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one question answered (in part)

January 28 2012 at 8:08 PM
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Nelson  (no login)

Response to SS President Grant-Circa 1942


In rereading your postings in this thread, I do think you've already answered one of your alphanumeric questions. Posted four days ago (and please note I've added the italics in quoting you):

> The 'Ship Movement Card' for the PRESIDENT GRANT has "P-10" typed on the bottom of the movement cards. For example: On the bottom of each card from left to right, it reads: "Name, No., Gross Tons, Speed, Built, ect... Info filled out reads in this order; "President Grant, P-10, Dwt. 13050, 14, 21... Owner-American President Lines (APL), and Operator-Army, Nationality-US, Home Port-SP 02413-1848 and radio call-KDRL." What does P-10 stand for? >

First of all, by your own statement, the presense of "P-10" is consistent on each card, appearing just after the ship's name, President Grant. Moreover, each card provides the categories to be supplied/filled in, to wit:

Name: President Grant
Number: P-10
Gross Tons: Dwt. 13050 tons
Speed: 14 knots
Built: 1921

And these data, except for "P-10", are confirmed precisely in the useful APL website

If you're asking what the letter-number means, then a little more research will be necessary to shed light on this alphanumeric scheme more generally. I would guess that "P" stood for either President or Passenger, though I'll wager the former without any additional data. Two organizations would almost certainly have been involved in this identifier: the United States Maritime Commission--some of whose functions were taken over in late 1942 by the War Shipping Administration or WSA--and the American President Lines (APL), with, say, the U.S. Maritime Commission or WSA assigning the letter "P" to APL, and APL then numbering its ships according to its own lineage, or the federal agency simply assigning the alphanumeric to each American merchant vessel plying the wartime oceans, assigning a different letter to each shipping line, as suggested previously. I'd say a degree of concurrence existed between the feds and the various American shipping lines, with perhaps an advisory committee coming up with the scheme. I'm assuming that such an alphanumberic would have been painted on the bow and stern of each ship, similar but perhaps not identical to the manner done for USN warships. After all, one would not have wished the task of identifying Allied ships to prowling hostile submarines be made the easier by painting President Grant, Emerald Castle, etc., in letters large. The agency would NOT have assigned the letters "AP" to the American President Lines because the USN had already grabbed those for its transports, or indeed the prefix letter "A" itself because that generally preceded the hull designations for most classes of naval auxiliaries. I think you need to do only a little more work to confirm this postulate, but it is readily clear that "P-10" was unique to President Grant, and thus was an identifier, wartime or otherwise.

As regards the convoy FP-1, for starters I would consult Peter Plowman's Across the Sea to War: Australian and New Zealand Troop Convoys from 1865 through Two World Wars to Korea and Vietnam (Australia: Rosenberg, 2003). Whereas mostly to do with ANZAC troop movements, a ship filled with Yank soldiers escorted by HMNZS Leander probably qualified as well.

And a correction:

In your initial posting, you wrote

> [President Grant] was severally damaged when she ran aground on ULAMA reef near Sydney, Feb. 22, 1944. >

Most sites indicate she ran aground on Uluma Reef, just southeast of Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea, four days later, February 26, 1944.


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  • President Grant-Uluma Reef-Total Loss - Bob Burns on Jan 28, 2012, 11:06 PM
  • Ship Movement Cards-P-No's - Bob Burns on Jan 30, 2012, 1:28 PM
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