S.S. Wilhelmina, a 6954 gross ton (13,250 tons displacement) passenger cargo ship, was built in 1909 at Newport News, Virginia. For the next eight years she operated between the West Coast and Honolulu, Hawaii. Beginning in December 1917 the ship steamed to Chile to pick up a cargo of nitrates, which she carried to Norfolk, Virginia. She was turned over to the Navy in late January 1918 and placed in commission as USS Wilhelmina (ID # 2168). Following a trip to France with general cargo during February and March, the New York Navy Yard converted her to a troop transport. Between May and November 1918 she made six more voyages to France, taking more than 11,000 American service personnel to the European war zone. During this time Wilhelmina had several actual or suspected encounters with German U-boats, the most notable of them on 1 July, when USS Covington was fatally torpedoed.
Following the end of the fighting in November 1918, Wilhelmina commenced bringing war veterans home. In seven trips, she transported over 11,500 passengers by early August 1919. Decommissioned later in that month and returned to her owners, the Matson Navigation Company of San Francisco, California, she operated under that firm’s flag for the next two decades. In 1940 Wilhelmina was sold to the British and began service in her second great war. While steaming in a north Atlantic convoy on 2 December 1940, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-94.
Source: US Department of the Navy, “USS Wilhelmina (ID # 2168), 1918-1919.” 30 Jan 2006. Naval Historical Center. 17 Jan 2008 <http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-w/id2168.htm>.
The SS WILHELMINA was the ship that Anacleto António de Melim’s family traveled on from Hawaii to San Francisco.