WW1 TRANSPORT SHIP U.S.S. LEVIATHAN GROUPING

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The first large American troopship to make the Atlantic crossing with troops was the 54,000 ton USS Leviathan, formerly the German liner Vaterland, owned by the Hamburg America Line. Launched at Hamburg in 1914, she could sustain a speed of 20 knots across the Atlantic regardless of weather. She had 14 watertight compartments, 46 Yarrow coal-burning boilers, and eight Parson turbines driving four 4-bladed propellers measuring 14 feet from tip to tip. Having arrived in New York in July 1914, she was trapped in harbor when war broke out. Three years later she was seized as soon as America declared war on Germany. Outfitted as a troopship and given its new name and a "dazzle" style camouflage, Leviathan took a test run to Cuba in November. She was deemed fit for service on the Atlantic convoy run. On December 15,1917 she left her pier in Hoboken in a heavy snowstorm for the crossing, bound for Liverpool. It is reported in the history of this ship that Leviathan had 7,254 troops of the 41st Division plus 2,000 crew on board for this initial trip. Leviathan began regular passages between the U.S. and Brest, France, delivering up to 14,000 persons on each trip. Once experience in embarking troops was gained 11,000 troops could board the ship in two hours.

On September 29, 1918 she left New York for Brest, carrying 2,000 crew, and 9,000 troops. The voyage would prove to have the worst in-transit casualties of the deadly second wave of the Spanish flu. By the time she arrived at Brest on October 8, 2,000 were sick, and 80 had died.

Before the armistice on November 11, 1918 the ship transported over 119,000 fighting men. Amongst the ship's US Navy crew during this period was future film star Humphrey Bogart. After that date Leviathan, repainted grey overall by December 1918, reversed the flow of men as she transported the veterans back to the United States with nine westward crossings ending September 8, 1919. On October 29, 1919, USS Leviathan was decommissioned and turned over to the U.S. Shipping Board and again laid up at Hoboken until plans for her future employment could be determined. The ship was returned to service as an ocean liner, but as a spoil of war, for the United States Line.

Grouping consists of two identical albumen photos of the ship. First photo is mounted on cardboard. It measures 11” by 19”. Second photo measures 12’ by 20”. Both are marked, “U.S.S. LEVIATHAN / E. MULLER JR. N.Y.” Both show the ship entering New York Harbor in March 1919. Photographs by Enrique Muller, Jr., New York.

Also included in grouping are two postcards with image of the Leviathan, also photographed and marked by Muller. These both show a good view of the “dazzle” style camouflage. A third postcard with image of the ship’s bow was issued by the Jewish Welfare Board to Soldiers and Sailors of the U.S. Army and Navy. It is hand inscribed by a soldier who was writing home while on board.

Final item in grouping is a Troop Billet transport ticket that was issued to each soldier. Rules of the ship are printed on the reverse. Ticket number is 517.  [sl]


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