Tuesday, May 26, 2009

USS Annapolis (PG-10)

Figure 1: USS Annapolis (PG-10) docked at the New York Navy Yard, circa 1897. The decommissioned USS Atlanta lies in the background (left). US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: USS Annapolis (PG-10) in wartime gray paint, 1898. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: Mare Island Navy Yard, California. An early U.S. Navy submarine (probably Grampus or Pike) underway off the yard, circa early 1905. Gunboats Petrel and Princeton are in the center background. At left are the decommissioned gunboats Annapolis and Vicksburg. Courtesy of Ted Stone, 1986. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: Broadside view of USS Annapolis (PG-10) at the coal sheds at Mare Island in 1905. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 5: Broadside view of USS Annapolis in the Mare Island channel in 1912. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 6: Broadside view of USS Annapolis off San Francisco in 1912. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 7: Broadside view of USS Annapolis circa 1912 in the Mare Island channel. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 8: View of USS Annapolis circa 1934. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after the capital of Maryland, USS Annapolis (PG-10) was a 1,153-ton barkentine-rigged gunboat that was built at Elizabethport, New Jersey, and was commissioned at New York on 20 July 1897. The ship was approximately 203 feet long and 36 feet wide, had a top speed of 13.17 knots, and had a crew of 133 officers and men. Annapolis was armed with six 4-inch guns and four 6-pounders.

After her shakedown cruise, Annapolis participated in training exercises along America’s east coast and in the Caribbean. In March 1898, she joined the North Atlantic Fleet and on 18 April she left New York and arrived at Key West, Florida, on 25 April. On that day, President William McKinley signed a joint resolution of Congress that formally declared war on Spain. Annapolis made a round-trip voyage from Key West to Tampa and back before joining the US naval blockade of Cuba on 2 May. After participating in the blockade of Havana for 19 days, Annapolis assisted the gunboat USS Mayflower in capturing the Spanish sailing ship Santiago Apostol, which was carrying a load of fish bound for Havana.

Annapolis left Cuban waters on 21 May and spent eight days in Key West and then two weeks at Tampa before returning to the Cuban blockade at Daiquiri on 22 June. On 29 June, while steaming off the coast of Guantanamo Bay, Annapolis, along with the USS Ericsson and USS Marblehead, were involved in an international incident when they captured the British steamer Adula. Adula, then under charter to a Spanish subject, was seized for attempting to run the blockade established at Guantanamo Bay and was subsequently sent to the port of Savannah for adjudication. Adula, a vessel of 372 tons, was built at Belfast in 1889 for her owner, the Atlas Steamship Company, Limited, a British corporation, and was registered in the name of its managing director, Sir William Bowers Forwood. Prior to the Spanish-American War, she was engaged in general trade between Kingston and other ports on the coast of Jamaica, and from time to time had made voyages to Cuban ports. After the war began, various persons chartered the steamer for voyages to Cuba. Adula eventually was released from American custody after the war ended.

On 13 July, Annapolis shelled an enemy shore battery at Baracoa, situated on Cuba’s northeastern coastline. On 18 July, Annapolis was ordered to assist in the capture of Bahia de Nipe, located approximately 90 miles from Baracoa. She joined USS Wasp, USS Leyden, and USS Topeka on 21 July and the ships successfully navigated their way through a known minefield to get into Bahia de Nipe Bay. The four American warships encountered some cannon fire from shore while entering the port, but they quickly silenced it with their own guns. They also sank the Spanish gunboat Jorge Juan, which was lying at anchor near shore. The American ships formally captured Bahia de Nipe and assisted in the removal of mines from the bay itself. Annapolis left Bahia de Nipe on 22 July and was ordered to sail to Puerto Rico, where she assisted the US Army in capturing the city of Ponce on 30 July. Annapolis remained on station off the coast of Puerto Rico for the rest of the war, with the exception of a brief trip to St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies before the war ended.

After cruising along the coast of New England and the West Indies for several months, Annapolis was decommissioned on 5 September 1899. The gunboat was re-commissioned 14 November 1900 and was sent to the Far East via the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean. Annapolis arrived at Cavite in the Philippines on 24 April 1901 and stayed there for the next three years. In 1903, Annapolis joined the US Navy’s Far Eastern Fleet and visited ports in China, Japan, and Formosa before returning to Cavite on 19 November. After spending several months in the Philippines and making another brief visit to China, Annapolis left for the United States on 2 June 1904.

Annapolis arrived at the Mare Island, California, Navy Yard later that summer and was decommissioned. She underwent a major overhaul but was not placed back in commission until 25 March 1907. The gunboat left San Francisco on 5 April and sailed to American Samoa, arriving there on 22 May. She became the station ship there and stayed until 9 September 1911, when she was ordered back to the United States. Annapolis arrived at San Francisco on 9 October and entered the Mare Island Navy Yard that same day. She was decommissioned yet again on 16 December 1911.

Annapolis was re-commissioned at Mare Island on 1 May 1912 and on 21 May was ordered to steam along the coast of Nicaragua, which was in the midst of serious political turmoil at that time. The gunboat remained in Central American waters for several months, patrolling off the coasts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. But most of her time was spent at Corinto, Nicaragua, where landing parties were sent ashore to restore order and to protect American lives and property. Annapolis left Nicaragua on 9 December and returned to San Francisco, arriving there on 30 December 1912. As usual, she entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs.

After completing her repairs, Annapolis left Mare Island on 20 January 1913 and returned to Central America on 7 February. She spent some time at Amapala, Honduras, on 17 February and returned to Nicaragua on 10 March. After making another brief visit to Amapala, Annapolis sailed to Mexico. At this time, Mexico was in the midst of a major civil war and, for the next six years, Annapolis patrolled the Mexican coastline to protect American lives and property and to assist any US citizens that needed to be evacuated from that troubled country. During this six-year period, Annapolis returned occasionally to California for overhauls, supplies, and training exercises.

In June 1918, Annapolis transited the Panama Canal and steamed to her new base at New Orleans, Louisiana. She patrolled the Gulf of Mexico until 25 April 1919 and returned to the west coast in May. On 1 July 1919, Annapolis was decommissioned at Mare Island and in 1920 was towed to Philadelphia where she was given to the Pennsylvania State Nautical School on 1 April. The old gunboat served as a school ship for the next 20 years. Finally, on 30 June 1940, USS Annapolis was struck from the Navy list and was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal and eventual scrapping. It was the end of an impressive career for a ship that served this nation for an amazing 43 years.