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USS Niagara (PG-52) in the Pearl Harbor channel on 31 March 1942.
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Class:        NIAGARA (AGP-1)
Design:        Yacht
Displacement (tons):        1,333 light
Dimensions (feet):        267.0' oa, 215.4' pp x 35.3' e x 17.0' mean
Original Armament:        2-3"/23 (thru Apr 42)
Later armaments:        2-3"/50 (Jun 42); 2-3"/50 8-20mm (Nov 42)
Complement:        119
Speed (kts.):        12.5
Propulsion (HP):        3,000
Machinery:        Diesel, 2 screws

Construction:
AGP Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
1 NIAGARA 16 Oct 40 Bath IW 14 Nov 28 7 Jun 29 20 Jan 41

Disposition:
AGP Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
1 NIAGARA -- 2 Jun 43 23 May 43 Lost --

Class Notes:
FY 1941. The twin screw diesel yacht HI-ESMARO was built at Bath Iron Works (their hull 123) to a design by Henry Gielow for Hiram Edward Manville, chairman of the Johns-Manville Corp., and delivered on 20 Aug 29. Her original measurements were 1,062 tons light displacement, 266.4' oa x 35.2' x 14.5'. (Her overall length was later recorded as 254.0', possibly after the Navy removed her bowsprit circa 1942.) The Navy purchased her from Mrs. Manville in 1940. An article about recent Navy ship purchases in the 4 Nov 40 issue of Time Magazine described her as "a glossy, seagoing jewel with a $10,000 figurehead, seven baths, teak paneling, a royal suite with an oversize bed installed for lanky King Gustaf of Sweden, whose nephew, Count Folke Bernadotte, is a Manville son-in-law" and noted that the Navy had retained the teak.

The Navy acquired this yacht for use as a coastal minelayer (CMc-2) but changed her classification to PG (gunboat) on 31 Oct 40 (the hull number PG-52 was assigned on 15 Nov 40) with the intent that she would operate as a MTB tender. She was converted at the New York Navy Yard. Two weeks after commissioning she moved to Miami, Fla., and commenced duty as tender for MTB Squadron Two. A July 1941 report to CNO from the commander of this squadron stated that "though small and incompletely fitted for tender duties, she has performed valuable services in the way of providing berthing, messing, limited stowage facilities, and other services. She has demonstrated the advantage to these boats of a tender and the need for having a better one." The former yacht was reclassified AGP-1 on 13 Jan 43 when the AGP classification was created. On 23 May 43 she was badly damaged by near misses and a hit from Japanese high-altitude bombers and, after her PT boats rescued her crew, one of them, PT-147, sank the wreck with a torpedo. The fatal fire that broke out forward in the vicinity of the bomb hit was assessed to have been due mainly to her interior construction being entirely of wood.

Ship Notes:
AGP Name Notes
1 NIAGARA Ex private yacht HI-ESMARO (ID-4843, delivered 20 Aug 29). Acquired as CMc-1, reclassified PG-52 15 Nov 40 and AGP-1 13 Jan 43. Sunk by Japanese aircraft near San Cristobol Is. in the Solomons.

Page Notes:
AGP        1940
Compiled:        23-Feb-2006
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2006