pearl Harbor in support of the buildup at Pearl and was then assigned to runs between Seattle, Wash. and Alaskan bases, bringing men and supplies to the forces resisting the Japanese in the Aleutians.

The 79th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) Seabees departed Port Hueneme on May 3, 1943, shipping out for Seattle, Washington (Bremerton) and was transported on board USS CHAUMONT (AP-5) to the Aleutians for their first tour of duty, disembarking the ship May 10, 1943 on their "ISLAND X." According to one 79th veteran, the transporting of the 79th was the next to the last or the last voyage of the USS CHAUMONT as a Troop Transport Ship before she was decommissioned August 28,1943 for conversion to a hospital ship.  Noted one 79th veteran of this voyage, "I was seasick all the way. Thought I would die before we landed, wherever. Don't know where you got the picture of the ship, Chaumont, but that is it alright. Can you imagine 1200 of us on the ship that small."  Appearing in the 79th Battalion Seabees World War II Cruise Book, put together while the 79th NCB was stationed in the Aleutians, is a painting of USS CHAUMONT (AP-5)  done from memory by one of the 79'ers of the original group.

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Shortly after transporting the 79th NCB to the Aleutians, Chaumont was converted, renamed Samaritan (AH-10) on September 2, 1943 and reclassified as a U.S. Navy hospital ship.  Recommissioned on March 1, 1944, she evacuated patients from the islands of Guam, Guadalcanal, Peleliu during 1944.

In early 1945, the ship that had carried the 79th NCB to the Aleutians as Troop Transport Ship USS CHAUMONT (AP-5) now shadowed the Battalion's second and third tours as U.S. Navy Hospital Ship USS SAMARITAN (AH-10).
    *    On January 31, 1945, the 79th departed San Francisco for Saipan on board another Troopship, the SS CAPE BON (C1-A 1089); and on February 16 the SAMARITAN sailed for Iwo Jima and two days later for Saipan.  Destined for Okinawa, the 79th NCB landed on Saipan Island on February 26.
    *    On April 2, 1945, SAMARITAN sailed for hard fought Okinawa, arriving April 13, and on April 18 portions of the 79th were transported to Okinawa aboard LST-598 in the "Gunto" invasion of Okinawa.  From the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, at Okinawa USS SAMARITAN (AH-10) "received casualties at the beach during the daytime and withdrew at night to the transport areas offshore, alternating her stays at Okinawa with evacuation voyages to Saipan".

USS SAMARITAN (formerly USS CHAUMONT) was decommissioned in San Francisco on June 25, 1946 and on August 29 was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal.  Samaritan received four battle stars for her service in World War II.

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