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USS Nanshan (AG-2) circa 1920
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Class: NANSHAN (AG-3)
Design Cargo, 1895
Displacement (tons): 4,950 light, 5,059 normal
Dimensions (feet): 295.7' oa, 285.0' pp x 39.0' wl x 21.25' mn
Original Armament: 2-1pdr (1898)
Later armaments: 1-6pdr (1904);
Complement 85 (1920)
Speed (kts.): 10.5
Propulsion (HP): 1,400
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw
||6 Apr 98
||16 Nov 95
||6 Apr 98
||17 Jan 22
||29 Jul 22
In 1896 the collier NANSHAN was built by the Grangemouth Dockyard Company in Scotland for T. W. Richardson of London, a firm active in the China trade. On 26 Feb 1898 Rear Admiral George Dewey, who had recently taken command of the U.S. Naval Force on the Asiatic Station, received orders from the Navy Department to assemble his squadron at Hong Kong to prepare it for war with Spain. Anticipating the need to take coal and supplies with the fleet, Dewey purchased two ships from the China and Manila Steamship Co., the collier NANSHAN at Hong Kong on 6 Apr 98 and the supply vessel ZAFIRO at the same port on 11 Apr 98. (Other Navy records indicate that NANSHAN was purchased from Frank Smythe.) The two ships, manned by civilian crews, accompanied the fleet to Manila at the end of April and were the only support ships assigned to the Asiatic Station until BRUTUS arrived in company with the monitor MONTEREY on 4 Aug 98 and NERO arrived with the monitor MONADNOCK on 16 Aug 98.
During this initial period NANSHAN was manned by her original British merchant crew. The ship was not commissioned but was registered as an American steamer and the original crew was shipped in the American merchant service. Dewey placed on board a naval officer, four enlisted men, and two mounted 1-pounder guns taken from the flagship OLYMPIA for protection against boat attacks. The naval officer exercised control over the vessel and the former master acted as his executive officer, handling the internal management and discipline of the ship. As NANSHAN entered Manila Bay with the fleet she was fully loaded with 3,000 tons of coal. Under these circumstances it is not clear when the ship was first commissioned into the Navy. The first logs for NANSHAN now in the U.S. National Archives are dated 15 April 1901.
NANSHAN continued to serve in the Philippines and on the China Coast as a unit of the Asiatic Fleet. Except for a brief period out of service for upkeep between March 1906 and February 1907, NANSHAN remained active in the Far East until she was reassigned to duty in the eastern Pacific. Arriving at San Francisco in May 1913, she began work coaling ships along the coasts of California, Mexico, and South America. The collier, still civilian manned, was placed out of service for repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, in March 1914.
On 1 Aug 14 NANSHAN was placed in full commission with her first Navy crew. Before and during World War I she carried out supply missions throughout the eastern Pacific, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Mexico. In early 1918 she made a round-trip supply voyage to Norfolk, Virginia and in 1919 conducted an emergency mission to bring urgently needed food to Kodiak, Alaska and the Pribiloff Islands. NANSHAN was assigned as target repair ship in the Pacific on 5 Dec 19 and was fitted out for this purpose at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in early 1920. She was designated AG-3 when the Navy's standard hull classification scheme was implemented on 17 Jul 20.
On 2 Nov 21 CNO directed the Commandant, 4th Naval District, to place the newly-acquired ANTARES (AG-10) in commission at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and direct her to proceed to the Pacific Coast as the relief for NANSHAN. On 26 Nov 21 CNO updated the status of these ships, noting that, upon completion of the winter maneuvers, ANTARES' sister PROCYON (AG-11) would proceed to the West Coast and become the target repair vessel of the Pacific Fleet, a duty then being performed by NANSHAN. ANTARES was still to relieve NANSHAN but the relief would take place on the Atlantic Coast. Material from NANSHAN destined for ANTARES would be shipped from the West to the East Coast by government conveyance. On 8 Dec 21 CNO stated that NANSHAN had been ordered to the Mare Island Navy Yard to decommission and that SATURN (AG-4) would load personnel, material, and equipment from NANSHAN and bring it to Philadelphia to place ANTARES in commission. NANSHAN was decommissioned at Mare Island in January 1922, and the Navy Department placed her on the sale list on 20 Mar 22. She was sold in July 1922 to A. Bercovich Co., Oakland, Cal.
||Ex merc. NANSHAN (completed Feb 96). Sold in July 1922 to A. Bercovich Co., Oakland, Cal. and scrapped there in 1922.
Compiled: 06 Oct 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012