USS Nitro (AE-2)
USS Nitro (AE–2) was an American ammunition ship that was laid down on 19 March 1919 by Puget Sound Navy Yard; launched 16 December 1919; sponsored by Mrs. Henry Suzalo; and commissioned on 1 April 1921 with Commander R. W. Vincent in command.
Carrying explosives and ammunition for the Battle Fleet, Nitro averaged three cruises yearly between the east and west coast by way of the Caribbean and Panama Canal. In addition, she made five voyages from the west coast to Pearl Harbor, seven to Manila, and one to Shanghai, as well as carrying men, ammunition and supplies to Marines in Nicaragua in 1928–30. The ship was specially built to refrigerate and carry explosives and ammunition. Additionally, Nitro was "configured to accommodate 10 officer and 250 enlisted passengers".
John S. McCain Sr. became Nitro's commanding officer in June 1931, joining the ship in Hingham Bay on June 9. When McCain's son "Jack" eloped with Roberta McCain (parents of Senator John McCain) in 1933 in Tijuana, Captain McCain was able to attend given that Nitro was docked in San Diego at the time. The Captain ended his command after a year and a half.
With Norfolk her home port at the beginning of World War II, the veteran ammunition ship carried ammunition to the Caribbean bases and twice to Recife, Brazil, base for the South Atlantic patrols, until she sailed 20 April 1944 for Belfast, Northern Ireland, with ammunition for the invasion of Europe. She operated from Belfast, Plymouth, and Roseneath, Scotland, supplying battleships with the heavy projectiles fired during the Normandy invasion.
On 25 July 1944, Nitro arrived in Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, for similar duty in the invasion of southern France, serving there and at Algiers and Corsica until 28 September, when she sailed for the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor. After loading ammunition, she sailed for Ulithi arriving 1 December. Here she armed ships engaged in the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa campaigns through 20 May 1945, when she sailed for local cargo and rearming operations in the Philippines.
Nitro returned to Puget Sound 15 August, repaired at Portland, Ore., then sailed for the Panama Canal and Norfolk, arriving 28 October to decommission 30 November. Transferred to the Maritime Commission 30 March 1948, Nitro was sold to Welding Shipyards, Inc., New York 19 September 1949. Nitro received one battle star for World War II service.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
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