Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
Naval History Division • Washington

USS Arthur Middleton (AP-55/APA-25)

Arthur Middleton was born on 26 June 1742 on his family's estate, Middleton Place, near Charleston, S.C. He was educated in England and, upon returning to South Carolina, became active in local politics. Middleton was elected to the colonial House of Assembly in 1764; served until 1768; and, after a four-year absence, was reelected to the House in 1772. He sat in the first provincial congress and served on the secret committee of five people that arranged and directed the seizure of powder and weapons from the public storehouses in Charleston on the night of 21 April 1776. On 14 June, he became a member of the first Council of Safety, which assumed the executive power of the colony.

On 11 February 1776, Middleton was appointed to a committee of 11 to draft a constitution for South Carolina. A few days later, he was elected to the Continental Congress and, still later, signed the Declaration of Independence on behalf of South Carolina. he continued serving in the Congress until October 1777. While he was reelected three more times between 1778 and 1780, Middleton did not actually serve in Congress during these years.

During the siege of Charleston in 1780, Middleton was a member of the militia. He was taken prisoner when the British captured the city and was sent to St. Augustine, Fla., as a prisoner of war. He was exchanged in July 1781 and sat in the session of Congress of 1782. After the war ended, Middleton devoted himself to managing his plantation. He died at Goose Creek, S.C., on 1 January 1787.

(AP-55: dp. 10,812; 1. 489'; b. 69'9"; dr. 27'4"; s. 18.4 k.; cpl 528; a. 4 3"; cl. Arthur Middleton)

African Comet was liad down under a Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 106) on 1 July 1940 at Pascagoula, Miss., by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp.; launched on 28 June 1941; sponsored by Miss Mary Maud Farrell; acquired by the Navy from the American South African lines, Inc., on 6 January 1942; renamed Arthur Middleton (AP-55) on 7 January 1942; converted for naval service by the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, calif.; and placed in commission on 7 September 1942, Comdr. P.K. Perry, USCG, in command.

The Coast Guard manned Arthur Middleton joined the Pacific Fleet and, in December 1942, sailed for Alaska. She ran aground at Amchitka, Alaska, 12 January 1943 while rescuing 175 survivors of the wrecked Worden (DD 352) and remained on the rocks for 84 days. She was reclassified APA-25, 1 February 1943. After temporary repairs at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, she was towed to Puget Sound Navy Yard by Cree (ATF-84), 17 June 1943 for permanent repairs.

She departed the United States in September 1943 for Wellington, New Zealand, arriving 12 October. From Wellington she carried Marines for the invasion of Tarawa, (Gilbert Islands) (20-29 November 1943), and then returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving 7 December. She departed Pearl Harbor 23 January 1944 with part of the corps reserve for the Kwajalein, Marshall Islands invasion (21 January). She remained off Kwajalein until 15 February but her troops were not needed and she was reassigned to the Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, invasion. She landed assault troops at Engebi Island (17 February) and Parry Island (21-22 February) and returned once again to Pearl Harbor, arriving 8 March.

Departing Pearl Harbor 30 May, Arthur Middleton took part in the Saipan invasion (15-23 June ) and returned to Pearl Harbor 9 July. By 31 August she had completed two runs between San Diego, Calif., and Hilo, Hawaii. She arrived at Manus, Admiralty Islands, 3 October and sortied 14 October with TG 79.2 for the Leyte landings. Remaining off Leyte between 20 and 24 October, she then made a follow-up run from Hollandia and Morotai which ended 14 November. She departed Manus 31 December 1944 with TG 79.4. Arriving off Lingayen Gulf 9 January 1945, she sent her troops ashore the same day During the day she had 15 men wounded from shrapnel, caused by other vessels firing at the Japanese aircraft. Sailing to Leyte, she reloaded with supplies and returned to Lingayen 27 January.

During February and March Arthur Middleton participated in training exercises off Guadalcanal and then staged, through Ulithi with TG 53.1 for the Okinawa invasion (1-5 April 1945). Following Okinawa, the transport returned to San Pedro, Calif., via Saipan and Pearl Harbor, arriving 30 April. She remained there until 4 September undergoing repairs. By the end of 1945 she had made two trans-Pacific voyages to the Philippines carrying replacement troops out, and returning servicemen back. Following the detachment of her Coast Guard officers and crew, 1 February 1946, she was attached to the Naval Transport Service. During the next four months she made six round trips between San Francisco and Pearl Harbor and then steamed through the Panama Canal, arriving at Norfolk, Va. 19 July 1946. Placed out of commission at Norfolk 21 October 1946, she joined the Atlantic Reserve Fleet.

Arthur Middleton received seven battle stars for World War II.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey (patrick@akamail.com)