USS Merrimac (1894)
USS Merrimac was a United States Navy collier during the Spanish–American War. It was the only American vessel sunk by the Spanish navy in that conflict. Merrimac, a steamship, was built by Swan & Hunter shipyard as SS Solveig in Wallsend, England, in November 1894, she was purchased by the US Navy in April 1898. Rear Admiral William T. Sampson ordered her to be sunk as a blockship at the entrance of Santiago Harbor, Cuba, in an attempt to trap the Spanish fleet in the harbor. On the night of 2–3 June 1898, eight volunteers attempted to execute this mission, but Merrimac's steering gear was disabled by the fire of Spanish land-based howitzers; the American steamer was sunk by the combined gunfire and the torpedoes of the armored cruiser Vizcaya, the unprotected cruiser Reina Mercedes, the destroyer Plutón without obstructing the harbor entrance. Her crewmen were rescued by the Spanish and made prisoners of war. After the Battle of Santiago de Cuba destroyed the Spanish fleet a month the men were released.
All eight were awarded Medals of Honor for their part in the mission. The eight volunteer crewman of the Merrimac were: Lieutenant Richmond P. Hobson Coxswain Claus K. R. Clausen Coxswain Osborn W. Deignan Coxswain John E. Murphy Chief Master-At-Arms Daniel Montague Gunner's Mate First Class George Charette Machinist First Class George F. Phillips Watertender Francis Kelly Sinking of the U. S. Navy Collier Merrimac Hobson, Richmond Pearson; the Sinking of the Merrimac. Classics of Naval Literature. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-632-5 This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships; the entry can be found here. "US People – Montague, Chief Boatswain". Naval Historical Center. 2006-05-03. Retrieved 2006-12-02
USS Merrimack (1855)
USS Merrimack improperly Merrimac, was a steam frigate, best known as the hull upon which the ironclad warship CSS Virginia was constructed during the American Civil War. The CSS Virginia took part in the Battle of Hampton Roads in the first engagement between ironclad warships. Merrimack was the first of six screw frigates begun in 1854. Like others of her class, she was named after a river; the Merrimack originates in New Hampshire and flows through the town of Merrimac, Massachusetts considered an older spelling which has sometimes caused confusion of the name. Merrimack was launched by the Boston Navy Yard 15 June 1855, she was the second ship of the Navy to be named for the Merrimack River. Shakedown cruises took the new screw frigate to Western Europe. Merrimack visited Southampton, Brest and Toulon before returning to Boston and decommissioning 22 April 1857 for repairs. Recommissioning 1 September 1857, Merrimack got underway from Boston Harbor 17 October as flagship for the Pacific Squadron.
She rounded Cape Horn and cruised the Pacific coast of South and Central America until heading for home 14 November 1859. Upon returning to Norfolk, she decommissioned 16 February 1860. Merrimack was still in ordinary during the crisis preceding Lincoln's inauguration. Soon after becoming Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles took action to prepare the frigate for sea, planning to move her to Philadelphia; the day before the firing on Fort Sumter, Welles directed that "great vigilance be exercised in guarding and protecting" Norfolk Navy Yard and her ships. On the afternoon of 17 April 1861, the day Virginia seceded, Engineer in Chief B. F. Isherwood managed to get the frigate's engines lit off. On the 20 April, before evacuating the Navy Yard, the U. S. Navy sank her to preclude capture; the Confederacy, in desperate need of ships, raised Merrimack and rebuilt her as an ironclad ram, according to a design prepared by Lt. John Mercer Brooke, CSN. Commissioned as CSS Virginia 17 February 1862, the ironclad was the hope of the Confederacy to destroy the wooden ships in Hampton Roads, to end the Union blockade which had seriously impeded the Confederate war effort.
List of steam frigates of the United States Navy Union Navy Ships captured in the American Civil War Bibliography of American Civil War naval history This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here. Canney, Donald L.. The Old Steam Navy: Frigates and Gunboats, 1815–1882. 1. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-004-1. Chesneau, Roger. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. "Merrimack". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 1 February 2013. Olmstead, Edwin; the Big Guns: Civil War Siege and Naval Cannon. Alexandria Bay, New York: Museum Restoration Service. ISBN 0-88855-012-X. Silverstone, Paul H.. Civil War Navies 1855–1883; the U. S. Navy Warship Series. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-97870-X. Nelson, James L. 2004. The Reign of Iron: The Story of the First Battling Ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimack.
HarperCollins Publishers, NY. ISBN 0-06-052403-0. History.navy.mil/photos: USS Merrimack
CSS Virginia was the first steam-powered ironclad warship built by the Confederate States Navy during the first year of the American Civil War. Virginia was one of the participants in the Battle of Hampton Roads, opposing the Union's USS Monitor in March 1862; the battle is chiefly significant in naval history as the first battle between ironclads. When the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, one of the important federal military bases threatened was Gosport Navy Yard in Portsmouth, Virginia. Accordingly, orders were sent to destroy the base rather than allow it to fall into Confederate hands. On the afternoon of 17 April, the day Virginia seceded, Engineer in Chief B. F. Isherwood managed to get the frigate's engines lit. However, the previous night secessionists had sunk lightboats between Craney Island and Sewell's Point, blocking the channel. On 20 April, before evacuating the Navy Yard, the U. S. Navy burned Merrimack to the waterline and sank her to preclude capture.
When the Confederate government took possession of the provisioned yard, the base's new commander, Flag Officer French Forrest, contracted on May 18 to salvage the wreck of the frigate. This was completed by May 30, she was towed into the shipyard's only dry dock, where the burned structures were removed; the wreck was surveyed and her lower hull and machinery were discovered to be undamaged. Stephen Mallory, Secretary of the Navy decided to convert Merrimack into an ironclad, since she was the only large ship with intact engines available in the Chesapeake Bay area. Preliminary sketch designs were submitted by Lieutenants John Mercer Brooke and John L. Porter, each of whom envisaged the ship as a casemate ironclad. Brooke's general design showed the bow and stern portions submerged, his design was the one selected; the detailed design work would be completed by Porter, a trained naval constructor. Porter had overall responsibility for the conversion, but Brooke was responsible for her iron plate and heavy ordnance, while William P. Williamson, Chief Engineer of the Navy, was responsible for the ship's machinery.
The hull's burned timbers were cut down past the vessel's original waterline, leaving just enough clearance to accommodate her large, twin-bladed screw propeller. A new fantail and armored casemate were built atop a new main deck, a v-shaped breakwater was added to her bow, which attached to the armored casemate; this forward and aft main deck and fantail were designed to stay submerged and were covered in 4-inch-thick iron plate, built up in two layers. The casemate was built of 24 inches of oak and pine in several layers, topped with two 2-inch layers of iron plating oriented perpendicular to each other, angled at 36 degrees from horizontal to deflect fired enemy shells. From reports in Northern newspapers, Virginia's designers were aware of the Union plans to build an ironclad and assumed their similar ordnance would be unable to do much serious damage to such a ship, it was decided to equip their ironclad with an anachronism on a 19th century warship. Merrimack's steam engines, now part of Virginia, were in poor working order.
The salty Elizabeth River water and the addition of tons of iron armor and pig iron ballast, added to the hull's unused spaces for needed stability after her initial refloat, to submerge her unarmored lower eves, only added to her engines' propulsion issues. As completed, Virginia had a turning radius of about 1 mile and required 45 minutes to complete a full circle, which would prove to be a major handicap in battle with the far more nimble Monitor; the ironclad's casemate had 14 gun ports, three each in the bow and stern, one firing directly along the ship's centerline, the two others angled at 45° from the center line. There were four gun ports on each broadside. Virginia's battery consisted of four muzzle-loading single-banded Brooke rifles and six smoothbore 9-inch Dahlgren guns salvaged from the old Merrimack. Two of the rifles, the bow and stern pivot guns, weighed 14,500 pounds each, they fired a 104-pound shell. The other two were 6.4-inch cannon of one on each broadside. The 9-inch Dahlgrens were mounted three to a side.
Both amidship Dahlgrens nearest the boiler furnaces were fitted-out to fire heated shot. On her upper casemate deck were positioned two anti-boarding/personnel 12-pounder Howitzers. Virginia's commanding officer, Flag Officer Franklin Buchanan, arrived to take command only a few days before her first sortie; the Battle of Hampton Roads began on March 8, 1862, when Virginia engaged the blockading Union fleet. Despite an all-out effort to complete her, the new ironclad still had workmen on board when she sailed into Hampton Roads with her flotilla of five CSN support ships: Raleigh and Beaufort, Patrick Henry and Teaser; the first Union ship to be engaged by Virginia was the all-wood, sail-powered USS Cumberland, first crippl
USS Merrimack (AO-37)
The third USS Merrimack was one of five Kennebec-class fleet oilers built during World War II for service in the United States Navy. She service in the Cold War, she was named after the Merrimack River in New Hampshire. Merrimack was laid down as SS Caddo under Maritime Commission contract on 12 September 1940 by Bethlehem Steel Company, Sparrows Point, Maryland, she was launched on 1 July 1941 and acquired by the U. S. Navy from Socony-Vacuum Oil Company on 31 December 1941, she was renamed Merrimack on 9 January 1942, commissioned 4 February 1942, Captain William E. Hilbert in command. Assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, the new fleet oiler spent the next two-and-a-half years steaming the Atlantic seaways carrying oil for Allied ships from Argentia, Newfoundland to Montevideo and from ports along the United States East Coast to staging areas in the British Isles and the Mediterranean, her primary duty was fueling the escorts. Merrimack's most memorable crossing began on 23 October 1942 from Hampton Roads, when she sailed with the Southern Attack Group of the Western Naval Task Force for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa.
Twice during the passage she refueled the ships of the task force. A heavy storm broke on 4 November 1942 threatening the landings, but Admiral H. Kent Hewitt kept to the original plan; the task force's mission was to capture the harbor at Safi, Morocco, to cut off French forces in southern Morocco, to enable the landing of Major General George S. Patton's tanks for operations against Casablanca. For more than a year and a half after the landings in Morocco, Merrimack carried oil to support operations in North Africa, Sicily and France. On her transatlantic voyages, besides oil, she carried passengers and a wide variety of equipment including PT boats, patrol craft, aircraft. While steaming toward Casablanca on 22 June 1943, she joined the minesweeper USS Pilot in rescuing 113 survivors from Lot, a French oiler, torpedoed. Merrimack departed Norfolk, Virginia, on 14 October 1944 for the Panama Canal and Ulithi in the Pacific, arriving on 1 December 1944. Allied forces were retaking the Philippine Islands and preparing for operations closer to the Japanese Home Islands.
Merrimack joined the United States Third Fleet's At-Sea Logistics Support Group to fuel the fast carrier task force. She began the new year of 1945 supporting raids on Formosa on 3 and 4 January 1945; the U. S. carriers struck enemy airbases on Luzon, Philippines, on 6 and 7 January to help neutralize Japanese resistance to the invasion of that strategic island which began on the beaches of Lingayen Gulf on 9 January 1945. Naval aircraft which she supported returned to Formosa on the 15th and hit targets along the China coast the following day, they again lashed out at Formosa on the 21st. From 16 February through 2 March, Merrimack supported the ships covering the landings on Iwo Jima. During the fight for Okinawa, Merrimack alternated between fueling ships involved directly in the landings and the aircraft carriers during raids to on the Japanese Home Islands. After Okinawa was secured, the Third Fleet concentrated on operations against Japan itself. From 10 through 29 July 1945, Merrimack supported raids of overwhelming force on Japanese targets which hastened the end of the war.
Following Japan's capitulation on 15 August 1945, Merrimack made several cruises between the United States West Coast and East Asia bringing oil for ships supporting the occupation of Japan and operating along the coasts of China and Korea. She was assigned to Military Sea Transportation Service in October 1949, shortly before beginning pre-inactivation overhaul. Merrimack was decommissioned on 8 February 1950 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Orange, Texas. After the Korean War began on 25 June 1950 when North Korean forces invaded South Korea, Merrimack was recommissioned on 6 December 1950. Assigned to MSTS, she served the Atlantic Fleet, making periodic deployments to the Mediterranean until she was decommissioned again on 20 December 1954, entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego, California, she was stricken from the Navy List on 4 February 1959, transferred to the Maritime Administration, placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet at Beaumont, Texas. Merrimack was disposed of by MARAD exchange on 19 March 1982.
She was sold to Eckhardt & Company GmbH, West Germany, for scrapping, delivered on 29 March 1982 at Beaumont. Merrimack received eight battle stars for World War II service; this article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here. Photo gallery of USS Merrimack at NavSource Naval History Wildenberg, Thomas. Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U. S. Navy, 1912-1995. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Retrieved 2009-04-28
USS Argus (1803)
The first USS Argus named USS Merrimack, was a brig in the United States Navy commissioned in 1803. She enforced the Embargo Act of 1807 and fought in the First Barbary War – taking part in the blockade of Tripoli and the capture of Derna – and the War of 1812. During the latter inflict, she had been audaciously raiding British merchant shipping in British home waters for a month, when the heavier British Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Pelican intercepted her. After a sharp fight during which Argus's captain, Master Commandant William Henry Allen, was mortally wounded, Argus surrendered when the crew of Pelican were about to board; the United States Congress authorized construction of the brig named USS Merrimack, the second U. S. Navy ship of that name, on 23 February 1803, on 29 April 1803 the U. S. Navy contracted with the shipyard of Edmund Hartt at Boston, Massachusetts, to construct the ship. Edmund Hartt's brother, Joseph Hartt, drafted the plans for the brig, designed with a flush deck and fine lines to optimize her for sailing conditions in the Mediterranean Sea.
Captain Edward Preble was appointed superintendent of her construction, her keel was laid down at Hartt's yard on 12 May 1803. On 14 May 1803, two days after Merrimack's keel was laid, United States Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith assigned Preble to duty as commanding officer of the frigate USS Constitution at Boston, in addition to his duties related to Merrimack's construction. Smith informed Preble on 21 May 1803 that Preble was to take command of the U. S. Navy's Mediterranean Squadron, to include Constitution and Merrimack, on 27 May ordered Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr. to take command of Merrimack and supervise her construction to allow Preble to focus on preparing Constitution for Mediterranean service. Smith found that U. S. Navy officers disliked the name Merrimack for the new brig, he directed that she be renamed Argus, the first U. S. Navy ship of that name, on 4 June 1803. Although work on her construction proceeded at first, Decatur reported on 11 July 1803 soon after arriving to take command that her construction had fallen behind schedule, although her builders assured him that she would be launched before the end of July.
Decatur recruited her crew and procured her armament from Providence, Rhode Island, but by the beginning of August 1803 heavy and persistent rains had delayed her launching by two weeks. Her launch day came on 20 August 1803, but the attempt to launch her failed when she did not move down the ways. After the ways' degree of incline was increased, Argus was launched on 21 August 1803. Labor problems during her fitting out delayed her completion but, though no document recording the date of her commissioning has been found, she was in commission and ready for sea by early September 1803. In service, Argus was reported to sail swiftly and although prone to heavy pitching when lying to. On more than one occasion, observers described her as a remarkably handsome ship. Argus set sail from Boston on 8 September 1803, bound for the Mediterranean and service with the Mediterranean Squadron in the First Barbary War, she soon suffered a badly sprung bowsprit in exceptionally heavy seas, Decatur put into Newport, Rhode Island, on 18 September 1803 to have it fixed, reasoning that repairs would be far easier in the United States than in the Mediterranean.
She returned to sea on 28 September 1803 and set a course for Gibraltar, where she arrived after a transatlantic voyage on 1 November 1803. There, Decatur exchanged commands with Lieutenant Isaac Hull, relinquishing command of Argus to Hull and relieving Hull of command of the schooner USS Enterprise. Argus made a brief cruise to the east and in accordance with orders from now-Commodore Preble, commander of the Mediterranean Squadron, returned to Gibraltar to watch the Moroccans while the rest of the squadron sailed east to blockade Tripoli. During the early part of 1804, she cruised the western Mediterranean in an unsuccessful search for a Tripolitan cruiser operating in that area. In March 1804, she received orders to join the rest of the squadron off Tripoli. Argus arrived at Tripoli in company with Constitution and Enterprise on 19 June 1804, but left the blockade late in the month to join a neutral ship at Syracuse and escort her back to Tripoli with supplies for the captive officers and crew of the frigate USS Philadelphia, taken by the Tripolitans after she had run aground on an uncharted reef off Tripoli in October 1803.
Argus resumed her blockade duties on 7 July 1804. At that point, Preble began preparations for a shore bombardment. Heavy weather, postponed the action until early August. On 3 August 1804, the squadron moved in to provide long-range support for the gunboats and mortar boats engaged in the bombardment; the bombardment was less damaging to the defensive works protecting Tripoli than hoped for, though the American gunboat crews boarded and carried several of the Tripolitan vessels sent out to engage them. The squadron conducted another ineffectual bombardment of Tripoli on 7 August 1804. Two days Commodore Preble embarked in Argus to reconnoiter Tripoli harbor. During that mission, Tripolitan shore batteries fired upon Argus, she was struck below the waterline by a single shot. For her, the shot did not pass all the way through her hull, she remained on station off Tripoli. On 28 August 1804, the squadron conducted a third bombardment of the defenses of Tripoli in which its guns inflicted severe damage.
A week on the night of 4 September 1804, Argus was among the ships that escorted the ill-fated fire ship USS Intrepid to the entrance of Tripoli harbor. When I
USS Merrimack (AO-179)
USS Merrimack was the third ship of the Cimarron-class of fleet oilers of the United States Navy. Merrimack was built at the Avondale Shipyards in New Orleans, Louisiana starting in 1978 and was commissioned in 1981 for service in the Atlantic Fleet. Total cost for the ship was $107.1 million. She was last homeported at Virginia. Between 1989 and 1991 Merrimack was "jumboized", meaning that, after cutting the ship into two sections after about a third from the bow, a 35.7 m long section was added to increase the fuel load. Merrimack was decommissioned on 18 December 1998 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on the same day, her title was transferred to the Maritime Administration. Being scrapped at Amelia, Louisiana; this article includes information collected from the Naval Vessel Register, which, as a U. S. government publication, is in the public domain. The entry can be found here. Navsource Wildenberg, Thomas. Gray Steel and Black Oil: Fast Tankers and Replenishment at Sea in the U. S. Navy, 1912-1995.
Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Retrieved 2009-04-28