USS Kanawha II (SP-130)

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USS Piqua 102128.jpg
Kanawha II (Steam Yacht, 1899) underway, prior to her World War I Navy service.
Career (USA) Union Navy Jack 100x35px
Name: USS Kanawha II (1917-1918)
USS Piqua (1917-1919)
Namesake: Kanawha II was her previous name retained; Piqua is a city in Ohio named for a tribe of Shawnee Indians which formerly inhabited the region
Owner: John Borden
Builder: Gas Engine and Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury Co., Morris Heights, New York
Laid down: date unknown
Launched: 1898
Acquired: 28 April 1917
Commissioned: 28 April 1917
Decommissioned: circa 1 July 1919 at Morris Heights, New York
Maiden voyage: New York City to Brest, France, 9 June-4 July 1917
Renamed: USS Piqua (SP-130) in 1 March 1918
Struck: 1919 (est.)
Fate: returned to owner on 1 July 1919
Status: ultimate fate unknown
General characteristics
Class and type: commercial yacht
Displacement: 575 tons
Length: 227”
Beam: 24’ 5”
Draft: 9’ 8” (mean)
Propulsion: steam engine
Speed: 20 knots
Complement: 65 officers and enlisted
Armament: four 3” guns
one 6-pounder gun

USS Kanawha II (SP-130) -- later renamed USS Piqua (SP-130) -- was a yacht acquired by the U.S. Navy during World War I. She was placed into service as an escort for Allied convoys traveling across the dangerous North Atlantic Ocean. At the time, German u-boats were active in sinking Allied ships, and Kanawha II (later renamed Piqua) provided a valuable service watching out for u-boats and, in one instance, actually attacking one and driving it off. Post-war she was returned to her pre-war owner in July 1919.

Constructed in New York

USS Kanawha II was built as the yacht Kanawha by Gas Engine and Power Co. and Charles L. Seabury Co., Morris Heights, New York, in 1898; acquired by the U.S. Navy, from her owner, John Borden, 28 April 1917; and commissioned the same day as USS Kanawha II -- to avoid confusion with the U.S. Navy replenishment oiler USS Kanawha (AO-1) - with the designation SP–130, Lieutenant Commander John Borden in command.

Kanawha II was renamed Piqua -- the first U.S. Navy ship to carry that name—in March 1918, probably to avoid message confusion with the oiler Kanawha (AO-1).

World War I service

During her first three weeks of naval service, Kanawha II performed various duties in the New York area. Then outfitted for distant service, she got underway, for Europe, 9 June 1917. She arrived at Brest, France, 4 July 1917, in the vanguard of the flotilla of ships of war sent to France following the entry of the United States into World War I.

File:USS Piqua 42427.jpg
USS Piqua (SP-130) dressed with flags on 4 July 1918, as flagship of the U.S. District Commander at Lorient, France.

Two weeks after her arrival she began patrol off Brest. On 3 September 1917, she sighted her first enemy periscope off the French coast, but was unable to press an attack. Toward the end of November, on the 28th, she sighted another closing on a convoy. She issued a submarine warning and the U-boat was later tracked and sunk by two other patrol vessels equipped with depth bombs. The convoy continued undamaged. On 16 July 1918, while steaming in convoy the former pleasure craft, renamed Piqua 1 March 1918, sighted the conning tower of a third U-boat-on a heading almost parallel with the course of the convoy.

Attacking a German U-boat

Piqua closed and at 11,000 yards (10,058 meters), firing commenced. The gun crew, unable to see their target, aimed according to ranges and bearings estimated and called down to them from the bridge. Although she scored no hits, her shells forced the U-boat to abandon her prey.

Piqua continued to operate off the French coast through the end of the war, and into 1919.

Post-war decommissioning and disposal

On 20 May 1919, Piqua sailed for New York City and a month later, after stops in the Azores and at Bermuda, anchored off Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York. Later shifted to Morris Heights, New York, she decommissioned and was returned to her owner on 1 July 1919.


See also