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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Onkahye

 

A former name retained.

 

(Sch: t. 250; l. 96; b. 22; dr. 12; a. 2 guns)

 

Onkahye, a schooner yacht of a radical R. L. Stevens design, was laid down in 1839 by William Capes, Williamsburg, N. Y.; launched in 1840; purchased by the Navy in early 1843; and commissioned at Gosport Navy Yard, Va., 11 July 1843, Lt. William C. Whittle in command.

 

Departing Norfolk 23 October 1843, Onkahye spent her first commission as a dispatch vessel in Charleston, S. C., returning to Norfolk 18 June 1844 and decommissioning two days later. She recommissioned 10 April 1845 and sailed 9 May for duty in the Caribbean and the West Indies. Sailing to Vera Cruz, Mexico, to unload passengers, the schooner moved on to Cuba and then returned to Norfolk 14 July. The warship sailed for the West Indies once again 11 September. She remained on duty in those waters and along the northern coast of South America until departing Mobile Bay 8 November for Norfolk, arriving 1 January 1846 and decommissioning on the 9th. Throughout her service in southern waters, the ship patrolled against pirates and slavers, her great speed making her a valuable asset as a chase and dispatch vessel.

 

Onkahye recommissioned 22 April 1847, Lt. Otway Berry man commanding, and sailed for Caribbean waters once again before the month was out. Cruising the West Indies and South American coast, the schooner put into Rio de Janiero 22 November and stayed there until 29 January 1848, capturing bark Lawrence, a heavily laden slaver, at that port 24 January. Continuing her patrols in the West Indies, Onkahye was lost off Caicos Reef 21 June 1848 without loss of life. A unique ship in the American Navy under sail, the vessel occupied a significant place in ship development, being the only converted sailing yacht to serve on distant station before the Civil War.