Tuesday, February 23, 2010

USS Chattanooga (C-16, later PG-30 & CL-18)

Figure 1: Port bow view of USS Chattanooga (C-16), date and place unknown. US Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 67526. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: Port bow view of USS Chattanooga (C-16) while in New York harbor, 1905. Copyright E. Muller, 1908. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: Starboard side view of USS Chattanooga (C-16) while at anchor, 12 October 1906. Photo 80-G-1035139 from The National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4: Port side view of USS Chattanooga (C-16) while at San Diego, California, in 1915. Caption on the back of the photo reads, "This photo was taken in San Diego while we were coaling ship and taking on stores and mail for the other ships in Mexican waters." Courtesy Robert M. Cieri. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 5: Starboard side view of USS Chattanooga (C-16) while at San Diego, California, in 1915. Caption on the back of the photo reads, "This photo was taken after we were secured from coaling ship and were cleaning her up." Courtesy Robert M. Cieri. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 6: Members of the crew of USS Chattanooga (C-16) posed on deck during the early 1900s. Note the ship's bell in the left background. The original image is printed on postcard ("AZO") stock. Collection of BMC Philip A. Carey, donated by his widow, Mrs. Omah (Munier) Swanson, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after a city in Tennessee, the 3,200-ton USS Chattanooga (CL-16) was the third of six Denver class “protected cruisers,” which were ships that possessed armor protection on their main decks but not on their sides. Also known as “Peace Cruisers,” these slow, lightly-armed and armored ships were never meant for fleet actions. They were used as gunboats with the Asiatic Fleet and in the waters off Central America and South America, as well as in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Because they were needed to patrol distant waters with little support, the Denver class ships were furnished with sails to extend their cruising range while economizing on coal, but they also had large coal bunkers, which increased their range and endurance. Their steel hulls were sheathed with pine and coppered for long service in tropical waters and they possessed roomy, well-ventilated quarters for their crews to ease the discomfort of sailing in hot climates. Each Denver class warship had a two-and-one-half-inch-thick armored deck and all of them were armed with ten 5-inch rapid-fire guns. USS Chattanooga was built by the Crescent Shipyard at Elizabethport, New Jersey, and was commissioned 11 October 1904. She was approximately 308 feet long and 44 feet wide, had a top speed of 16 knots, and had a crew of 339 officers and men.

After a shakedown cruise in the Caribbean, Chattanooga went to New York City and joined a squadron of US Navy warships that was leaving for Cherbourg, France, on 18 June 1905. At Cherbourg, the squadron obtained the remains of the American naval hero John Paul Jones, who died in France in 1792. The body was placed on board USS Olympia and the squadron returned to the United States, arriving at Annapolis, Maryland, on 23 July. The remains then were buried in a sarcophagus at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, where they lie to this day. For the rest of the year, Chattanooga was used as a training ship for the Maine and Massachusetts naval militias. After spending some time in the Caribbean, Chattanooga left San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 28 December 1905 for the Mediterranean. She sailed through the Suez Canal and joined the Asiatic Fleet at Cavite in the Philippines. From 1906 to 1910, Chattanooga remained with the Asiatic Fleet, making numerous trips to China as well as to other ports throughout Asia. Chattanooga returned to the United States on 10 August 1910 and was decommissioned at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington, on 17 September.

While at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Chattanooga was re-commissioned but placed in reserve on 31 August 1912. She was fully re-commissioned on 21 April 1914 and was sent to Mexico, which at that time was engulfed in political and civil turmoil. From 1914 to 1917, Chattanooga performed the usual duties associated with US gunboats, which included protecting American lives and property in Mexico. Chattanooga remained in Mexican waters after America entered World War I, but in 1917 she transited the Panama Canal and spent several months in the Caribbean searching for German surface raiders. In July 1917, Chattanooga began escorting Allied convoys that were heading for France from the United States. She also escorted two convoys from the United States to Nova Scotia. The cruiser continued her escort duties until the end of the war.

After the war ended, Chattanooga participated in the Victory Fleet Review in New York Harbor on 26 December 1918. After an overhaul, Chattanooga carried Liberian officials to Monrovia and then proceeded north to Plymouth, England, where she arrived on 7 May 1919. She was designated flagship of US Naval Forces in European waters and visited English and French ports until June. On 29 June 1919, Chattanooga served as the leading honor escort for President Woodrow Wilson’s departure from France on the liner George Washington. After that, she visited several German and Belgian ports before going to the Mediterranean to serve as flagship for US Naval Forces in Turkish waters. Chattanooga primarily sailed in the Black Sea, but she also served in the Adriatic as well. From January to May 1921, Chattanooga was assigned to patrol duties in European waters before returning to the United States on 1 June. USS Chattanooga was decommissioned at Boston, Massachusetts, on 19 July 1921 and then was sent to the Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire. She remained there until sold for scrapping on 8 March 1930.