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USS Caesar with submarines on deck in 1908 or 1909
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Class: CAESAR (AC-16)
Design Cargo, 1896
Displacement (tons): 1,300 light, 5,940 max
Dimensions (feet): 322.1' oa, 310.0' pp x 43.9' wl x 19.6' max
Original Armament: 2-3pdr 2-1pdr (1898)
Later armaments: 1-6pdr (1902);
Complement 83 (1920)
Speed (kts.): 10
Propulsion (HP): 1,500
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw
||21 Apr 98
||Ropner & Sons
||31 Jan 96
||13 May 98
||11 Jul 22
||28 Sep 22
||22 Dec 22
On 31 Jan 96 Ropner & Son, Stockton-on-Tees, England, launched the 310-foot steamer KINGTOR to the order of John Holman & Sons of London. She was built on the two-decked rule with poop, bridge, and topgallant forecastle. The saloon and cabins for the captain and officers were located in the saloon house amidships, the accommodations for the engineers were under the bridge deck, and the crew was berthed in the forecastle as usual. She had all the most recent deck machinery for handling cargoes and had a steam windlass and steam steering gear. She was fitted with triple expansion engines by Blair & Co. of Stockton-on-Tees.
On 12 Mar 98 the U.S. Secretary of the Navy appointed a Naval Board on Auxiliary Cruisers to select and purchase civilian vessels for Navy use in the impending war with Spain. The Board initially focused on potential auxiliary cruisers and on tugs and yachts, but in early April the Navy Department ordered it to secure additions to the Navy's fleet of colliers. Between 2 Apr 98 (SATURN) and 30 Jun 98 (NERO) the Navy acquired twenty cargo ships for use as colliers. The Navy's qualifications for efficient colliers included a carrying capacity of 2,000 or more tons of coal, a speed of 12 or more knots, thorough seaworthiness, as little draught of water as possible, and the capability of being armed sufficiently to protect themselves against privateers, armed transports, and small gunboats. The vessels purchased as colliers were all of the merchant-ship type, and, in order to render their character more difficult to ascertain, their general appearance was not changed. They were fitted with towing appliances, as most of them were powerful vessels, capable of towing disabled ships of war should it become necessary. The Navy purchased KINGTOR from Holman & Sons in April 1898, renamed her CAESAR, and fitted her out as a collier at the New York Navy Yard. The Navy rated her cargo coal capacity as 3,250 tons.
After supporting U.S. forces off Cuba during the Spanish-American War and except for brief periods out of commission between cruises, CAESAR was in continual use for over 20 years carrying Navy cargoes all over the world. For much of this time she was manned by a Naval Auxiliary Service merchant marine crew. CAESAR was fitted with a towing engine in 1905, and between December 1905 and July 1906 she with BRUTUS, GLACIER, and the tug POTOMAC towed the DEWEY drydock from Chesapeake Bay to Manila. A few years later she made two trips to take submarines to Manila Bay. USS PORPOISE and USS SHARK were transported out on her decks in April-July 1908, while USS ADDER and USS MOCCASIN went out in July-October 1909. Among the collier's other noteworthy activities were providing support for a 1906 scientific expedition to observe a solar eclipse in Spain, and carrying refugees and relief supplies in 1915-1916 as World War I fighting created turmoil in the eastern Mediterranean.
In 1917 and the first eight months of 1918 CAESAR served with the Asiatic Fleet, then took supplies to France as the First World War came to an end. She remained active in the Atlantic after the war and was designated AC-16 when the Navy's standard hull classification scheme was implemented on 17 Jul 20. Overhauled in 1920-1921, the collier carried coal between the East and West Coasts and, in the spring of 1922, made a trip to Samoa.
On 2 Nov 21 CNO directed the Commandant, 4th Naval District, to place ARCTURUS (later GOLD STAR, AG-12) and REGULUS (AK-14) in commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard as reliefs for USS CAESAR (AC-16) and QUINCY (AK-10) respectively. CAESAR and QUINCY were, after their arrival on the Atlantic Coast, to transfer to ARCTURUS and REGULUS at Philadelphia the personnel and material necessary to place these two ships in commission as their reliefs. By 8 Dec 21 relief assignments had been changed and SPICA (AK-16) had been designated as the relief for CAESAR (AC-16), but a major force cutback ensued and, instead of being commissioned, SPICA lay in reserve for the next 18 years.
The Navy Department placed CAESAR on the sale list on 25 Apr 22. She was decommissioned at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, in June 1922 and sold in December 1922. After her sale CAESAR, renamed MOGUL, operated in the West Coast ore trade between 1923 and 1933 under the Canadian flag for the Coastwise Steamship and Barge Co. Ltd., Victoria, B.C. She was sold to Japanese breakers in 1935.
||Ex merc. KINGTOR (completed Feb 96). Sold to R. W. Crosby, Seattle, Wash. Merc. MOGUL 1923, MOGUL MARU 1935 for delivery to breakers, scrapped in Yokohama 1935.
Compiled: 06 Oct 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012