Photo of the Week
April 16, 2017

As a follow up to last week's photo of the SS Ancon shown in the distance from the USS Missouri I have above what the USS Ancon (AGC-4) looked like for war.  Her she is at anchor in Chesapeake Bay, 8 May 1943, after conversion from a troop transport to an amphibious command ship (AGC). Note that some of her civilian bow ornamentation, although painted over, is still visible. US Navy photo # NH 95389.  What a difference in what the SS Ancon looked like when in service for the Panama Railroad.  The photo below was taken by my dad probably at Cristobal in the early 1950's.  Note the passenger rail cars on the dock bringing departing passenger to the ship.  This ship has more history about her than most people ever knew.

History time line:

  • Laid down, date unknown, as SS Ancon for the Panama Railroad Co., at Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, MA.
  • Launched, 24 September 1938
  • Delivered to the Panama Railroad Co., 16 June 1939
  • Acquired by the Army Transportation Service, 11 January 1942 and commissioned USAT Ancon
  • Acquired by the Navy, 7 August 1942
  • Commissioned USS Ancon (AP-66), 12 August 1942, CDR. David H. Swinson USNR in command
  • Reclassified USS Ancon (AGC-4), 26 February 1943
  • Converted to an Amphibious Force Command Ship, 16 February 1943 through 21 April 1943, at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, VA.
  • During World War II USS Ancon was first assigned to the Europe-Africa-Middle East Theater and then reassigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following campaigns:
Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
North Africa occupation
Algeria-Morocco landings, 8 to 11 November 1942
Okinawa Gunto operation
Assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 1 April to 3 June 1945
Sicilian occupation, 9 to 15 July 1943  
Salerno landings, 9 to 21 September 1943  
Invasion of Normandy, 6 to 25 June 1944
Task Force 122 - Assault Force "O" - RADM Hall USN
  • Following World War II USS Ancon was assigned to Occupation service in the Far East for the following periods:

    Navy Occupation Service Medal (2 to September 1945) (2 October to 30 November 1945

  • Decommissioned, 25 February 1946, at New York Naval Shipyard, Brooklyn, N.Y.
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 17 April 1946
  • Returned to the Panama Railroad Co. in July 1951 for commercial service until, 20 April 1961
  • Title returned to the Maritime Administration by the Panama Railroad Co., 29 June 1962
  • Loaned to the Maine Maritime Academy, 29 June 1961, for use as the schools training ship
  • renamed TS State of Maine, 14 July 1962
  • Returned to the MARAD, 25 May 1973
  • Final Disposition, sold for scrapping, 9 May 1973, to North American Smelting Co., delivered, 25 May 1973, scrapping completed, 22 August 1975
  • USS Ancon earned five battle stars for her World War II service

Visit the NavSource Online website for more information and great photos: 




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