She was originally built at the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Company yard in Chester, Pennsylvania for the United States Maritime Commission as Fisher's Hill. She was one of the 202, T2-SE-A1 class tankers that were built at that yard for service during World War II and she entered service during December of 1943. Following the end of the war she along with hundreds of other tankers, cargo ships and troop transports were laid up at ports all around the United States. By 1948 Fisher's Hill had been sold into the private merchant marine.
It is not known who purchased the ship but shortly following the sale her original Westinghouse steam engines were and a pair of re-built Joshua Hendy Iron Works steam turbine engines were installed in July of 1948. As a result of the conversion her horsepower was increased from 7,420 to 9,350. In 1953 she was renamed Neches by the Sabine Transportation Company of Port Arthur, Texas and in August of 1957 she was lengthened by 41 feet at the Alabama Drydock & Shipbuilding facility in Mobile, Alabama. Her length increased from 503 feet to 544 feet overall and her tonnages increased from 10,196-grt and 16,500-dwt to 11,406-grt and 18,417-dwt.
In 1964 she was renamed American Trader by the American Trading & Production Corporation. Late in 1967 American Trader entered the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company facility in Newport News, Virginia where her original cargo section and bow were cut away from the stern. A new forebody was welded in its place and her wheelhouse and accomodations block which once sat in the middle of the ship was removed, moved aft and welded atop the original stern accomodation structure. She re-entered service early in 1968 measuring 633'6" x 74'2" x 43'6". Her previous dimensions were 544' x 68'2" x 39'2". Her tonnages increased to 15,022-grt and 27,615-dwt.
American Trader's original hull and bow was of no use and it was subsequently sold for scrap. On January 13th, 1968 the old hull - likely around 400 feet long, arrived at Castellon, Spain under tow where it was later broken up for scrap. The ship continued sailing through the 1970s and into the mid 1980s for the American Trading & Transporation Company. On June 11th, 1985 she entered layup at East London and ended up staying there until August 12th. She had been sold to Benship International Inc., U.S.A. however shortly thereafter the aging ship was re-sold to Khalil & Sons Ltd. for scrapping. American Trader arrived off Chittagong, Bangladesh late in September of 1985 and on October 2nd crews began dismantling her hull.
Information courtesy Marine News - The World Ship Society, Lloyds Registers - Lloyds of London
Site updated and maintained by Jeff Cameron