USS Kittery (AK-2)
Acquiring a captured German freighter
Kittery (AK-2) was launched as the German transport, SS Praesident, 30 November 1905, by G. Seebach Co., Bremerhaven, Germany. Owned by the Hamburg-American Line, SS Praesident operated throughout the waters of the West Indies and Caribbean.
After the outbreak of World War I, she was suspected of supplying German cruisers in the Leeward Islands. Following several harrowing cruises during which she narrowly avoided capture by British and French ships, she entered the port of San Juan, Puerto Rico, early in 1915 and was interned with two other German merchantmen. After the United States entered the war in April 1917, she was taken over on the authority of President Woodrow Wilson and per his orders in the issuance of Executive Order 2619-A, 14 May 1917, by the U.S. Navy. SS Praesident sailed to the United States escorted by Hancock and was refitted for naval service. She was commissioned as Kittery 6 July at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lt. Comdr. Charles Geddes, USNRF, in command.
World War I North Atlantic service
Assigned to cargo and troop transport duty between the United States and the West Indies, Kittery departed Philadelphia 18 July. Operating out of Charleston, South Carolina, she made monthly trips during the remainder of the war to supply American forces.
After the war she continued her cargo service from Charleston and Norfolk, Virginia, for more than 15 years, making scores of runs to West Indian ports. Following a final trip to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Port-au-Prince, and Cap-Haïtien, she arrived Norfolk 21 December 1932. She proceeded to Philadelphia 28 January 1933, arriving the 30th.
Kittery decommissioned 5 April, and her name was struck from the Navy List 11 April 1933. transferred to the USSB 26 June 1933, she was scrapped in 1937.
Military awards and honors
Kittery's crew members were authorized the following medals:
- World War I Victory Medal (with Transport Clasp)
- NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive - AK-2 Kittery
- Photo gallery at Naval Historical Center
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