Banner was built in 1919 by American International Shipbuilding on Hog
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
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
Hog Island Type A freighter
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The Hog Islanders
Casualties of the Alcoa Banner