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USS Apache in December 1900
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Design: Wrecking tug, 1889
Displacement (tons): 650 displ.
Dimensions (feet): 141.5' x 29.0' x 10.0' mn
Original Armament: 2-4"/40 2-3pdr (1898)
Later armaments: none (1898);
Speed (kts.): 10
Propulsion (HP): 550
Machinery: Vert. triple expansion, 1 screw
||24 May 98
||A. C. Brown & Son
||11 Apr 89
||11 Jun 98
||24 Sep 98
||29 Sep 25
The wrecking steamer J. D. JONES of the Merritt Wrecking Co. was launched by Brown & Sons at Tottenville, S.I. on 11 Apr 89. She was reported in the press to be 131 feet long overall with a 28 foot beam and to have a big searchlight. (The dimensions given above are from Navy records.) She was to be towed to Philadelphia to receive her engines. Her cost was $90,000 and she was then the largest wrecking vessel in America. In 1892 the Merritt Wrecking Co. undertook to raise the German steamer ARTESIAN in the Straits of Magellan, and they fitted out their largest tug, the J. D. JONES, and dispatched her on her long voyage on 1 Oct 92. J. D. JONES probably had an oversized cargo capacity to be able to dispense with lighters, as did the twin-screw wrecking steamer WILLIAM COLEY that was launched for Merritt in 1892 at the same shipyard. In Navy hands the tug probably had two masts, one fitted with a strong derrick.
On 21 May 1898 a Newport News newspaper reported that the large and powerful ocean wrecking tug J. D. JONES of the Merritt & Chapman Wrecking Co. had been sold to the government and a board had been ordered to make an examination and report as to what battery she would carry and amount of ammunition and what changes were necessary to fit her out for service in the auxiliary fleet. The many tugs acquired in April and May 1898 were intended to serve not as tugs but as armed patrol and scout boats protecting the fleet while it was in harbors, the original intention to equip them with torpedo tubes having been quickly abandoned. The large tug was renamed APACHE, fitted with two 4-inch guns, and commissioned on 11 Jun 98. She was decommissioned after the war on 24 Sep 98. Although suitable for use as a salvage ship, there is no indication that she was so employed.
By 1900 APACHE had found employment as a transport at the Naval Magazine, Iona Island, in the Hudson River opposite Peekskill, N.Y. Considered a service craft, she probably used her derrick and cargo hold to transport ammunition. She was still there in 1919, having been renamed ASPINET on 11 Apr 18. Her crew in late 1918 was two officers and eight men. In 1920 she was taken to Charleston, S.C. and on 26 May 20 SecNav authorized her conversion after 1 Jul 20 by the Charleston Navy Yard into a covered freight lighter for use there "in connection with supplying the transportation needs of the destroyers in reserve and of the Navy transports at that place." Her name was cancelled and she was designated YF-176 when the Navy's standard hull classification scheme was implemented on 17 Jul 20. By 1922 she was described as "sheathed." She was sold in 1925.
Five smaller freight lighters were also listed by the Navy as tugs prior to 1920. They were Traffic
(106.0', 1894-1924, to District Unclassified (file YX-18) 1920), Alice
(101.75', 1898-1916), Pawnee
(112.0', 1898-1922, to YT-21 1920), Rocket
(93.0', 1899-1931, to YT-22 1920), and Transfer
(110.0', 1905-1945, to District Unclassified (file YX-19) 1920, to IX-46 1941).
||Ex merc. J. D. JONES. Renamed ASPINET 11 Apr 18, converted to covered freight lighter 1920. To YF-176 and name cancelled 17 Jul 20.
Compiled: 01 Jan 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013