A twin screw motor cargo vessel, 932 tons privately ordered by the Bahama Line U.S.A (Balboa Shipping Company, a subsidiary of the United Fruit Company). Ordered for “Pigly Wigly Stores” which are still in existence today …
depth to upper deck 21
Speed: 15 knots.
The Cubahama was the only ship built by Robb’s which did not make the grade on her speed trials. The reason for this was that she was designed to carry bananas, and in 1938 Leith did not have a ready supply of a full cargo of bananas! So concrete was used instead.
Once she was operational with her proper cargo she regularly exceeded the contracted speed.
Launched from the Henry Robb’s shipyard, Leith on 28th June 1938.
She was acquired on 3rd January 1941 from The Balboa Shipping Company, New York, renamed Kuala1(AG-33) on15th January and commissioned at Baltimore 22nd January under Lt Commander W.L. Ware.
She then steamed to Hawaii via the Panama Canal and reached Pearl Harbour on 17th March. Before war broke out in the Pacific she carried cargo from Pearl Harbour and Honolulu around the Hawaiian islands as well as to the Johnston and Palmyra Islands. Luckily she was on her way to Palmyra Island during the Japanese Pearl Harbour Raid on 7th December. She underwent some limited conversions to fit guns, and sprinklers in case of fire because she was so frequently carrying munitions, in 1942 at Pearl Harbour.
Thereafter she continued her work supplying military equipment and ammunition and transporting sea-bees (US navy construction battalions), usually in convoy. She sailed back to the US, arriving at Seattle on 26th May 1945 where she underwent a 2 month refit. After that she was used to transport materials for the construction of coast guard L.O.R.A.N. (long range navigation) stations in the Alaska region. She worked for the US coast guard, travelling to Ketchikan, Juneau, Seward, Kodiak and Dutch Harbour before returning to Seattle on 18th September. From there she worked in the Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca before ending up at Blake Anchorage, Wash on 6th December and being decommissioned on 14th January 1946. After she was removed from the naval register on 12th March she was transferred to the Maritime Commission on 15th July and sold back to her former owner.
In 1976 she was renamed Wandajean and disappeared from shipping records in 1993 after some 55 years of service.
Maybe someone reading my blog knows what became of this amazing ship?
1. A 550-foot high rocky islet amongst the Hawaiian Islands, approximately 20 miles west-southwest of Niihau Island.
“Cutter History File”. USCG Historian’s Office, USCG HQ, Washington, D.C.
“Leith Built Ships on War Service” 1946 published by H & J Pillans and Wilson, Edinburgh for Messrs Henry Robb, Limited.
Model of the Cubahama held by the National Museum of Scotland
will take you to a more recent post showing pictures of the model of the Cubahama.
http://leithbuiltships.blogspot.com/2010/04/ship-no-262.html carries further details of her specifications.
Copyright: Ruth Patterson 2010