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Alex Brown


(Tug: t. 119; 1. 90'; b. 24'8"; dr. 8' (mean); s. 8.5 k.; cpl. 6)


Alex Brown—a wooden-hulled, twin-screw harbor tug completed in 1912 at Tottenville, Staten Island, N. Y., by A. C. Brown and Son—was acquired by the Navy on 30 September 1918 from the Aransas Dock and Channel Co., Port Aransas, Tex.; designated SP-2725; and arrived at the Naval Station, Key West, Fla., on 11 October 1918, to serve in the 7th Naval District.


Based at Key West, Alex Brown performed tug and tow duties through the armistice and into 1919. Highlighting her first year was the craft's towing the capsized wreck of the burnt out Santa Christina, which was first sighted on 9 July 1919, burning fiercely near Rebeccah Shoals (some 25 miles from Key West). Two subchasers—SC-104 and SC^ZO—removed the 34 passengers and crew from Santa Christina before she turned turtle. Later that day, Alex Brown, in company with SC-145, arrived on the scene to investigate. On the 12th, since the hulk was a menance to navigation, the tug pulled it from the main stream of shipping traffic to a rarely frequented area in Key West's upper harbor.


On 17 July 1920, during the fleet-wide assignment of alphanumerical hull numbers, Alex Brown was classified as a harbor tug, YT-31. That autumn an event occurred which resulted in the second highlight of her naval service. On 14 November 1920, the Standard Oil Company tanker SS Caloria grounded in a precarious position at the mouth of the harbor, endangering "life and property" in so doing. Since no other tug was available, Commander, Naval Station, Key West, ordered Alex Brown to help the tanker out of her predicament, and she carried out the mission with alacrity and skill.


Ten days later, on 24 November 1920—in keeping with the Navy's policy of giving its built-for-the-purpose tugs Indian names—Alex Brown was renamed Saco. She retained this name until she was struck from the Navy list on 12 October 1926. She was sold to N. Block and Co., of Norfolk, Va., on 2 May 1927.