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

Online Library of Selected Images
Ships of the Spanish-American War --
U.S. NAVY SHIPS -- Colliers

At the end of the Nineteenth Century, the World's navies, like its heavy industries, ran on coal. The U.S. Navy of the time relied on coal piles at its bases to keep its ships going. Deployed units, like Dewey's Asiatic Squadron, got their coal from local vendors. With the coming of war, these fuel sources would either be too far from likely areas of operations or denied to combatant forces by neutrality laws. In March and April 1898, the Navy urgently looked for available colliers, as coal transport ships were called, and was able to purchase twenty.

These ships were mainly of British construction, reflecting the contemporary character of both shipbuilding and the coal trade. Most were used to replenish the bunkers of Sampson's and Schley's ships in the Caribbean area, where one, USS Merrimac, was expended in a heroic effort to bottle up the Spanish fleet at Santiago, Cuba. Dewey had one newly-obtained collier, USS Nanshan, to support his ships in Manila Bay. Two others, Brutus and Nero, escorted the monitors Monterey and Monadnock from California to the Far East.

The Spanish-American War colliers generally had long Navy careers, reflecting post-war requirements for a flexibly-located and abundant coal supply. As warships gradually converted to oil fuel in the World War I era, many colliers found other employment as general cargo ships, surveying ships and target tenders. The survivors passed out of service during the 1920s.

This page features views of six of the wartime colliers.

If higher resolution reproductions than these digital images are desired, see "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

In all cases, clicking on the small photograph will prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photo #: 111-SC-5881

USS Abarenda (1898-1926)


At the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, May 1898, while being fitted for war service.

Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 71,103 bytes; 740 x 580 pixels

Reproductions of this image are also available through the National Archives' photographic reproduction system.

 
Photo #: NH 71722

USS Brutus (1898-1922)


Being repainted into wartime grey, off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 28 May 1898. She had been commissioned on the previous day.

Courtesy of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, 1970.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 61,817 bytes; 740 x 600 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 52373

USS Justin (1898-1915)

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 49,276 bytes; 740 x 575 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 51304

USS Leonidas (1898-1922)


At the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, 29 May 1898.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 65,533 bytes; 740 x 620 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 809

USS Merrimac (1898)


At the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, 23 April 1898.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 53,415 bytes; 740 x 480 pixels

 
Photo #: 19-N-19-18-4

USS Merrimac (1898)


At the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, 23 April 1898.

Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 49,259 bytes; 740 x 520 pixels

Reproductions of this image are also available through the National Archives' photographic reproduction system.

 
Photo #: NH 44072

USS Saturn (1898-1922)


Off the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Virginia, in August 1900. The tug USS Sioux (1898-1921) is alongside Saturn's port quarter.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 45,040 bytes; 740 x 605 pixels

 

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19 April 1998