Tag Archive | USS Nipsic

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019: Nimitz’s first Ranger, or, the wandering ghost of the Nantucket coast

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019: Nimitz’s first Ranger, or, the wandering ghost of the Nantucket coast

Collection of Francis Holmes Hallett via NHHC NH 93484

Here we see “Sunset on the Pacific,” a colored postcard circulated around 1910 showing the Alert-class gunboat USS Ranger (PG-23) at anchor looking West. The bark-rigged iron-hulled steamer would have an exceptionally long life that would see her serve multiple generations of bluejackets of all stripes.

One of the narrow few new naval ships built after the Civil War, the three-ship class was constructed with funding authorized by the 42nd Congress and listed at the time as being a Sloop of War. Powered by both sail and steam, they were 175 feet long, displaced 541 tons and were designed to carry up to a half-dozen era 9-inch guns split between broadsides. The trio were the last iron warships to be built for the U.S. Navy, with follow-on designs moving to steel.

While under construction, the armament scheme was converted to a single 11-inch smoothbore Dahlgren rifle, two 9-inch Dahlgrens, one 60-pounder Parrott, a single 12-pounder “boat” howitzer that weighed only 300-pounds in its carriage, and one Gatling gun– the latter two of which could be sent ashore by a naval landing party to conduct business with the locals as needed. Speaking of which, she could afford to send her small Marine detachment as well as up to 40 rifle-armed sailors away as needed to make friends and influence people.

Alert, Huron, and Ranger were all completed at the same time, with the middle ship lost tragically on her first overseas deployment off the coast of North Carolina 24 November 1877 near Nag’s Head.

Ranger was constructed at Harlan & Hollingsworth, and, commissioned 27 November 1876, was the 4th such vessel to carry the name.

The preceding two Rangers saw service in the War of 1812 while the original was the 18-gun ship sloop built in 1777 and commanded by no less a figure than John Paul Jones for the Continental Navy. Famously, on 14 February 1778, that inaugural Ranger received a salute to the new American flag given by the French fleet at Quiberon Bay.

Poster calling for volunteers for the crew of USS RANGER, Captain John Paul Jones, then fitting at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for her cruise into European waters. It quotes the resolution of Congress of 29 March 1777 establishing pay advances for newly recruited seamen. Description: Courtesy of Essex Institute Salem, Mass., owners of the original poster. NH 52162

Once our new, 4th, Ranger was commissioned, she was assigned to the Atlantic Station briefly before setting sail for the Far East where she would join the Asiatic Station, leaving New York for the three-month voyage to Hong Kong on 21 May 1877 via the Suez.

USS RANGER photographed before 1896. From Bennett, “Steam Navy of the U.S.” NH 44604

The crew of USS RANGER. Historical Collection, Union Title Insurance Company, San Diego NH 108286

Returning to the states in 1880, she was converted for survey work at Mare Island and spent the two decades slow-poking from Central America to the Northern Pacific and back while engaged in hydrographic duties. A ready ship in an area where no other U.S. flags were on the horizon during that period, she often waved the Stars and Stripes as needed in backwater Latin American ports while alternating between getting muscular with trespassers in the Bearing Strait and Alaskan waters.

While laid up between 1895 and 1899, the 20-year-old gunboat was modernized and landed her Civil War-era black powder shell guns and Gatling for a much more up-to-date battery of six 4-inch breechloaders and an M1895 Colt “potato-digger” machine gun.

USS RANGER, now with a gleaming white hull, photographed after she received 6 4-inch breech-loading rifles in 1897. After this refit, she could be distinguished from her sister ALERT by her funnel casin NH 44605

USS RANGER off the Mare Island Navy Yard, circa 1898, with her cutters in the water. NH 71743

USS Ranger Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, circa 1900. CDR Wells L. Field was her skipper at the time. The original print is color tinted, lightly. NH 73386

By 1905, with the Russians and Japanese getting all rowdy in the Yellow Sea and adjacent areas– with resulting battered Russian ships increasingly hiding out in the U.S.-controlled Philippines– Ranger received a refit at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and set sail for Cavite for her second stint on the Asiatic Station. However, a cranky propulsion plant kept her largely in ordinary until she was sent back to the U.S. in 1908, arriving in Boston on 12 December via the Suez Canal. She was decommissioned the same day and laid up in Charlestown.

With a perfectly good 30-year-old three-master in the harbor and little regular work she could accomplish, the Navy turned Ranger over to the state of Massachusetts for use as the pier side training ship for the Massachusetts Nautical Training School in Boston on 26 April 1909, a role she would maintain until the Great War.

When the U.S. entered the international beef with the Kaiser in April 1917, Uncle eventually remembered he had the ole Ranger on the Navy List and called her back to active service as a gunboat along the New England coast, renaming her USS Rockport in October. This changed again just four months later to USS Nantucket.

USS Nantucket (PG-23, ex-Ranger) anchored off Naval Air Station Anacostia, District of Columbia, on 7 July 1920. Note her wind sail ventilators. 80-G-424466

In July 1921, she was reclassified from a gunboat to an auxiliary with the hull number IX-18 and loaned back to the Massachusetts Nautical School. Over the next 19 years, she became a regular fixture around Boston and the waters up and down the Eastern seaboard.

USS NANTUCKET (PG-23) then loaned to the State of Massachusetts for use at Massachusetts Nautical School, 1933 Description: Courtesy of Mr. Gershone Bradford Catalog #: NH 500

Leslie Jones the renowned photographer with the Boston Herald-Traveler, must have been taken with the Ranger/Rockport/Nantucket during his tenure with the paper and he captured her on dozens of occasions in the 1920s and 30s.

USS Ranger, later USS Rockport and USS Nantucket (PG-23 IX-18), was a gunboat of the United States Navy seen at Charleston Navy Yard. Photo by Leslie Jones Boston Public Library

Training ship Nantucket with the wind in her sails. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket 1923, firing a salute. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket leaving Boston Harbor for a cruise around the world 1923-05-17 Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Mass. nautical training ship Nantucket preparing for around the world trip at Charlestown Navy Yard 4.29.1928. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Secretary of the Navy Curtis Dwight Wilbur aboard training ship Nantucket in the late 1920s. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket 1928 at berth at North End waterfront note battleship in the background. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Cadets hauling line on the deck of the training ship Nantucket off Provincetown. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Bow view of the training ship Nantucket in drydock at Navy Yard. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket: landing force drill with bayonets. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket in Provincetown Harbor Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket in Charlestown Navy Yard 1930. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Sailors in the rigging of the training ship Nantucket at the Navy Yard, Jan 1931. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

USS Nantucket, Mass. Training ship, at Navy Yard Jan 1932. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Training ship Nantucket being reconditioned from a barkentine to a bark at Charlestown Navy Yard April 1932. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Cadets working with sextants on the deck of the training ship Nantucket while off Provincetown. Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

When the clouds of war came again in 1940, Nantucket was taken back over by the Maritime Commission on 11 November 1940 for as a school ship at the new Merchant Marine Academy established at Kings Point, NY, after which her name was removed from the Navy Register for good.

Renamed T/V Emery Rice in 1942, the high-mileage bark gave all she could until she was damaged by the unnamed hurricane of September 1944, and after that was relegated to use as a floating museum ship.

At age 82, Ranger/Rockport/Nantucket/Rice was stripped and sold for scrap in 1958 to the Boston Metals Co. of Baltimore.

During her time in the Navy, she had nearly a dozen commanders (four of which would go on to wear stars) in addition to training legions of sailors and young officers for maritime service for two different schools. One of the most significant to do his time on the old girl was none other than later Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, who served on the ship as a newly-minted ensign from 12 August to 12 December 1908, on her trip home from the PI to Boston, before young Chester began instruction in the budding First Submarine Flotilla.

Besides her records maintained in the National Archives Ranger‘s original engine — the only example of its type known to be still in existence—was saved from destruction and is on display at the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point as a national landmark.

As noted by the As noted by the AMSE

The horizontal compound engine of the Emery Rice is a unique survivor typical of the period 1840 to 1880. The 61-ton back-acting engine has an unconventional configuration in that its two cranks lie close to their cylinders and two off-center piston rods straddle the crank-shaft in a cramped, but efficient, arrangement.

The cylinder bores are 28.5 and 42.5 inches. The stroke is 42 inches. With saturated steam at 80 pounds per square inch gauge and a condenser having 26-inch mercury vacuum, 560 indicated horsepower were produced at 64 revolutions per minute. The engine was designed by the bureau of steam engineering of the U.S. Navy and built by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania, for the U.S.S. Ranger, as the iron-hulled ship was first known.

Dr. Joshua M. Smith, Ph.D., director of the museum, kindly provided the below for use with this post.

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Photo: American Merchant Marine Museum

Interestingly, two subsequent USS Rangers, coastal escorts SP-237 and SP-369, would be in service at the same time during the Great War–while our Ranger was serving as Rockport/Nantucket! The next Ranger was one of the ill-fated Lexington-class battlecruisers and never made it to commission. Finally, her name was recycled for not one but two famous aircraft carriers, CV-4 (1934-47) and CV-61 (1957-2004), the latter of which was only scrapped in 2017. Hopefully, there will be another soon.

As for her sisters, 60 sailors from the wreck of the Huron are buried together in Section Five of the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in well cared for lots while the ship herself is protected by federal mandate in her watery grave. A highway marker near Nag’s Head mentions her loss.

Alert continued to serve in the Navy as a submarine tender until she was decommissioned 9 March 1922 after a very respectable 47 years of service. She was sold three months later for scrap and I can find no trace of her today. During her time in service, Alert had 23 official captains, including future RADM. William Thomas Sampson, known for his later victory in the Battle of Santiago. Our subject outlived her by more than three decades.

As for King’s Point, the institution is still in cranking out USMM officers today and Ranger‘s original school, the Massachusetts Nautical School, is now the Massachusetts Maritime Massachusetts Maritime Academy located in Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod– Ranger‘s old stomping ground.

Specs:
Displacement: 1,202 long tons
Length: 175 ft. (53 m)
Beam: 32 ft. (9.8 m)
Depth of hold: 15 ft. (4.6 m)
Draft: 13 ft. (mean)
Installed power: Five boilers driving 1 × 560 ihp, 64 rpm compound back-acting steam engine
Propulsion: 1 × 12 ft. diameter × 17.5 ft. pitch propeller, auxiliary sails
Speed: 10 knots under steam
Complement: 138 officers and enlisted (typically including a 15 man Marine detachment until 1898).
Armament:
(1875)
1x 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren gun
2 x 9 in (230 mm) Dahlgren guns
1x 60 pdr (27 kg) Parrott rifle
1x 12 pdr (5.4 kg) boat howitzer
1x Gatling gun for landing party
spar torpedoes for her steam launch (provision deleted after 1889)
(1897)
6x 4-inch breech-loading rifles
4x 6-pounder 57mm guns
1x Colt M1895 potato-digger type machine guns for landing party
(1921)
4x 4″/50 mounts

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday Aug 17, 2016: The quiet but everlasting Alert

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday Aug 17, 2016: The quiet but everlasting Alert

Photo by William Henry Jackson/Detroit Publishing Company, Via LOC LC-D4-21686 [P&P]

Photo by William Henry Jackson/Detroit Publishing Company, Via LOC LC-D4-21686 [P&P]

Here we see the Alert-class Federal warship USS Alert around 1901, an iron gunboat rigged as three-masted barque. She would go on to serve from Arctic tundra to Pacific tropics– and everywhere in between– and between her and her sister would put in over 100 years of service to the nation.

One of the few new naval ships built after the Civil War, Alert was built with funding authorized by the 42nd Congress and listed at the time as a Sloop of War. Powered by both sail and steam, she was the leader of a three-ship class and was 175 feet long, displaced 541 tons and were designed to carry up to a half-dozen Civil War surplus 9-inch guns split between broadsides.

Laid down at John Roach & Sons Shipbuilders in Chester, PA in 1873, Alert was commissioned 27 May 1875.

While under construction, her armament scheme was converted to a single 11-inch smoothbore Dahlgren rifle, two 9″ Dahlgrens, one 60-pounder Parrott, a single 12-pounder “boat” howitzer that weighed only 300-pounds in its carriage, and one Gatling gun– the latter two of which could be sent ashore by a naval landing party to conduct business with the locals as needed. Speaking of which, she could afford to send her small Marine detachment as well as up to 40 rifle-armed bluejackets on such festivities, but more on this later.

Alert had two sisters completed at the same time, one, Huron, was built at Roach and lost tragically on her first overseas deployment off the coast of North Carolina 24 November 1877 near Nag’s Head.

Although the Life Saving Service had been started three years prior to the Huron running aground, due to massive under funding the Service only manned stations in North Carolina for three winter months beginning December 1; one week too late to be of help to the crew of the Huron. The outrage over the Huron tragedy prompted Congress to fund the Service year-round. The Life Saving Service eventually evolved into the modern U.S. Coast Guard.

The second sistership to Alert, Ranger, was constructed at Harlan & Hollingsworth and commissioned 27 Nov 1876.

The trio were the last iron warships to be built for the U.S. Navy, with follow-on designs moving to steel.

Alert at the Boston Navy Yard in 1875. Note details of her iron hull; boat. Note her dark overall scheme, which she would keep for most of the 19th Century. Catalog #: NH 57105

Alert at the Boston Navy Yard in 1875. Note details of her iron hull; boat. Note her dark overall scheme, which she would keep for most of the 19th Century. Catalog #: NH 57105

Alert‘s first decade was quiet, being assigned to the Training Squadron where she carried Annapolis mids on summer cruises until being assigned to the exotic Asiatic Station in May 1876. There she would continue operations from China to Australia and Japan for more than a decade, only venturing back to the West Coast for regular overhauls.

In 1882, she was embarrassingly involved in a nighttime crack up with the Japanese ship Jingei, a side-paddle steamer that served as the Imperial yacht for Emperor Meiji. It was the Jingei‘s fault and no members of the court were aboard at the time.

alert laundry day

Besides fighting the occasional Chinese pirate gangs on the water and warlords ashore, improving U.S. charts of the region, showing the flag, and just generally protecting American interests from Hawaii to Singapore to Alaska, Alert had to come to the rescue of lost and wrecked vessels from time to time.

This included responding to the disastrous 1889 hurricane in Samoa that left German, British and U.S. naval vessels alike wrecked and battered. Once she arrived, her crew helped perform repairs on the immobilized USS Nipsic and escorted her back to Hawaii.

Photographed after the Samoa hurricane of March 1889. She was configured thus until 1899. Catalog #: NH 586

Photographed after the Samoa hurricane of March 1889. She was configured thus until 1899. Note her white scheme and her extensive awnings in the tropical heat. Catalog #: NH 586

Following this effort, the 15-year-old gunboat with lots of miles on her hull sailed for Mare Island for refit.

In dry-dock at the Mare Island navy yard, about 1890. Catalog #: NH 71061

In dry-dock at the Mare Island navy yard, about 1890. Catalog #: NH 71061

And from the stern-- In dry-dock at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, about 1890. Note her huge rudder and prop Photograph from the William H. Topley Collection. Courtesy of Mr. Charles M. Loring, Napa, California, 1969. Catalog #: NH 68684

And from the stern– In dry-dock at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, about 1890. Note her huge rudder and prop Photograph from the William H. Topley Collection. Courtesy of Mr. Charles M. Loring, Napa, California, 1969. Catalog #: NH 68684

In 1891, with seals in Alaska facing near-extinction, the U.S. and Britain formed a joint 11-ship Bering Sea Squadron that operated in the area to enforce a prohibition on hunting over the summer. During this period, Alert intercepted and ejected dozens of interloping vessels from the exclusion zone.

Spending the next few years summering in Alaska chasing poachers and wintering in the Pacific Squadron’s stomping grounds in Korea and China, Alert was transferred to operate off the coast of Mexico and Central America in 1895, where she would spend the majority of three rough and tumble years in the politics of the banana Republics.

During this time, in 1898 Nicaragua’s President Zelaya decided to extend his tenure for still another term, the local U.S. consular agent requested Alert to anchor in the harbor of Bluefields, and stand by in case of an attack on the city.

On the morning of 7 February, the American flag rose union downward over the consulate– a sign of distress. In answer to this signal, an expeditionary force of 14 Marines and 19 Sailors was landed by Alert, Gatling gun in tow. On the following day, the government forces agreed to guarantee the safety of all foreigners, and the landing party was withdrawn, though she remained on station there through April.

Returning to Mare Island, she remained on guard against a possible Spanish attack (there was something of a war going on with Spain at the time) but when no such attack likely after Mr. Dewey’s actions in Manila Bay, Alert was decommissioned and partially disarmed on 4 June 1898.

After three years in ordinary, she was used as a training ship after 1901 and loaned off and on to the California Naval Militia until 1910.

USS Alert. View was possibly taken onboard USS Albatross when she traveled in the Pacific Northwest during that year to study Alaska. LOC

USS Alert. View was possibly taken onboard USS Albatross when she traveled in the Pacific Northwest with Albatross to study Alaska.

During this period, her Civil War-era guns had been landed and replaced with what appear to be a half-dozen long barreled 6-pounders (57mm) though I can’t tell if they are Hotchkiss or Driggs-Schroeder models. As Mare Island was home to a number of vessels decommissioned after the SpanAm War at the time which carried both of these models, this should come as no surprise.

Photographed about 1901. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Catalog #: NH 57108

Photographed about 1901. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Catalog #: NH 57108

Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, about 1901. Catalog #: NH 57109

Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, about 1901. Catalog #: NH 57109

Postcard photo, probably taken while she was serving as California State Naval Militia Training Ship, 1906-1910. Note she still has some cannon mounted. Courtesy of Commander D.J. Robinson, USN (Ret), 1978 Catalog #: NH 86255

Postcard photo, probably taken while she was serving as California State Naval Militia Training Ship, 1906-1910. Note what appear to be 57mm 6-pdrs mounted. Courtesy of Commander D.J. Robinson, USN (Ret), 1978 Catalog #: NH 86255

Once again emerging from ordinary, Alert was further converted to allow for transient sailors and became one of the Navy’s first official submarine tenders (AS-4), placed back in full commission 1 July 1912.

Post card image of USS Alert (Submarine Tender #4) moored at San Pedro, CA. The submarines alongside are "F" class boats, circa 1916. Note the wicker deck furniture over her extensive awnings. http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/36/3604.htm Via Navsource: Photo - Ron Reeves Caption - Ric Hedman

Post card image of USS Alert (Submarine Tender #4) moored at San Pedro, CA. The submarines alongside are “F” class boats, circa 1916. Note the wicker deck furniture over her extensive awnings.  Via Navsource: Photo – Ron Reeves Caption – Ric Hedman

USS Alert (Submarine Tender #4), serving as tender for the Third Submarine Division of the Pacific Fleet, laying alongside the wharf at Kuahua, U.S. Naval Station, Pearl Harbor, 22 August 1917. K-3 (Submarine #34) and K-4 (Submarine #35) are identifiable alongside; the unidentifiable "boat" is probably either K-7 (Submarine #38) or K-8 (Submarine #39).Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 42542

USS Alert (Submarine Tender #4), serving as tender for the Third Submarine Division of the Pacific Fleet, laying alongside the wharf at Kuahua, U.S. Naval Station, Pearl Harbor, 22 August 1917. K-3 (Submarine #34) and K-4 (Submarine #35) are identifiable alongside; the unidentifiable “boat” is probably either K-7 (Submarine #38) or K-8 (Submarine #39). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 42542

Ship's baseball team, 1917.

Ship’s baseball team, 1917. Note her deckhouse. Photo via San Diego City Archives.

This mission ended for her when the U.S. entered World War I and, for the first time in decades, she left the Pacific and made her way to the waters of her birth along the Eastern seaboard, briefly serving as a depot ship in Bermuda for outbound convoys to the Great War in Europe.

USS Alert. In port, circa late 1918 or early 1919. Note the old cannon used as a bollard in the left foreground, and the submarine chaser (SC) tied up astern of Alert. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2006. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 104155

USS Alert. In port, circa late 1918 or early 1919 showing her legacy scrollwork on her bow. Note the old cannon to the far left of the image used as a bollard, and the submarine chaser (SC) tied up astern of Alert. Also note what looks to be a Driggs Ordinance Co. Mark II 1-pounder (37mm) on Alert’s port side forward deck. Originally designed to splash small torpedo boats in the 1880s, by 1918 this would be more of a saluting piece than anything though it could still scratch the conning tower paint of one of the Kaiser’s U-boats if needed. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2006. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 104155

With the war winding down, she reverted to the Pacific Squadron, once again serving as a submarine tender until she was decommissioned 9 March 1922 after a very respectable 47 years of service. She was sold three months later for scrap and I can find no trace of her today.

During her time in service, Alert had 23 official captains, including future RADM. William Thomas Sampson, known for his later victory in the Battle of Santiago.

As for her sisters, 60 sailors from the wreck of the Huron are buried together in Section Five of the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in well cared for lots while the ship herself is protected by federal mandate in her watery grave. A highway marker near Nag’s Head mentions her loss.

Alert‘s other classmate, USS Ranger, (later renamed USS Rockport and USS Nantucket PG-23/IX-18), was involved in the Barrundia Affair with Guatemala, patrolled the coast during WWI, and served as the training ship for first the Massachusetts Nautical Training School then the Merchant Marine Academy, only passing to the scrappers in 1958.

Ranger‘s original engine —  the only back-acting type known to be still in existence—was saved from destruction and is on display at the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point, New York.

The last of her class.

112-TV-Emery-Rice-Steam-Engine-1873_page6_image5

Specs:

alert classDisplacement: 1,202 long tons
Length: 175 ft. (53 m)
Beam: 32 ft. (9.8 m)
Depth of hold: 15 ft. (4.6 m)
Draft: 13 ft. (mean)
Installed power: Five boilers driving 1 × 560 ihp, 64 rpm compound back-acting steam engine
Propulsion: 1 × 12 ft. diameter × 17.5 ft. pitch propeller, auxiliary sails
Speed: 10 knots under steam
Complement: 138 officers and enlisted (typically including a 15 man Marine detachment until 1898). Berthing for 200 after 1901.
Armament:
(1875)
1 × 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren gun
2 × 9 in (230 mm) Dahlgren guns
1 × 60 pdr (27 kg) Parrott rifle
1 × 12 pdr (5.4 kg) howitzer
1 × Gatling gun
spar torpedoes for her steam launch (provision deleted after 1889)
(1901)
6 small pieces in gundeck broadside, possibly 6 pdrs or 3-inchers
(1912)
Largely disarmed other than saluting pieces (1-pdrs) and small arms.

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday March 23, 2016: A stormy tale of colonial standoff gone wrong

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday March 23, 2016: A stormy tale of colonial standoff gone wrong

Courtesy of the Rev. William D. Henderson, 1967. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.Catalog #: NH 64694

Courtesy of the Rev. William D. Henderson, 1967. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.Catalog #: NH 64694

Here we see the Kansas-class (later Adams-class) wooden-hulled screw gunboat USS Nipsic in Limon Bay, Panama, during the Darien Expedition of 1870. We say (later) because, though on the Navy List from 1863-1913 in one form or another, the Nipsic was actually two vessels.

Laid down 24 December 1862 by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, the 129-foot sail-rigged steamer was commissioned just nine months later on 2 September 1863 at the height of the Civil War. Rushed to the blockade of Charleston, she arrived by Thanksgiving and spent the next 18 months in Southern waters, capturing the blockade-runner Julia in 1864.

Lithograph of USS Nipsic, Kansas class screw steam gunboat. Catalog #: 2014.72. Naval History & Heritage Command

Lithograph of USS Nipsic, Kansas class screw steam gunboat. Catalog #: 2014.72. Naval History & Heritage Command. She and sistership Yantic were kept around after the war and refitted with a third mast.

After the end of the war, unlike most vessels acquired during the conflict by the Navy, she continued in active service, chopping to the South Atlantic Squadron where she served off the coast of Brazil and in the West Indies for eight years, being rebuilt at the Washington Navy Yard in 1869 during this time.

At the Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia. The Yard's western shiphouse is in the background. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 45212

At the Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia. The Yard’s western shiphouse is in the background. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 45212

Once rebuilt, she carried the Darien Expedition to the Isthmus of Darien (Panama) led by Cmdr. Thomas Oliver Selfridge. The purpose of the expedition was to determine a canal route and a collection of photographs taken by Timothy O’Sullivan is in the Library of Congress.

Columbia Harbor, eastern terminus of canal, mouth of Atrato, U.S.S. NIPSIC

Darien Selfridge Survey. The First Reconnoitering Expedition, upon its return from the Isthmus of Darien Survey, No. 1 Commander Selfridge. No. 2. Captain Houston, USMC. No. 3. Lieutenant Goodrell, No. 4. Lieutenant Commander Schulze, No. 5 P.A. Surgeon Simonds, No. 6 P.A. Paymaster Loomis, No. 7 Lieutenant Jasper, No. 8 Mr. Sullivan Asst C.S. , No. 9 Lieutenant Allen, USMC: NH 123343

Darien Selfridge Survey. The First Reconnoitering Expedition, upon its return from the Isthmus of Darien Survey, No. 1 Commander Selfridge. No. 2. Captain Houston, USMC. No. 3. Lieutenant Goodrell, No. 4. Lieutenant Commander Schulze, No. 5 P.A. Surgeon Simonds, No. 6 P.A. Paymaster Loomis, No. 7 Lieutenant Jasper, No. 8 Mr. Sullivan Asst C.S. , No. 9 Lieutenant Allen, USMC: NH 123343

Upon return, Nipsic was kept around for a bit and laid up in 1873 at Portsmouth next to her Civil War sister USS Kansas (who was sold for scrap in 1883). The Navy had already stricken the remainder of the Kansas-class vessels (USS Maumee, USS Nyack, USS Pequot, USS Saco) and was working on disposing of them. Only USS Yantic was still in service– rebuilt in a “great repair” and kept around until 1930 as a training vessel and hulk.

What’s a great repair?

Well the Navy, lacking funds for new ship construction, traded a number of condemned vessels in the 1870s to shipbuilders to break up and either recycle or sell the salvaged materials for new ships that carried names of vessels already on the Naval List. However, ship specific items such as bells, wheels, furnishings and other objects were transferred to retain the ruse.

That’s how, on 11 October 1879, after a six-year “lay-up” in Portsmouth, a new iron-hulled 179-foot Adams-class third rate gunboat, still USS Nipsic, emerged from the Washington Navy Yard, to be “recommissioned.”

The Adams-class vessels were barque-rigged/steam-powered vessels that could make 11 knots when needed and mounted a modern armament of a single 11-inch gun, a quartet of 9-inchers, and a 60-pound Parrott. Nipsic‘s new sisterships, all new construction, carried historic USN ship names (Adams, Enterprise, Essex, and Alliance) and were designed to show the flag in far-off parts of the world, soon making their presence felt across the globe.

Adams, Nipsic's new sistership. Note how much this ship differs from the above.

Adams, Nipsic’s new sistership. Note how much this ship differs from the above.

Nipsic was soon sailing, serving on European station before rounding the Horn and heading into the Pacific with her complement of Sailors and Marines.

USS Nipsic ship's Marines drilling on deck, circa the 1880s. Their rifles are of the trap-door Springfield type. Photographed by Bradley & Rulofson, San Francisco, California. Note hammocks lashed and stowed in the hammock rails, details of standing rigging, fancy railings over hatches, capstain, and lookout with telescope standing on the bulwark. Donation of Rear Admiral Ammen Farenholt, USN (MC), November 1931. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 44709

USS Nipsic ship’s Marines drilling on deck, circa the 1880s. Their rifles are of the trap-door Springfield type. Photographed by Bradley & Rulofson, San Francisco, California. Note hammocks lashed and stowed in the hammock rails, details of standing rigging, fancy railings over hatches, capstain, and lookout with telescope standing on the bulwark. Donation of Rear Admiral Ammen Farenholt, USN (MC), November 1931. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 44709

One of the far-off ports alluded to above was the nation archipelago of Samoa, which was locked in a three-way fight with the U.S., Germany and Great Britain all vying to take over.

Becoming station ship at Apia, Samoa, Nipsic was in the harbor on the night of 15-16 March 1889, during a violent hurricane that wrecked two German (the 1,040-ton gunboat SMS Adler and the 760-ton gunboat SMS Eber) and two U.S. Navy warships (the majestic Pacific Squadron flagship, the 3,900-ton frigate USS Trenton, and the USS Vandalia, a 2,033-ton sloop). You see, instead of setting course for open water to weather the storm at sea, neither the Germans nor the Americans wanted to leave the harbor alone to the other for fear of shenanigans.

While Nipsic and the German 2,424-ton corvette SMS Olga survived the storm, but both were driven ashore and seriously damaged. The only British man of war in the port at the time, HMS Calliope, who bravely put to sea to the cheers of the stricken vessels and survived the tempest.

The destruction in the harbor was staggering, with the warships bouncing off each other in the hurricane’s unrelenting tidal surge proving too much.

The Nipsic beached, wrecks of Trenton & Vandalia astern. Artwork by Rear Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly, contained in his personal journal of the Apia Hurricane. It shows the southeastern part of Apia Harbor after the storm's end. USS Nipsic is in the foreground and USS Vandalia is sunk at right, with USS Trenton wrecked alongside her. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Donation of Miss Elsie S. Kimberly, January 1958. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 42125

The Nipsic beached, wrecks of Trenton & Vandalia astern. Artwork by Rear Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly, contained in his personal journal of the Apia Hurricane. It shows the southeastern part of Apia Harbor after the storm’s end. USS Nipsic is in the foreground and USS Vandalia is sunk at right, with USS Trenton wrecked alongside her. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Donation of Miss Elsie S. Kimberly, January 1958. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 42125

Gunboat Adler overturned on the reef, on the western side of Apia Harbor, Upolu, Samoa, soon after the storm. Note her battered hull, well for hoisting propeller, rescue buoy mounted on her stern, and decorative windows painted on her quarters. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 42286

Gunboat Adler overturned on the reef, on the western side of Apia Harbor, Upolu, Samoa, soon after the storm. Note her battered hull, well for hoisting propeller, rescue buoy mounted on her stern, and decorative windows painted on her quarters. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 42286

View from the wrecked USS Trenton, with USS Vandalia sunk alongside. Taken in Apia Harbor, Upolu, Samoa, during the salvage of the ships' armament and equipment. Lines between Vandalia's foremast and Trenton's deck were used to save men clinging to Vandalia's rigging during the storm. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Admiral Richard H. Jackson, 1965. NHHC Photograph Collection: NH 97996.

View from the wrecked USS Trenton, with USS Vandalia sunk alongside. Taken in Apia Harbor, Upolu, Samoa, during the salvage of the ships’ armament and equipment. Lines between Vandalia’s foremast and Trenton’s deck were used to save men clinging to Vandalia’s rigging during the storm. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Admiral Richard H. Jackson, 1965. NHHC Photograph Collection: NH 97996.

Samoan Hurricane of 15-16 March 1889. Crewmembers of USS Vandalia at their camp at Apia, Upolu, Samoa, shortly after their ship was wrecked in the storm. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Donation of Lt. H.E. La Mertha, 1934. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 97917.

Samoan Hurricane of 15-16 March 1889. Crewmembers of USS Vandalia at their camp at Apia, Upolu, Samoa, shortly after their ship was wrecked in the storm. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Donation of Lt. H.E. La Mertha, 1934. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 97917.

Jury rudder being made for use in the ship's voyage to Hawaii to receive repairs for damage received during the 15-16 March 1889 hurricane. Probably taken at Apia, Upolu, Samoa, circa April-May 1889. The men present are (from left to right) the blacksmith's helper, blacksmith and carpenter's mate who built the rudder as designed and supervised by Rear Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly, USN. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 63405

Jury rudder being made for use in the ship’s voyage to Hawaii to receive repairs for damage received during the 15-16 March 1889 hurricane. Probably taken at Apia, Upolu, Samoa, circa April-May 1889. The men present are (from left to right) the blacksmith’s helper, blacksmith and carpenter’s mate who built the rudder as designed and supervised by Rear Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly, USN. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 63405

Jury Rudder for the Nipsic. 22 feet-long, with Bollards filled with grape shot for weights. Made at Apia, it worked satisfactorily on a voyage of over 3000 miles from Pango-Pango to Fanning Island and Honolulu called by the sailors The 'Admiral's Fiddle' Artwork by Rear Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly, contained in his personal journal of the Apia Hurricane, photographed against the text of one of the journal's pages. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Donation of Miss Elsie S. Kimberly, January 1958. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 42128

Jury Rudder for the Nipsic. 22 feet-long, with Bollards filled with grape shot for weights. Made at Apia, it worked satisfactorily on a voyage of over 3000 miles from Pango-Pango to Fanning Island and Honolulu called by the sailors The ‘Admiral’s Fiddle’ Artwork by Rear Admiral Lewis A. Kimberly, contained in his personal journal of the Apia Hurricane, photographed against the text of one of the journal’s pages. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Donation of Miss Elsie S. Kimberly, January 1958. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.
Catalog #: NH 42128

When pulled out of the water in Honolulu, what the screw looked like was unbelievable

Ship's propeller, showing damage received during the 15-16 March 1889 hurricane at Apia, Samoa. Not only was the propeller bent beyond repair, but also the rudder and rudderpost were torn away, as were the keel and deadwood below the propeller. Photographed in dry-dock at Honolulu, Hawaii, after Nipsic had arrived from Samoa, circa August 1889. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 63082

Ship’s propeller, showing damage received during the 15-16 March 1889 hurricane at Apia, Samoa. Not only was the propeller bent beyond repair, but also the rudder and rudderpost were torn away, as were the keel and deadwood below the propeller. Photographed in dry-dock at Honolulu, Hawaii, after Nipsic had arrived from Samoa, circa August 1889. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 63082

Repaired to some extent, Nipsic remained in Hawaiian waters until she could make the trip to California, where she was decommissioned and disarmed in 1890. Her machinery was removed and her only value was as a barge.

Even as such, she lived on for another quarter century, with a large roof built over her amidships area, as a barracks and prison hulk at Puget Sound Naval Station, Bremerton, Washington.

At the Puget Sound Naval Station, Bremerton, Washington, 5 October 1897, while serving as a barracks ship. Off Nipsic's stern is the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey ship Hassler, a 350-ton steamer built at Camden, New Jersey, in 1872. Donation of Rear Admiral Ammen Farenholt, USN(MC). U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 44602

At the Puget Sound Naval Station, Bremerton, Washington, 5 October 1897, while serving as a barracks ship. Off Nipsic’s stern is the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey ship Hassler, a 350-ton steamer built at Camden, New Jersey, in 1872. Donation of Rear Admiral Ammen Farenholt, USN(MC). U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 44602

Photographed in 1898, while serving as a barracks ship at the Puget Sound Naval Station, Bremerton, Washington. Collection of Naval Cadet Cyrus R. Miller. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 44603

Photographed in 1898, while serving as a barracks ship at the Puget Sound Naval Station, Bremerton, Washington. Collection of Naval Cadet Cyrus R. Miller. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 44603

In February 1913, she was sold for her value as scrap, which at the time was $15,000; and used as an unpowered timber barge, but was burned for salvage just two years later.

Of her second set of sisters, Adams served as a training ship to the New Jersey Naval Militia in WWI and was sold in 1920; Enterprise did the same for the Massachusetts Maritime Academy for decades before meeting the same fate as Adams in 1909; Essex was the training ship for first the Ohio then the Minnesota Naval Militia before being burned like Nipsic in 1930; and Alliance, after service which included fighting Colombian privateers in the 1880s, was hulked and kind of lost to history.

It seems in the end, that out of the Kansas and Adams-class gunboats, only Nipsic is memorialized.

Samoan Hurricane of 15-16 March 1889. Memorial tablet in the Chapel at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif., dedicated to the memory of officers and men of USS Trenton, USS Vandalia, and USS Nipsic who lost their lives in the storm. Photographed circa the early 1900s or earlier. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 1897.

Samoan Hurricane of 15-16 March 1889. Memorial tablet in the Chapel at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Calif., dedicated to the memory of officers and men of USS Trenton, USS Vandalia, and USS Nipsic who lost their lives in the storm. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 1897.

The damaged propeller of the Nipsic is on display at the Vallejo, California waterfront, across the channel from Mare Island while the tablet above is still in a place of honor today at St. Peter’s Chapel, the oldest naval chapel in the United States, maintained as part of the Mare Island Historic Park Foundation.

In addition, her Civil War-era 100-pound Parrott is on display at the Iowa State Capitol Complex.

Image by Knox Williams

Image by Knox Williams

She has also been remembered in a stamp issued by the Samoan government.

SG342

To date, Nipsic is the only ship to carry that name on the Naval List.

Specs:
(Kansas class, 1862-1879)
Displacement: 625 tons
Length: 129 ft. 6 in (39.47 m)
Beam: 29 ft. (8.8 m)
Draught: 10 ft. 6 in (3.20 m)
Propulsion: steam engine, screw propelled
Speed: 12 knots
Complement: 108
Armament:
one 100-pounder rifle (currently preserved in Iowa)
two 12-pounder rifles
two 20-pounder Dahlgren rifles
two 9” Dahlgren smoothbores

(As Adams-class, 1879-1913)
Displacement: 1,375 long tons (1,397 t)
Length: 185 ft. (56 m)
Beam: 35 ft. (11 m)
Draft: 14 ft. 3 in (4.34 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine, screw
Sail plan: Barque-rigged
Speed: 11 knots
Complement: 190
Armament: (Removed 1890)
1 × 11 in (280 mm) gun
4 × 9 in (230 mm) guns
1 × 60-pounder Parrott rifle
If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

The Marines of Pres. Arthur and Queen Victoria touring the Pyramids

 

Click to big up

Click to big up. A meeting of the two groups in 1882 during the Anglo-Egyptian War, comparing mustaches as it would seem. Note the British Martini-Henry rifle with the Royal Marines (left), while the U.S. Marines, who should have had Model 1879 Lee Rifles, instead seem to have Springfield cartridge conversions and very Civil War-style uniforms.

During the Anglo-Egyptian War, the U.S. Navy sent three ships to North African ports to make sure American citizens and interests were followed.  The elderly 18-gun screw-sloop USS Lancaster  (flagship of the European squadron) the gunboat USS Nipsic and the corvette USS Quinnebaug.

None of these were particularly mighty warships, built for economical overseas service such as waving the flag and chasing the occasional smuggler.  They could, however, scrape together a force of some 130 bluejackets and Marines to send ashore (along with a neat little 12-pounder howitzer from Quinnebaug). Back in the old day, these types of naval shore parties were common.

They remained in Alexandria and the region for nearly two months, being some of the first foreign troops into the city, even meeting in a sharp battle around the U.S. consulate with Islamic Urabi Rebels who were threatening to burn it down.

It seems the more things change…

Station HYPO

Celebrating the Past, Present and Future of Navy Cryptology

National Guard Marksmanship Training Center

Official site for National Guard marksmanship training and competitions

tacticalprofessor

Better to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.

Yokosuka Sasebo Japan

The U.S. Navy and the Western Pacific

The Writer in Black

News and views from The Writer in Black

Stephen Taylor, WW2 Relic Hunter

World War 2 Historian, Relic Hunter and expert in identification of WW2 relics

USS Gerald R. Ford

Mission Ready, Qualified & Competent, On Time Execution!

The Unwritten Record

Exploring History with the National Archives Special Media Division

Stuff From Hsoi

Writing about whatever interests me, and maybe you.

Louisville Gun

Thoughts and Musings on Gun Control & Crime

CIVILIAN GUNFIGHTER

Identifying the Best Training, Tools, and Tactics for the Armed Civilian!

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Under Every Leaf.

A Site for the British Empire 1860-1913

JULESWINGS

Military wings and things

Western Rifle Shooters Association

"Boys, in an ambush, always err on the side of violence..." - RIP Jim

%d bloggers like this: