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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
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Tigress

 

III

 

(ScStr: t. 360; 1. 139'; b. 27'; dr. 15'; dph. 16.2')

 

The third Tigress—a screw steamer constructed in 1871 at Quebec, Canada, by Harvey and Co.—rescued 19 members of an Arctic expedition from an ice flow in Baffin Bay in May of 1873 and brought them into her home port, St. John's, Newfoundland, with the first reports of the loss of the expedition's ship, Polaris. She was so well-suited structurally for cruising icy Arctic waters that she was chartered by the United States Navy for service during the search for Polaris and the remainder of that ship's company. She was then manned by a Navy crew under the command of Comdr. James A. Greer. •

 

Tigress' orders were to make her way as near to Polaris' last reported position and there to begin the main portion of the search. She cleared New York on 14 July, visited St. John's, and put in at Godhaven, Greenland, on 6 August for coal. Between the 8th and the 10th, she moved from Godhavn to Upernavik where she took on coal and provisions from Juniata. The next day, the steamer headed north, following the Greenland shore as closely as she dared. On her way, she searched North Star Bay, Northumberland Island, and Harstene Bay without success. On 14 August, she discovered the camp on Littleton Island at which the people from Polaris had passed the previous winter. Prom the natives then in possession of the camp, the searchers learned that the Polaris crew had departed the previous June in boats constructed of materials salvaged from the ship and that Polaris herself sank soon thereafter. Tigress' crew gathered what papers and instruments they found in the camp and reembarked.

 

On the 15th, the steamer shaped a course to the south and, following a stop at Melville Bay to communicate with the authorities at Tessuisak, reentered Godhavn on 25 August. After coaling from Juniata again, Tigress resumed the search by crossing Baffin Bay and heading southward along the coast of Baffin Island to Cumberland Sound and back to the coast of Greenland. There, she searched the area between Ivigtut and Liskenaes. She searched the Davis Strait until 16 October when she had to put into St. Johns for coal. There, she learned that the rest of Polaris' crew had been rescued and had arrived in Scotland. After a fortnight in port, Tigress cleared St. John's on 30 October and, on 9 November, returned to New York where she was returned to her civilian crew.