Alcoa Banner

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The Alcoa Banner was built in 1919 by American International Shipbuilding on Hog Island, Pennsylvania.

Hog Island in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the first shipyard ever built for mass production of ships from fabricated parts and sub-assemblies, produced at dozens of subcontractors. It had 50 shipways, seven wet docks and a holding basin.

Only two basic designs, EFC 1022 and EFC 1024, were to be fabricated at the yard, these became collectively known as "Hog Islanders". The Type A design (1022) was a cargo carrier and the Type B (1024) was designed to transport troops. Both were simple designs geared toward mass production and aesthetic considerations were ignored. These were very modern in design except for the aesthetics. The vessels were fueled by oil rather than coal, with modern geared turbines of 2500 shaft horsepower capable of producing up to 15 knots.

Hog Island Type A freighter

The design had an minimum of frills with no sheer (upward curve at the bow or stern), resulting in a squat, angular silhouette. The hulls were symmetrical from the sides. The combination produced an unconventional look and profile. These ships were considered ugly but well built and had good performance in terms of capacity and speed. The profile created a form of camouflage because the lack of sheer in the bow, high stern, and the evenly balanced superstructure, made it difficult for submarines to tell which direction the ships were going.

The Hog Island contract was for 180 ships, but only 122 were completed, and none were completed in time to be used before the war ended. The first ship, the SS Quistonck, was launched on August 5, 1918, and the last of 122 ships on January, 29 1921.

Though not effective in World War I, these ships were used extensively by the military and Merchant Marine. Fifty eight, nearly half, of the Hog Islanders were sunk during World War II. The Liberty ships built during World War II used a similar concept of production, but a completely different design; in most ways the Hog Islanders were a more advanced design, despite their age.

The Alcoa Banner was part of at least the next convoys:

Convoy SC 77 which departed from Halifax, Canada on March 30,1942 and arrived in Liverpool on April 16.

Convoy PQ 16 in May 1942. Departed from Reykjavik on the 21st of May 1942 and arrived Murmansk on the 30th of May 1942.This convoy en route to Russia, was attacked fiercely by the German Luftwaffe. The Alcoa Banner was damaged but with no casualties among its crew. 8 vessels were lost in this convoy.

 Convoy MKS 8 departed from Bone on 17 February 1943 and arrived in Liverpool on 1 March 1943.

On 7 July 1943, German submarine U-185 carried out two attacks on convoy BT 18 off the coast of Brazil, torpedoing U.S. freighter James Robertson and tanker William Boyce Thompson. The James Robertson careened through the columns of the convoy, colliding in succession with U.S. freighter Alcoa Banner.

CONVOY SC 148 departed from Halifax on December 2, 1943 and arrived in Liverpool on the 16th.

CONVOY HX 327 departed New York City on December 19,1944 and arrived in Liverpool on January 2,1945.

After this last convoy, the Alcoa Banner was sent to the port of Antwerp in Belgium to deliver supplies to the Allied ground forces on mainland Europe. On 24 January 1945, Ar 234 (jet propelled) bombers of the German KampfGruppe 76, struck the docks at Antwerp and damaged the Alcoa Banner. Two men died in the attack, Chief Engineer Le Gal and fireman Joseph Cummings. The Alcoa Banner was repaired but later written off and scuttled.

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Relevant Websites

The Hog Islanders

Casualties of the Alcoa Banner

  Cummings Merchant Seaman Joseph W.   Henri Chapelle 24 January 1945
  Le Gal Merchant Seaman Charles Richard   Margraten 24 January 1945