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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
Spanish American War:
U.S. NAVY SHIPS -- Other Ship Types

As the crisis over Cuba deepened, the U.S. Navy recognized that combat operations in the Caribbean would be severely restricted without a large number of support ships. However, there were only a few tugs on hand, plus some obsolete warships of very limited potential for auxiliary purposes. Existing cruiser and gunboat forces were also insufficient for the missions that war would require. Accordingly, in March and April 1898, with millions of dollars freshly appropriated by Congress, the Navy scrambled to obtain additional ships and men for their crews.

Passenger liners, yachts and other suitable ships were leased or purchased for conversion to auxiliary cruisers and gunboats. Revenue cutters and lighthouse tenders were also taken into Navy service. While by no means as capable as built-for-the-purpose warships, these converted vessels could carry guns and serve as scouts, patrol ships and blockaders. In addition, the Navy bought as many colliers, refrigerator ships, water-distilling ships, tugs and cargo ships as it could find. They would be essential to keep the fleet operating effectively in waters hundreds of miles from its existing bases.

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures provided here are all in the public domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.

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


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19 April 1998