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USS Arctic circa August 1898
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Design: Paddle steamer, 1873
Displacement (tons): 937 gross, 1,358 displ.
Dimensions (feet): 198.5' wl x 33.25' x 12.0' mn
Original Armament: 1-60pdr BLR, 2-47mm rev. (1898)
Later armaments: --
Speed (kts.): --
Propulsion (HP): --
Machinery: Horizontal direct-acting, paddle wheels
||16 May 98
||9 Jul 98
||23 Aug 98
||13 Sep 98
In 1898 the Philadelphia Department of Works maintained three "ice boats" (icebreakers), whose mission was upon the first appearance of ice in the Delaware River to keep the harbor of Philadelphia and the channel of the Delaware River below the city to the capes free from obstruction by ice. In the four winters between 1894 and 1898 the three ice boats provided towage and other assistance to seven vessels. The winter of 1897-1898 was mild, and after being in commission at intervals from 2 Jan 98 to 14 Feb 98 the boats were put out of commission, all ice having disappeared, and returned to their dock at the House of Corrections.
In May 1898 rumors that a flying squadron of Spanish cruisers was headed for the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays caused alarm in Philadelphia, and on 9 May 98 the City Councils passed a joint resolution authorizing the Mayor to lease to the Government of the United States CITY ICE BOAT No. 3 for use in the Coast Defense System of the Delaware River. Leased for the nominal sum of $1, the vessel was towed on 16 May 98 to League Island and turned over to the yard's Commandant. She was fitted up by the Government, renamed ARCTIC, and between 28 Jul 98 and 16 Aug 98 was sent downriver to patrol the Delaware breakwater, stopping at New Castle and Lewes, Delaware. The Director of the Philadelphia Department of Public Works, from whose annual report dated 3 Jan 99 most of this information comes, stated that, had occasion demanded, he had no doubt that "the ARCTIC, manned by our gallant jackies, would have given a good account of herself." On 13 Sep 98 the U.S. Government returned the boat to the City after placing her in her original condition.
||Ex CITY ICE BOAT No. 3 (City of Philadelphia). Returned 13 Sep 98.
Compiled: 01 Jan 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013