USS Nitro Association crestUSS Nitro (AE-2/AE-23) Association
History of the
USS Nitro AE-2

provided by Rod Seeland

USS NITRO (AE-2) was built by the Navy Yard, Puget Sound, Washington. Her keel was laid 19 March 1919 and she was launched, 16 December 1919, under the sponsorship of Mrs. Henry Suzalo, wife of the President of the University of Washington. The ship was placed in commission at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, 1 April 1921, when Commander R.W. Vincent, USN, assumed command.

NITRO was especially built and refrigerated to carry ammunition and explosives. In addition to her crew she could accommodate over 250 passengers. After commissioning in 1921 she was assigned to the Naval Transportation Service with principal operations between ports of the west and eastern seaboard of the United States. She continued in this duty until June 1941, making an average of three cruises each year via the principal ports of the Caribbean Sea to deliver passengers, supplies and ammunition in support of the Battle Fleet. Intervenient duty included five voyages from the west coast direct to Pearl Harbor; and seven voyages via Pearl Harbor and Guam, to Manila, Philippine Islands. In 1927 she steamed to Shanghai, China with ammunition and personnel for the Asiatic Fleet. Her duty in the Caribbean Sea included delivery of personnel, ammunition and supplies to the Marine Forces in Nicaragua between the years 1928 and 1930. Enroute from the west coast to the Philippine Islands during early 1941, she delivered passengers and cargo to Midway and Wake Islands.

On 17 June 1941, NITRO arrived at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, remaining for overhaul until August when she resumed operations between that port and San Diego, California. Based at Norfolk from late December 1941 to 20 April 1944, she transported passengers, supplies and ammunition to the Caribbean Sea. Her principal ports of call during this duty were Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Trinidad, B.W.I.; Bermuda, B.W.I.; Portland Bight, Jamaica; Panama Canal; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. During this time she also made two voyages and return from Trinidad to Recife, Brazil. On 10 February 1944, she departed Trinidad for Norfolk, arriving 16 February 1944. She remained at Norfolk for local operations until 20 April 1944, then sailed for Belfast, Northern Ireland.

On 2 May 1944, NITRO arrived at Belfast and on 5 May steamed for Plymouth, England, remaining until 12 May, then visited Roseneath, Scotland. On 3 June she returned to Plymouth, England, where she rearmed heavy units including battleships ARKANSAS, NEVADA, and TEXAS, in connection with their naval bombardment missions in support of the Normandy Invasion. She remained at Plymouth for this duty until 4 July then sailed via Belfast for Mers-el-Kebir Harbor, Oran, Algeria; arriving 25 July 1944 to participate in the Invasion of Southern France.

From 25 July to 25 August 1944, NITRO rearmed ships in the vicinity of Oran and Algiers, Algeria. On 29 August 1944, she arrived in the Gulf of Valinco, Island of Corsica, where she continued duties as ammunition stores ship until 14 September, then returned for operations at Oran, departing 28 September 1944, enroute to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands.

NITRO arrived at St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 10 October 1944, and after brief operations at the Canal Zone, departed 2 November 1944 for Pearl Harbor where she loaded ammunition stores, 11 November 1944. She then steamed via Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands, to Ulithi, West Caroline Islands, arriving 1 December 1944. Except for one voyage to Guam and return (2-8 February 1945) she remained for local operations at Ulithi until 20 May 1945. She then steamed to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippine Islands, rearming ships and engaging in local cargo operations until 17 July 1945, when she departed for the United States.

NITRO steamed via Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, and Pearl Harbor to arrive at Blake Island, Puget Sound, Washington, 15 August 1945. At the Naval Ammunition Depot, Bangor, Washington, from 17 to 22 August 1945, she unloaded ammunition and on 24 August, entered the Kaiser Shipyard at Portland, Oregon, remaining for repairs until 6 October 1945 when she sailed for the east coast of the United States. Steaming via San Pedro, California, she arrived at the Canal Zone, 21 October, departing Colon the next day for Norfolk where she arrived 28 October 1945. She entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, 15 November, and was placed out of commission, 30 November 1945. She was transferred to the Maritime Commission, 30 March 1948, and sold to Welding Shipyards, Incorporated, New York, New York, on 19 September l949. NITRO earned one battle star for participation in the Invasion of Southern France, 15 August to 28 September 1944.

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