Tryon, 19 September 1942

12 Jul


     I recently came across this wonderful photo of Tryon that was new to me.  Taken on September 19, 1942, it shows brand-spanking new Tryon sailing in San Francisco Bay, her 48-star flag snapping smartly above the waves.  Looking sharp in fresh paint, and sailing in the relative safety of the bay, she appears carefree, if only for that brief moment, her fore and aft guns sheathed by protective covers, her crew scattered on deck, relaxed, enjoying the salt air.

But there is more of Tryon’s story to be read from this photo.  For starters, it reveals the first evidence of a problem that was to follow Tryon throughout the war – a poorly designed funnel that allowed smoke from the engines to be blown onto the after deck.  Note the trail of smoke curling over the superstructure.  Several attempts were made to correct this – when Tryon arrived in Auckland, New Zealand in April, 1943, replacement of the stack was included among the first repairs to be done. [1] Later, wind tunnel tests would be performed to help with the funnel design – but the problem was never fully resolved. The funnel would be altered yet again when Tryon was overhauled in Alameda in May of 1945. [2]

     In full display in the photo are the trademark raked masts of Tryon and her sister ships, Rixey and Pinkney.  As explained in an earlier post, the 8- degree rake of the masts was part of the design of the ship that was originally intended to be built, the Alcoa Courier, her hull laid down on March 21, 1941, months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s entry into the war.  Courier (as well as her sister ships, Corsair and Cruiser, that became Rixey and Pinkney) was to be used as a “passenger freighter,” an interesting concept developed by the Alcoa Steamship Company that added cruise ship accommodations to some of it’s ore freighters, thus allowing them to carry passengers as well as cargo.  The ships were initially designed to appeal to the eye of the passengers, with features that were more esthetic than utilitarian.  In addition to the raked masts, the ships sported gently curved clipper bows, terraced mid-ship deckhouses overhanging the hull and oval solariums surrounding their funnels.[3]  Once the U.S. entered the war, the hulls were requisitioned by the Navy and completed as naval vessels, Courier became Tryon, Corsair became Pinkney, and Cruiser became Rixey, but the characteristic features of the Alcoa design remained.  Tryon’s graceful-looking masts were shortened to the level of the crosstrees when she was overhauled in May, 1945.[4]

     Arrayed along the sides of the ship are Tryon’s lifeboats.  These were of a merchant-ship variety, with the designed purpose of saving lives in the event of calamity.   They gave Tryon a sleek appearance – but apparently not sleek enough for her crew.  In May, 1943, Mac Perry reported the following: “All hands knew now that we were headed for Guadalcanal . . . The Tryon had a new look now. With the addition of the extra 20-mm guns (20 in all now) , we had taken off the merchant-marine type life boats, cut away their davits

This interesting photo of Tryon taken in October, 1943, verifies Mac Perry's statements.  The lifeboats, along with a portion of their mounts, have been removed.  In their place, as revealed by their distinctive twin protective steel plates, are the 20mm Cannon.  Small circles mark the location of at least six of them on the starboard side of the ship.

This interesting photo of Tryon taken in October, 1943, verifies Mac Perry’s comments regarding modifications made to increase her fire power. The lifeboats, along with a portion of their mounts, have been removed.  In their place, as revealed by their distinctive twin protective steel plates, are the Oerlikon 20 mm Cannon. Small circles mark the location of at least six of them on the starboard side of the ship.

An Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, similar to the ones seen on Tryon above.

An Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, similar to the ones seen on Tryon above.

and now she was really stream-lined.  This extra space made the additional guns available.”[5]  Perry does not mention what they planned to do if caught amidships by a Japanese torpedo with a full compliment of passengers, which could mean 1,100 marines, 500 wounded and 400 crew.  Later on, during overhaul in May, 1945, Tryon’s lifeboat mounts were replaced with Welin davits, similar to those placed on Pinkney and Rixey as original equipment.  In place of the less functional lifeboats Tryon could now carry landing boats, capable of delivering troops, medical personnel, or supplies to the beach.  Mac had expressed his disregard for these earlier,

Tryon, 18 May 1945, after Welin davits for use with landing boats had been mounted.

Tryon soon after overhaul, 18 May 1945, with Welin davits for use with landing boats now mounted.  Also not the shortened masts.

Although I have not found a photo of Tryon with a full compliment of landing boats, this aerial photo of USS Hamblin (APA 114) shows how landing boats must have been positioned on Tryon (and her sister ships).

Although I have not found a photo of Tryon, Pinkney or Rixey with a full compliment of landing boats, this aerial photo of USS Hamblin (APA 114) shows how landing boats were  likely were arranged on Tryon (and her sister ships).

though: “On March 5th [1943] the Solace came in with 400 patients and our sister ship, the Pickney [sic] with another 400 patients.  Soon after she docked, a group of us went aboard to see what changes they had made in the yard before she sailed from the states [Pinkney would not leave San Diego for the war zone until 27 January 1943; Rixey departed south on 19 February.  Tryon had departed San Diego for the South Pacific on October 20, 1942].  She had 18 landing boats [three Welin davits on either side of the ship, each with three landing boats], which made her top-heavy, used the covered portion of the weather deck as part of the hospital country, used the upper wardroom for ship’s officers, and was all cluttered up.  Had dinner aboard with Smith, an engineering officer we knew at San Francisco. Their meals nor service could touch that of the Tryon, and despite their warm hospitality all of us were glad to get back to the Tryon and pleased as punch that we had duty aboard the old T instead of her sister.”[6]  Later, he reported: ”Reached Noumea on the afternoon of the 9th [March, 1943] and our sister ship, the Rixey, was in port. She too was top-heavy with landing boats just as was the Pinckney [sic].” [7] Perry was detached from Tryon on 11 July 1944 (and, as he reported, never saw her again), so he was spared the indignity of a “topheavy” Tryon.

     So the Tryon captured in the photograph of 19 September 1942 would change significantly before the war’s end late in 1945.  To put the time of this photo in a little perspective, it was taken ten days before the Navy took possession Tryon, eleven days before Tryon was commissioned, twenty-one days before Tryon left San Francisco for San Diego, and thirty-one before she would leave San Diego for the South Pacific.  Forty-nine days after this photo Tryon glided for the first time into a berth in Great Road, the pristine harbor off Noumea, New Caledonia, beginning the odyssey that would lead her safely through the war.


If you or your family member served aboard Tryon, or if for another reason you’re interested in Tryon, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment so that we can communicate further.

If you have a comment, correction, annecdote or story related to this or any other post, please be sure to leave a comment. I enjoy nothing more than hearing from others that share an interest in this most pivital time in world history.

And thanks for taking time to check out my blog. I sincerely appreciate it.


[1] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 31.


[3] Friedman, Norman. U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis,MD: Naval Institute, 2002. Pp. 64-5.


[5] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 36.

[6] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 31.

[7] “The South Pacific Express.” Pg. 32.


6 Responses to “Tryon, 19 September 1942”

  1. brian l ferriera October 13, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    Hello ,
    My father served abard the Tryon .Louie Lewis Ferriera. I dont have anything to add but would love to know where i could find more info on her.
    Thanks for your time.
    Brian Lewis Ferriera

    • rememberthetitans October 14, 2015 at 8:35 am #

      Hi Brian – thanks for visiting my blog. I want to start my reply to you by saying your dad was a member of a special group of sailors aboard Tryon – he was a plank holder. He was part of Tryon’s crew from the time she was commissioned until the end of the war. I suppose that in the strictest sense of the term it would apply to all of the sailors originally a part of Tryon’s crew, but I’ve modified the meaning a bit to suit my own purposes! At some point I intend to post a list of those that served aboard Tryon for that entire period between commissioning and war’s end.

      I want to start off by saying that I have no idea how much you know about you’re dad’s service, so if I’m telling you stuff that you already know, please forgive me. Here’s a little bit I was able to find out about his time in the navy:

      Louie Lewis Ferriera enlisted at San Francisco, CA on 3 February 1942 (DOB 1/12/16; age 25 at time of enlistment)
      – Received aboard Tryon 1 October 1942; rating SC3c (Ship’s Cook Third Class)
      – Advance in rating 1 Jan 1943 SC3c to SC2c (Ship’s Cook Second Class)
      – Advance in rating 1 Aug 1943 SC2c to SC1c ( Ship’s Cook First Class)
      – Sent to Mobile Fleet Hospital #5 for treatment 18 May 1944
      – Return to Tryon from Mobile Fleet Hospital #5 for duty 26 June 1944
      – Appointed 1 Nov 1944 to CSS(AA)(T) (Chief Commissary Steward)
      – Transferred to US receiving station for discharge 20 Sept 1945

      This information all came from Tryon muster rolls, which are available on I’d be happy to download the ones that list your dad and email them to you. As far as further information about Tryon is concerned, “The South Pacific Express” by Mac Perry is a good resource, but is hard to find. A good deal of information is available on In their WW II documents, select War Diaries and then search for “Tryon.” Searching for “USS Tryon” will not yield as many references. Additionally, I’d be happy to answer any questions that you want to ask. I’ve been studying Tryon for a number of years and have a pretty good background in the ship.

      • Brian November 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm #

        My mother has a kind of yearbook style book that all the men signed and made comments . If she can find it I’ll send along the info to you.



      • rememberthetitans November 7, 2016 at 9:02 am #

        Good to hear from you again, Brian! I’d love to see what you have!! If you could copy it and send it along or whatever, I’d love to see it. It might even be something I could add to the blog.

  2. marilyn miller January 8, 2018 at 3:37 pm #

    thank you for all the research you have done @ the three hospital ships in the tryon class. i’m an amateur family genealogist/historian. my uncle morgan w. reed served aboard the uss rixey but sadly never talked about it. i have learned a lot from your blog. marilyn reed miller, toms river, nj

    • rememberthetitans January 8, 2018 at 4:21 pm #

      Thank you, Marilyn, for your kind words! It has been my pleasure to research Tryon and her sister ships, Rixey and Pinkney. In case you haven’t already found it, I would highly recommend Steve Dunn’s excellent blog about Rixey, found at He has some wonderful photos on there that I admit to being a bit envious of! At one time I even requested photos of Tryon from the National Archives, but alas, they didn’t have any of the type that Steve has of Rixey. I’m sure that you will really enjoy them, if you haven’t seen them already!

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