Tuesday, November 24, 2009
USS Petrel (PG-2)
Figure 1: USS Petrel (PG-2) photographed during the 1890s. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Petrel (PG-2) oil on canvas by Francis Muller. Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC. Donation of Commodore J.H. Hellweg. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Petrel (PG-2) on 16 December 1896 (10:00 am) at the Mare Island Navy Yard. US Navy Photo PG 2 12181896. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Petrel (PG-2) date and place unknown. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Petrel (PG-2) at Hong Kong, 15 April 1898, shortly before the beginning of the Spanish-American War. Note crewmen aloft watching the rowing launches racing past in the foreground, also shipping and Chinese junks in the distance. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Admiral Montgomery M. Taylor. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Battle of Manila Bay, 1 May 1898, photograph of a contemporary artwork depicting USS Petrel (PG-2) in action during the battle. Courtesy of Mr. L.Y. Spear, Electric Boat Company, Groton, CT, 1948. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Petrel (PG-2) fine-screen halftone reproduction of a pre-Spanish-American War photograph of the ship, with vignette portraits of her officers at the time of the 1 May 1898 Battle of Manila Bay. The officers' names and ranks are listed below the image. Copied from the book "The Battle of Manila Bay ... An Epic Poem by Pay Director William W. Galt, U.S.N.,” published in 1900. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: Leftmost section (of six) of a panoramic photograph. Ship at the dock is Petrel (PG-2) circa 1917/1918, which was then the Station Ship at Guantanamo Bay. A South Carolina class battleship is visible in the right distance. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, DC. Donation of MMC Jesse Forton, USN (Retired), 1972. Naval Historical Center photo NH 76417. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Petrel (PG-2) between 1898 and 1901. From the Detroit Publishing Company Collection of the Library of Congress. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: Quarter deck of USS Petrel (PG-2) between 1898 and 1901. From the Detroit Publishing Company Collection of the Library of Congress. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Petrel (PG-2) between 1898 and 1901. From the Detroit Publishing Company Collection of the Library of Congress. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a sea bird, USS Petrel (PG-2) was an 867-ton steel gunboat with a barkentine sail rig that originally was designed as a small cruiser and was built by the Columbia Iron Works and Dry Dock Company, Baltimore, Maryland. The ship was approximately 188 feet long and 31 feet wide, had a top speed of 11.4 knots, and had a crew of 138 officers and men. Petrel was armed with four 6-inch guns, two 3-pounders, and one 1-pounder rapid-fire gun. Petrel was one of the first gunboats in America’s new steel Navy and was commissioned on 10 December 1889. Although heavily armed for a ship her size, Petrel was one of the smallest and slowest ships in the fleet.
Petrel initially was assigned to the North Atlantic Station and stayed with this unit until September 1891, when she was transferred to the Asiatic Station. Petrel basically remained with the Asiatic Station for the next 20 years, until 1911, although she did make one trip to Unalaska, Territory of Alaska, in May 1894. The gunboat assisted the Revenue Cutter Service and the Bering Sea Patrol in the battle against fur seal poachers. Petrel patrolled off the coast of the Pribilof Islands until July 1894, but then steamed west and returned to the Asiatic Station.
Petrel was in Hong Kong in April 1898 when she was attached to Admiral George Dewey’s squadron. After war was declared between the United States and Spain on 25 April 1898, Dewey’s ships left Mirs Bay near Hong Kong on 27 April. On 1 May 1898, the American warships entered Manila Bay and destroyed the small Spanish fleet that was based there. As Dewey’s squadron was bombarding the Spanish ships, Petrel steamed into the inner harbor of Manila Bay and lowered a boat that assisted in the destruction of six Spanish ships that were moored there. Petrel then proceeded into the Navy Yard at Cavite and accepted the Spanish surrender. The next day, a landing party from Petrel went ashore at Cavite and seized the arsenal that was located there, and also captured two tugs and three launches. As a result of the crushing American victory at Manila Bay, the United States took possession of the Philippines and became a major naval power in the Far East.
Petrel remained in the Philippines throughout 1898 and 1899. On 1 February 1899, Petrel and the cruiser USS Boston bombarded Panay Island and on 22 February a landing party of 48 men from Petrel occupied Cebu. In October, Petrel, along with the gunboat USS Callao, provided gunfire support for a US Marine Corps assault on Noveleta.
Petrel was decommissioned at Cavite in the Philippines in late 1899, but eventually was re-commissioned on 9 May 1910. After a brief trip to Europe in 1911, the gunboat returned to America’s east coast. From 1912 to 1915, Petrel protected American lives and property by patrolling off the coasts of Mexico and the West Indies. Then in 1916, she became the station ship at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After America entered World War I in April 1917, Petrel returned to the United States and was assigned to the American Patrol Detachment for the rest of the war.
USS Petrel was decommissioned for the last time at New Orleans on 15 July 1919, after almost 30 years of service in the US Navy. The old gunboat was struck from the Naval Register on 16 April 1920 and she was sold on 1 November of that same year.
Posted by Remo at 8:51 AM