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USS Pompey circa 1914
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Class: POMPEY (AF-5)
Design Cargo, 1897
Displacement (tons): 3,085 normal
Dimensions (feet): 245.0' oa, 234.0' pp x 33.5' wl x 15.8' aft
Original Armament: 2-6pdr (1898)
Later armaments: 1-6pdr (1900);
Complement 71 (1920)
Speed (kts.): 10.5
Propulsion (HP): 850
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw
||19 Apr 98
||S. P. Austin
||1 Apr 97
||26 May 98
||5 Jul 21
||12 Jul 22
On 1 Apr 97 S. P. Austin and Son, Ltd. at Sunderland, England, launched the steel screw steamer HARLECH to the order of J. & C. Harrison Ltd. of London for their Continental coal trade. Her "tri-compound" machinery was provided by John Dickerson & Sons, Ltd. of Sunderland. 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. HARLECH was at New York in April 1898 and Harrison sold her to the Navy. Austin launched a replacement HARLECH for Harrison on 15 Sep 98 but she was sold in 1900 because of a bad freight market. The Harrison firm, which specialized in the coal trade and continued to operate ships until 1979, began the names of all its shps with HAR.
HARLECH was converted to a Navy collier at the New York Navy Yard and was renamed POMPEY at the time of her commissioning on 26 May 98. During June and July 1898 Pompey supported U.S. naval forces off Cuba. Moving to Key West and then to Norfolk, Virginia, during August, she decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 18 Jan 99.
POMPEY recommissioned on 22 Nov 01 for service in the Asiatic Fleet and supported U.S. naval forces in the Far East until decommissioned at the Cavite Naval Station in June 1905. Placed back in commission in July 1906, the collier continued to serve on the Asiatic Station with the exception of a period in 1907-1909 when she was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. For much of this time she was manned by a Naval Auxiliary Service merchant marine crew. On 10 Dec 09, during a discussion of the potential use of the monitor MONTEREY as a tender for the Asiatic Fleet's submarine squadron, the Commander of the Third Squadron, U.S. Pacific Fleet, then at Cavite, noted that POMPEY had been suggested for this duty. He stated that POMPEY carried too little coal to be of much value as a collier but that her conversion for duty with the submarines would require considerable alterations and that her present auxiliary complement would have to be replaced by a regular Navy one. After recommissioning again on 6 Jul 11, probably with a Navy crew, POMPEY was listed along with the old wooden sloop MOHICAN as a tender to the Asiatic torpedo fleet, which included both old destroyers and early submarines. In January 1915 POMPEY and MOHICAN were listed as both tenders and storeships. POMPEY was decommissioned at Olongapo on 12 Feb 16.
After being recommissioned on 12 Nov 17 POMPEY was probably used primarily as a storeship. She was designated AF-5 when the Navy's standard hull classification scheme was implemented on 17 Jul 20. POMPEY was decommissioned at Olongapo on 5 Jul 21, and on 28 Mar 22 the Navy Department placed her on the sale list. She was withdrawn from sale on 29 Jun 22 and instead was to be transferred outright to the War Department. This transfer took place on 12 Jul 22, but by 1923 the ship had become the Philippine merchantman POMPEY, owned by the National Coal Co. and then the National Development Co., both of Manila. Renamed SAMAL in 1931, she was sunk by aircraft bombs at Pier No. 7, Manila, on 29 Dec 41.
||Ex merc. HARLECH (completed Apr 97). Transferred to War Dept. 12 Jul 22. Merc. POMPEY 1923, SAMAL 1931, sunk by aircraft bombs at Manila on 29 Dec 41.
Compiled: 06 Oct 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012