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Ajax

 

A Greek hero during the Trojan War, second only to Achilles' prowess and valor. The son of Telemon of Salamis and Periboea, Ajax vied with Ulysses for the arms which had belonged to the fallen Achilles. Maddened by disappointment and anger when they were awarded to the latter, Ajax slew the Greek army's flock of sheep, mistaking them for enemies. When he regained his senses and realized what he had done, he killed himself from shame and despair.

 

II

 

(Collier No. 14: dp. 9,250 (n.); 1. 387'6"; b. 46'6" (wl.); dph. 30'0"; dr. 24'8" (mean); s. 10 k.; cpl. 101; a. 4 6-pdrs.)

 

On 12 May 1898—three weeks after the opening of the Spanish-American War—the United States Navy purchased at New York the screw steamer Scindia, a steel-hulled freighter built in 1890 at Glasgow, Scotland. Fitted out at the New York Navy Yard for service as a collier, Scindia was placed in commission there on 21 May 1898, Comdr. Eugene W. Watson in command.

 

Following a round-trip voyage carrying coal from New York to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, between 2 June and 1 July 1898, the ship departed New York on 12 October with a cargo of coal for the Hawaiian Islands. She made a number of goodwill calls en route—both before and after rounding Cape Horn—and delivered her cargo at Honolulu. Scindia then headed east for the California coast and, after reaching San Francisco Bay early in the spring of 1899, was surveyed at the Mare Island Navy Yard and decommissioned there on 27 May for repairs to her boilers and machinery.

 

Recommissioned on 23 December 1899, the collier got underway on 18 January 1900 and headed westward across the Pacific and proceeded via Guam to the newly acquired Philippine Islands laden with coal for the ships of the Asiatic Fleet. After unloading at Manila, she transited the Strait of Malacca, crossed the Indian Ocean, and continued on via the Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar to Cardiff, Wales, where she filled her bunkers with coal before crossing the Atlantic to Norfolk, Va., where she arrived on 1 March 1901. During her first circumnavigation of Earth, the steamer was renamed Ajax on 1 January 1901. She was decommissioned on 16 March 1901.

 

Reactivated on 16 October 1901, the ship made two more round-the-world voyages carrying coal to the Asiatic Station and then returned to the Philippines in September 1903 for operations with the Asiatic Fleet through the end of 1904. She then returned to the east coast of the United States along which she operated until placed out of service at Norfolk on 4 November 1905.

 

Reactivated on 20 January 1907, Ajax again served along the east coast until departing Hampton Roads in December of that year to support the cruise of the "Great White Fleet" around the world to demonstrate the good will of the United States and to make known to any potential enemy the power of the American Navy. She returned to Norfolk on Washington's Birthday in 1909 and, after serving the Atlantic Fleet through the spring, was placed out of service at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard in June.

 

Laid up until 30 April 1910, he put in over two more years supporting the Atlantic Fleet along the coast and in the Caribbean before she was ordered to the Orient for the last time. In December 1912, she took on a cargo of coal at Hampton Roads and loaded submarines B-2 (Submarine No. 11) and B-3 (Submarine No. 12) on her decks before sailing via the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Indian Ocean to the Philippine Islands. She arrived in Manila Bay on 30 April 1913, and, after launching her two submarines, began shuttling coal to American warships at ports in such placed as Guam, the Philippines, China, Japan, and even Burma. Soon after the United States entered the war, she towed the formerly interned German ship Elsass from Samoa to Honolulu, Hawaii. During the American intervention in Siberia at the end of World War I, she made deliveries to Vladivostok.

 

The ship was laid up at the Cavite Navy Yard from 20 April to 17 October 1921 and then became the receiving ship there for the 16th Naval District. During this period, she served briefly in 1923 as tender to the submarines of Submarine Division 18, Asiatic Fleet, and was based at Chefoo, China. After resuming her role as receiving ship at Cavite in September 1923, Ajax became the tender for the planes of the Asiatic Fleet aircraft squadrons in February 1924. On 1 July 1924, she was reclassified as a miscellaneous auxiliary and redesignated AG—15. Relieved of all duty in June 1925, she was decommissioned on 8 July 1925 and her name was simultaneously stricken from the Navy list. The former Ajax was sold at the Cavite Navy Yard on 14 August 1925 to S. R. Paterno

 

 

Ajax lies in Manila Bay after her voyage from Norfolk with B—2 (Submarine No. 11) and B—3 (Submarine No. 12) as deck cargo, forward, in late April or early May 1913, before they were launched from her deck. (NH 90172, Philip H. Wilson Collection