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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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DANFS - USS Mohawk
(Frigate: tonnage 1,350; length between perpendiculars 155'; beam 37'6"; depth of hold 15'6"; complement 350; armament 26 24-pounders, 16 32-pounders)



A North American Indian tribe, part of the Iroquois Confederation, which originally dwelt in the Mohawk River Valley, N.Y., but was forced to flee to Canada for having sided with the Loyalists during the American Revolution.


The first Mohawk, a 42-gun frigate, was laid down 8 May 1814 by Henry Eckford, builder, Sacketts Harbor, N.Y.; launched 11 June 1814; and acquired by the Navy and placed in service shortly thereafter, Capt. Jacob Jones in command.

One of the large warships built under the direction of Commodore Isaac Chauncey for service against the British on Lake Ontario, Mohawk departed Sacketts Harbor 31 July 1814 in Chauncey's squadron to challenge the British squadron of Capt. Sir James Yeo, RN, for control of the lake during the crucial Niagara campaign of 1814. Sailing up to the head of the lake seeking the English squadron, the American ships found the enemy had retired to Kingston, Ontario. In mid-July, Mohawk, in company with full-rigged ships Superior, Pike, and Madison, began a blockade of the Canadian port, remaining there for 45 days, providing valuable support for the army of Maj. Gen. Jacob Brown in his campaign against the English ports along the Niagara frontier. On 21 September the frigate helped transport General Izard and 3,000 men from Sacketts Harbor to the Genesee River and then resumed her blockade of Kingston until the end of the month. As winter began to close in, the American squadron retired to Sacketts Harbor. The War of 1812 ended 28 December 1814, long before the ice on the Great Lakes melted to allow further operations. Mohawk was then laid up in ordinary at Sacketts Harbor. She was reported unfit for repairs in 1821 and soon after sold and broken up.


(Screw steamer: tonnage 464; length 162'4"; beam 24'4"; draft 14'; speed 9 knots; complement 90; armament 4 32-pounders)

The second Mohawk was built as Caledonia by Teas & Birely, Philadelphia, Pa.; launched 11 June 1853; chartered by the Navy 13 September 1858; and entered service soon after, Comdr. Augustus L. Chase in command.

Mohawk sailed at once for South America to take part in Flag Officer William B. Shubrick's 18-ship expedition against Paraguay, attempting to gain satisfactory apology for the 1855 firing upon survey steamer Water Witch. Arriving Asuncion with the squadron 25 January 1859, Caledonia took position above Rosario in La Plata River, ready for operation while negotiations were conducted. Paraguay agreed to apologize for the incident and pay an indemnity.

The steamer returned to the United States in February, was purchased by the Navy 14 June 1859, and renamed Mohawk on that date. She commissioned at New York Navy Yard 19 September 1859, Lt. T. A. M. Craven in command.

Mohawk operated against pirates and slavers off the east coast and in the Caribbean through 1861, capturing slave ship Wildfire in Old Bahama Canal 28 April 1860, and delivering the prize to Key West where the crew was imprisoned. The 530 Africans on board were placed in a camp for protection, guarded by Mohawk's marines, until they could be returned home. From 15 November on Lieutenant Craven in Mohawk with steamer Wyandotte defended Forts Jefferson and Taylor at Key West, Fla., from actions of "bands of lawless men", a farsighted action that enabled the Union to retain the vital Florida base, so valuable during the forthcoming naval operations in the Civil War.

The steamer remained on guard at Key West until the end of January 1861 and then sailed for New York. On 11 March 1861, Mohawk departed for the Caribbean, escorting supply ship Empire City to Havana and then Indianola, Tex. The warship proceeded to Pensacola via Havana and Key West, arriving 10 May and took up her blockade station off that port. She next moved on to patrol off St. Marks, Fla., capturing sloop George B. Sloat 5 July attempting to run the blockade. She remained on station until sailing for New York 8 April 1862.

Two and one-half months later, Mohawk sailed for Port Royal, S.C., to join Flag Officer Samuel F. DuPont's South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. She returned to Port Royal in June 1863 for duty as guardship. Ordered north for repairs 27 June 1864, on 6 July she reported to Commodore E. K. Stribling at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Mohawk's old and damaged boilers with her poor general condition from wartime use proved her unfit for further service, She was sold 12 July 1864.


(Harbor tug YT-17: displacement 368; length 103'10"; beam 24'; draft 10'9"; speed 12 knots)

The third Mohawk (YT-17) was built in 1893 as T. P. Fowler by T. S. Marval & Co., Newburgh, N.Y.; acquired by the Navy from Cornell Steamboat Co., 23 April 1898; and assigned to the 5th Naval District.

The tug operated in and around the navy yard, Norfolk, Va., for nearly half a century, making several voyages a year to naval installations throughout the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay area, serving the fleet by towing barges and aiding naval vessels. Designated YT-17 in 1920, her name was canceled in 1942. YT-17 was renamed YTL-17 in 1944 and continued service at Norfolk through the end of World War II. The tugboat was turned over to the War Shipping Administration for disposal 1 October 1946 and sold to W. S. Sanders, Norfolk, Va., in 1948. She was subsequently sold to H. B. Stone of Wilmington, N.C.


(Revenue cutter: displacement 1,150; length 205'6"; beam 32'; draft 12'7")

The fourth Mohawk, a first-class steel revenue cutter built at Richmond, Va., commissioned 10 May 1904. Based at New York, she cruised the Atlantic and adjacent waters between Gay Head, Mass., and the Delaware breakwater. Her primary duties were assisting vessels in distress and enforcing navigational laws.

Mohawk was temporarily transferred to the Navy 6 April 1917. While serving on coastal duty in connection with convoy operations, she was struck by an unknown merchant vessel, and sank 1 October off Sandy Hook, N.J. All hands were saved but the water was deemed too deep to warrant salvage operations.


(Coast Guard cutter WPG-78: displacement 1,000; length 165'; beam 36'; draft 13'7"; speed 13 knots; complement 60; armament 2 3")

The fifth Mohawk (WPG-78), a Coast Guard cutter, was built by Pusey & Jones Corp., Wilmington, Del., and launched 1 October 1934. First assigned patrol and general icebreaking duties on the Hudson and Delaware Rivers, the outbreak of war found her stationed at Cape May, N.J. In accordance with Executive Order No. 8929 of 1 November 1941, Mohawk was directed to serve as part of the naval forces. Assigned North Atlantic escort operations, she launched a total of 14 attacks against submarine contacts between 27 August 1942 and 8 April 1945.

Highlights of her at-sea rescue operations included the 27 August 1942 rescue of 293 survivors from USAT Chatham and the 22 November rescue of 24 men from SS Barberry. Mohawk assumed ice patrol duties 25 May to 14 August 1945, and was directed to return to Treasury Department jurisdiction 1 January 1946.

13 February 2002