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Boggs (Destroyer No. 136)

(Destroyer No. 136: dp. 1,154 (n.); l. 310'0"; b. 30'11¼"(wl.); dr. 9'6" (aft); s. 35.0 k.; cpl. 133; a. 4 4", 2 3", 2 .30 cal. mg., 12 21" tt.; cl. Wickes)

Charles Stuart Boggs, a nephew of Capt. James Lawrence of the ill-fated frigate Chesapeake, was born on 28 January 1811 in New Brunswick, N.J., and was appointed a midshipman on 1 November 1826. He sailed for European waters in Warren on 22 February 1827 and, in that sloop of war and in the ship of the line Delaware, helped to protect American shipping from Greek pirates. Next assigned to Porpoise, Midshipman Boggs served in that schooner as she fought piracy and the slave trade in the West Indies. On 28 April 1832, he came ashore as a passed midshipman and spent nearly four years in duty on shore. Appointed an acting lieutenant, he returned to sea in 1836 as executive officer of Enterprise. Newly commissioned Lt. Boggs spent the years 1838 to 1842 training naval apprentices. In 1842, he took to sea again in Saratoga to police the West African slave ports.

Before the outbreak of war with Mexico, Boggs moved to the steamer Princeton; and, in her, he participated in the bombardment of the castle San Juan de Ulloa and in the capture of Veracruz. When the brig Truxtun ran aground on a bar near Veracruz, he led the boat expedition that recaptured the ship and destroyed her. Boggs left Mexican waters late in March 1847 when Princeton took the ailing Commodore Conner home and then sailed in her for the Mediterranean to protect American shipping from Mexican privateers. He returned home on 24 June 1849, but found himself back in European waters early in 1851 when St. Lawrence carried exhibits from the United States to England for the International Exposition at London.

Following duty at the New York Navy Yard, Comdr. Boggs went on a three-year furlough. During that period, he commanded the civilian mail steamer Illinois in the service of the California Steamship Co. A bit later, he became inspector of Lights along the California coast. While holding this post, he commanded Shubrick and, in that steamer, each year made two voyages from Vancouver's Island to lower California to check on coastal navigational aids. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Boggs requested active duty and he was placed in command of Varuna, a small steamer which was attached to Flag Officer Farragut's West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the campaign to capture New Orleans. When that force ran the gauntlet on the lower Mississippi River between Forts Jackson and St. Philip on 24 April 1862, Boggs' Varuna was in the forefront of the action. She shot forward and was first to pass the fortifications and to engage the Confederate flotilla above them. For a time, she suffered the combined fire of the Southern ships. Though Varuna was shelled and rammed by two Confederate ironclad rams, Comdr. Boggs fought his ship until his gunports sank beneath the water.

After service in Juniata, Boggs was promoted to captain on 16 July 1862 and took command of Sacramento. He also served concurrently as senior officer of the force blockading Wilmington, N.C., until the constant drain on his health forced him ashore to recruiting duty late in the summer of 1863. In 1864 and 1865, Capt. Boggs was at the New York Navy Yard as superintendent of shipbuilding. There, he watched over the building and outfitting of a fleet of steam picket boats of his own design. It is interesting to note that Lt. William B. Cushing fitted out one of Capt. Boggs' steam launches as a torpedo boat to score his spectacular success in sinking the Confederate ironclad ram Albemarle. On 17 February 1865, Capt. Boggs assumed command of the sidewheel gunboat Connecticut and cruised the West Indies from late February to the beginning of August. From that duty, he moved to command of De Soto, a steamer assigned to the North Atlantic Squadron. Promoted to flag rank on 1 July 1870, Rear Admiral Boggs was appointed lighthouse inspector for the 3d District, his last assignment before he retired to New Brunswick on 29 January 1872. Rear Admiral Boggs died there on 22 April 1888.

Boggs (Destroyer No. 136) was laid down on 15 November 1917 by the Mare Island Navy Yard; launched on 25 April 1918; sponsored by Miss Ruth Hascal; and commissioned on 23 September 1918, Comdr. Harold V. McKittrick in command.

The destroyer operated along the west coast for six months. In March 1919, she departed San Diego and, after transiting the Panama Canal, spent the following six months engaged in operations off the east coast, in the North Atlantic, and in the West Indies. Following her return to the west coast in the fall of 1920, Boggs pursued normal peacetime activities with the Pacific Fleet out of her base at San Diego. On 27 June 1922, the destroyer was placed out of commission at San Diego. She remained there with the Reserve Fleet for almost a decade. On 19 December 1931, after extensive modifications to transform her into a radio-controlled target ship, Boggs was recommissioned as AG-19, Lt. Comdr. Boyd R. Alexander in in command.

The ship was assigned to Mobile Target Division 1, Destroyers, Battle Force. For almost nine years, Boggs conducted high speed radio control tests, swept mines, and towed gunnery targets. The bulk of those operations were carried out along the west coast from her base at San Diego. However, those years also included a voyage to Pearl Harbor in 1936 and two visits to the West Indies and east coast ports in early 1934 and again during the winter of 1938 and 1939. In September 1940, the ship moved to Hawaii with the rest of the fleet and, by mid 1941, Pearl Harbor had become her permanent base. On 19 November 1940, Boggs was reclassified a high-speed minesweeper and redesignated DMS-3. Nevertheless, target-towing, minesweeping, and exercises remained her primary occupations. During the latter part of 1941, the high-speed minesweeper underwent a major overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Boggs was at sea off Oahu. She immediately returned to port and began minesweeping operations. The warship continued to operate from Pearl Harbor towing targets, sweeping mines, and serving as a patrol and escort vessel. That duty lasted until 31 January 1943 when she embarked upon a voyage from Pearl Harbor to Palmyra Island. Boggs served at Palmyra Island, making one round-trip resupply voyage to Canton Island, for less than a month. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 2 March and resumed her former duties.

A little over a year later, she received orders to return to the west coast. The high-speed minesweeper arrived in San Francisco on 4 April 1944 but soon shifted south to her former base at San Diego and took up familiar duty towing targets in California waters. After resuming the designation AG-19 on 5 June 1945, Boggs returned to duty at Pearl Harbor later that summer. By mid-August, she was at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The ship operated there until 6 October when she began the voyage back to Hawaii. She arrived in Pearl Harbor on 17 October 1945 and remained at Oahu until early 1946. Then, after steaming via the west coast and the Panama Canal, she arrived in Philadelphia on 11 February 1946. Boggs was decommissioned on 20 March 1946, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 12 April 1946. She was sold to the Northern Metals Co., of Philadelphia, on 27 November 1946 for scrapping.

Raymond A. Mann
30 January 2006

Published: Tue Feb 23 12:14:23 EST 2016