Leyte, an island in the southeastern Philippine Islands, was the site of the Battle for Leyte Gulf 23 to 26 October 1944. The series of major air and surface engagements fought there culminated in four almost simultaneous naval actions; the Battle of Surigao Strait, the Battle off Samar, the Battle of Cape Engano, and the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea. Combined, they defeated the Japanese challenge to drive American forces from the Philippines. The first Leyte retained her Spanish name; the second was named for the island; and the third was named after the battle.
(Gbt: dp. 151; l. 115'; b. 17'6"; dr. 6'9"; s. 8 k.; cpl. 25; a. 1 6-pdr., 2 1-pdrs.)
The first Leyte, a gunboat built in 1887 by Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co., Hong Kong, China, was captured by the U.S. Navy in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, and commissioned 22 March 1900, Ens. L. R. Sargent in command.
Leyte was assigned to the Asiatic Station, where she served in the Philippine Islands as a ferryboat between Cavite and Manila, a guard ship in Subic Bay, and a patrol ship helping the Army at Cebu Station. She decommissioned 27 January 1902 and spent the remainder of her career on the target range and in ferry service at the Cavite Naval Station. She was struck from the Navy list 27 May 1907 and sold 16 December 1907 to Jose Baza Him Chian.