Tuesday, March 24, 2009
USS Sacramento (PG-19)
Figure 1: USS Sacramento (PG-19) on 4 July 1924 off Shanghai, China. Courtesy Robert M. Cieri. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Sacramento (PG-19) off Tsingtao, China, during the 1920s or 1930s. Several U.S. Navy submarines are in the foreground, among them USS S-39 (SS-144), the outboard boat in the nest. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Sacramento (PG-19) and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) John D. Bulkeley, USN, (seated, center) with the men of the ship's "E" Division, at Shanghai, China, 15 February 1938. Photographed by Skvirsky, Shanghai. Seated to the right of LtJG Bulkeley is Chief Machinist's Mate Herman W. Koch, USN. In the left background is USS Bridge (AF-1). Note the life ring, pair of captstans and Sacramento's forward 4-inch gun. In April of 1941, Bulkeley was promoted to full Lieutenant and given command of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three in the Philippines. While in command of this PT Boat squadron in March 1942, Bulkeley and his men successfully evacuated General Douglas MacArthur and Philippine President Quezon from Manila Bay to the southern Philippines. For his extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty as Commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three during the first four months of the war, Lieutenant Bulkeley was awarded the Medal of Honor. Bulkeley remained in the Navy after the war and eventually retired a Vice Admiral in 1988. Courtesy of Mr. R.W. Koch, 1976. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Sacramento (PG-19) circa 1919. Courtesy Robert Hurst. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Sacramento (PG-19) serving in northern Russia in 1919. Imperial War Museum photo, Courtesy U.S. Warships of World War I. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Sacramento (PG-19) off Archangel, Russia, 1919. She served in northern Russia under the command of Commander C. C. Dowling, USN. Courtesy of Todd Woofenden. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Sacramento (PG-19) circa 1920 in dry dock at Charleston, South Carolina. Courtesy Vance A. Adams. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Sacramento (PG-19) circa 1920 in dry dock at Charleston, South Carolina. Courtesy Vance A. Adams. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Sacramento (PG-19) circa 1920 in dry dock at Charleston, South Carolina. Courtesy Vance A. Adams. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Sacramento (PG-19) circa 1939 leaving Manila Bay for the United States. Note the ornamental Chinese “junk” sails rigged on her small masts, an affectionate tribute to her duty as part of the US Asiatic Fleet. Photo taken by the USS Augusta's ship's photographer. Courtesy Jim McGrew. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Sacramento (PG-19) circa 1939 leaving Manila Bay for the United States. Note the ornamental Chinese “junk” sails rigged on her small masts, an affectionate tribute to her duty as part of the US Asiatic Fleet. Photo taken by the USS Augusta's ship's photographer. Courtesy Jim McGrew. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a city in California, the 1,425-ton steel gunboat USS Sacramento (Gunboat No. 19) was built by William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was commissioned on 26 April 1914. The ship was approximately 226 feet long and 40 feet wide, had a top speed of 12 knots, and had a crew of 171 officers and men. Sacramento was armed with three 4-inch guns, two 3-pounder guns, and two 1-pounders.
After a brief shakedown cruise, Sacramento was sent into Mexican waters, arriving off the coast of Vera Cruz on 14 May 1914. She went on to visit Dominican, Nicaraguan, Honduran, as well as Mexican ports for the next two years, protecting American lives and property in these politically troubled nations. After arriving in New Orleans on 17 March 1917, Sacramento’s crew assisted US Customs authorities in interning five German merchant ships after the United States officially entered World War I. Sacramento left New Orleans on 15 April and steamed to Newport, Rhode Island, where she was assigned to patrol and escort duties off the New England coast. While based at Newport, Sacramento rescued the crew of the burning British merchant ship Sebastian on 8 May and in late June she assisted the grounded cruiser USS Olympia.
Sacramento then was sent to Europe. She left New York on 22 July 1917 and assisted in escorting a British convoy to Gibraltar. The convoy reached Gibraltar on 6 August and, once there, Sacramento was attached to the US Patrol Force that was based at that island fortress. She was assigned to convoy escort duties and made numerous trips to Britain, Italy, and North Africa. These duties continued well into 1918 and, after peace was declared on 11 November, Sacramento was sent back to the United States, leaving Gibraltar for New Orleans on 11 December. After a major overhaul was completed in New Orleans, Sacramento stopped briefly in New York. Her next assignment took her to northern Russia as part of the US Naval Forces there and she arrived at Murmansk on 22 May 1919. This ill-conceived mission was created by some of the wartime Allies to support the non-communist forces that were fighting in Russia and several British and American warships were sent there to support the land operations. While in northern Russia, Sacramento acted as a dispatch ship, distributed food and clothing to the troops fighting on shore, provided medical help when needed, and eventually assisted in the evacuation of American forces from the Russian coastline along the White Sea. While sailing southward, she stopped at Norwegian, British, and French ports before reaching Gibraltar on 20 September 1919. Sacramento returned to the United States and arrived on 15 February 1920 at Hampton Roads, Virginia, where she was assigned to the Atlantic Patrol Force and to the Special Service Squadron.
Sacramento was re-designated PG-19 on 17 July 1920 and was sent to patrol the waters off Honduras, which was undergoing severe political turmoil at that time. She remained in that area until being assigned to the Asiatic Fleet in 1922. Sacramento initially was sent to Manila in the Philippines, but from 11 September to 24 November 1922 she visited numerous Chinese and Japanese ports, as well as Vladivostok, Russia. The gunboat remained with the Asiatic Fleet until 21 December 1928, when she left the Philippines for the Caribbean. Sacramento stayed in the Caribbean as part of the Special Service Squadron until 1932, when she was sent back to the West Coast. After reaching San Francisco, Sacramento was notified that she would re-join the US Asiatic Fleet and she arrived at Shanghai, China, on 1 April 1932. Sacramento continued patrolling Chinese and Philippine waters throughout the 1930s. The gunboat left Cavite in the Philippines on 12 January 1939 and was sent back to New York.
Sacramento served briefly as a training ship for the 9th Naval District Reservists on the Great Lakes from 20 November 1939 until well into 1940. After an overhaul at the Boston Navy Yard, Sacramento was sent back to the Pacific, bound this time for Hawaii. She reached Pearl Harbor on 15 August 1941 and was assigned to the local defense of the Navy Yard there. On 7 December 1941, Sacramento was moored just south of “Battleship Row.” Shortly after the attack began, the gunboat’s crew quickly manned their battle stations and her gunners managed to shoot down two of the attacking Japanese aircraft. Once the attack was over, Sacramento’s boat crews assisted in rescue and salvage operations.
Sacramento remained based at Pearl Harbor after the attack and continued patrolling Hawaiian waters until 27 September 1942, when she was given the new task of functioning as a tender for Torpedo Boat Unit 6, Division 2, of MTBRon 1, based at Palmyra Island just south of Hawaii. She was assigned air-sea rescue duties as well. Sacramento left Palmyra on 25 November 1942 for San Diego, where she became a training ship for gun crews from December 1942 to March 1945. After that, Sacramento was based at San Francisco and served on weather patrol and plane guard station for the rest of the war.
Sacramento was decommissioned on 6 February 1946 and was transferred to the War Shipping Administration for disposal. The ship was sold on 23 August 1947 and ended up under Italian registry as the merchant ship Fermina. Her ultimate fate is unknown.
Sacramento had an amazing career that literally took her all over the world. She was assigned to normal gunboat duties that took her to places like China, the Philippines, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean and she also took part in the little-known Allied invasion of northern Russia in 1919. Although she was right in the middle of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Sacramento was woefully outdated by the start of World War II. However, she still made a significant contribution during the war as a patrol boat, a tender, and ultimately as a training ship. Not bad for a gunboat that was already almost 30 years old by the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Posted by Remo at 9:40 AM