From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships

General R. M. Blatchford

Richard M. Blatchford, born 17 August 1859 at Fort Hamilton, N.Y., served on the American frontier in Dakota Territory, Kansas, and Arizona. Following two tours of duty in Puerto Rico he served both in the field and in garrison in the Philippines from 1901-04. After frontier and border patrol assignments, General Blatchford sailed for France in July 1917 and during World War I was commanding general of the Line of Communications, A.E.F. Following his return to the United States he served in Panama, Ohio, California, and Washington, retiring from active service 1 December 1922. He died 31 August 1934 at San Francisco, Calif.

(AP - 153: dp. 9,950 (lt.); l. 522'10"; b. 71'6"; dr. 26'6"; s. 16.5 k.; cpl. 256; trp. 3,823; a. 4 5", 8 1.1", 16 20mm.; cl. General G. O. Squier; T. C4-S-A1)

General R. M. Blatchford (AP-153) was launched 27 August 1944 under a Maritime Commission contract by the Kaiser Co., Richmond, Calif.; sponsored by Mrs. William Anderson of San Francisco; acquired and simultaneously commissioned 26 January 1945, Comdr. Allen H Guthrie in command.

General R. M. Blatchford sailed from San Francisco 12 March 1945 with over 3000 fighting men and debarked them at Manila 13 April, returning to San Francisco 22 May to off-load 2000 troops taken on board at Biak and Finschhafen. She sailed 30 May for France via the Panama Canel [sic; Canal], touched at Le Havre 20 June, and debarked more than 3,000 returning troops at Boston 1 July. Five days later the transport sailed to redeploy troops from the European to the Pacific theater, embarking 3000 soldiers at Leghorn, Italy, and bringing them safely to Luzon and Manila in August 1945. General R. M. Blatchford embarked more than 1,000 troops and casualties at San Pedro, Philippine Islands, and put in at Seattle 30 September 1945.

Continuing her Magic-Carpet assignments, the ship sailed from Seattle 16 October with 2,800 rotation troops and debarked them at Nagoya, Japan, where 3,000 homeward veterans were loaded and put ashore at San Francisco 20 November. From 28 November 1945-7 May 1946 three more round-trip voyages from Seattle to the Far East were made, the transport bringing near-capacity loads of troops to and from Nagoya, Yokohama, and Shanghai and mooring at San Francisco 7 May 1946 with completion of these duties.

On 9 May General R. M. Blatchford departed for Norfolk, Va., via the Panama Canal and moored at that port 24 May. She was decommissioned at Baltimore, Md., on 12 June 1946 and returned to the Maritime Commission for operations as an Army transport. She was reacquired by the Navy on 1 March 1950 for operations by a Civil Service crew under the MSTS, transported thousands of troops from the West Coast in support of United Nations Forces in Korea.

On 11 February 1961 she sailed from New York for two and a half years overseas service in the United Nations Congo sealift. Earning her the nickname of "Ambassador Ship," her crew cemented goodwill relations for the United States in the best traditions of the People-to-People Program while helping to keep the peace in the Congo. The veteran transport traveled 174,000 nautical miles in ferrying 36,809 passengers to and from the Congo, Morocco, India, Pakistan, Malaya, and Indonesia. She circumnavigated the African continent several times and criss-crossed the Indian Ocean repeatedly while rotating United Nations soldiers, doctors, nurses and technicians assigned to the Congo. General R. M. Blatchford arrived New York on 11 August 1963 with high praise from her government and United Nations Secretary General U Thant who said, "The ship and her devoted master and crew have been a mainstay of the United Nations Operations in the Congo, and they have never failed us even when their duties must have seemed arduous and incessant."

She continued to operate in the Atlantic supporting U.S. Forces in Europe until transferred to the Pacific in 1965 to carry troops to Vietnam. She continued this vital task until overhauled at San Francisco in January 1967 and entering ready reserve status.

General R. M. Blatchford received two battle stars for service during the Korean war.


Transcribed by Yves HUBERT (