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USS Lykens (SP-876) circa 1917
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Class: LYKENS (AT-56)
Design: Tug, 1899
Displacement (tons): 625 gross, 1,000 displ.
Dimensions (feet): 170.0' oa, 157.0' pp x 29.0' x 15.0' mn
Original Armament: 1-3"/50
Later armaments: none (1920)
Complement: 45 (1929)
Speed (kts.): 15
Propulsion (HP): 1,000
Machinery: Vert. triple expansion, 1 screw
||18 Sep 17
||Neafie & Levy
||10 Nov 17
||9 Dec 22
||21 Nov 33
||3 Feb 34
In 1917 the Philadelphia and Reading Transportation Line of Philadelphia, a subsidiary of the Philadelphia and Reading Rail Road Co., was operating 11 large 158-foot (pp) seagoing tugs built between 1896 and 1912. These included a trio, SWATARA, LYKENS, and CARLISLE, built by Neafie & Levy in 1899-1901. They were preceded by another trio including CATAWISSA (see AT-147) built by Harlan & Hollingsworth in 1896-1898 and were followed by CONESTOGA and MONOCACY (see AT 54-55), built to the same design by the Maryland Steel Co. in 1904-1905. These tugs were used to tow coal barges between Philadelphia (Port Richmond) and points on the East Coast, particularly in New England.
On 20 Feb 17 the Joint Army and Navy Board of Survey of Merchant Vessels inspected LYKENS for possible Navy use. On 14 Aug 17 the Secretary of the Navy informed this company that, by virtue of authority granted in the Naval Deficiency Act of 15 June 1917, its tugs LYKENS (SP-876), MONOCACY (SP-1116), and CONESTOGA (SP-1128) would be acquired by the Navy. Compensation would be determined by a Board of Appraisal. On 10 Sep 17 SecNav informed the company that the compensation for the acquisition of LYKENS had been set at $300,000 and directed that the tug be delivered to the Commandant, 4th Naval District. The tug was delivered on 18 Sep 17 and fitted out at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, to which one 3"/50 gun for the ship was shipped on 1 Oct 17 from the Washington Navy Yard.
After World War I service that took her to Bermuda and the Azores, CNO detached LYKENS on 11 Oct 19 from the Train, Atlantic Fleet and assigned her to duty in the Third Naval District. On 17 Dec 19 CNO wrote to Com-3 that USS BAGADUCE, a new 150-foot seagoing tug (No. 21), was then in the Third Naval District in reduced commission undergoing repairs while LYKENS, then operating in the Third Naval District, had "machinery of obsolete type" and required about $6,882 to be placed in material condition for further naval service. CNO directed that BAGADUCE replace LYKENS in active service and that LYKENS be placed out of commission and be placed on the sale list. On 23 Mar 20 Com-3 reported to CNO that LYKENS on that day had been placed out of commission at Marine Basin, South Brooklyn, awaiting sale. Her former owners declined to buy the tug back at the Navy's price ($230,000) and SecNav directed on 20 Apr 20 that she be sold to the highest bidder. However on 28 May 20 SecNav ordered that LYKENS be removed from the sale list and be assigned to duty in the Third Naval District, evidently replacing the new KEOSANQUA (AT-38), which in the same action was reassigned from the Third Naval District to Pearl Harbor. LYKENS was recommissioned on 17 Jun 20. She was designated AT-56 when the Navy's standard hull classification scheme was implemented on 17 Jul 20. On 1 Sep 20 SecNav instructed the material bureaus to fit LYKENS for service for an indefinite period as a seagoing tug in the Third Naval District, to include use at sea if circumstances required.
By 1922 LYKENS was being used by the Bureau of Engineering for experimental work in New York Harbor with "sound and radio piloting cable equipment." CNO desired Com-3 to keep the tug in commission until these experiments were completed, and in early August the Bureau of Engineering estimated that it would need about another three weeks to complete the work, after which the detail of LYKENS would not be required. LYKENS was placed out of commission for the second and final time at the New York Navy Yard on 9 Dec 22.
After many years in reserve at Philadelphia, LYKENS was inspected on 27 Sep 33 by the Board of Inspection and Survey which found her unfit for further naval service. On 30 Oct 33 SecNav placed her on the list of vessels to be disposed of by sale. LYKENS was stricken from the Navy Register on 21 Nov 33 and her value was appraised at $1,000. Bids were opened on 25 Jan 34 and an award letter was issued to the only bidder on 3 Feb 34.
||Ex merc. LYKENS (SP-876, completed Jul 99). Sold to Northern Metal Co., Philadelphia, for $950.00. To buyer 13 Mar 34, scrapped at Philadelphia.
Compiled: 19 Feb 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013