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USS Canopus circa early 1926
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Class:        CANOPUS (AS-9)
Design        Pass. & Cargo, 1918
Displacement (tons):        7,750 light, 8,000 full
Dimensions (feet):        373.75' oa, 360.0' pp x 51.5' wl x 21.4' mn, 23.75' mx
Original Armament:        2-5"/51 4-3"/50 (1924)
Later armaments:        2-5"/51 4-3"/50 8-20mm (ca. 1941)
Complement        400 (1929)
Speed (kts.):        13
Propulsion (HP):        3,858
Machinery:        Vert. 4-exp., 1 screw

AS Name Acq. Builder Keel Launch Commiss.
9 CANOPUS 22 Nov 21 New York SB 7 Mar 18 19 Dec 18 24 Jan 22

AS Name Decomm. Strike Disposal Fate MA Sale
9 CANOPUS -- 8 May 42 8 Apr 42 Lost --

Class Notes:
In 1916 Grace decided to establish a passenger service from New York to ports on the west coast of South America as far as Valparaiso, Chile, and contracted with two shipyards for five ships -- SANTA ANA, SANTA LUISA and SANTA TERESA by Cramp and SANTA ELISA and SANTA LEONORA by New York Ship. These 110-passenger ships were 376 feet long with a gross tonnage of 5800. They had four boilers each and quadruple expansion engine of 3300 hp. in the Cramp ships and 3400 in the others. Their service speed of 13 knots could be exceeded by a knot. On 3 Aug 17 the United States Shipping Board requisitioned all five ships for transport duty while they were still on the ways. After the war Grace decided that four ships would be sufficient for the intended service and declined return of the SANTA LEONORA. This ship, New York Ship's hull 198, was originally listed as SANTA LUISA in Navy records, a new name SANTA LUCIA was reported on 29 Apr 18, and the final name SANTA LEONORA was reported on 28 Aug 18. She was delivered and commissioned at her builder's yard on 7 Jul 19 and was manned and operated by the Cruiser and Transport Force for Army account. As the Navy wound down its troop transport operations the ship was transferred to the Army 9 Sep 19, but she was soon returned to the Shipping Board and laid up along with many other war-built ships.

By 1920 the Navy realized that many of its pre-war auxiliary vessels were reaching the end of their useful lives, that Congress would not provide appropriations for replacements, and that the Shipping Board had a large number of surplus vessels from its wartime building program that would fill the Navy's needs. In 1920 the Navy's lawyers determined that ships could be acquired from the Shipping Board by Presidential Executive Order, and by 17 Oct 21 negotiations between the Navy and the Shipping Board had reached the stage at which 27 specific hulls (12 tankers, 3 refrigerating ships, 11 cargo ships, and SANTA LEONORA) had been selected. On 29 Oct 21 Executive Order No. 3570 authorized the transfers. SecNav on 2 Nov 21 assigned new Navy names to 17 of the ships including SANTA LEONORA, which became CANOPUS. On the same date CNO directed the Commandant, 3rd Naval District, to place CANOPUS in commission at the New York Navy Yard and direct her to proceed to the Pacific as the relief for ALERT (AS-4). SANTA LEONORA was taken over from the Shipping Board on 22 Nov 21 and arrived at the New York Navy Yard and was renamed on the following day. On 26 Nov 21 CNO directed Com-3 to transfer CANOPUS and the cargo ships VEGA and SIRIUS to the 1st Naval District for commissioning after taking them over. On the same date CNO directed that after CANOPUS was overhauled at the Boston Navy Yard she was to sail for San Pedro with minimum crew and with equipment reduced to bare necessities for the voyage. She was evidently to complete outfitting and manning in the process of relieving ALERT at San Pedro. CNO changed these instructions on 7 Jan 22, noting that ALERT had been ordered out of commission and that her equipment would be landed at San Pedro and held there. When CANOPUS was ready at Boston she was to sail for the Submarine Base, Hampton Roads to fit there for duty as a submarine tender. She was to be retained for duty in the Atlantic. CANOPUS was commissioned at Boston on 24 Jan 22.

After temporary duty at Coco Solo, Canal Zone, CANOPUS was transferred to the Pacific in 1923 and became tender to Submarine Division 17, which consisited of six new "S" class subs (S-36 through S-41). When inclined at Mare Island on 27 Aug 24 her installed armament consisted of 2-5"/51 (1 forward at frame 17.5 and one aft at frame 149) and 4-3"/50 (2 at frame 65 and 2 at frame 100). In November 1924 the tender and the subs joined the Asiatic Fleet at Manila, and CANOPUS remained in the Far East for the remainder of her career. Just before December 1941 CANOPUS had finished an extensive overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard in which she received additional anti-aircraft machine guns and splinter protection around exposed positions. The ship moved from Cavite to the Manila port area on 8 Dec 41 and thus escaped damage in the devastating Japanese air attack on Cavite on 10 Dec 41. She moved to Mariveles Bay at the tip of Bataan on 25 Dec 41 and received damaging bomb hits on 29 Dec 41 and 6 Jan 42. The last of her submarines departed at the end of December but the tender continued to participate in the defense of Bataan until 8 Apr 42 when she was backed into deep water under her own power and scuttled to prevent capture.

Ship Notes:
AS Name Notes
9 CANOPUS Ex-SANTA LEONORA (ID-4352A, completed 7 Jul 19), ex-SANTA LUCIA, ex-SANTA LOUISA. Scuttled in Manila Bay 8 Apr 42.

Page Notes:
AS        1921
Compiled:        21 Jun 2012
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2012