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USS Sturgeon Bay (IX-27) circa 1924
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Class: STURGEON BAY (IX-27)
Design: EFC Design 1007
Displacement (tons): 2,402 gross
Dimensions (feet): 245.0' pp x 42.0' x 23.9' load
Original Armament: None
Later armaments: --
Speed (kts.): 10
Propulsion (HP): 1,500
Machinery: Vert. triple expansion, 1 screw
||24 Sep 21
||Lake & Ocean Navigation
||1 Jul 17
||25 Apr 18
||7 Jun 22
||ca Feb 28
||4 Feb 28
||5 Mar 28
On 1 Feb 17 Germany resumed the use of unrestricted submarine warfare in waters around the United Kingdom. On 23 Feb 17 a Boston engineer and yachtsman named Frederic A. Eustis proposed to the Chairman of the new United States Shipping Board, William Denman, that the U.S. build a fleet of small mass-produced wooden steamers, hundreds of which would carry supplies to the Allies and solve the shipping shortage. The massive wartime construction program of the Shipping Board's Emergency Fleet Corporation began with a large number of orders for wooden cargo ships and ultimately led to orders for over 900 such ships. The EFC preferred to order to a few well tested designs, especially Design 1001 (see the IX-3 class) by its own chief naval architect, Theodore E. Ferris, but it also found it necessary to allow shipyards to build vessels to designs for which they were particularly suited. Thus on 28 Jun 17 the Lake and Ocean Navigation Co. (formerly Reiboldt, Wolter & Co.) of Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., was given a contract for one hull to its own design, designated Design 1007 by the EFC. Only one ship, named STURGEON BAY, was built to this "Lake and Ocean" design, whose most unusual feature was its layout with engines aft.
STURGEON BAY was completed on 22 Nov 18 and soon became one of four wooden cargo ships assigned to the USSB's Recruiting Service at Boston, the others being the Design 1001 ships ALABAT, UTOKA, and NEWTON (see IX-33). The wooden BROOKDALE and the steel IRIS (formerly a Navy distilling ship, q.v.) were similarly assigned on the West Coast. STURGEON BAY soon became excess to the Shipping Board's needs and was laid up at Claremont, Va. After the Navy requested her, the Shipping Board transferred her to the custody and control of the Navy on 24 Sep 21. When a representative of the Commandant, 5th Naval District, asked on 7 Oct 21 if in view of the "sad experience of the MAHANNA (see AG-8) and other wooden hull ships" the Department wished to change these orders he was told that "we have to take her regardless of her condition" and that the Department intended to turn her over to the New York Naval Militia at Buffalo as a floating armory and training ship. Com-5 sent the tugs MOHAWK and HERCULES on 11 Oct 21 to take physical custody of the ship and bring her to Norfolk. Upon arrival she was found to be showing daylight through her sides and in need of extensive recaulking, but when Com-5 questioned if she was worth the cost of repairs he was informed that the status of the ship "involves a political question," and the repairs were proceeded with. On 15 Nov 21 CNO directed that STURGEON BAY be carried in the Unclassified section of the Navy List without official identification number.
STURGEON BAY was placed in commission in early June and after additional repairs departed Norfolk on 1 July for New York under tow by USS OWL (AM-2). There she was turned over to the Commandant, 3rd Naval District, who had her towed to Rockport, Maine, by USS IUKA (AT-37) and from there to Buffalo by USS QUAIL (AM-15). She arrived at Buffalo on 24 Jul 22 and was turned over on loan to the New York Naval Militia. On 26 Feb 23 the Navy Department authorized Com-3 to accept bids not exceeding $46,000 to fit her as a floating armory at Buffalo. She made a few training cruises, probably including two lasting about two weeks in the summers of 1923 and 1924, but thereafter remained tied up at Buffalo as a floating armory. Treaty obligations prevented her from carrying any armament on the Great Lakes. In 1922 the Navy Filing Manual assigned the symbol IX-27 to STURGEON BAY, but during the life of the ship this symbol was used solely for filing paperwork and not as a designator for the ship.
On 9 Dec 27 Com-3 received a naval message from the Commanding Officer of STURGEON BAY stating that a very severe storm with wind velocity of 84 miles had torn the ship from her mooring alongside the pier and carried her downstream. She was grounded on the edge of the channel in water ten feet above normal, and her bow would be high on the bank when the water receded. She had in fact been forced from her moorings by barges drifting down on her and ended up aground in the Black Rock (barge) Canal partially blocking the channel. The cost of refloating her was estimated at $30,000, not including subsequent docking and repairs. The ship was not considered worth this expenditure, and on 27 Jan 28 SecNav placed her on the list of naval vessels to be disposed of by sale as a ship "as is and where is." The Navy moved quickly to dispose of the vessel, which had to be removed before navigation on the canal opened around 1 Apr 28. Com-3 took her back from New York State on 30 Jan 28 and she was decommissioned and stricken a few days later. On 29 Feb 28 CNO authorized the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts to accept the bid of the Donahue-Stratton Co. of Milwaukee, Wisc. of $10,650 for the ship, and the sale was awarded on 5 Mar 28. This firm registered her in 1929 or 1930 as STURGEON BAY, but she was listed as "abandoned" in the 30 Jun 34 register.
||Ex merc. STURGEON BAY (no ID number, completed 22 Nov 18). To New York Naval Militia 24 Jul 22. Grounded in storm 9 Dec 27, sold 5 Mar 28. Merc. STURGEON BAY 1929-30, abandoned 1933-34.
Compiled: 20 Mar 2013
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2002-2013