April 3, 2020

USS Eagle – Steam Launch Blog #13

Some background on the USS Eagle for which launch #199 was built.

Some background on the USS Eagle for which launch #199 was built.

The Fifth USS Eagle was built as a yacht Almy in 1890 for Frederic Gallatin. It as acquired by the US Navy in 1898 just weeks before the 4 month-long Spanish-American War. 

Rated as a “gunboat” Eagle was 177′ long with a beam of 24′, draft of 11’6″, displacing 441 Tons. She could make a speed of 12 knots with crew of 67 officers and enlisted, and armed with two 6 pounder (57 mm) guns. 

Eagle sailed on 17 April for duty with the North Atlantic Squadron for blockade and dispatch duty. On June 29th she shelled a Spanish battery at Rio Honda and on July 12th captured Spanish merchant ship Santo Domingo.

On August 22nd she returned to Norfolk to be converted for survey duty which was to be her main job for the remainder of her career principally around Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico. It appears that her Herreshoff launch was delivered during this time (December 1899). 

There were interesting diversions from survey work. In 1908 she patrolled off Haiti and then Nicaragua protecting American interests. In 1922 she transported US Marines to Santiago de Cuba and Siboney to protect American lives during Cuban rebellions. She would continue surveying around Cuba, investigating conditions and serving as a Marine base ship until 1914. She also has gunboat duty with an American cruiser squadron during Haiti operations 1915-1916, being commended by the Secretary of the Navy for her performance.

During WW I Eagle patrolled off Cuba, Santo Domingo and Florida waters. Shortly after war’s end she was decommissioned and sold 1920.

First picture shows Eagle at Norfolk in 1899 with her Herreshoff launch alongside. Second picture is earlier during the War.(Pictures are from Navy History and Heritage Command collection)