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M. S. Bloemfontein

May 25 2009 at 10:56 AM
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Jacques Jansen van Vuuren  (no login)
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I've been following the career of the motorship Bloemfontein.(named after my home town in South Africa) She was built in 1934 as a passenger/cargo liner for the Holland Africa Line, making regular sailings from Europe to Southern Africa. I have record of voyages on this run up to March 1939 but after that things got blurry. She was reported somewhere to be working in the East Indies during 1940 and I know that she was leased to the U.S. Army sometime towards the end of 1941.
On December 3rd 1942, the Bloemfontein left San Diego with 4000 Marines on board bound for Espritu Santo. The voyage was apparently less than memorable but what I found amusing is that the Marines from VMD-154, in their newsletter of April 2000 referred to her as a "converted ice breaker"! Fact is that she had a Maierform bow - built for improved speed and seaworthiness but not for breaking ice.
My questions follow:
1. It is not likely that her voyages to South Africa ended in March 1939. Has anyone got any information about her career from that date onwards?
2. The website places her in the company of the "Pensacola Convoy",at sea and passing through the Phoenix Islands on December 7th 1941. If the Pensacola Convoy were on their way to Manila, what were they doing so far south?

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