Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Figure 1: USS Marblehead (C-11, later PG-27) at anchor, date and location unknown. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Marblehead (C-11, later PG-27) in an icy harbor, circa 1894-99. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Marblehead (C-11, later PG-27) "stripped for battle" in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, circa June-July 1898. Donation of Capt. Dudley W. Knox, 1926, from the McCalla collection. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: "Our Warships off the Coast near Santiago de Cuba, June 3, 1898." Colored print based on a drawing by Carlton T. Chapman, depicting US Navy ships off Cuba at the time of the Battle of Santiago. Ships present are identified on the print as (from left to right): USS Marblehead, USS Oregon, USS St. Louis and USS New York. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Sheldon Collection. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: US Pacific Station warships in Magdalena Bay, Mexico, circa 1900. The ships are, from left to right: the cruisers USS Marblehead (C-11, later PG-27) and USS Philadelphia, and the battleship USS Iowa. The original photograph was found in old Bureau of Navigation files in June 1941. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Marblehead (C-11, later PG-27) in the Mare Island channel a month after her re-commissioning in December 1902. Courtesy Darryl Baker. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Marblehead (C-11, later PG-27) while at anchor at Mare Island 13 March 1916. Courtesy of Thomas P. Naughton. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a port in Massachusetts, USS Marblehead (C-11) was a 2,072-ton Montgomery class cruiser that was built by the City Point Works at Boston, Massachusetts, and was commissioned on 2 April 1894. The ship was approximately 269 feet long and 37 feet wide, had a top speed of 18 knots, and had a crew of 274 officers and men. Officially listed as “unprotected cruisers” by the US Navy, the Montgomery class warships were essentially large gunboats. Their engine and boiler rooms were protected by watertight steel decks that were less than half an inch thick. That thin armor was slightly thicker than the armor used on gunboats at that time, but it was far thinner than the armor found in protected cruisers. Like all peacetime gunboats, the Montgomery class cruisers were not meant to be used in fleet battles against major warships. They were equipped with a schooner sail rig to reduce their dependency on coal, they were fairly slow but had a large bunker capacity for greater range and endurance, and they had wide beams and shallow drafts, making them suitable for use in rivers and in coastal waters. They also possessed roomy (by gunboat standards) and well-ventilated berth decks, making the ships more habitable in hot tropical climates. Like the other ships in her class, Marblehead was armed with nine 5-inch guns, six 6-pounders, and two 1-pounder guns.
Marblehead initially was assigned to the US Navy’s North Atlantic Station and left New York on 6 June 1894, bound for the Caribbean. A serious political crisis engulfed Nicaragua at that time, so Marblehead was sent further south to protect American interests in that troubled nation. On 19 June, Marblehead arrived at the Nicaraguan port of Bluefields and encountered major civil unrest. Basic law and order were deteriorating rapidly and the US consul in Nicaragua urgently requested that steps be taken to protect American lives and property at Bluefields. On 7 July 1894, a landing party of US Marines and sailors from Marblehead was sent ashore to restore order and protect American interests. A second landing party was placed ashore on 31 July and all of the marines and sailors remained there until order was restored. The landing force was withdrawn on 7 August and on 12 August Marblehead left Bluefields to continue her patrol duties throughout the Caribbean. Marblehead left Port Royal, Jamaica, on 26 November and returned to the United States, arriving at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 6 December.
Marblehead left Norfolk, Virginia, on 4 March 1895, this time bound for Europe. After making a port visit in the Azores, Marblehead arrived at Gibraltar on 31 March. For the next two months, the American cruiser steamed throughout the Mediterranean. She eventually made a trip to Germany to represent the United States at the opening of the Kiel Canal on 20 June. For five months, Marblehead steamed along the coast of western Europe and the Mediterranean, covering more than 11,000 miles and visiting approximately 40 ports. She then returned to the United States and arrived at Tompkinsville, New York, on 23 November 1896.
On 1 February 1897, Marblehead was re-assigned to the North Atlantic Station and spent the rest of the year patrolling off America’s east coast and in the Caribbean. At the start of the Spanish-American War, Marblehead was at Key West, Florida. She quickly was sent to Cuba, arriving off the coast of Havana on 23 April 1898. On 29 April, Marblehead assisted in the bombardment of enemy ships and shore batteries at Cienfuegos, Cuba, and she was part of the naval operation to cut the telegraph cables at Cienfuegos on 11 May. After that, Marblehead began patrolling off the coast of Santiago de Cuba, but on 7 June, along with the schooner-rigged cruiser Yankee, captured the lower section of Guantanamo Bay. On 10 June, she supported a battalion of US Marines in the amphibious assault on Guantanamo and Marblehead assisted the battleship USS Texas in destroying the Spanish fort at Cayo del Toro on 15 June.
Marblehead continued patrolling off the coast of Cuba until 2 September 1898, when she left to go to the St. Lawrence River to attend the opening ceremonies for the Champlain monument in Quebec. The cruiser then went to the Boston Navy Yard for an overhaul that lasted from 2 November to 9 February 1899. Once the overhaul was completed, Marblehead steamed to the Caribbean and eventually continued her journey down the coast of South America. After passing through the Straits of Magellan on 16 June, Marblehead headed north to California and joined the US Navy’s Pacific Squadron on 4 July 1899. Marblehead was assigned to patrol duties off the coasts of South America, Mexico, and California until she was decommissioned at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California on 20 April 1900.
Marblehead was re-commissioned on 10 November 1902 and spent the next four years steaming along the coasts of North and South America. She acted as the flagship for Rear Admiral Henry Glass, Commander of the US Navy’s Pacific Squadron, from October 1903 to March 1904. But the cruiser again was decommissioned at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 1 October 1906. On 31 March 1910, Marblehead became a training ship for the California Naval Militia. Placed in reserve on 22 July 1911, Marblehead then was transferred to the Oregon Naval Militia in 1916 as a training ship.
Marblehead was fully re-commissioned on 6 April 1917 at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington, and on 4 May joined the Pacific Patrol Force. As part of this unit, Marblehead was assigned to convoy, patrol, and survey duties off the coast of Mexico and guarded California against the threat of German raiders. On 11 June 1918, Marblehead left California and steamed south towards the Panama Canal. After transiting the canal, Marblehead arrived at Key West on 22 June and spent the rest of World War I in the Caribbean performing patrol and escort duties. Marblehead was sent back to the west coast on 4 December 1918 to rejoin the Pacific Fleet and she arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 17 February 1919. But on 21 August, the veteran warship was decommissioned for the last time. Although reclassified PG-27 in July 1920, USS Marblehead never returned to duty and was sold for scrapping on 5 August 1921.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Figure 1: USS New Orleans (PG-34, then CL-22) photographed circa March-April 1898, possibly in a British port prior to her departure for the United States. Note rowing craft in the foreground. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS New Orleans (PG-34, then CL-22) arrives off the New York Navy Yard, April 1898, after crossing the Atlantic. Note oversize commissioning pennant flying from her main mast, and Brazilian Navy paint scheme. She had been purchased from Brazil on 16 March 1898, while still under construction in England. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS New Orleans (PG-34, then CL-22) docked at the New York Navy Yard, April 1898, immediately after her maiden voyage from England. The receiving ship USS Vermont is at left. Note New Orleans' extra-long commissioning pennant. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS New Orleans (PG-34, then CL-22) photographed during the Spanish-American War, 1898. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Halftone photograph of USS New Orleans (PG-34, then CL-22), taken during the Spanish-American War and published in the book War in Cuba, 1898. Courtesy of Alfred Cellier, 1977. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS New Orleans (PG-34, then CL-22) dressed with flags in 1898. Note this British-built cruiser's elaborate stern decoration and the civilian rowboat in foreground. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS New Orleans (PG-34, then CL-22) in New York Harbor. Copyright by Enrique Muller, October 1899.
Originally named Amazonas for the Brazilian Navy, the 3,769-ton protected cruiser USS New Orleans was built by Whitworth & Company at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, and was purchased by the United States Navy on 16 March 1898. The United States was drifting towards war with Spain and the US Navy was concerned that it didn’t have enough ships to face this potential enemy. The Navy, therefore, bought two protected cruisers (ships that had steel deck armor that protected critical engine compartments from exploding shells) from Brazil while they were still under construction in England. The first ship was called the Amazonas, which was renamed USS New Orleans. The other cruiser was the Almirante Abreu, which was renamed USS Albany. Although Albany was still under construction when purchased, New Orleans was nearly completed by March 1898. New Orleans was commissioned into the US Navy on 18 March at Gravesend, England, just two days after she was purchased. New Orleans and Albany also were the first steel cruisers in the US Navy to have wood-sheathed and coppered hulls. New Orleans was approximately 354 feet long and 43 feet wide, had a top speed of 20 knots, and had a crew of 365 officers and men. She was armed with six 6-inch guns, four 4.7-inch rapid-fire guns, 10 6-pounders, eight 1-pounders, and three torpedo tubes.
When New Orleans was commissioned at Gravesend on 18 March 1898, she was met by the USS San Francisco. Lieutenant Commander Arthur P. Nazro, the executive officer on board San Francisco, was detached from the ship and placed in command of New Orleans for the voyage to the United States. Nazro brought with him five officers and 87 men from the crew of San Francisco, along with 18 Marines under the command of First Lieutenant George Barnett, a future commandant of the US Marine Corps. After nine days of preparations, New Orleans left England and steamed towards the United States. She arrived at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York, on 15 April 1898. Over the next few days, the men on board New Orleans returned to San Francisco. After taking on a new crew, New Orleans continued its journey to Norfolk, Virginia.
New Orleans left Norfolk on 17 May 1898 and was attached to the US Navy’s “Flying Squadron,” which was sent to confront the Spanish fleet that was moored at Santiago de Cuba. The Flying Squadron was in position off Santiago by 30 May and on the next day New Orleans, along with the battleships USS Massachusetts and USS Iowa, made a bold reconnaissance of Santiago harbor. The American ships exchanged gunfire with Spanish ships and shore batteries before leaving the area. New Orleans assisted in the bombardment of Spanish shore batteries at the entrance of the harbor on 6 June and 16 June, before being sent to Key West, Florida, to replenish her depleted supply of coal. Unfortunately, this trip to Florida prevented New Orleans from taking part in the famous naval Battle of Santiago, which occurred on 3 July.
Throughout the rest of the Spanish-American War, New Orleans was part of the American blockade of Cuba and Puerto Rico. On 17 July 1898, New Orleans captured the French blockade runner Olinde Rodrigues. After the war ended, New Orleans went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 20 October to attend the “Peace Jubilee” that was held there and then moved on to New York, where she was overhauled and prepared for peacetime service. The cruiser then was sent to visit her namesake, the city of New Orleans, from 16 to 29 May 1899. After spending the summer participating in naval exercises off the Atlantic coast, New Orleans left New York on 21 October to join the US Asiatic Fleet. She crossed the Atlantic and entered the Mediterranean, eventually transiting the Suez Canal and reaching Manila on 21 December 1899. For the next five years, New Orleans served as the flagship of the US Asiatic Fleet’s Cruiser Squadron and patrolled the waters off China as well as the Philippines. She was replaced by the cruiser USS Baltimore and left Cavite, the Philippines, on 27 December 1904. New Orleans arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, on 27 January 1905 and was decommissioned on 6 February.
New Orleans was re-commissioned on 15 November 1909 and returned to duty with the Asiatic Fleet. She arrived at Yokohama, Japan, on 25 April 1910 and remained with the Asiatic Fleet until being sent back to the United States in 1912. New Orleans arrived at Bremerton, Washington, on 14 February 1912 and was placed in reserve. The cruiser was fully re-commissioned on 31 December 1913 and was assigned to patrol the coast of Mexico during the turbulent spring of 1914, when that country was engulfed in political and military violence. New Orleans then was briefly assigned to the Washington State Naval Militia and served as a training ship until the fall of 1914, when she resumed her patrol duties off the coast of Mexico. New Orleans remained on the West Coast until America entered World War I in April 1917. The cruiser was overhauled at the Puget Sound Navy Yard and then sent to the East Coast via the Panama Canal. She arrived at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 27 August 1917.
New Orleans escorted Allied convoys between New York and Europe until 16 January 1918, when she was sent back to the Asiatic Fleet. New Orleans arrived at Yokohama on 13 March and eventually resumed her duties of patrolling the waters off China and the Philippines. From 17 July to 20 December 1919, New Orleans also served as the station ship at Vladivostok, Russia, in support of an Allied expeditionary force that was sent to Siberia to fight communist troops.
After undergoing repairs at Cavite, New Orleans was sent back to Vladivostok and continued supporting the Allied Expeditionary Force from 20 May to 27 September 1920. New Orleans also was re-designated a patrol gunboat (PG-34) in 1920. However, she was re-designated yet again in 1921 as a light cruiser (CL-22). After continuing her duties with the Asiatic Fleet in other parts of the Pacific, New Orleans returned to Vladivostok and served as the station ship there from 14 February to 17 August 1922. The cruiser steamed to the Mare Island Navy Yard on 23 September and was decommissioned for the last time on 16 November 1922. USS New Orleans was stricken from the Navy List on 13 November 1929 and the ship was sold for scrapping on 4 February 1930.
Posted by Remo at 8:26 AM
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Figure 1: USS Monocacy (PG-20, later PR-2) while stationed at Shanghai, China. This picture was taken from a post card dated 17 April 1935. Courtesy Robert M. Cieri. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Monocacy (PG-20, later PR-2) while stationed on the Yangtze River in China, date unknown. US Naval Institute photograph, Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, Yangtze River Patrol Memorial Exhibit. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Monocacy (PG-20, later PR-2) circa 1919 on the Yangtze River in China, exact location unknown. Courtesy Robert Hurst. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a Civil War battle, USS Monocacy (PG-20) was the second American warship to bear that name and was a 204-ton, shallow-draft gunboat specifically built for service on the Yangtze River in China. At the beginning of the twentieth century, American business interests were growing in China and gunboats were needed on the Yangtze to protect American lives and property against violent Chinese warlords and bandits. The US Navy realized that it did not have any suitable gunboats for this mission since all of the American warships on the river were either ex-Spanish Navy vessels captured during the Spanish-American War or ships that were built for use on the high seas and not for the shallow waters of the Yangtze River. Therefore, the US Navy had two shallow-draft gunboats built in 1912 at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California and then had the ships disassembled and transported to Shanghai, China. The parts of the ships then were laid down at the Shanghai Dock and Engineering Company on 28 April 1913 and the gunboats eventually were reconstructed and commissioned on 24 June 1914. The new ships were named USS Monocacy (PG-20) and USS Palos (PG-16). Monocacy, like her sister ship Palos, was approximately 165 feet long and 24 feet wide, but had a draft of only 2 feet 5 inches, making it ideal for steaming on the shallow waters of the Yangtze. The gunboat had a top speed of 13.25 knots and a crew of 47 officers and men, and was armed with two 6-pounders and six machine guns.
Monocacy was assigned to the Second Division of the Asiatic Fleet, also known as the “Yangtze Patrol.” Because of her shallow draft, Monocacy was assigned to the upper Yangtze River, which was approximately 900 miles inland from the Chinese coastline. The gunboat left Shanghai on 29 June 1914 and made her way up the mighty Yangtze River to Chungking, which was roughly 1,300 miles inland from the coast. When Monocacy reached Chungking, she joined her sister ship Palos, which had already reached the inland city. For the next 15 years, aside from annual trips to Shanghai for overhauls, Monocacy patrolled the upper Yangtze, using Chungking as her upriver base. At times, Monocacy (along with Palos) also were called on to protect American lives and property in the treaty ports along the entire length of the Yangtze River. Her primary duties included escorting merchant ships, guarding US consulates in various cities, and rescuing American citizens from Chinese warlords and bandits.
There were numerous instances where Monocacy played an important role in saving foreign nationals on or along the Yangtze. On 16 January 1918, Chinese bandits fired on Monocacy 50 miles from Chenglin as the gunboat tried to protect a Japanese steamer that was being attacked by the marauders. One American sailor was killed and two others were wounded before the bandits fled the area. From February to March 1923, Monocacy fought bandits who were assaulting American missionaries and firing on US merchant ships. Later that same year, Monocacy escorted and protected US merchant ships that were being threatened by local warlords. Monocacy continued her patrols on the upper Yangtze for six more years and was reclassified PR-2 on 15 June 1928.
Monocacy was placed in reserve on 24 June 1929 and was based at Shanghai. She patrolled the lower river and made fewer trips to Chungking and Ichang. Monocacy was fully re-commissioned on 19 September 1931 because additional US ships were needed to assist in a natural disaster. Massive summer floods, the worst in the Yangtze’s history up to that time, had inundated 34,000 square miles of land and left millions homeless. Monocacy worked with other Yangtze Patrol warships to bring humanitarian aid to these unfortunate people. In 1933, Monocacy was used as a station ship at the various US treaty ports along the river and her crew served as an armed landing force in case of emergencies.
As the 1930s progressed, the war between Japan and China was intensifying. On 29 August 1938, while protecting American interests and citizens at Kiuklang, Monocacy got trapped in the conflict between the two warring Asian nations. Several mines detonated 80 yards from the gunboat, raining down shell fragments on her. Monocacy remained at Kiuklang for several days until Japanese ships could sweep the river of any remaining mines. But the end was near for the aging gunboat. On 31 January 1939, Monocacy was decommissioned at Shanghai and on 10 February she was towed out to sea and sunk off the Chinese coast. For 25 years, Monocacy protected American lives and property in a troubled nation, fighting warlords, bandits, and an unforgiving river. The US Navy certainly got its money’s worth out of this gunboat and her tough sister ship, USS Palos.
Posted by Remo at 7:57 AM
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Figure 1: US Navy photo of USS Palos (PG-16) from the 1924 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: US warships at Hankow, China, at low river level, 1925. The ships are USS Truxtun (DD-229) at left; USS Isabel (PY-10) in center, and USS Palos (PG-16) in the right foreground. Also present are several junks, and a British Cornflower-class sloop (partially visible at far right). From the collection of Captain Glenn Howell, USN. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Palos (PG-16) circa 1930. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the port of Palos de la Frontera, Spain, where Columbus sailed from on his first voyage to the New World in 1492, USS Palos (PG-16) was a 204-ton shallow-draft gunboat that was built specifically for service on the Yangtze River in China. At the beginning of the twentieth century, American business interests were growing in China and gunboats were needed on the Yangtze to protect American lives and property against violent Chinese warlords and bandits. The US Navy realized that it did not have any suitable gunboats for this mission since all of the American warships on the river were either ex-Spanish Navy vessels captured during the Spanish-American War or ships that were built for use on the high seas and not for the shallow waters of the Yangtze River. Therefore, the US Navy had two shallow-draft gunboats built in 1912 at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California and then had the ships disassembled and transported to Shanghai, China. The parts of the ships then were laid down at the Shanghai Dock and Engineering Company on 28 April 1913 and the gunboats eventually were reconstructed and commissioned on 24 June 1914. The new ships were named USS Palos (PG-16) and USS Monocacy (PG-20). Palos, like her sister ship Monocacy, was approximately 165 feet long and 24 feet wide, but had a draft of only 2 feet 5 inches, making it ideal for steaming on the shallow waters of the Yangtze. The gunboat had a top speed of 13.25 knots and a crew of 47 officers and men, and was armed with two 6-pounders and six machine guns.
Because of its shallow draft, Palos was assigned to the upper Yangtze River, which was approximately 900 miles inland from the coast of China. Palos left Shanghai on 29 June 1914 and steamed up river, passing steep gorges and encountering strong rapids along the way. On 28 August, Palos became the first US warship to reach Chungking, roughly 1,300 miles inland from the coast. Palos stayed at Chungking until 23 September, when she was joined by her sister ship Monocacy. Except for four months in 1917 when she was interned in Shanghai because of an international agreement during World War I, Palos spent the rest of her career in these waters and as part of the Yangtze Patrol.
While assigned to the Yangtze Patrol, Palos protected American lives and property along the entire length of the Yangtze. Her primary duties also included convoying US and foreign merchant ships on the river and evacuating American citizens from cities and consulates during periods of civil unrest. During the 1920s, Palos spent the bulk of her time patrolling the upper Yangtze as warlords and bandits terrorized that region. In 1923, Palos was on continuous patrol between the cities of Ichang and Chungking. She provided armed guards for merchant ships in the area and protected American citizens in Chungking while that city was being attacked by a warlord army. As the Nationalist Revolution gripped the Middle Yangtze Valley, Palos moved down river and patrolled the waters between Hankow and Kiukiang and remained there until 1927. Palos was reclassified PR-1 on 15 June 1928 and continued her work on the Yangtze until she was placed in reserve in June 1929, when six new American river gunboats were attached to the Yangtze Patrol.
But even while in reserve, Palos had an active career. She was based in Shanghai and primarily patrolled the lower Yangtze and its tributaries. However, she occasionally made the trek up river when an additional US gunboat was needed for specific naval missions, such as rescuing American nationals in danger. During the summer of 1930, Palos steamed to Changsha, a port on Tungting Lake near Hankow and rescued American, British, and German nationals who were being threatened by local warlords. Palos received an official thanks from the German government for this operation. Palos was fully re-commissioned on 5 September 1931, because additional ships were needed to assist in a natural disaster. Massive summer floods, the worst in the Yangtze’s history up to that time, had inundated 34,000 square miles of land and left millions homeless. Palos worked with other Yangtze Patrol warships to bring humanitarian aid to these unfortunate people.
In October 1934, Palos left Shanghai for Chungking and became the permanent station ship there on 12 November. She remained at Chungking until she was decommissioned and struck from the Navy List on 21 May 1937. Palos was sold to the Ming Sung Industrial Company on 3 June of that same year and then scrapped.
USS Palos was one of the few American warships that never docked in the United States while in commission. But she served this country well and achieved an excellent record of accomplishments in a very turbulent part of the world.