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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND

Roosevelt

 

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States from 4 September 1901 to 4 March 1909, was instrumental in arranging a leave of absence from the Navy for Comdr. R. E. Peary to continue his polar explorations.

 

(Steamer: displacement 1,600; length 182; beam 357; draft 16; speed 8 knots)

 

Roosevelt, built for the Peary Arctic Club, was laid down 19 October 1904 by the McKay & Dix Shipyard, Bucksport, Maine; launched 23 March 1905; sponsored by Mrs. Robert E. Peary; and delivered to her owners in July 1905.

 

Designed by Robert E. Peary specifically for Arctic operations, Roosevelt was built along the lines of Fridtjof Nansen's Fram. Basically a three-masted schooner, her egg-shaped, ice-strengthened hull was designed to rise with the pressure of ice, while her high-powered engine was built to carry her through the floes of Baffin Bay and Smith Sound.

 

On 16 July 1905, the Roosevelt Expedition, sponsored by the Peary Arctic Club, departed New York. Captained by Robert Bartlett, Roosevelt carried Peary and his party despite fire, fog, icebergs, and rudder damage - to Cape Sheridan in the north of Ellesmere Island. Made fast to the ice on 5 September, she remained there through the winter but broke out on 4 July, prior to the return of the expedition.

 

Carried 20 miles south, she crashed against an ice foot a few days later, losing propeller blades, her rudder and stern post. On the 30th, Peary returned to the ship after a 6-month absence and on the 24th of August Roosevelt broke free and turned southward. By mid-September she was far enough south to assure her escape and in December she sailed into New York.

 

On 8 July 1908, Roosevelt, again captained by Robert Bartlett, cleared New York Harbor and began the hazardous trip north - to Baffin Bay, Smith Sound, Kane Basin, Kennedy Channel, Hall Basin, Robeson Channel, and finally into the Arctic Ocean. In early September she again made fast to the ice at Cape Sheridan to wait out the winter as Peary and his party tried for the North Pole.

 

Departing in February 1909, Peary accomplished his dream in April and returned to Roosevelt, whose power and ice-resisting qualities had cut down on the time required for his over-the-ice run to the Pole. For that run Peary received a vote of thanks and was promoted to rear admiral by Congress.

 

In July, Roosevelt began the return voyage. In mid-August she left the ice-clogged waters of Smith Sound. In September she rounded Cape Breton and steamed home. A year after her return, Roosevelt was sold by the Peary Arctic Club to John Arbuckle, who, in turn, sold her to the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in 1915.

 

On 18 March 1918, she was transferred to the Navy, given the Identification No. 2397, armed with 3 3-pounders, and placed in service in the 13th Naval District, headquartered at Seattle. Converted from a coal to an oil burner prior to her acquisition by the Navy, Roosevelt served on section patrol in the 13th Naval District through the end of World War I. She was returned to the Bureau of Fisheries on 11 June 1919.

 

Sold by that agency the following month to M. E. Tallackson, Roosevelt was later altered for ocean tug duties and served the West Coast Tug Co. from April 1923 to November 1924. She was then sold to the Washington Tug & Barge Co. of Seattle. Last inspected in 1936, she was abandoned in 1942.