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USS Polaris in 1871
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Class:        POLARIS (ex PERIWINKLE)
Design:        Steam tug, 1864
Displacement (tons):        383 tons
Dimensions (feet):        140.0' x 28.0' x 10.5'
Original Armament:        2-24pdrs (1865)
Later armaments:        none (mid-1865)
Complement:        30
Speed (kts.):        --
Propulsion (HP):        --
Machinery:        Vertical condensing, one cylinder 40" diameter by 36" stroke. 1 screw

AG Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
-- POLARIS (ex PERIWINKLE) Philadelphia, Pa. 9 Dec 64 -- ca 1864 ca Jan 65

AG Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
-- POLARIS (ex PERIWINKLE) -- -- 24 Oct 72 Lost --

Class Notes:
The two-masted schooner-rigged steam tug AMERICA, newly built of white oak and copper fastened in Philadelphia, was purchased for the Navy by Commodore J. B. Hull from John W. Lynn on 9 Dec 64 and renamed USS PERIWINKLE the next day. She had been described on 30 Aug 64 as "a fast boat." She was ordered to join the Potomac Flotilla on 14 Dec 64 and served in that flotilla for the rest of the Civil War. In June 1865 she was sent to the Norfolk Navy Yard and remained on duty there until placed in ordinary in 1867.

Late in 1870 PERIWINKLE was selected for service with the Hall Expedition to the Arctic, a scientific expedition authorized by an Act of Congress approved on 12 Jul 70. Captain Charles Francis Hall, not a naval officer, was commissioned the commander of the expedition and was directed to receive instructions from the Navy and Interior Departments. PERIWINKLE was sent to the Washington Navy Yard where she was practically rebuilt and re-launched on 25 Apr 71 under the new name POLARIS. She sailed from Washington on 10 Jun 71, the date her extant logbooks begin, and after completing loading of stores and provisions for the expedition at the New York Navy Yard she sailed for the Arctic. She was manned during the expedition by 11 officers, 14 crew, an Inuit couple with their four children, and three other Inuit. Aiming for the North Pole, POLARIS reached 82 degrees 29 minutes north latitude, then the furthest point north reached by a vessel, but discipline was bad from the beginning (Hall himself died of arsenic poisoning early in the voyage, according to a 1968 autopsy) and after many mishaps the ship was run aground and abandoned near Etah, Greenland, on 24 Oct 72. Thanks most likely to the Inuit, her crew survived and was rescued in April and July 1873.

Ship Notes:
AG Name Notes
-- POLARIS (ex PERIWINKLE) Ex merc. AMERICA 1864. Renamed 25 Apr 71. Abandoned in the ice 24 Oct 72 off Greenland.

Page Notes:
AG        1864
Compiled:        19 Jun 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013