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  USS Mount Hood AE-11
USN
Mount Hood-class ammunition ship

13,910 Tons
459' 2' x 28' 3" x 28' 3"
1 x 5"/38 gun
4 x 3"/50 gun
2 x Twin 40mm AA
10 x 20mm AA
Capacity: 7,700 Long Tons

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USN July 1944

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USN November 10, 1944

Ship History
Built by North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, North Carolina. Built under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 1356) as Marco Polo, a cargo ship. On November 10, 1943 renamed Mount Hood. Launched November 28, 1943 sponsored by Mrs. A. J. Reynolds.

Acquired by the Navy on loan-charter basis on January 28, 1944. Converted as the lead ship in the Mount Hood-class ammunition ship (Type C2-S-AJ1) by Norfolk Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company at Norfolk, Virginia, and at the Norfolk Navy Yard. Painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 18F. Commissioned July 1, 1944 with Comdr. Harold A. Turner in command.

Wartime History
The ship had an abbreviated fitting out and shakedown cruise in the Chesapeake Bay area before assignment to ComServFor, Atlantic Fleet on August 5, 1944. Loaded with cargo at Norfolk. Departed on

Assigned to TG 29.6, she departed August 21, 1944 transiting the Panama Canal by August 27 and steamed independently across the Pacific via Finschafen before anchoring at Seeadler Harbor on September 22, 1944. Assigned to ComSoWesPac to provide ammunition and explosives for vessels.

Sinking History
On November 10, 1944 while anchor in Seeadler Harbor off Manus. At 8:55am, her cargo of explosives accidentally detonated in a massive blast. Aboard, the entire crew was killed, except for eighteen men who were ashore on a mail pickup detail. The explosion damaged twenty other vessels. Damage and casualties were also inflicted on ships anchored as far as 2000 yards away. USS Argonne was hit by 221 pieces of debris and recovered 1,300 pounds of wreckage during the search for survivors. In total, 45 dead, 327 missing and 371 injured.

Steve Nazzise adds:
"A troop transport ship called the Chateau Thieery was tied up and ready to depart about 300 yards from the Mt. Hood when she exploded. She was one of the troop transports bringing the PT Boaters back home along with other troops from the battle fields of the Pacific."

AEN1C Michael Kunz., CASU 49 adds:
"I was there on a Navy transport ship when the Hood blew up. we were at anchor about a mile from where the Hood was. We all ran for cover and waited about three minutes and then the oil came raining down on us. We were never told what had caused the explosion."

Shipwreck
The explosion destroyed the entire ship. The largest piece of wreckage recovered was only 10' x 16'. Underwater, divers discovered a trench roughly 1000' x 200' and roughly 40' deep created by the explosion.

References
Navy Historical Center USS Mount Hood (AE-11)
Navy Historical Center USS Mount Hood (AE-11) Explosion, 11 November 1944
USS Mount Hood explosion and official investigation

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Last Updated
August 27, 2014

 

 

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