TSES IV - USNS Henry Gibbins
On August 23, 1941, in the shipyards of the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation in Pascagoula, Mississipi, the keel of a new ship, the BILOXI was laid down under a Maritime Commission contract. It was one of the four Ingalls C-3 type vessels designed and constructed as troopships. The BILOXI was launched on November 11, 1942, but never sailed under that name. Renamed HENRY GIBBINS, she was delivered to the War Department Army Transportation Service as T-AP-183 on February 27, 1943. She was the second ship to carry the name of Major General Henry Gibbins, the late Quartermaster General of the Army.
After voyages to Oran, Bora Bora and various ports in Australia, HENRY GIBBINS in September, 1943, began several months of uninterrupted service as a troop transport from New York to The European Theatre of Operations. Beginning in May, 1944, she sailed to Naples, Cherbourg, Marseilles, LeHavre, and Southampton until August, 1945. At that time she began operating between Boston and Marseilles, completing the last trip in December of 1945.
In 1944 President Roosevelt issued an order to bring 982 Holocaust refugees to the United States. The story of a secret mission by Ruth Gober who was a special assistant to Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, is told in the book Haven. It is the story of how Gober went to Naples, boarded HENRY GIBBINS, and brought back 982 refugees from the Holocaust. About 1,000 American soldiers who had been wounded in the battles of Anzio and Casino were also aboard. The trip to America was in a convoy of 29 ships including 16 warships. On each side of HENRY GIBBINS were ships carrying Nazi prisoners of war, giving added protection from German U-Boats. The refugees were taken to an internment camp in Oswego, NY, where they remained for the duration of the war.
In 1946 HENRY GIBBINS was converted by the Gibbons Engine & Machine Company to carry 452 military dependents from the United States to Europe. She also transported war brides from Europe to the United States. One such voyage was on March 7, 1946, when HENRY GIBBINS left Belfast with 314 wives and 140 children.
On March 1, 1950, she was transferred to the Navy and assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service. During the Korean War she transported men and equipment from New York to Caribbean and Canal Zone ports prior to their assignment in the Pacific.
In 1953, HENRY GIBBINS operated on the New York to Bremerhaven, Germany, and Southampton, England, runs and made a total of 12 cruises to these European ports. From 1954 until late 1959 the HENRY GIBBINS steamed from New York to the Caribbean over 75 times, sailed to the Mediterranean on 3 occasions, and crossed the Atlantic to Northern Europe eight times. During this time HENRY GIBBINS shuttled thousands of troops and tons of supplies between the United States and her foreign bases.
HENRY GIBBONS was transferred from the Military Sea Transportation Service to the Maritime Administration on December 2, 1959, at Ft. Schuyler, NY for service with the New York Maritime College. She had excellent spaces for training ship uses and also had two geared turbines. At this time she was renamed EMPIRE STATE IV and served as a training ship for the Academy until 1973.
In 1974 the TS EMPIRE STATE IV was renamed BAY STATE III and became a cadet training ship of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy at Buzzard's Bay, Massachusetts, until March, 1980 when she was placed in the James River Reserve Fleet and finally sold for scrap in January, 1981. Her final voyage was in 1982 to Kearney, New Jersey, where under her fourth name she ended her days.