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The Harriman type: Shipping Board Design 1025

By: Daniel H. Jones

Unlike the Hog Islanders, (see PSM Vol.1/4) the Harrimans were not prefabricated ships. They were basically a repeat of a pre-war design built in fairly large numbers, (21 being built for various buyers), and were ordered in quantity as part of the United States Shipping Board's merchant ship production program. The original 21 ships were requisitioned into government service under the Shipping Board Emergency Fleet program and a further 62 ships were ordered to this design. The original 21, built by the Chester Shipbuilding CO, (the old John Roach yard at Philadelphia), though basically the same, varied in some details as they were designed for several different owners. Perhaps because of this, different design numbers were assigned to these ships, fifteen designated Design 1158, one Design 1159 and five Design 1160. Some had no deck house at the stern, a few listed small differences in dimensions, funnels varied in height and diameter, but tonnages were about the same. They were in almost all respects within the specifications of the USSB 1025 design.

Three yards were chosen to build the 62 standard ships under Design Number 1025. The largest was the Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation of Harriman, Pennsylvania, (thus the nickname for the class), which produced 40 ships. The other two yards were Newburgh Shipyards, Newburgh, New York, (12 ships) and Pensacola Shipbuilding Company, Pensacola, Florida, completing 10 ships. All but two were equipped with Babcock and Wilcox boilers and almost all were oil fired. Overall length was 418 feet, breadth was 52 feet, with a depth of 32 feet. Engines developed a shaft horsepower of approximately 2,400 to 2,600 for a speed of about 12 knots.

None were completed before the end of the war. Some were modified slightly for post war operators. In general appearance, as completed, the Harrimans were very similar although some of the details varied. Not all of the ships remained cargo carriers. Three ships, NAAMOK, WATERBURY, and DELANSON were purchased in 1928 by Export Steamship Corporation and converted to cargo liners. The 0l bridge deck level was extended back to join the midships structure. Open rails were replaced with solid metal bulwarks and accommodations were provided for 37 to 40 passengers. They were renamed EXARCH, EXCELSIOR, and EXILONA and provided passenger service to the Mediterranean until new construction came out in 1931. All three were lost in WW II, two torpedoed by German U-Boats, the third sunk by Japanese cruiser gunfire in the Gulf of Bengal.

From the model maker's point of view there are a few features that are interesting. The gracefully curved bulwarks suggest an equally graceful curved sheer line. This is an illusion. The decks are flat longitudinally. The only sheer present is at the poop and the forecastle. The normal camber on most ships is a gentle curve. On the Harrimans this was a bit different. The deck plating is flat, coming to a peak at the centerline. This was done to simplify construction and worked just as well in removing water from the decks. The boat davits were unique. Instead of the usual modem quadrant type found on most merchant vessels of this period, the Harrimans had long curved davits anchored on the deck below. They swung outboard in slots or recesses in the upper boat decks. Some ships were completed with as many as six boats plus the work boat on the poop. When the extra boats were present they were carried in the same positions as shown on the three passenger conversions. Most ships had only four lifeboats plus the work boat.

The remaining Harrimans were pressed into service in the Second World War. They were armed, generally with a single 5" gun at the stem. Floater rafts were slung at the masts. A few had platforms built alongside the funnels for 20mm guns. The Harrimans were still serviceable ships and some serious consideration was given to resuming production of the 1025 design. Plans did not proceed as the Liberty design was chosen as the standard mass produced U.S. cargo ship of WW II.

Thirty-seven Harrimans were gone before WW II. One was lost through accident, thirty-three were scrapped, and three were converted to barges or storage hulks. Of the remaining twentyfive ships, fifteen were lost to enemy action during the war. Two ships were transferred to Russia, their ultimate fate unknown. Five ships were broken up right after the war. Three were still in service as late as 1962.

1/700 Scale Drawings

Design 1025
Details differed on many vessels on completion
Typical USSB Design 1025 as completed by Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation, Harriman, PA.
The majority of ships had this appearence
As converted for passenger service for American Export Lines.
Colours were Hull black with whie lettering, White upperworks. Black funnel with white band edged in red. Letter "E" is in blue
Operated by Watermans, was lost in September 1942 while a part of onvoy PQ-18. She was more heavily armed than most. the majority were armed with only a single large calibre gun at te stern.

This article originally appeared in Plastic Ship Modeler 1995/2 and is reprinted here with the permission of the author and editor.

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