Barracks ship

A barracks ship or barracks barge, or in civilian use accommodation vessel or accommodation ship, is a ship or a non-self-propelled barge containing a superstructure of a type suitable for use as a temporary barracks for sailors or other military personnel. A barracks ship, a military form of a dormitory ship, may also be used as a receiving unit for sailors who need temporary residence prior to being assigned to their ship.

US Navy 031009-N-9693M-002 The U.S. Navy Barracks Craft Auxiliary Personnel Lighter Sixty One (APL-61) is moored alongside the U.S. Naval Academy's Dewey Seawall
US Navy barracks ship APL-61 in 2003

Early use

Mars-Souverain-Eylau--A Bougault
French ship Souverain, barracks for marines
USS Constitution as a barracks ship in Boston c. 1905

Barrack ships were common during the era of sailing ships when shore facilities were scarce or non-existent. Barrack ships were usually hulks. At times, barrack ships were also used as prison ships for convicts, prisoners of war or civilian internees.

Use in World War II

Barracks ships in the combat area provided necessary residence for sailors and merchantmen whose ship had been sunk, or whose ship had been so damaged that on-board berthing was no longer possible. They were also used at advanced bases, and as mobile barracks for units such as construction battalions. Occasionally, they would be used for other roles such as providing office space.

APL were non-self-propelled barracks ships were used by the United States Navy in forward areas during World War II, especially in the Pacific Ocean, and were designated APL, such as APL-18 which was commissioned in 1944 and had the following specifications for APL-1 to APL-58:

  • Displacement 1,300 t.(lt), 2,580 t.(fl)
  • Length 261 ft (80 m)
  • Beam 49 ft (15 m)
  • Draft 11 ft (3.4 m)
  • Complement unknown
  • Accommodations 5 Officers, 358 Enlisted

APB-35 to APB-51 were propelled Barracks Ship built in 1944. APB has a full load displacement of 2,190 tons.

Transport ships were also used as barracks by other war-time navies, such as the Kriegsmarine's SS General San Martin. One of the two abortive Jade class auxiliary aircraft carriers (Elbe) was also converted into a barracks ship.

Subsequent use

The United Kingdom used barracks ships to help garrison the Falkland Islands after it ousted the Argentinian occupation force in the 1982 Falklands War. The former car ferries MV St Edmund and TEV Rangatira were deployed to Port Stanley in 1982, and Rangatira stayed until September 1983.[1]

Rangatira is also an example of a civilian accommodation ship. She and another former ferry, MV Odysseus, housed workers who built an oil platform in Loch Kishorn in Scotland in 1977–78, and Rangatira housed workers who built Sullom Voe Terminal in the Shetland Islands in 1978–81.[1]


  1. ^ a b Castell, Marcus (2003–2005). "The Turbo Electric Vessel Rangatira of 1971". The New Zealand Maritime Record. Retrieved 29 May 2013.

External links

Bismarck-class corvette

The Bismarck-class corvettes were a class of six corvettes built for the German Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy) in the 1870s. The six ships were Bismarck, Blücher, Stosch, Moltke, Gneisenau, and Stein. The Bismarck-class corvettes were ordered as part of a major naval construction program in the early 1870s, and they were designed to serve as fleet scouts and on extended tours in Germany's colonial empire. The ships were armed with a battery of between ten and sixteen 15 cm (5.9 in) guns and they had a full ship rig to supplement their steam engine on long cruises abroad. One ship, Blücher, was converted into a torpedo testing and training ship shortly after she was completed, having her guns replaced with a variety of torpedo launchers.

Most of the members of the class were sent on extended foreign cruises throughout their careers, frequently to support the expansion of Germany's colonial empire through the 1880s. Moltke supported one of the German expeditions for the International Polar Year in 1882. Bismarck was involved in the seizure of the colony of Kamerun in 1884, and she, Gneisenau, and Stosch were used to secure the protectorate of Wituland in 1885–1886, which later became German East Africa. Members of the class also cruised off South America to protect German interests, particularly during the War of the Pacific.

Blücher and Stein served their entire careers as training ships, with the former training most German torpedo crews between the 1880s and 1900s and the latter being used to train naval cadets and apprentice seamen. Gneisenau, Moltke, and Stosch were also used as training ships later in their careers. In this role, they were used for long-range training cruises, primarily to the West Indies and the Mediterranean Sea. Bismarck was the first member of the class to be disposed of, being converted into a barracks ship in 1891. Gneisenau was wrecked off Málaga in a gale. Blücher was badly damaged by a boiler explosion in 1907 and sold thereafter. Stosch was sold for scrap the same year, and in 1908, Stein was also converted into a barracks ship. Moltke continued in service until 1910, when she was decommissioned; the next year, she too was converted into a barracks ship and renamed Acheron. The surviving members of the class were broken up in 1920 after the end of World War I.

Chinese barracks ship Xu Xiake

Xu Xiake (88) (Chinese: 徐霞客) is a barracks ship of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). She was constructed by the 433rd Factory of China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC), also known as the Guangzhou Shipyard International (GSI, 广州广船国际股份有限公司). Built as part of the Project 048 aircraft carrier program, the primary task of Xu Xiake is to provide accommodation for staff working on aircraft carrier trials so that staff can remain on station to continue trials the following day, instead of returning to port and going out for the next trial, thus greatly shortening the time required. The ship is designed to support 2,500 people for three weeks at sea before needing resupply.When not operating as a barracks ship, Xu Xiake can also be deployed as a training ship, and when necessary, deployed as troopship to evacuate oversea Chinese from flashpoints. The ship can be armed with 25 mm or 37 mm small caliber guns.

List of current ships of the United States Navy

The United States Navy has approximately 490 ships in both active service and the reserve fleet, with approximately 90 more in either the planning and ordering stages or under construction, according to the Naval Vessel Register and published reports. This list includes ships that are owned and leased by the U.S. Navy; ships that are formally commissioned, by way of ceremony, and non-commissioned. Ships denoted with the prefix "USS" are commissioned ships. Prior to commissioning, ships may be described as a "pre-commissioning unit" or PCU, but are officially referred to by name with no prefix. US Navy support ships are often non-commissioned ships organized and operated by Military Sealift Command. Among these support ships, those denoted "USNS" are owned by the US Navy. Those denoted by "MV" or "SS" are chartered.

Current ships include commissioned warships that are in active service, as well as ships that are part of Military Sealift Command, the support component and the Ready Reserve Force, that while non-commissioned, are still part of the effective force of the U.S. Navy. Future ships listed are those that are in the planning stages, or are currently under construction, from having its keel laid to fitting out and final sea trials.

There exist a number of former US Navy ships which are museum ships (not listed here), some of which may be US government-owned. One of these, USS Constitution, a three-masted tall ship, is one of the original six frigates of the United States Navy. It is the oldest naval vessel afloat, and still retains its commission (and hence is listed here), as a special commemoration for that ship alone.

Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois

Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes (RTC Great Lakes), is a unit within the United States Navy primarily responsible for conducting the initial orientation and indoctrination of incoming recruits. It is part of Naval Service Training Command, and is located at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois.

RTC Great Lakes is also commonly referred to as boot camp and recruit training, or RTC. Since the BRAC-directed closures of Recruit Training Commands in Orlando, Florida in 1994 and San Diego, California in 1993, RTC Great Lakes has been the only enlisted basic training location in the U.S. Navy and has been called "The Quarterdeck of the Navy" since it was first utilized in July 1911.

Running at approximately eight weeks long, all enlistees into the U.S. Navy commence their enlistments at this command. Some recruits may take longer than eight weeks if they do not pass certain tests. Upon successful completion of basic training, qualifying sailors are sent to various apprenticeship, or "A schools", located across the United States for training in their occupational speciality, or ratings. Those who have not yet received a specific rating enter the fleet with a general designation of airman, fireman, or seaman. Recruit Training Command is located at Naval Station Great Lakes in the city of North Chicago, Illinois in Lake County, north of Chicago. It is a tenant command, meaning that although it is located on the base, it has a separate chain of command.

SMS Amazone

SMS Amazone was the sixth member of the ten-ship Gazelle class, built by the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the Germaniawerft dockyard in Kiel, laid down in 1899, launched in October 1900, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in November 1901. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Amazone was capable of a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph).

Amazone served in the reconnaissance forces of the High Seas Fleet during her peacetime career. After the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, she was deployed as a coastal defense ship. In 1916, she was disarmed and used as a training ship, and was converted into a barracks ship in 1917. She was retained by the Reichsmarine after the end of the war and served on active duty with the new German Navy through the 1920s. She was reduced to secondary duties after 1931, and remained in service as a barracks ship into the 1950s; Amazone was ultimately broken up for scrap in 1954.

SMS Hamburg

SMS Hamburg ("His Majesty's Ship Hamburg") was the second of seven Bremen-class cruisers of the Imperial German Navy, named after the city of Hamburg. She was begun by AG Vulcan Stettin in Stettin in 1902, launched on 25 July 1903 and commissioned on 8 March 1904. Throughout her over 40-year long career, she served with the Imperial Navy, the Reichsmarine, and the Kriegsmarine. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Hamburg was capable of a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph).

Hamburg served with the High Seas Fleet for the first eight years on active duty. For the rest of her career, she served with U-boat flotillas, first as a flagship for the I U-boat Flotilla and later as a barracks ship for U-boat crews during World War I. she returned to fleet duty with the Reichsmarine after the end of the war, but returned to barracks ship duties starting in 1936, though 1944. She was towed to her namesake city in early July 1944 for scrapping, but was sunk by British bombers toward the end of the month. The wreck was raised in 1949 and subsequently dismantled in 1956.

SMS Nymphe

SMS Nymphe was the third member of the ten-ship Gazelle class, built by the Imperial German Navy. She was built by the Germaniawerft shipyard in Kiel, laid down in 1898, launched in November 1899, and commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in September 1900. Armed with a main battery of ten 10.5 cm (4.1 in) guns and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes, Nymphe was capable of a top speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h; 24.7 mph).

The ship had a long, if uneventful, career that spanned over thirty years and saw service in both the Imperial Navy and the Reichsmarine. She served as a coastal defense ship during the first two years of World War I before being reduced to a barracks ship. She returned to active duty with the Reichsmarine in 1924 and served until 1929. She was stricken in August 1931 and broken up for scrap the following year.

Sol Duc (steamship)

Sol Duc was a steamship which was operated on northern Puget Sound from 1912 to 1935, chiefly on a route connecting ports on the Olympic Peninsula with Seattle. During the Second World War (1941-1945) Sol Duc served as a barracks ship.

USS Atlanta (1884)

The second USS Atlanta was a protected cruiser and one of the first steel warships of the "New Navy" of the 1880s. In some references she is combined with Boston as the Atlanta class, in others as the Boston class.

Atlanta was laid down on 8 November 1883 at Chester, Pennsylvania by John Roach & Sons; launched on 9 October 1884; sponsored by Miss Jessie Lincoln, the daughter of Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln and granddaughter of President Abraham Lincoln; and commissioned at the New York Navy Yard on 19 July 1886, Captain Francis M. Bunce in command.

USS Benewah

USS Benewah (APB-35) was a barracks ship of the United States Navy, and lead ship of her class. She was notable for her service in World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

USS Blackford

USS Blackford (APB-45) was a Benewah-class self-propelled barracks ship that was in service with the United States Navy during the waning days of World War II. She was decommissioned in April 1947 and sold for merchant service. In c. 1968-1970, she was sunk as a target by the South African Military.

USS Camden (AS-6)

USS Camden (AS-6) was the first ship of the United States Navy to bear the name Camden, after Camden, New Jersey the city that lies on the Delaware River across from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Initially a German cargo ship known as Kiel, the vessel was seized during World War I and entered into service with the US Navy in 1917 after having her name changed to Camden. She later saw service as a submarine tender and a barracks ship before her sale in 1946.

USS Dorchester (APB-46)

USS Dorchester (APB-46), was a Benewah-class barracks ship. Her hull classification symbol was initially to be LST-1112. She was first redesignated a General Stores Issue Ship (AKS-17) on 8 December 1944, then as a Self-propelled Barracks Ship (APB-46). Her keel was laid down by Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company of Evansville, Indiana. She was launched on 12 April 1945 sponsored by Mrs. J.A. Walsh, and commissioned on 15 June 1945, Lieutenant W.T. Roberts, Jr., USNR, in command.

USS Kingman (APB-47)

USS Kingman (APB-47) was a self-propelled barracks ship in service with the United States Navy during World War II, and briefly post-war. Laid down as LST-1113, she was then reclassified AKS-18 and named Kingman on 8 December 1944. She was then again reclassifled APB-47 on 3 March 1945, and launched on 17 April 1945 by Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co., sponsored by Mrs. K. B. Bragg. Kingman shortly after, sailed to be fitted out in New Orleans, Louisiana, and commissioned on 27 June 1945, with Lt. R. J. Figaro in command.


USS LST-340 - later known as USS Spark (IX-196) - was a LST-1-class tank landing ship that served with the U.S. Navy during World War II. LST-340 served in the Pacific theatre and, despite suffering severe damage from the enemy, was awarded three battle stars for her action in dangerous areas. She was declared too damaged to return to the States, so she was then reassigned as a barracks ship at Saipan.

USS Mercer (APL-39)

The second USS Mercer (APB 39/IX 502/APL 39) is a APL-35-class Barracks ship of the United States Navy. Originally classified as Barracks Craft APL 39, the ship was reclassified as Self-Propelled Barracks Ship APB 39 on 7 August 1944. Laid down on 24 August 1944 by Boston Navy Yard, and launched on 17 November 1944 as APB 39, sponsored by Mrs. Lillian Gaudette, the ship was named Mercer, after counties in eight states, on 14 March 1945, and commissioned on 19 September 1945, Lt. Comdr. Edward E. Vezey, Jr., USNR, in command.

USS Southern Seas (PY-32)

USS Southern Seas (PY-32) was a patrol yacht that was commissioned in the United States Navy on 22 December 1942 in Auckland, New Zealand. She was built for Cyrus Curtiss of the Curtis Publishing Company by Cramp Ship and Iron Works, Philadelphia, in 1920 at a cost of two million dollars. She was christened the Motor Yacht Lyndonia.

USS Wyandank (1847)

USS Wyandank (1847) was a steamer acquired by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She was used by the Union Navy as a storeship and as a barracks ship in support of the Union Navy blockade of Confederate waterways.

USS Yolo (APB-43)

USS Yolo (APB-43) was a Benewah-class self-propelled barracks ship of the United States Navy that served in the later years of World War II, and briefly post-war. She was struck in 1959, and scrapped in 1960.

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