Hunter Liggett (AP-27) was built as Pan America in 1922 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., Sparrows Point, Md., and after sailing for many years as a passenger ship was transferred to the Army and renamed Hunter Liggett in February 1939. The transport operated from New York to San Francisco and from the West Coast to Hawaii until 27 May 1941, when she was turned over to the Navy.
Converted to Navy use at Brooklyn Navy Yard, she commissioned as AP-27 on 9 June.
Hunter Liggett and her Coast Guard crew were ordered to the Pacific in April. Departing New York on 9 April, the ship stopped at the Canal Zone and Tongatabu before arriving Wellington, New Zealand, 28 May. The transport was scheduled to take part in the occupation of Guadalcanal, and after amphibious training and a rehearsal landing in the Koro Islands she sailed with other ships 31 July for the Solomons. Hunter Liggett arrived off Guadalcanal the night of 6 August. In this assault, the ship was assigned to a later wave, but sent her boats to aid in the initial landings, 7 August. Air attacks began on the day after the landing, sinking fellow transport George F. Elliott. Hunter Liggett's gunners shot down several of the attackers as she remained off the beaches. Early on the morning of 9 August, men in the transport area could see the flashes of light from an engagement off Savo Island. As the Japanese attempted to reinforce their Solomons garrison and destroy the transports they surprised an American Task Force and inflicted heavy losses. Hunter Liggett and the other vulnerable transports got underway, but soon returned to the transport area. After noon 9 August, they began the grim job of rescuing survivors from the sunken cruisers Vincennes, Astoria, and Quincy. That afternoon the transport sailed with the wounded, in company with the damaged Chicago, to Noumea, where she arrived two days later. The transport spent the next month at Noumea and on local amphibious training operations. After a period of repair at Wellington she sailed 22 October for Efate, New Hebrides, loaded marines, and returned to Guadalcanal on 4 November. As she off-loaded near Lunga Point, Japanese shore batteries and air attacks made every moment a potentially fatal one. As the "Tokyo Express" was due that night, Hunter Liggett and the other transports retired in the evening, only to return next day to finish landing operations. For most of the next year, Hunter Liggett remained on this hazardous duty, the support of Guadalcanal.
She was reclassed APA-14 on 1 February. She made numerous trips to the island bringing troops from Noumea and New Zealand, carried equipment, and transported wounded marines and Japanese prisoners from the embattled island. Constantly threatened from the air and by submarines, she continued this vital job until arriving 22 October, when she anchored at Efate, New Hebrides. At Efate, Hunter Liggett took part in training operations for another important amphibious operation, the invasion of Bougainville. As American strength grew and the Gilberts operation got underway to the east, the taskforce sailed 28 October for Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville. Arriving early 1 November the transports unloaded with startling efficiency during air attacks from Rabaul. Hunter Liggett remained in the area that night and once more witnessed from afar the Japanese attempt to break up the landing. Hunter Liggett departed that day for Tulagi and after another passage to Bougainville to support the amphibious toehold there 11 November sailed for Espiritu Santo 18 November. Loading wounded at Espiritu Santo, Hunter Liggett proceeded to Pago Pago for more casualties and sailed for San Francisco, arriving 9 December.
For several months the transport underwent major repairs. Then, 3 April, she steamed to San Diego to begin a new career as an amphibious training ship. For the next eight months she imparted the lessons learned in the Solomons campaign to those who would carry out some of the largest and best executed assaults in our historyLeyte, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and others.
1945 - 1948
Hunter Liggett joined the "Magic-Carpet" fleet on 10 December 1945 to return to American servicemen from the Pacific. She made voyages to Ulithi, Guam, Pearl Harbor, and the Palaus before reporting to Olympia, WA, for return to the Army 9 March 1946. She decommissioned on 18 March, and was later sold to Boston Metals Co., 30 January 1948, and scrapped.
See Also -
Hunter Liggett (US Army Transport)
These specifications and ship histories are adapted from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (US Naval Historical Center) and from various other sources. These summaries may not reflect the most recent information concerning the ships' status or operations. If you find an error or discrepancy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our online crossing submission form.