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Merrimac

 

A variant spelling for the Merrimack river.

 

II

 

(Str.: t. 3,362; l. 322'9"; b. 44'2"; dph. 27'3")

 

The second Merrimac was built as Solveig at New Castle, England in 1894; documented under American registry 9 December 1897; rebuilt in New York by John N. Robbins Co.; purchased by the Navy from Jefferson T. Hogan of New York, 12 April 1898; and commissioned 11 April 1898 Cmdr. J. W. Miller in command.

 

Merrimac joined Commodore Schley’s squadron off Cienfuegos, Cuba, 20 May bringing coal for the American warships. She steamed with the squadron along the Cuban Coast arriving Santiago on the 26th. After she had fueled several of Schley’s ships she was placed under the command of Lt. Richmond Pearson Hobson and daringly steamed into the entrance of Santiago Harbor early in the morning of 3 June. The plan was to run her bow aground in shallow water at the narrowest point in the channel with the floodtide sweeping her stern around to the opposite bank sealing the harbor. However, a random shot disabled her steering and she sank without obstructing navigation. A picket launch under Ensign Powell waiting close by the entrance to rescue the survivors was driven off by intense Spanish fire at dawn. Admiral Cervera, the Spanish commander sent his barge to pick up Hobson and his seven volunteer crewmen. That afternoon he sent out under a flag of truce word of their rescue with generous praise for their skill and valor.