George F Elliott

The ship was laid down in 1918 as SS City of Los Angeles at Bethlehem Steel Corp., Alameda, California, for the United States Shipping Board (USSB). She was then acquired by the US Navy and commissioned USS Victorious (ID-3514), 19 October 1918. Subsequently, she was decommissioned and simultaneously struck from the Naval Register, 25 February 1919, at New York and returned to the United States Shipping Board for disposal. She was then acquired by the Baltimore Mail S.S. Co. in 1931, renamed SS City of Havre, lengthened another 67 feet and had passenger accommodations added. She was acquired by Panama Pacific Lines in 1938, and renamed SS City of Los Angeles. As World War II approached, she was acquired by the Navy on 30 October 1940, converted to a Naval Transport, and commissioned USS George F. Elliott (AP-13) on 10 January 1941, Captain H. G. Patrick in command.
On the morning of August 8th, the Elliot and her crew were still awaiting the order to resume sending the balance of her cargo ashore at Guadalcanal when radar screens on the US Destroyer pickets began to show an approaching flight of Japanese planes heading straight for the landing group. Weighing anchor and raising steam to get underway shortly before 11am the Elliot moved out of the landing area into the open waters of Ironbottom Sound and her crew readied their weapons to meet the inbound Mitsubishi G4M 'Betty' bombers coming over Florida Island. Making her 10.5 knot top speed and weaving between US Destroyers and other transports as they avoided and fired on the Japanese torpedo bombers skimming mere feet above the waters surface, the gunners on the Elliot sighted a 'Betty' closing on their Starboard side, only 30 feet off the water. Taking the plane under concentrated fire and scoring several hits, the gun crews were unable to down the Japanese bomber before it suddenly popped up and slammed into the ship, just aft of the superstructure on the Starboard side.
Though the lightly armored 'Betty' disintegrated on impact with the hull of the Elliot, wreckage and burning gasoline showered the deck and its engines were able to punch through the unarmored hull into the rear cargo hold, severing the ships rear fire main in the process. A massive fire broke out onboard both topside and deep within the hull, where supplies destined for shore now fed the flames which the crew raced to contain. Fires below deck quickly grew out of control and forced the engine room crew to abandon their stations, bringing the George F. Elliot to a stop in the middle of Ironbottom Sound. Using a bucket brigade and whatever means they could to fight the fires, the crew made a valiant stand against the advancing flames as the continuing Japanese attack kept nearby ships from providing any assistance to the burning transport. By the time the remnants of the Japanese bomber force had departed the area it was too late for the Elliot, as the intense flames caused a damaged bulkhead to fail, releasing bunker fuel into the rear hold and turning a massive fire into an inferno. Shortly after 13:00 hrs, (1:00 pm) the crew was ordered to abandon ship and the George F. Elliot was sunk by scuttling charges. George F. Elliott was struck from the Navy List 2 October 1942. She was awarded one battle star for World War II service.

George F Elliott burning

Wreck site AP-13



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