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USS Hancock circa 1902-1903
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Class: HANCOCK (AP-3)
Design Passenger, 1879
Displacement (tons): 8,500 normal
Dimensions (feet): 465.5' oa, 450.2' pp x 45.3' wl x 24.25' mn
Original Armament: None (1903) as receiving ship
Later armaments: 2-6pdr (1911);
6-3"/50 2-3pdr 6-1pdr (1914);
4-3"/50 2-3"/50AA 2-3pdr 6-1pdr (1918)
Complement 275 (1921)
Speed (kts.): 13
Propulsion (HP): 3,100
Machinery: Vertical triple expansion, 1 screw
||8 Nov 02
||10 Mar 79
||20 Nov 02
||10 Sep 25
||10 Sep 25
||21 May 26
In the late 1870s the John Elder shipyard at Govan on the Clyde built for the American Guion Line a crack steamer that carried only passengers and light freight. The yard argued that such a ship could be profitable in the company's transatlantic service because she would attract more passengers and spend less time in port. The iron-hulled ship, named ARIZONA, had a single screw, inverted compound engines, and seven boilers with 39 furnaces. On her trial trip she steamed at 17.3 knots with 6,630 indicated horsepower. She entered service in 1879 and before the end of the year had won the eastbound transatlantic speed record and survived a high-speed collision with an iceberg. However ARIZONA, although luxuriously fitted, was an uncomfortable ship in which much of the space was given over to engines, boilers, and coal bunkers and which suffered from excessive vibration. When the Guion Line ceased operations in 1894 high-powered single-screw steamers had become unpopular and she only found a buyer in 1897. Her new owners, the Northern Pacific Steamship Co., operated a British-flag service between San Francisco and China and had her original builder, now named the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., rebuild her with an enormous single funnel instead of her original two smaller ones and a light fore-and-aft rig on her four masts in place of their original heavier rig. The ship's passenger capacity and speed were both reduced for Pacific service and her holds were arranged for carrying tea and silk. New triple expansion engines and boilers were fitted, and just before her delivery in Scotland in March 1898 she averaged 15.6 knots on trials.
On 16 July 1898 the Army purchased the rebuilt ARIZONA on the West Coast from the Northern Pacific Railway Co. for use as a transport in the Spanish-American war and renamed her HANCOCK. She was one of 14 transports purchased by the Army in that month, all but two of which were in the Atlantic. She first sailed to Manila with troops in early August 1898, and in 1899-1901 she supported operations in the Philippines and China. In 1902 the Army cut seven ships from its force of 23 transports and hospital ships and the Navy got three of them, the transports HANCOCK and LAWTON (ex USS BADGER) and the hospital hulk RELIEF. The Navy brought HANCOCK to the east coast, where she decommissioned on 9 Mar 03 and recommissioned on 21 Sep 03 as the receiving ship at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. As such she soon ceased to be listed as a transport and was eventually listed as unserviceable for war purposes, although on 25 Nov 12 it was directed that she be carried as a transport instead of unserviceable. Logs for the ship are missing between 13 Apr 13 and 6 Aug 13 and she may have been out of commission during this period.
On 22 May 13 the Bureau of Ordnance asked if the Department wished to have a battery assigned to HANCOCK. SecNav on 24 May 13 referred the question to the General Board, noting that HANCOCK was to be fitted out for the advance base expedition in the coming winter and otherwise fitted for permanent use as a transport. On 31 May 13 the General Board recommended that, given the age and general condition of the ship, her battery be limited to six 3"/50 guns. HANCOCK was relieved as receiving ship by the armored cruiser WASHINGTON on 6 Aug 13 and arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 16 Sep 13 to be fitted out as a Marine transport. Her first service as such was to sail on 4 Jan 14 for Vera Cruz, Mexico, where she landed the 1st Regiment, Advance Base Brigade of Marines. With the exception of one voyage to carry troops to Europe in June and July 1917 she was used to carry Marines and their supplies throughout the Caribbean until she decommissioned on 18 Oct 19.
HANCOCK recommissioned on 15 Mar 20 to assist in bringing to the United States the German battleship OSTFRIESLAND, cruiser FRANKFURT, and three destroyers that had been allocated to the United States. The battleship was to be commissioned and steamed to the United States with the cruiser in tow while the minesweepers REDWING, FALCON, and RAIL were to tow the destroyers. The transport departed Philadelphia on 2 Apr 20 with the battleship crew embarked and the minesweepers in company. HANCOCK also carried a complete set of machine tools which upon arrival at Rosyth was installed under the forecastle on the port side and was used to make the German ships seaworthy. OSTFRIESLAND was placed in full commission on 18 May 20, the cruiser and destroyers commissioned on 5 Jun 20, and during June all of the ships moved to Brest, France. The entire group departed Brest on 13 Jul 20 escorted by HANCOCK and, after an unscheduled stop for repairs in the Azores, arrived at New York on 9 Aug 20. HANCOCK then briefly resumed service in the Caribbean, during which time BuC&R noted on 24 Jan 21 that she was authorized to carry 40 first class passengers and 986 troops. HANCOCK departed Philadelphia on 5 Mar 21 for Pearl Harbor, and upon arrival on 14 May 21 she became the receiving ship there. Her classification was changed from transport to "Unclassified" on 24 Apr 22, and the symbol IX-12 was used in the Navy Department to file correspondence relating to her. On 12 Dec 24 the Commandant, 14th Naval District asked that HANCOCK be detached from duty as receiving ship and towed to the West Coast for disposal. The 46-year old ship was towed out of Pearl Harbor on 9 Jul 25 and arrived on 25 Jul 25 at Mare Island where she was decommissioned and sold in 1926 to the General Metal Supply Co. of San Francisco.
||Ex merc. ARIZONA. From War Dept. 8 Nov 02. To "Unclassified" (file symbol IX-12) 24 Apr 22.
Compiled: 28 Jul 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012