USC&GS Carlile P. Patterson

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USC&GS Carlile P. Patterson
USC&GS Carlile P. Patterson
Career (United States) 100x35px U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey flag.png
Name: USC&GS Carlile P. Patterson
Namesake: Carlile P. Patterson (1816-1881), fourth Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey (1874-1878) and first of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (1878-1881)

United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (1883–1918);
United States Navy (1918–1919);

Washington Tug and Barge Co.; C.K. West Co. (1924-1925); Northern Whaling and Trading Company (1925-1937); Alaska Patterson Co. (1937-1938)
Ordered: 1883
Builder: James D. Leary, Brooklyn, New York
Cost: $100,000
Launched: January 15, 1884
Sponsored by: Miss Katie Patterson, daughter of the late Capt. Carlile P. Patterson
Commissioned: 1884
Recommissioned: 1918 (United States Navy)
Decommissioned: 1919
In service: 1884-1919, 1924-1938
Out of service: 1919-1924 (?)

Forward, August 15, 1918;

Patterson 1924 or earlier
Fate: Wrecked, 1938
General characteristics
Type: Survey ship
Tonnage: 604
Displacement: 719
Length: 163 feet (50 m)
Beam: 27.4 feet (8.4 m)
Draft: 14.2 feet (4.3 m)
Depth of hold: 10.3 feet (3.1 m)
Decks: 2
Deck clearance: 7 feet (2.1 m) upper deck
Installed power: Compound vertical steam engine, cylinders 17 and 31 inches x 28 inch stroke; replaced by diesel 1924
Propulsion: 8-ft screw
Sail plan: Barkentine
Speed: 7 knots (steam)
Boats and landing
craft carried:
Crew: 13 Officers, 40 crewmen
Armament: Gatling guns; 2 6-pounders during naval service

The USC&GS Carlile P. Patterson was a survey ship of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey in operation between 1883 and 1918. Subsequently she had a brief period of naval service and fifteen seasons as a merchant vessel before she was wrecked on the Alaska coast in 1938.


The Patterson was named for Carlile P. Patterson, fourth Superintendent of the Coast Survey and first of the Coast and Geodetic Survey. She was designed by Commander C.M. Chester; S.H Pook, U.S. Navy, supervised the drawings. She was built of wood in James D. Leary's yard at Williamsburg (Brooklyn) New York. Frames were white oak with cedar tops; planking, beams and lower deck were yellow pine, the upper deck was white pine. Her hull was fitted with iron diagonal braces, and five watertight bulkheads (3 wood, 2 iron). She was rigged as a barkentine with double topsail yards; standing rigging was galvanized charcoal-iron wire. Her boats were two steam launches, two cutters, two whaleboats, and a dinghy. Her deckhouse, 13 x 62 ft, included the engine and boiler rooms, galley, pantry, and a drafting room. Lieutenant Richardson Clover, USN, supervised construction and became her first commander.[1]

Federal career

The Patterson was primarily used as a survey vessel off the coast of Alaska and numerous Alaskan features were named by the assorted crews of the steamer.[2] She also served in other west-coast locations and in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1914, she found and rescued 26 members of the crew of the USRC Tahoma after that ship struck an uncharted reef in the Aleutians and sank.

In 1918, the Patterson was transferred to the United States Navy for use as a patrol ship during the last months of World War I. She was renamed Forward August 15, 1918, and performed both patrol and hydrographic duties in Alaska and off the Mexican coast.[3][4] Subsequently she was returned to the Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1919. The Survey judged she was no longer strong enough for offshore use, and too slow for cost-effective hydrographic work, so she was sold.[5] She was out of service several years.

Merchant career

In 1924, the Washington Tug and Barge Co. sold the Patterson to C.K. West Co. of Portland Oregon who converted her to a motorship for operation along the Oregon coast; the steam engine was replaced with a diesel, probably the four-cylinder Bolinders engine she had in 1930. It was probably at this time that she underwent a substantial rebuilding. Her bowsprit and mizzen were removed, her bow was reshaped, and the fore and main masts were replaced with, or reduced to, pole masts. A stern deckhouse and superstructure were constructed. These changes are evident in the photo of the 1938 shipwreck (shown) and in a 1930 photo in the Yukon provincial archives [6][7][8]

File:Patterson Cape Fairweather.jpg
MS Patterson wrecked at Cape Fairweather, Alaska

In 1925, the Patterson was purchased by the Northern Whaling and Trading Company. From then through 1936 she operated as an Arctic trading ship under Captain Christian Theodore Pedersen, operating between San Francisco and Herschel Island with stops along the Alaska coast.[9] Subsequently she was sold to the Alaska Patterson Co. The Patterson was wrecked December 11, 1938, going ashore in surf on Cape Fairweather in the Gulf of Alaska while en route from Kodiak to Seattle. The first mate and a crewman drowned; the 18 survivors subsisted on supplies dropped from airplanes. Two men were flown out by Alaska pilot Sheldon Simmons. The remaining men hiked out to Lituya Bay with a guide left by Simmons plane and were picked up there by Navy planes and the Coast Guard cutter Haida. The Patterson was beaten to pieces by the surf.[10][11][12][13]


  2. Baker, Marcus (1906). Geographic Dictionary of Alaska (2nd ed. ed.). Government Printing Office. 
  3. "CARLILE P. PATTERSON". NOAA History. 8 June 2006. Retrieved 10-08-2008. 
  4. "Forward". Directory of American Naval Fighting Ships. Retrieved 5-06-2010. 
  5. Report of the superintendent, U.S Coast and Geodetic Survey, in Reports of the Department of Commerce; Report of the Secretary of Commerce and reports of bureaus. Govt. Print. Off., Washington. 1920 p826
  6. Tacoma Public Library, "Ships and Shipping Database" query Patterson; this reference quotes Gordon Newell,"Maritime Events of 1924," H.W. McCurdy, Marine History of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle : Superior Publishing Company, 1966, p. 354. /
  7. Lloyds Register of Ships, 1930 available at Plimsoll Ship Data search Patterson
  8. Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture L'île Herschel: Qikiqtaruk - Guide du patrimoine historique Article in French; fourth photograph is the Patterson at Pauline Cove, Herschel Island.
  9. Kitikmeot Heritage Society C. T. Pedersen and Canalaska accessed April 26, 2009
  10. Tacoma Public Library, "Ships and Shipping Database" query Patterson; this reference quotes Gordon Newell, "Maritime Events of 1938," H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, p. 465.
  11. Sarasota Herald Tribune, Dec 20, 1938 p 6
  12. New York Times Dec 25, 1938 p 39
  13. Lloyds Register of Ships, 1938 available at Plimsoll Ship Data search Patterson

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