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The tug W. H. Brown photographed in 1897 or 1898 before acquisition by the Navy
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Class: PISCATAQUA (AT-49)
Design: Tug, 1897
Displacement (tons): 518 gross, 854 displ.
Dimensions (feet): 149.0' pp x 28.6' x 12.0' mn
Original Armament: 2-9pdr 2-37mm (Jun 1898)
Later armaments: none (Sep 1898);
3-3pdr (1918); none (ca. 1920)
Complement: 42 (1929)
Speed (kts.): 16
Propulsion (HP): 2,000
Machinery: Vert. triple expansion, 1 screw
||11 May 98
||F. W. Wheeler
||2 Sep 97
||21 Oct 97
||18 Jun 98
||10 Apr 22
||4 Aug 30
||7 Jan 31
In 1897 F. W. Wheeler & Co of West Bay City, Mich., built the large steel tug WILLIAM H. BROWN for W. H. Brown of Pittsburgh, She was to be used for towing and wrecking service in the Gulf of Mexico and was designed to be able to cross the Atlantic safely. She was built at the same time and place as ROBERT W. WILMOT (see AT-50) and the two may have been sisters, the dimensions of 156.7' oa, 143.3' pp x 28.0' x 12.0' mn being reported in mid-1898 for both tugs before the Navy began reporting the different dimensions shown here. An overall length of 156.9' was first reported by the Navy in 1929.
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. WILLIAM H. BROWN was purchased from W. H. Brown & Co. for $130,000 and renamed PISCATAQUA.
PISCATAQUA served in Cuban waters during the Spanish American War and was then placed out of commission. Briefly in service in 1899, she was reactivated in 1900 for duty on the Asiatic Station and sailed in December for the Philippines via the Suez Canal with the gunboat ANNAPOLIS, the yacht FROLIC, and the tug WOMPATUCK (q.v.). She arrived at Cavite in April 1901and remained there for the rest of her career, with a probable period out of commission in 1908-1910. She was designated AT-49 when the Navy's standard hull classification scheme was implemented on 17 Jul 20 and was decommissioned at the Cavite Navy Yard in 1922.
||Ex merc. WILLIAM H. BROWN (completed 11 Nov 97). Sold to Rograciano Rodriguez, Manila. Made into a barge at Manila 1931.
Compiled: 19 Feb 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013