With the purpose of ferrying US Troops around bases in the U.S.A., during World War II, the U.S. Army Quartermasters ordered the building of 'Concrete Riverboats'.
Newport Shipbuilding Corporation of New Bern was contracted and built nine '130 foot' and seven '150 foot' concrete Riverboats at Wilmington at the shipyard previously occupied by the Liberty Shipbuilding Company that built 'S.S. Cape Fear' and the' S.S. Atlantus'
The '130 foot Riverboats' were actually 128'5" long x 28' wide x 12'5"deep. Nine were built, all named after U.S. Army Quartermasters. In order of 'ascending rank' they were two Majors, three Colonels and for Brigadier Generals ! The nine '130 foot Riverboats' were named as follows :-
Colonel J. E. Sawyer
Colonel Frank E. Nye
Colonel William H. Baldwin
Major George E. Pickett
Brigadier General James N. Allison
Brigadier General William L. Alexander
Brigadier General Henry C. Hodges
Major Archibald Butt
Brigadier General Charles L. Wilson
The seven '150 foot Riverboats' were higher ranking on average as you will see (!). They were actually 150 foot long, 28 foot wide and 13 foot deep and were called :-
Brigadier General Marshall I. Ludington
General Rufus Ingalls
GeneralGeorge D. H. Rucker
General George Gibson
General Morgan Lewis
General John W. Wilkins
'The Boat' at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, is a local landmark and a unique concrete U.S. built River Boat, launched in 1921. She has an amazing history and an amazing owner !
Named after an esteemed U.S. Army Quartermaster, Colonel Frederick G Hodgson, she was one of seven 150' concrete Riverboats built between 1919 and 1920 by the Newport Shipbuilding Corp. at Wilmington.
Having been completed in July 1921, she was put into service as troop transport. By 1924, she had been dismantled and in 1925, she was taken over by the US Coast Guard, subsequently being laid up at the US Coast Guard Depot at Curtis Bay, Maryland.
Having been used as barracks for U.S. Coast Guard trainees and then office space for the U.S. Maritime Commission, in 1951 she was acquired by a local fish merchant and converted to Fergus’ Ark Seafood restaurant, docked at the end of Princess Street, Wilmington. In 1961, she was struck by USS North Carolina.
In later years, she became ‘Lee’s Riverboat Restaurant’, then ‘Louis Pappas' Riverboat’ before arriving at Fort Walton Beach become the ‘U.S. Showboat’.
In 1978, she bought by Jim Tucker, and used as a floating office and marine supply store at the Boat Marina and Boat Yard in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where she remains to this day.