|SS CAPE BON (C1-A 1089) was built by Pusey
& Jones Corporation, Wilmington, Delaware. The Corporation Record of WWII
Shipbuilding shows the following:
Original Name Type MC
# Delivered Disposition
1089 Cape Bon
Jun-43 Troopship 1944-46,
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 1945United States Maritime Commission (http://www.USMM.org) 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.