Stuff You Should Know
The USS Zebra was a net cargo ship belonging to the Indus-class used in World War II by the United States. Built as a Liberty Ship by the Permanente Metals Corporation in Richmond California and named SS Mathew Lyon, the ship was acquired by the War Shipping Administration in April 1943 and converted to a net cargo ship after a naval officer recognized its potential. Before its conversion, the ship was operated by a private contractor for the WSA but got heavily damaged by a torpedo shot by a Japanese submarine. After its conversion, the ship was tasked with salvaging net gear throughout the South Pacific and bringing it to various ports in New Caledonia, Fiji Islands, and Ellice Islands. It wasn’t until September 1944 that the ship began net-laying missions in the Palau Islands area before returning to Pearl Harbor. The vessel then sailed for Iwo Jima where it carried out its net salvaging and laying operations throughout early 1945. It then steamed for the West Coast where it took part in several net-laying experiments and, after completing its conversion to a net cargo ship, got assigned to the Administrative Command, Minecraft. The USS Zebra then headed towards the Marshall Islands for net salvaging operations and discharged at Kwajalein before sailing back for Iwo Jima. After one last cargo shipment to the Mariana Islands, the ship loaded passengers and equipment to be brought back to the US, reaching the Panama Canal in December 1945 via Pearl Harbor. It was decommissioned at Norfolk, Virginia in January the following year. It was laid up in the reserve fleet James River Group where it remained throughout the mid-1950s and sold for scrapping to Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation.