Tuesday, December 11, 2007

USS Marietta (PG-15)

Figure 1: Broadside view of the USS Marietta in Mare Island channel, 16 October 1897. U.S. Navy photo PG 15 001-10-1897. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: The Marietta circa July 1910. Courtesy U.S. Warships of World War I. Click on Photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: Bow view of the Marietta at Mare Island, 21 September 1897. U.S. Navy photo PG 15 001-9-1897. Click on Photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: A 26-foot steam cutter built by Mare Island for the Marietta. U.S. Navy photo PG 15 004-1895. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after cities in Ohio and Georgia, the USS Marietta (PG-15) was a 1,000-ton gunboat of the Wheeling class and was built at the Union Iron Works in San Francisco, California. She was commissioned on 1 September 1897 and was almost 190 feet long, 34 feet wide and had a top speed of 13 knots. The Marietta was armed with six 4-inch guns, one 3-inch gun, four 6-pounders, two 1-pounders and one machine gun. She was a well-armed gunboat for her size and, with a crew of 140 officers and men, was well suited to protect American lives and property in unstable countries around the world.

After a short assignment with the US Pacific station, the Marietta left San Francisco on 19 March 1898 for Callao, Peru, where she was to obtain sufficient coal supplies for the US Battleship Oregon (BB-3). The Oregon was stopping there on its way to join the North Atlantic Squadron, which was steaming off the coast of Cuba at that time. The Marietta moved on to Valparaiso, Chile, on 31 March and finally rendezvoused with the Oregon on 6 April. The two ships then made a remarkable journey around the tip of South America and headed north, stopping in Bahia, Brazil, on 11 May. Once there, the Marietta and the Oregon parted company, with the gunboat headed for Key West, Florida, and the battleship moving on towards Cuba. The Marietta reached Key West on 4 June and, after a short stop there, quickly joined the blockade of Havana Harbor.

On 2 September 1898, the Marietta arrived in Boston for an overhaul but was sent right back to Cuba on 10 October. For the next eight months, the Marietta patrolled the Caribbean, visited numerous Latin American ports and helped clear mines from Cuban waters. On 17 October 1899 the gunboat was sent from Virginia to the Philippines via the Suez Canal. The Marietta arrived in Manila on 3 January 1900. While in the Philippines, the Marietta supported American troops in putting down the Philippine insurrection. She also patrolled the local waters, escorted ships within the Philippine Island chain and assisted various military expeditions and landings. The Marietta was sent back to the United States via the Suez Canal on 3 June 1901 and arrived in Boston on 17 September.

The Marietta’s next tour of duty sent her to the Caribbean, where she spent 17 months protecting American interests in Colombia, Haiti, Jamaica, Venezuela, Trinidad, Curacao and Honduras. She also carried mail to various American legation officials in the region and was sent back home to Boston 10 April 1903. On 9 March 1904, the Marietta was sent to Panama during that nation’s revolution against Colombia. She protected American interests there until June, when she was sent to Gibraltar to join the US Navy’s European Squadron. In December 1904 she was sent back to the United States and arrived at League Island, Pennsylvania, on 31 December. After being decommissioned for a while, the Marietta was recommissioned on 14 May 1906 and sent to the West Indies. For the next five and a half years the Marietta would patrol the islands in the Caribbean while also visiting numerous Latin American ports.

On 4 November 1911, the Marietta was sent to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and placed in reserve. On 27 May 1912, the gunboat was given to the New Jersey Naval Militia, but two days later was again recommissioned at the New York Navy Yard. For the next two years, the Marietta was assigned to the Caribbean and the western Atlantic and in February 1916 she was part of the American task force sent to fight Mexican insurgents in Vera Cruz, Mexico. The Marietta returned to the United States shortly before America’s entry into World War I and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet for patrol and convoy duty. She was sent to Europe to escort convoys in 1918 and stayed there until being ordered to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she was decommissioned for the last time on 12 July 1919. The Marietta was sold on 25 March 1920. The USS Marietta may have been a small ship, but she had a busy, rich history that was common among US gunboats at that time.