Ships That Transported the 79th NCB

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SS CAPE BON (C1-A 1089)

SS CAPE BON (C1-A 1089) was built by Pusey & Jones Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware.  The Corporation Record of WWII Shipbuilding shows the following:
"Hull #    Original Name    Type    MC #   Delivered    Disposition
  Cape Bon           C1-A      301      Jun-43   Troopship 1944-46,                                                                                      scrapped 1965"
SS CAPE BON (C1-A 1089) was one of nineteen CA-1 Troopships built by Pusey & Jones Corp., Wilmington, DE between Jan. 1942 and May 1945

United States Maritime Commission ( provides that "The C1 types were the smallest of the 3 original types designed by the United States Maritime Commission...... 173 were built between 1940 and 1945. Both the C1-A and C1-B were built with either steam geared turbine or diesel motors."

On November 5, 1944, USS VIGILANCE (AM 3224), a Minesweeper, left Eniwetok for Guam escorting a convoy that included SS CAPE BON.  Nearly three months later, on January 31, 1945, the 79th departed San Francisco on board SS CAPE BON destined for Saipan with stops at Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok. Destined for Okinawa, the 79th NCB landed at Saipan on February 26.

One 79th Seabee Veteran relates the following memories of that voyage on Troopship SS CAPE BON:

"We boarded the CAPE BON in San Fran and did not transfer to any other ship while on our way to Saipan.  The ship was steel plated and extremely hot, with no air-conditioning.  We did stop at Pearl but only overnight, or maybe for one extra day, but we left there and went directly to Enewitok and did nothing there except unload a few supplies, did not take on fuel, but also unloaded the two soldiers (gamblers who boarded with us in Frisco that thought they would take these poor old Seabees to the cleaners. 

The Cape Bon was a converted troop ship.  It was originally a Merchant Marine cargo ship and to the best of my knowledge was never a Navy ship.  This I got from one of the crew members who I found out was from PA.  As I said before, we only stayed a few hours on Enewitok and we never got off the ship.  One thing that was always stuck in my mind about the trip was the amount of Portuguese Man of War sea life that was floating on the top of the ocean.  The ocean was as smooth as glass and these sea creatures were by the trillions, surrounding the ship in all directions for as far as the eye could see for at least two days that I recall.  The men tried to catch some in buckets on ropes over the side of the ship but only caught a few and got stung by them at that.

The enlisted men were only allowed forward of the pilot house and the aft section of the ship was for officers only.  Why we stopped at Enewitok was to let off two soldiers, two gamblers of high profile,  who came along with us.  They thought they were going to make a killing with gambling with those old Seabees but I assure you they were mistaken.  My best recollection of the incident was that they each came on board with about $35,000 in cash, which was locked up with the captain, but when they got off they had less than  $5000 between them.  They did not know we had a few gamblers of our own.  I do remember that there was always a guard around the gambling area, armed, and unless you were playing you were not allowed near the area.  Of course this restricted the rest of us to very small areas of our own.  Weather was good for the traveling but it was so terribly hot that it was hard to breathe sometimes, especially when you went below to your bunk for the night.  And, the food was lousy to say the least.  But, the crew did the best they could to help us survive."

SS CAPE BON (C1-A 1089) is not listed in the Dictionary of Naval Fighting Ships.


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