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The SS Saint Paul was a trans-Atlantic ocean liner named for the capital of Minnesota.

SS St. Paul (1895) under steam
The SS St. Paul under steam
History
United States
Name: USS Saint Paul
Builder: William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia
Yard number: 278
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 (15,150 t)
Length: 553 ft 2 in (168.61 m)
Beam: 63 ft (19 m)
Draft: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Speed: 22 kn (25 mph; 41 km/h)
Complement: 381 officers and enlisted
Armament:

Saint Paul was launched on 10 April 1895 by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, as a steel passenger liner. The ship later was 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.

Contents

Service historyEdit

Spanish–American WarEdit

 
The 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 with a critical cargo of Cardiff coal—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.

 
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. 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 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–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 City through 15 August. Entering the Cramp shipyard on 22 August for reconversion to mercantile service, Saint Paul was decommissioned on 2 September and returned to her owner the same day.

CollisionEdit

On 25 April 1908, outward bound from Southampton, England, in a late snowstorm, the Saint Paul was in collision with the British cruiser, HMS Gladiator in the Needles Channel. Gladiator foundered in shallow water with the loss of 27 crew, but the Saint Paul was able to return to Southampton for repairs.[1]

World War IEdit

 
Image of one of 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 with her ballast removed, 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 end of World War I led to cancellation of plans to convert the ship to a troopship.

Post-warEdit

Placed in temporary commission on 14 January 1919 for the purpose of fixing responsibility for her care outside 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.

Postage StampEdit

As part of the celebrations surrounding the 1901 Pan-American Exposition a set of six commemorative postage stamps were issued. The highest value, 10 cents, shows the St. Paul under steam.[2] While the three lowest stamps in the series include rare inverted printings, no errors are known for this issue.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Medland, J. C. (2004).Shipwrecks of the Wight. Coach House Publications Ltd; 2nd Revised edition. ISBN 978-1899392285.
  2. ^ Pan-American Series: American Line Steamship Stamp

External linksEdit