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USS Justin circa 1898
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Design: Cargo, 1890
Displacement (tons): 2,206 gross, 4,680 load displ.
Dimensions (feet): 287.5' oa, 227.0' reg x 39.0' x 19.7' mn
Original Armament: 2-6pdr (1898)
Later armaments: 1-6pdr (1900);
Speed (kts.): 9.98
Propulsion (HP): 978
Machinery: Vert. triple expansion, 1 screw
||23 Apr 98
||23 Dec 90
||27 Apr 98
||20 Dec 15
||31 Dec 15
||17 Feb 16
In December 1890 the cargo ship JUSTIN was launched by the shipyard of Raylton Dixon & Co. at Middlesbrough, England, for the London shipping firm of Arthur Holland & Co. She was built on the web frame principle, with poop, raised quarterdeck, bridge and topgallant forecastle. Her engines were built by Blair & Co., Stockton. In 1892 she was sold to the English and American Shipping Co., Ltd. (C. T. Bowring & Co.) of London.
On 12 Mar 98 the 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 by the end of March it also had orders to find six colliers, two repair ships, and two distilling ships. By mid-April the Navy had acquired the six colliers, SATURN, LEBANON, NIAGARA, STERLING, SOUTHERY, and MERRIMAC, but the Department soon instructed the Board to find more. Ultimately between 2 Apr 98 (SATURN) and 30 Jun 98 (NERO) the Navy acquired twenty ships for use as colliers plus three more as distilling ships and one as a repair ship.
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. 15 vessels were purchased and employed on the Atlantic Coast and two more, NERO and BRUTUS, were purchased for use on the Pacific coast and in convoying ships to Manila. In addition NANSHAN was acquired in the Far East, HECTOR was captured from the Spanish, and SCIPIO was acquired but not placed in service. These vessels were purchased outright, manned by a naval force, and provided with batteries for repelling attacks from privateers. Notwithstanding the many difficulties which developed, there was at no time any complaint of lack of coal.
JUSTIN was sold to the Navy by Bowring & Archibald. Her cargo coal capacity was 2,900 tons. Her displacement was recorded as 3,300 tons but a calculation made in the Bureau of Construction and Repair from her permissible load draft of 19.6' showed it to be 4,680 tons. At this draft she had a freeboard of 1.7 feet. After the Spanish-American War JUSTIN departed Norfolk for the Pacific on 11 Nov 98 and, after a period out of commission from 17 Feb 99 to 19 Sep 00, served on the Asiatic Station from 1900 to 1907. After a probable period out of commission at the Cavite Navy Yard between 31 Jan 07 and 9 Sep 07 she was assigned to the Pacific Fleet and then, by 1910, to special service in the Pacific. She returned to Mare Island before the end of 1914 and decommissioned there for the last time on 20 Dec 15. She was sold to N. H. Busey, Jr., of New York for $301,107. She then had a long career as a merchant ship before going to the breakers in 1933.
||Ex merc. JUSTIN (completed Feb 91). Merc. JUSTIN 1916 (Garland S.S. Corp.), G. M. LAWRENCE 1925, S. TOMASO (SAN TOMASO) 1927, and MARGA 1930. Scrapped at Liepaja in 1933.
Compiled: 01 Jan 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013