Bellingham

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The USS Bellingham--a steel-hulled, single-screw freighter built for the United States Shipping Board (USSB} during 1918 at Seattle, Washington, by the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Co.--was taken over by the Navy for operation by the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS), to be manned by a Navy crew under an Army account; given the identification number (Id. No.) 3552; and commissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard on 30 October 1918, Lt. Comdr. Charles O. W. Lofstrom, USNRF, in command.

Bellingham sailed for Chile on the morning of 4 November 1918 and--after a brief stop at San Diego, Calif., on 10 November--reached the port of Arica on 28 November. Shifting to Iquique on the 29th, the NOTS freighter loaded a cargo of nitrates there before sailing for Panama on the morning of 6 December. Reaching Balboa, on the Pacific side of the Isthmus, on the 15th, Bellingham transited the Panama Canal that day and left Cristobal the same evening bound for Florida. The ship reached Jacksonville three days before Christmas and discharged her cargo there, remaining in port into the following year. Underway again on 10 January 1919, Bellingham steamed up the coast to Charleston, S.C., where she arrived the following evening.

Loading a cargo of 5,577 tons of steel and cotton, Bellingham left Charleston on 15 February 1919. Upon arrival at Le Havre, France, on 6 March, however, the ship discovered that congestion of the port facilities there would have made it impossible to be assigned a berth for almost two weeks. Ordered to proceed instead to Cherbourg, the freighter got underway on the afternoon of the 8th, and reached her destination early the following morning. There, she unloaded her cargo before returning to Le Havre on 16 March.

Underway thence for Wales on 6 April 1919, Bellingham arrived in Cardiff on the 8th and, six days later, embarked 26 sailors for passage home. Sailing in ballast on 15 April, Bellingham reached the Quarantine Station off Staten Island late on the evening of the 25th. Cleared at the station, the ship anchored off Tompkinsville the next morning and transferred her passengers to the submarine chaser SC 49. Sent thence to discharge ballast, Bellingham moored alongside Pier 46, North River, at 1747 on the 30th and was placed in line for demobilization. She shifted briefly to a drydock in Brooklyn before being returned to the USSB.

Decommissioned on 10 May 1919, Bellingham was struck from the Naval Vessel Register that same day and returned to the USSB. There is some evidence that she operated under the Shipping Board's auspices for a time in the early 1920’s before being laid up. Acquired by the Soviet government around 1931 or 1932 and renamed Nevastroi, the former NOTS cargoman operated out of Leningrad and, later, from the Pacific port of Vladivostok, until her name disappears from shipping registers around 1961.[1]

References

  1. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships [1]
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