|Launched June 25, 1942 as Class T3-S-A1 tanker Mobiloil for Socony-Mobil Oil Co. It was renamed Samoset before commissioning. On December 24, 1942 the U.S. Navy requisitioned the ship and commissioned it as USS Chiwawa (AO-68). The Chiwawa served on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the war and was present in Tokyo Bay during the September 2, 1945, surrender ceremony. The vessel was decommissioned on May 6, 1946, and transferred to the Maritime Commission shortly thereafter.|
It was sold to the Cleveland-Cliffs Steamship Co. in 1960 and it was converted to a Great Lakes bulk freighter in Toledo and Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. with the addition of a new midbody built in Hamburg Germany by Schlieker-Werft and towed to Lorain. Along with lengthening, the hull was widened by 7 feet and deepened by 2 feet. The ship entered service as Walter A. Sterling on July 15, 1961.
The ship was lengthened again in 1976 at Superior, Wisconsin by Fraser Shipyards from 716.5 feet to 812.5 feet. Then, converted to a self-unloader 1978 at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Company.
Rouge Steel Company, an affiliate of Ford Motor Company, purchased and renamed the ship to William Clay Ford in 1985.
The ship was last sold to the Lakes Shipping Co. of Cleveland, Ohio in April 1989. The ship was renamed to Lee A. Tregurtha (in honor of the wife of Interlake’s vice chairman) on May 13, 1989. A major refit in 2006 saw the steam power plant removed and pair of Rolls Royce diesel engines added. The repowered ship returned to service on September 29, 2006.