The Official Home of 'Nasty Asty'  

USS ASTORIA AK-8 circa 1919.
-photo from Columbia River Maritime Museum collection, Brent Jones restoration

From the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships:
The first ASTORIA [sic]a steel-hulled, coal burning steam cargoman constructed in 1902 at Sunderland, England, by J. Blumer & Co. as SS BURBO BANK for the Fenwick Shipping Co., Ltd.—was acquired by Leonhardt & Blumberg of Hamburg, Germany, shortly before the beginning of World War I and was renamed SS FRIEDA LEONHARDT.

After the outbreak of hostilities, she took refuge in Jacksonville, Florida, and remained there until the United States entered the war against Germany in the spring of 1917. She was then seized by United States Customs officials and was turned over to the United States Shipping Board (USSB). Transferred to the Navy by an executive order dated 22 May 1917, the freighter was moved to Charleston, SC to be prepared in the navy yard there for naval service. Renamed ASTORIA, she completed conversion late in 1917 and was commissioned on 15 November 1917, Lt. Comdr. Warren F. Purdy, NNV in command.

Assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, ASTORIA departed Charleston on 23 November for a voyage to Gulfport, Miss., and back; re-entered Charleston on 19 December; and remained until the last day of the year when she got underway for Hampton Roads, Virginia. The ship loaded a cargo of Army supplies, put to sea on 26 January 1918, and reached the French coast early in February. On 15 February—while anchored in port at Brest, France—ASTORIA was rammed by the French ship SS LA DROME and suffered damage which required several weeks of repairs before she could resume action.

A Great War-era American sailor's hat from USS ASTORIA AK-8 circa 1918. This is the oldest artifact in my USS ASTORIA collection.
-Brent Jones collection

On 10 May, the ship was assigned duty as a coal carrier for the Army. In that capacity, she shuttled between Cardiff, Wales,and the French ports of Brest, St. Nazaire, and La Pallice for the remainder of the war and into 1919. After a stop at Queenstown, Ireland, between 2 and 22 February, she got underway for the United States and operated along the east coast until April 1919 when she began one more round-trip voyage to France.

Upon her return, she resumed cargo-carrying operations out of Norfolk and continued that role through the end of 1919. She stood out of Norfolk, on 5 January 1920, and steamed through the Panama Canal to the west coast. During her 10 months of operations with the Pacific Fleet, she was classified AK-8 on 17 July 1920.

USS ASTORIA AK-8 during on of her two transits of the Panama Canal, either January or November 1920.  During her service with the Pacific Fleet, ASTORIA received her two-letter AK-8 designation.
-photo from Brent Jones Collection

On 11 November [1920], the ship headed back toward the east coast. ASTORIA was decommissioned at Boston, Mass. on 20 April 1921; and she was sold on 20 December 1921 to Mr. Richard T. Green of Chelsea, Mass. Thereafter, the ship remained active in merchant service—under the names ASTORIA and later HARTWELSON— for more than two decades. On 5 May 1943, she ran aground on Bantam Rock, Sheepscot Bar, Maine and foundered.

Passengers aboard the newly-decommissioned ASTORIA circa 1921.
-photo from Brent Jones Collection

USS ASTORIA AK-8 Specifications:
Displacement:    7150 tons
Length:                319 ft 7 in
Beam:                 46 ft  (waterline)
Draft:                   20 ft 1 in  (mean)
Speed:                9.5 knots
Complement:     131 officers and men
Armament:          four 3" guns, two MG

History of USS ASTORIA AK-8 as written in the ASTORIA CL-90 commissioning program, 17 May 1944.
-courtesy Jim Peddie

                                                     BACK TO USS ASTORIA LEGACY

Jones,Brent.  Private photo, document and artifact collection.

Mooney, James L., ed.  Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, 8 Vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1959-91.

Peddie, Jim.  Private document collection.
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