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USS Bancroft in 1893
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Design: Training ship, 1892
Displacement (tons): 839 displ.
Dimensions (feet): 189.5' oa, 187.5' wl x 32.0' e x 12.9' max, 12.2' mn
Original Armament: 4-4"/40 2-6pdr 2-3pdr 1-1pdr 2-18"TT
Later armaments: 4-4"/40 2-6pdr 2-3pdr 1-1pdr 1-TT (1897); 4-4"/40 6-6pdr 8-3pdr 1-1pdr 1-TT (1898); 4-4"/40 8-3pdr 1-1pdr 1-TT (1899); 4-4"/40 8-3pdr 1-1pdr (1901)
Speed (kts.): 13
Propulsion (HP): 1,300
Machinery: Vert. triple expansion, 2 screws
||18 Jul 90
||30 Apr 92
||3 Mar 93
||2 Mar 05
||30 Jun 06
||30 Jun 06
FY 1889 (7 Sep 88). Built by Samuel L. Moore & Sons Co. of Elizabeth, N.J., as a practice vessel for the U.S. Naval Academy that could also be used for other purposes in case of emergencies. Her contract speed was 12 knots, but she made 14.37 knots on preliminary trials on 26 Jan 93, developing 1,213 IHP at a displacement of 832 tons and earning her builder a premium of $45,000 on a $250,000 contract. She had a gunboat-type watertight deck that was 5/16" thick on the slopes and 1/4" thick on the flat portion.
The Naval Academy received the ship on 28 Jul 93, and she conducted practice cruises during 1894-1896 along the east coast from Annapolis to New York. Her gunnery target practice was described as "exceptionally accurate," but operational experience soon proved her to be too small for her designed purpose. In mid-1896 she was reassigned to squadron service in European waters, for which she was modified during ten days at the New York Navy Yard. The changes included the replacement of her three-masted barkentine rig with a two-masted schooner rig, and the modification of her storerooms to provide additional bunker space for coal. She served as a gunboat in the Mediterranean until recalled in March 1898 in anticipation of war with Spain. After war service she was decommissioned on 2 Sep 98. She was recommissioned on 6 Oct 02 for further gunboat duty in the Caribbean.
By around 1905 the Revenue Cutter Service was converting to steam power and its academy, the School of Instruction, wanted to offer courses in engineering to its fifty cadets. On 27 Oct 05 the Navy Department directed that BANCROFT be turned over to the Treasury Dept. for the use of the Revenue Cutter Service. Transferred in mid-1906 (dates reported are 30 Jun 06 and 6 and 9 Jul 06) and renamed ITASCA, she was rebuilt by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. as a training ship, in the process losing her 4-inch guns and recovering the original three square yards on her foremast. She was commissioned on 17 Jul 07, replacing the aging training cutter CHASE, and made five practice cruises to European ports during the next four years. She then continued to conduct training cruises and carry out enforcement duties along the east coast and in the West Indies until 1917. Under Navy control with the rest of the Coast Guard from 6 Apr 17 to 28 Aug 19, she was recommissioned by the Coast Guard on 1 Jun 20 for one more training cruise to Europe. The ship's cramped quarters had again become a problem, however, and ITASCA was decommissioned on 22 May 22 and was sold at Baltimore, Md., for scrapping on 11 May 22.
||Trf. 1906 to Treasury Dept. as Revenue Cutter ITASCA, sold 1922.
Compiled: 29 Jan 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013