USS Humboldt (AVP-21)

USS Humboldt (AVP-21)

USS "Humboldt" (AVP-21/AG-121) was a "Barnegat"-class seaplane tender acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War II. She served in the North and South Atlantic Oceans and, at war’s end, she was loaned to the U.S. Coast Guard where she was known as USCGC "Humboldt" (WAVP-372) and later as USCGC "Humboldt" (WHEC-372).

Built at the Boston Navy Yard

"Humboldt" (AVP-21) was launched by Boston Navy Yard 17 March 1941; sponsored by Mrs. William T. Tarrant; and commissioned 7 October 1941, Comdr. W. G. Tomkinson in command.

World War II service

Atlantic Ocean operations

Following rigorous shakedown training off the Atlantic coast, the new seaplane tender sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, 13 May 1942 to join Rear Admiral Jonas H. Ingrain's South Atlantic Force on the Brazilian coast. After stops at San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad she arrived Recife, Brazil, 5 August and began tending the aircraft of VP-83.

During the months that followed, these patrol aircraft, operating with ships of the Brazilian and U.S. Navies, patrolled the vital South Atlantic Ocean sea lanes and hunted down Axis submarines. "Humboldt" supplied and repaired seaplanes and, in addition, carried aviation gasoline to outlying air bases on the coast while engaging in antisubmarine patrol herself.

President Roosevelt arrives on board

While at Natal, Brazil, 28 January 1943, "Humboldt" was the site of a conference between President Franklin D. Roosevelt, returning from the Casablanca Conference, and President Getúlio Vargas of Brazil. Following this meeting, which helped to achieve even closer cooperation between the naval units of the two countries, the seaplane tender continued to visit isolated ports on the Brazilian coast with supplies, establishing a new seaplane base at Aratú, Bahia, in May 1943. "Humboldt" headed north 1 July 1943, arriving Boston, Massachusetts, 17 July to take up new duties in the North Atlantic. Sailing 23 August, the ship carried supplies and parts to the Fleet Air Wings in Newfoundland, Iceland, and Great Britain. She continued this dangerous duty, often sailing unescorted, into the early months of 1944, occasionally sailing to Casablanca as well.

Mediterranean operations

She was at Casablanca in late May 1944 and upon hearing of the torpedoing of escort carrier "Block Island" and destroyer Barr steamed out to help with survivors and to escort "Barr" to safety. "Humboldt" was soon underway again, this time to bring an experienced submarine officer to rendezvous with "Guadalcanal"'s hunter-killer group, which had just captured "U-505" in an epic encounter 4 June. The seaplane tender continued to bring supplies to squadrons in the Azores and North Africa until 22 March 1945 when she sailed from Norfolk, Virginia, for Brazil. Returning to her original tending duties in the South Atlantic, "Humboldt" arrived Recife, Brazil, 5 April and remained on duty until the surrender of Germany, after which she sailed for Norfolk 10 June.

She moved to Philadelphia Navy Yard 16 July for conversion to a Press Ship. Re-classified "AG-121" 30 July 1945, "Humboldt" was to serve as a broadcast and teletype center for correspondents during the final phases of the war against Japan; but the war ended before her conversion was completed.

Post-war decommissioning

Arriving Orange, Texas, 22 November 1945, the ship decommissioned 19 March 1947 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

Conversion to Coast Guard use

Loaned to the U.S. Coast Guard in January 1949, she served at Boston, Massachusetts, as a weather ship, designated "WHEC-372". She was later redesignated "High Endurance Cutter (WHEC-372)", 1 May 1966, and, on 30 September 1969, she was decommissioned and returned to the Navy, where she was struck from the Navy list in 1970.

See also

* United States Navy
* World War II


* [ NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive - USS Humboldt (AVP-21) (AG-121) - USCGC Humboldt (WAVP-372) (WHEC-372)]

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