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(Schooner: tonnage51; complement 31; armament 3 guns)


A small carnivorous mammal common throughout the world. Two United States Navy schooners were named for this animal.

Gustavus Vasa Fox, born 13 June 1821 at Saugus, Mass., was appointed midshipman 12 January 1838. During the Mexican War, he served in the brig Washington in the squadron of Commodore Perry and took active part in the second expedition against Tobasco, 14-16 January 1847, which resulted in the capture of that town. He was in command of several mail steamers and after his resignation 30 July 1856, engaged in the manufacture of woolen materials.

At the start of the Civil War he volunteered for service. He was given a temporary appointment in the Navy and was sent in the steamer Baltic to the relief of Major Robert Anderson and the remnant of his command in Fort Sumter, and brought them away. On 1 August 1861, President Lincoln appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy, an office which he held until the close of the Civil War. In 1866, he was sent on a special mission to Russia and conveyed the congratulations of the President of the United States to the Czar upon his escape from assassination. His voyage was made in the monitor Miantonomah which was the first vessel of this class to cross the Atlantic. He died 29 October 1883 at Lowell, Mass. Torpedo Boat No. 13 and DD-234 were named for Gustavus Fox.

Printed sources list a schooner Fox as a naval vessel in the period 1817-21, but no information concerning such a ship is contained in the official manuscript records.


The first Fox, a schooner, was purchased 20 December 1822 at Baltimore, Md.; outfitted at Norfolk; and was commissioned early in 1823, Lieutenant W.H. Cocke in command.

Assigned to Captain D. Porter's "Mosquito Fleet," a group of small ships whose mission was the suppression of piracy in the West Indies, Fox sailed from Hampton Roads 14 February 1823 with her squadron. Sent into San Juan, Puerto Rico, on 6 March to inquire about another ship of the squadron earlier sent in to acquaint the Spanish Governor with Porter's mission, Fox was fired upon, and her commanding officer killed. All demands for an explanation brought only expressions of regret, but no satisfactory reasons for the unwarranted act of belligerency.

In April 1823, Fox, with another schooner and two barges, made a highly successful expedition against buccaneers operating on the coast of Cuba. A schooner, a sloop, and a felucca were captured, and a pirate settlement ashore put to torch. Fox continued to serve in the West Indies, based on Key West, for the following 3 years. As well as protecting American commerce, she carried specie between Havana, Tampico, and New Orleans, and north to Washington, when she sailed for her repair periods. Returning to Norfolk 19 July 1826, Fox was immediately ordered to Baltimore, where she served as receiving ship until sold 8 December 1837.


(Schooner: tonnage 80; draft 8'6"; armament 1 12-pounder howitzer, 1 12-pounder muzzle-loading rifle)

The second Fox, a schooner, was built in 1859 at Baltimore, Md.; used as a blockade runner by the Confederates under the name Alabama; captured 18 April 1863 by Susquehanna; purchased from the prize court 6 May 1863; renamed Fox, her former merchant name; and first put to sea 10 June 1863, Acting Master A. Weston in command.

Assigned to the East Gulf Blockading Squadron, Fox sailed out of Key West throughout the remainder of the war. Her primary duty was as tender to the ordnance ship Dale and other large ships, but in her patrols alone and with the squadron, she shared in the capture of several blockade runners sailing out of Havana. Sailing alone, on 20 December 1863 she discovered a side wheel steamer grounded at the mouth of the Suwanee, and after firing on her, sent a boarding party which found the steamer's crew had fled. Finding the engine room flooded and the job of getting the steamer off beyond her limited capacity, Fox burned her to prevent her further use by the Confederates.

Four days later, again sailing alone, Fox encountered a British schooner from Havana in the Suwanee, and after firing several shells, boarded her and took her prize. On 18 April 1864, Fox chased a British schooner until the schooner's crew ran her aground and abandoned her. A party from Fox boarded and burned the blockade runner. Again she took a prize singlehanded on 1 May, when she apprehended a sloop running the blockade off Cape Romano, Fla. Her first prize in 1865, taken 23 January, was another British blockade runner out of Havana. On 2 March, Fox chased a schooner ashore in Deadman's Bay. The blockade runner's crew set her afire, but part of her cargo of cavalry sabers and farming equipment was saved from the flames by Fox's boarding party. Several times during these years boat parties from Fox destroyed valuable salt works ashore, such expeditions combining with her captures to make hers a most significant role in the total effort to cut the Confederacy off from key supplies.

Detached from duty 1 June 1865, Fox was sold 28 June 1865.


(Torpedo Boat, TB-13: displacement 155; length 148'; beam 15'4"; draft 5'10"; speed 23 knots; complement 24; armament 3 18" torpedo tubes; class Davis)

The third Fox (Torpedo Boat No. 13), was launched 4 July 1898 by Wolf and Zwickers, Portland, Oreg.; sponsored by Miss V. Patterson; and commissioned 8 July 1898, Lieutenant Commander R.F. Nicholson in command.

Based at Mare Island Navy Yard, the pioneer group of torpedo boats, which included Fox, cruised during 1900 only in the immediate area, including trials of engines and equipment, and in general, developing their type both in terms of construction and equipment, and tactics. Between 1901 and 1906, Fox was in the yard for installation of torpedo-firing circuits and other work designed to enhance her capabilities. After 2 years in reserve, she was recommissioned 23 March 1908, and based at San Diego for intensive training operations with the Pacific Fleet.

Out of commission between 7 January 1909 and 17 October 1910, when she was commissioned in reserve, Fox returned to full commission between 1 November 1910 and 5 July 1913, although for much of 1911 and 1912 she lay in reserve. White active, she continued her training and experimental operations out of San Diego. From 1913 to 1916, Fox was on loan to the Washington State Naval Militia, based at Aberdeen, Wash. She was sold 27 October 1916.


(Destroyer DD-234: displacement 1,190; length 314'4"; beam 31'; draft 9'4"; speed 34 knots; complement 130; armament 4 5", 1 3", 12 21" torpedo tubes; class Clemson)

The fourth Fox was launched 12 June 1919 by the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Miss Virginia Blair, grandniece of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus V. Fox; and commissioned 17 May 1920, Commander A.D. Turnbull, in command.

The ship was assigned to foreign service and, after fitting out, departed Philadelphia 20 August 1920 for Newport, R.I., where she took on torpedoes and fuel, and on the 28th got underway for the Mediterranean area. She arrived at Constantinople, Turkey, 21September reporting for duty with U.S. Naval Detachment Operating in Turkish Waters. Fox cruised in the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea until July 1922, visiting various ports of Turkey, Greece, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Romania, Russia and Egypt. In the time of disturbed conditions throughout the Near East and south Russia she rendered aid to American commercial men, relief and Red Cross workers, and Food Administration officials; transported mail, dispatches, and passengers; served as station ship at various ports; and assisted in the evacuation of refugees from Crimea.

Departing Constantinople for the United States on 8 July 1922, Fox arrived at Philadelphia on the 27th. After undergoing overhaul and engaging in exercises, the ship arrived Norfolk 28 September and was again fitted for duty in the Near East. She departed Norfolk 2 October 1922 and arrived Constantinople on the 22d. Here she engaged in communication and intelligence duty with the U.S. Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters until 18 July 1923, when she sailed for the United States via Naples and Gibraltar, arriving New York 11 August.

During September and October 1923 Fox, attached to the Scouting Fleet, engaged in fleet maneuvers in the Newport, R.I. area. In November the ship was assigned to the 3d Naval District and throughout the following 7 years was utilized in training Naval Reservists. She arrived at Philadelphia on 24 October 1930 and was placed out of commission at the Navy Yard 2 February 1931.

Fox was placed in commission in rotating reserve at Philadelphia on 1 April 1932. On 18 June she was placed in full commission and assigned to Destroyer Division 1, Squadron 1, Scouting Force. Departing Philadelphia 29 June, Fox proceeded to Hampton Roads and on 2 July was underway with Division 1 for the west coast, via Panama Canal, arriving San Diego on the 22d. From 1932 to 1938 Fox operated almost continuously in the Pacific with destroyer squadrons of the Scouting Force and Battle Fleet, engaging in fleet tactical and strategical exercises along the coast and cruising to the Canal Zone or Hawaiian area to participate in fleet problems. During this period she made two cruises to the Atlantic and Caribbean area, one from April to October 1934 and the other from April to October 1936. On 14 May 1938 Fox departed San Diego for the east coast for decommissioning. She arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 2 June and was placed out of commission 16 September 1938.

Recommissioned 25 September 1939 Fox was assigned to the Atlantic Squadron and from 25 October performed escort and patrol duty along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean area until August 1940. Arriving Balboa, C. Z., 25 August she performed inshore patrol duty from this port until sailing for San Francisco, 25 October. Fox patrolled with the Local Defense Forces, 12th Naval District until departure 2 January 1941 for Seattle, Wash., She patrolled off the coast of Washington and Oregon with Local Defense Forces, 13th Naval District, until December 1941, except while under overhaul from March to June, and while assigned to temporary duty in the 12th Naval District from 20 August to 9 October.

On 12 December 1941 Fox departed Bremerton, Wash., en route to Alaska as escort of SS Southerland. She arrived at Dutch Harbor on 18 December, and proceeded as escort for merchant ships to Sitka, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor, returning to Seattle on 12 February 1942. Following repairs at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, she performed screening duties out of Seattle, acted as ready duty ship at Port Angeles (14-18 March), and made three escort voyages to San Pedro until 10 May 1942.

From 21 May 1942 to 20 May 1943 Fox sailed as escort with 12 merchant ship convoys bound for various ports of Alaska, and was modernized at Seattle (3 July-8 September). On her fourth cruise of duty she departed Seattle 22 September 1942 for Dutch Harbor and after screening a transport to Chernofski Bay, departed Dutch Harbor 28 October to escort a convoy of four Russian submarines to San Francisco.

On 25 May 1943, Fox departed Seattle for extended duty as patrol and escort vessel among the ports of Alaska, operating under orders of Commander Northwest Sea Frontier until 25 March 1944. In addition to conducting scheduled exercises and operations off the coast, she made numerous trips to Alaskan waters, transporting men of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard between Seattle and bases at Kodiak and Adak.

On 15 April the ship departed Seattle for San Diego, where she joined Western Sea Frontier Forces, Southern California Sector. She operated in the San Diego area until September, conducting antisubmarine exercises, training men from the sound school, transporting passengers, performing escort duty, and cruising for the purpose of making moving pictures.

Fox departed San Diego 22 September 1944 and on the 26th arrived at the Puget Sound Navy Yard for conversion to a miscellaneous auxiliary. She was reclassified AG-85 on 1 October. On 4 November the ship proceeded to Seattle and, after engaging in scheduled exercises, on the 8th got underway for San Francisco. She arrived at Naval Air Station, Alameda, on the 11th and reported for duty to Commander Fleet Air. From November through September 1945 Fox was based on Alameda, engaging in plane exercises and serving as target vessel in aerial torpedo exercises in the Monterey area. She departed San Francisco on 18 October 1945 for the east coast, arriving Norfolk, Va., on 7 November. Fox was decommissioned 29 November 1945 at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va. She was sold for scrapping 12 November 1946.

31 December 2001