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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Mariner

 

The Navy retained the name carried by the ship before her acquisition.

 

I

 

(SP‑1136; displacement 220; length 109'6"; beam 24'7"; draft 10'9" (mean); speed 11 knots; armament 1 3", 2 machine guns)

 

Mariner, formerly the steam tug Jack T. Scully of the Neptune Line, New York City, was built in 1899 by A. C. Brown, Tottenville, Staten Island, N.Y. Considered “strongly built” and a “good sea boat” for potential employment as a minesweeper, Mariner was delivered to the Navy on 25 September 1917. Earmarked “for distant service” on 1 October 1917 and given the designation SP-1136, she was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 19 December 1917, Lt. (jg.) Martin Miller, USNRF in command.

 

Initially, Mariner performed routine duty at the New York Navy Yard and in the waters of New York harbor. Following that period of local work, she got underway on 6 February 1918 in company with converted yachts Yacona (SP-917) and Wadena (SP-158), bound for New London, Connecticut. The little convoy proceeded uneventfully until increasingly heavy ice floes began to impede their progress.  Mariner took Wadena in tow, getting her through one congested area and then dropping the tow when clear. When Wadena again ran into difficulty, Mariner took the yacht in tow, until forced to stop (Yacona then took Wadena in tow for a time) when the ice in Long Island Sound smashed in some of her timbers, compelling Lt.(jg) Miller to order the tug beached at New London to facilitate repairs. Once again seaworthy, Mariner steamed up Narragansett Bay to the coaling station at Melville, R.I., where she helped Yacona get underway for Newport during the afternoon watch on 23 February, then proceeded to assist the section patrol boat Alpha (SP-586) that had suffered a fire at Melville later that same day. Mariner then shifted to Newport.

 

Mariner got underway for Bermuda on 24 February 1918 in company with Yacona and Wadena and the tug Lykens (SP-876), and then rendezvoused with eleven 110-foot submarine chasers soon thereafter. The French tug Mohican brought up the rear. As the convoy worked its way down the eastern seaboard, however, Mariner fell progressively astern. She briefly towed the submarine chaser SC-177 before the tug herself began to founder in the heavy southwesterly gale that sprang up on 26 February. Her seams opened to the sea by the pounding of the waves, her pumps failed; rising water doused the fires under her boilers and rendered her helpless.

 

Consequently, Mariner hoisted the breakdown flag shortly before the end of the forenoon watch and cast loose SC-177. Soon thereafter, at the start of the afternoon watch, Mariner, in extremis, signaled: “We are sinking fast.” Wadena stood by to render assistance, the sea “very rough and running high.” After embarking two increments of the doomed tug’s crew from life rafts, Wadena sprayed oil on the water to calm the seas, and then brought on board the rest of Mariner’s entire complement from three more rafts, the last, its occupants having abandoned the tug, decks awash, reaching the yacht’s side a half hour before the end of the first dog watch with Lt. (jg.) Miller, Mariner’s commanding officer, on board. Abandoned, Mariner sank sometime after 9:45 p.m. that day at approximately 38º26'N, 68º 9'W.

 

While the rest of the convoy continued on its passage, Wadena retrieved SC-177 and ultimately reached the British naval station at Hamilton, Bermuda, on 1 March 1918.

 

 Mariner was stricken from the Navy Register on 8 March 1918.

Robert J. Cressman

13 July 2006