Online Library of Selected Images:
-- U.S. NAVY SHIPS --

USS Corsair (SP-159), 1917-1919.
Originally, and later, Steam Yacht Corsair (1899).
Was USS Natchez (PG-85) and USS Oceanographer (AGS-3) in 1942-1944

Corsair, a 1600-ton (displacement) steam yacht, was built in 1899 at Hoboken, New Jersey, for New York financier J.P. Morgan, who once commented (in effect, and presumably based in close personal experience with the subject) that if somebody had to ask what it cost to keep a steam yacht, they could not afford it. Morgan was clearly not a member of that class. In any case, the Navy could afford it, at least in time of war, and in May 1917 chartered the yacht for World War I service. Commissioned at that time as USS Corsair (SP-159), she crossed the Atlantic in June and soon began anti-submarine patrol and escort opeations off western France. During the conflict's remaining sixteen months she rescued survivors of two sinking ships, the U.S. Army transport Antilles in October 1917 and USS Californian in June 1918. She also helped a disabled neutral (Norwegian) freighter to reach port in September 1918.

Soon after the "Great War" fighting ended in November 1918, Corsair steamed to the British Isles, where she occasionally served as flagship for the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in European Waters. In May 1919 she carried Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels from England to France. Returning to the U.S. later in that month, USS Corsair was decommissioned and, in June 1919, returned to Mr. Morgan. After many more years as a private yacht, Corsair passed into the custody of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which renamed her Oceanographer and employed her as a scientific research ship during the 1930s and early 1940s.

The Navy reacquired the former yacht in April 1942. Following brief classification as a gunboat, with the name Natchez (PG-85), she was placed in commission as USS Oceanographer (AGS-3) in August 1942. Later in the year she went to Alaskan waters to perform surveys, but proved unsuitable for the harsh conditions there and in March 1943 was sent to the south Pacific. Oceanographer conducted extensive surveys in that part of the world until June 1944, when she left for repairs. Soon after arriving at San Pedro, California, the now very elderly ship was found to be beyond fixing. USS Oceanographer was decommissioned in September 1944 and subsequently scrapped.

This page features, and provides links to, all the views we have concerning the steam yacht Corsair of 1899 and USS Corsair (SP-159), which was USS Oceanographer (AGS-3) during World War II.

For more images related to this ship, see:

Photo #: NH 55390

Corsair (American Steam Yacht, 1899)

Photographed prior to her World War I Naval service.
This yacht was chartered from her owner, financier J.P. Morgan, and placed in commission on 15 May 1917 as USS Corsair (SP-159). Returned to Mr. Morgan on 9 June 1919, she again served in the Navy during World War II as USS Oceanographer (AGS-3).

Courtesy of J.P. Morgan, 1930.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 47KB; 740 x 485 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 100882

Corsair (American Steam Yacht, 1899)

Photographed by Edwin Levick of New York City, prior to her World War I Naval service.
Built in 1899 for financier J.P. Morgan, this yacht served as USS Corsair (SP-159) during World War I and as USS Oceanographer (AGS-3) during World War II.

The original print is in National Archives' Record Group 19-LCM.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 27KB; 740 x 365 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 85734

USS Corsair (SP-159)

Fine screen halftone reproduction of a photograph taken while she was fitting out for World War I service, circa May 1917.
Next ship outboard is USS Harvard (SP-209).

Courtesy of Alfred Cellier, 1977.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 50KB; 470 x 765 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 82201

Corsair (American Steam Yacht, 1899)

Photographed circa the 1920s.
Built in 1899 for financier J.P. Morgan, this yacht served as USS Corsair (SP-159) during World War I and as USS Oceanographer (AGS-3) during World War II.

Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1975.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 65KB; 740 x 590 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 106633

USS Corsair (SP-159)

In dry dock at Brest, France, circa 1918.

Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2009.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 67KB; 900 x 545 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 106638

USS Corsair (SP-159)

Ship's Number Three 3"/50 gun, circa 1918.
Several depth charges are stowed on deck in the lower right.
The converted yacht patrol vessel partially visible in the right distance is USS Aphrodite (SP-135).

Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2009.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 66KB; 900 x 555 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 106639

USS Corsair (SP-159)

Depth charges carried on the ship's after deck, circa 1918.
Note the after steering wheel and binnacle in the center, with a "Y"-Gun depth charge projector just beyond. A Colt machine gun iS mounted on the deck edge bulwark in the left center.
The converted yacht patrol vessel partially visible in the left distance is USS Aphrodite (SP-135).

Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2009.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 63KB; 900 x 550 pixels

 

For more images related to this ship, see:

Other images: The Mystic Seaport Museum, at Mystic, Connecticut, probably holds a number of fine photographs of the yacht Corsair, taken prior to World War I by noted marine photographer Morris Rosenfeld. We have record of two such photos, received from Morris Rosenfeld & Sons in 1973:

  • Starboard bow view of Corsair underway in a harbor. This photograph is especially clear.

  • Port broadside view of Corsair underway in a harbor, with several people on deck. The yacht is flying three flags: a "Patrol" flag at her foremast peak; J.P. Morgan's personal flag at the mainmast peak; and the U.S. Yachting Ensign at her stern flagstaff.

  • These photographs are presumably now in Mystic Seaport's Morris Rosenfeld Collection. Persons interested in obtaining reproductions of these views should contact that institution, whose website can be readily found using standard Internet search engines.


    For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

    To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.



    About Us | Privacy Policy | Webmaster | FOIA request | Navy.mil | This is a US Navy website