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USS Peoria (1898-1922) on 19 February 1901
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Class: PEORIA (AT-48)
Design: Pilot boat, 1896
Displacement (tons): 335 gross, 487 displ.
Dimensions (feet): 131.0' pp x 25.0' x 10.5' mn
Original Armament: 4-3pdr 2-37mm (Jun 1898)
Later armaments: 4-3pdr (1911); 2-3pdr (1918); none (1920)
Complement: 32 (1920)
Speed (kts.): 9
Propulsion (HP): 270
Machinery: Vert. compound, 1 screw
||23 May 98
||Neafie & Levy
||15 May 98
||10 Nov 21
||16 Jun 22
In 1896 the Philadelphia shipyard of Neafie & Levy delivered the steam pilot boat PHILADELPHIA to the Pennsylvania & Delaware Pilots' Association (also called the Philadelphia Pilot Association). After selling this vessel to the Navy in early 1898 for $100,000 (after asking for $125,000), the Association ordered a slightly enlarged replacement from the same yard for $75,000. The new PHILADELPHIA was launched on 11 Nov 98 and served until replaced by the former Coast Guard cutter MOHAWK in 1948.
On 12 Mar 98 the U.S. Secretary of the Navy appointed a Naval Board on Auxiliary Cruisers to select and purchase civilian vessels for Navy use in the impending war with Spain. The Board initially focused on potential auxiliary cruisers, but on 25 Mar 98 the press reported that the Board had been ordered to secure at once a dozen tugs and yachts to be equipped for active service as torpedo craft at Key West. On 30 Mar 98 the press reported that the tugs, which Secretary of the Navy Long at first thought would be used for torpedo boats by putting in torpedo tubes, would be used as scout boats. In April three members of the Board visited Philadelphia and on 12 Apr 98 the press reported that they had recommended buying the pilot boat PHILADELPHIA for use as a torpedo boat. The Navy renamed her PEORIA. Although she did not receive torpedoes, PEORIA was converted to an auxiliary gunboat and took an active part in supporting landing operations in Cuba in June and July 1898.
PEORIA continued her peacetime service in the West Indies into 1899, when she was laid up at Boston. Still classed as an auxiliary gunboat and retaining her armament (unlike the tugs acquired in 1898), PEORIA acted as tender to gunnery training ship AMPHITRITE in 1901-1902 and was then based at the Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I., in 1903-1904. Here she assisted in conducting experiments with improved torpedoes for the growing submarine and destroyer forces as well as for capital ships. On 24 January 1905 PEORIA arrived in Puerto Rico and for the next six years she operated from San Juan. She was redesignated in late 1907 as a steel steam tug but still retained her armament. A Navy assessment in 1912 concluded that PEORIA was a good sea-going boat but was not suited for duty as a tug on account of the lack of power of her propelling machinery. Her maximum sea speed in 1906 was 9.5 knots.
In December 1911 PEORIA sailed to Charleston, S.C., and for the next ten years provided towing and harbor services at Charleston and at Key West, with temporary duty at Guantanamo Bay and Santo Domingo. She was designated AT-48 when the Navy's standard hull classification scheme was implemented on 17 Jul 20. The tug was decommissioned at Key West on 30 Jun 20 but was recommissioned there on 14 Apr 21. Navy Department correspondence of 10 Jun 21 transferred her to the District Craft category as YT-109, although the change only seems to have taken effect on 1 Jul 21. She was placed on the sale list on 6 Feb 22.
||Ex merc. PHILADELPHIA (completed Jun 96). To YT-109 1 Jul 21. Sold to C. W. De Knight (Standard Dredging Co.), Washington, D.C., for $8,500. Merc. PEORIA 1922, abandoned 1937.
Compiled: 19 Feb 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013