USS Saint Paul (SP-1643)

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USS Saint Paul
Career 100x35px
Name: USS Saint Paul
Builder: William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Launched: 10 April 1895
Acquired: by charter, 12 March 1898
Commissioned: 20 April 1898
Decommissioned: 2 September 1898
Recommissioned: 27 October 1917
Decommissioned: 14 January 1919
Fate: Returned to owner, 24 March 1919
General characteristics
Type: Passenger ship / Auxiliary cruiser
Displacement: 14,910 long tons (15,149 t)
Length: 553 ft 2 in (168.61 m)
Beam: 63 ft (19 m)
Draft: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Complement: 381 officers and enlisted
Armament: • 6 × 5 in (130 mm) guns
• 6 × 6-pounder guns
• 6 × 3-pounder guns

The first USS Saint Paul (SP-1643) was a cruiser in the United States Navy. She was named for the capital of Minnesota.

Saint Paul was launched on 10 April 1895 by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a steel passenger liner; chartered for United States Navy service as an auxiliary cruiser from her owner, International Navigation Company, by a board appointed on 12 March 1898; and commissioned on 20 April 1898 for Spanish-American War service, Captain Charles D. Sigsbee in command.

Service history

Spanish-American War, 1898

File:SS St. Paul.jpg
The elegant St. Paul in port.

Departing Philadelphia on 5 May 1898, Saint Paul's first assignment was to cruise in search of Admiral Cervera's squadron between Morant Point, Jamaica, and western Haiti. She captured the British collier, Restormel, bound for Cuba, on 25 May and sent her into Key West under a prize crew. She cruised off Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo Bay into mid-June, then sailed to join the force blockading San Juan, Puerto Rico.

File:USS St Paul Capsized 1917.JPG
The St Paul capsized at the pier in New York. Caption from Popular Science Magazine July 1918 edition

Saint Paul arrived off San Juan on the morning of 22 June 1898. Shortly after midday, in the 2nd battle of San Juan, the Spanish cruiser Isabel II, emerged from the harbor and, remaining under protection of shore batteries, opened fire on Saint Paul at long range without success. Isabel II was joined shortly by the destroyer Terror, which attempted to close Saint Paul to launch torpedoes. Saint Paul took Terror under heavy fire, scoring at least one direct hit which heavily damaged the destroyer. Terror gave up the attack and returned to port, followed by Isabel II. Saint Paul was relieved by USS Yosemite off San Juan on the 26th and made for New York to coal.

Saint Paul spent the remainder of her Spanish-American War service as a transport, operating for 48 days in July and August as a War Department vessel. She landed troops at Siboney, Cuba, and Arroyo, Puerto Rico, subsequently returning soldiers from Guantanamo Bay to New York through 15 August. Entering the Cramp shipyard on 22 August 1898 for reconversion to mercantile service, Saint Paul was decommissioned on 2 September 1898 and returned to her owner the same day.

World War I, 1917–1919

Image of one of the Saint Paul's deck guns.

Saint Paul was again taken over for wartime service on 27 October 1917. Operated by the United States Shipping Board as a transport on the War Department account, she retained her merchant crew and carried a naval armed guard on board. She made twelve voyages between New York and Liverpool, England. She was transferred to the Navy account in April 1918; designated SP-1643; and overhauled at New York. Then, while being towed to her berth from dry dock on 28 April, she capsized in the North River. Righted on 11 September, she was subsequently turned over to the Commandant, 3rd Naval District, on 17 October.

Saint Paul entered the New York Navy Yard the following day, but the war's end led to cancellation of plans to use the ship for carrying troops.

Placed in temporary commission on 14 January 1919 for the purpose of fixing responsibility for her care outside of the Navy Yard, Saint Paul soon began reconversion for mercantile service. Returned to her owner on 24 March 1919, Saint Paul was scrapped in Germany in 1923.


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