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Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Many vessels have carried the name 'Altamaha'
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Roger Allen

    The first vessel named Altamaha was owned by the Steamboat Company of Georgia, formed in 1816 by Samuel and Charles Howard. Built in Charleston in 1817, the Altamaha arrived at Savannah on Oct. 27, 1818.
    In 1836, a whaling schooner named the Altamaha based in New Bedford, Mass., was captured and burned by the Confederate raider Alabama on Sept. 13, 1862 in the Azores.
    Then, there was a 315-ton Bark named Altamaha that was based in Savannah. Next, local fishing legend Captain Joe Willcox built a boat he named Altamaha in 1892 which he sold to the City of Augusta in 1926.
    The first Altamaha that was a 2,667-ton passenger steamer built for the new Brunswick Steamship Company was built in 1907 at the Quincy Fore River Ship & Engine Company yards in Boston, Mass.
    Originally 313 feet long, after being wrecked near Pensacola, Fla., it was apparently cut down to a barge in 1924 and then abandoned in 1933. The next Altamaha, a 944-ton schooner, built at the Jackson & Sharp Shipyards in Wilmington, Del., in 1913, also was barged after a wreck.
    The next two Altamahas were U.S. Escort Aircraft Carriers. The first warship, an Attacker Class Escort Carrier, was built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company in Pascagoula, Miss.
    It was one of the British Royal Navy's eight escort carriers, renamed the Battler, provided to them under the Lend-Lease program. After the war, the Battler was sold to the Patapsco Steel Scrap Company in Bethlehem, Penn., as scrap.
    The second warship, the Bogue Class Attack Escort Carrier CVE-18, was built at the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corporation and was launched on May 25, 1942.
    The carrier Altamaha was 496 feet long and weighed 15,700 tons. She was armed with two five-inch guns with numerous antiaircraft guns. She also carried a complement of 28 aircraft: 16 Wildcat fighters and 12 Avenger Torpedo Bombers.
    The Altamaha carried replacement planes for the U.S. Navy's main carriers of the Pacific Fleet, delivered Army Air Force planes to India and then more planes to American airbases in Australia.
    After completing these tasks, she headed for the Marshall Islands as the lead carrier of Task Group 11.1. Their job: hunt down and kill Japanese submarines.
    Her last assignment was to lead Task Group 30.8, a fleet of Oilers and Escort Carriers that was to replenish the U.S. Navy fleets at numerous ports, including Guam and Saipan.
    At war's end the Altamaha became part of the "Magic-Carpet" fleet, assigned to bring the American forces and their equipment back to the U.S. mainland.
    The Altamaha was decommissioned and placed in the Reserve Fleet on September 27, 1946. Her name was struck from the Navy list on March 1, 1959.  Shortly thereafter, the vessel was sold as scrap to Japan.

    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at

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