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Leonidas II (Collier)


The first Leonidas retained the name under which she was acquired; the second was named for Leonidas I -- born circa 540 B.C. -- the warrior king of Greek antiquity, in keeping with names assigned to other vessels of that type when they were acquired during the war with Spain.


(Collier: displacement 4,264; length 264'3"; beam 39'3"; draft 21'; speed. 9.5 knots; complement 52; armament 2 3-pounders; class Leonidas)

Elizabeth Holland -- a single-screw, steel-hulled, schooner-rigged steamship launched on 23 March 1898 at Sunderland, England, by S. P. Austin & Son, Ltd. -- was acquired by the Navy from Samuel P. Holland, London, England, on 16 April 1898, and, renamed Leonidas, was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 21 May 1898, Cmdr. William I. Moore in command.

Leonidas fitting out at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., 29 May 1898. (U.S. Navy Photograph, RG 181-NYS, Box 3, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)
Caption: Leonidas fitting out at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., 29 May 1898. (U.S. Navy Photograph, RG 181-NYS, Box 3, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Converted into a collier with a cargo capacity of 2,050 tons of coal, for duty with the newly established Fleet Train supporting the U.S. Navy units blockading Cuba in the Spanish-American War, Leonidas departed New York on 30 May 1898. Steaming southward via the coal pier at Lambert Point, Va. (1–3 June), the collier arrived at Key West, Fla. on 11 June. Remaining there until 8 July, she then returned to the lower Chesapeake Bay, arriving at Hampton Roads, Va. on 13 July. She then spent the next ten days shifting between Lambert Point (15–16 July), Hampton Roads (16–19 July), and the Norfolk Navy Yard, Portsmouth, Va. (19–23 July) before returning to Hampton Roads on the 23rd. The following day, she went to sea, and, clearing the Virginia capes, set course for Cuba, arriving at Guantánamo Bay on 30 July. After two weeks, she shifted to Santiago de Cuba (14–18 August), then returned to Guantánamo on the 18th.

Leonidas remained at Guantánamo supporting the U.S. naval units and occupation forces in Cuba until 12 October 1898. Getting underway on that day, she made a run to Port Antonio, Jamaica (13–17 October), before returning to Guantanamo on the 18th. Sailing for Hampton Roads on 29 October, she reached her destination on 7 November. Later that day, she shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard. On 10 November, she steamed up the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River to Washington, D.C. (12–23 November) before returning to Hampton Roads on the 25th. The collier then shifted to Norfolk (1–14 December) before setting course for League Island. Putting in to the Philadelphia [Pa.] Navy Yard on 15 December, Leonidas was decommissioned less than a fortnight later, two days after Christmas of 1898 (27 December).

Reactivated on 8 November 1900, Capt. J. S. Henderson, master, Leonidas received assignment to the Collier Service to carry coal to naval ships and stations along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and in the West Indies. She departed Philadelphia on 8 November and steamed to Lambert Point to onload coal (10–15 November) in advance of steaming to Pensacola, Fla. (22 November–6 December). Returning to Lambert Point (12–18 December), she then steamed up the Chesapeake Bay to Washington (19 December–8 January 1901), then returned to the coal piers at Lambert Point to onload more coal. Departing on 17 January, she made another coaling run to Pensacola (25 January–3 February) before returning to the lower Chesapeake. Touching at Lambert Point on 9 February then moved on to the Norfolk Navy Yard later that day. She returned to Lambert Point on 22 February to take on a load of coal preparatory to getting underway for Port Royal, S.C. Arriving on 25 February, she remained there until 9 March, when she departed for Lambert Point. Upon her return, she reloaded (11–13 March), then departed for Pensacola (21–30 March) and then made her return to Lambert Point on 5 April.

Underway again with another load of coal on 9 April 1901, Leonidas steamed south for the West Indies. Initially headed for Culebra Island, Puerto Rico (P.R.), she received rerouting to San Juan, P.R., making arrival on the 16th. She departed on 26 April and touched at Mayarí, Cuba, on the 29th in advance of proceeding to Gibara, Cuba, on 4 May. Departing that same day, the collier returned to Lambert Point on 8 May, then shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard later in the day. Underway again two days later, she steamed up the Chesapeake, reaching Baltimore, Md., on the 12th. Departing that city on 18 May, she steamed to Key West, arriving there on 25 May and remaining until 8 June, when she raised steam and cleared those waters for Hampton Roads. Arriving at Lambert Point on 11 June, she shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard three days later.

Leonidas shifted back to Lambert Point on 1 July 1901 and onloaded coal until 5 July, when she sailed for Port Royal. Arriving on 8 July, she remained there offloading until 17 July, then she departed for Lambert Point. She made arrival on 19 July and loaded coal for delivery to ports in New England. Departing on 24 July, she reached Newport, R.I., on the 26th, remaining there until shifting to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. Departing from the latter on 9 August, she returned to Lambert Point on the 11th. Remaining at the coal piers until 20 August, she proceeded up the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River to Washington (22 August–9 September). Reaching Lambert Point on 10 September she again filled her holds, departing four days later for Puerto Rico. Reaching San Juan on 20 September, she remained there until 4 October, then made a week-long passage to Norfolk, arriving on the 11th. Having shifted to Lambert Point, she took on another load of coal and sortied on 22 October. Standing in at Key West on 27 October, she remained there two days before continuing on to San Juan (4–16 November), returning to Lambert Point on 23 November. The collier was again underway on 9 December for Cuban waters, visiting Havana (16–21 December), before she returned north, standing in to Lambert Point on Boxing Day.

The collier shifted to Norfolk on 6 January 1902. After a week there, she stood out of the navy yard and, after passing into the Atlantic, turned south for Puerto Rico. Initially touching at San Juan on 21 January, she moved that same day to Culebra. She eventually shifted back to San Juan, whence she departed on 2 February. Making her initial return to Lambert Point on the 8th, she shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard later that same day. Returning to the Lambert Point coal piers on 12 February, she filled her holds until the 16th, when she began her outward bound passage to Cuba. She first raised Cienfuegos (25 February–3 March) then proceeded on to Havana (5–10 March) before steaming back to Norfolk on 14 March. Shifting from the navy yard on the 22nd, she took on coal at Lambert Point and, departing on 26 March, stood in to Frenchmen’s Bay, Maine, on the 30th. Remaining there for the better part of April, she weighed anchor and raised steam on 24 April.

Having charted a southerly course, the collier returned to Norfolk on the 28th. She shifted to the coal piers and took on another load (5–8 May) and then proceeded to Port Royal (11–17 May). Making her return to Lambert Point (19–29 May), she again steamed south for the West Indies, visiting St. Vincent, British West Indies [Grenadines] (7–15 June) and San Juan (16–26 June). The ship reached Lambert Point on 1 July, and the following day shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard, where she entered dry dock and underwent an overhaul.

Clearing the yard on 4 August 1902, Leonidas shifted to the coal piers to onload (4–8 August), then set a course for the Greater Antilles, where she arrived, after a week’s passage, at San Juan on 15 August. A week later, the collier got underway for Cap-Haitien, Haiti, on the western side of the island of Hispaniola. Arriving on 24 August, she remained there until 28 August, when she got underway to return to Lambert Point on 2 September. After shifting to the Norfolk Navy Yard (6–9 September), she returned to the coal piers to be loaded (9–17 September) in advance of another re-supply mission. Standing out for the West Indies, she transited to San Juan (24–26 September); Cap-Haitien (27 September–3 October); San Juan (4–6 October); Havana (10–13 October); and Port Antonio (20–28 October), before putting in to Norfolk on 5 November. A week later, on 12 November, she departed, steaming to Baltimore (13–20 November) before proceeding directly for Culebra and arriving on 28 November. Getting underway again on 6 December, she touched at San Juan, then continued on on that same day, reaching Norfolk on 12 December. The collier then stood out of the navy yard on 21 December and arrived at Baltimore the next day, where she spent Christmas, getting underway again on the 28th for Puerto Rico.

Leonidas would not make landfall again for a month, finally reaching San Juan on 28 January 1903. Remaining overnight, she departed on the 29th for Norfolk. Arriving on 4 February, she was underway again the following day. Steaming up the Chesapeake Bay, she stood in to Baltimore on 6 February, and remained there until the 21st, when the collier sailed for Pensacola, proceeding via Norfolk (22–24 February). Arriving on 4 March, she remained on the Gulf coast until 11 March, when she departed to return to Baltimore on 19 March. Underway again on 27 March, she paused at Norfolk (27–30 March) before steaming to the Boston (Mass.) Navy Yard (2–13 April), then making her return to the Norfolk Navy Yard on the 15th.

Shifting to the coal piers at Lambert Point, Leonidas took on a load and then departed on 7 May 1903 for Frenchman Bay. Arriving on 9 May, the collier remained in those waters supporting exercises there until 20 May, when she proceeded thence to Lambert Point. Arriving on 23 May, she remained there until 8 June, when, having onloaded more coal, she departed for a return to New England, standing in to the Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard on 11 June. Remaining until the 24th, she departed and reached Newport News, Va. (27–28 June) before shifting to Lambert Point on the 29th.

Leonidas cleared the coal piers on 2 July 1903 and spent the ensuing weeks shuttling between New England and the Chesapeake Bay, providing logistical support to the ships of the North Atlantic Fleet as they conducted their annual training in northern waters. First the ship went to Portsmouth (6–11 July), before returning to Norfolk (14–23 July) and Lambert Point, then proceeded to Frenchman Bay (28 July–13 August) before returning to Lambert Point on 16 August. Putting to sea on 22 August, the collier stood in to New York on 11 September, then made her return to Lambert Point on the 20th. Two days later, she was again underway en route to New York, arriving there on the 24th, where would remain until 16 October, when she sailed for Norfolk. Entering the navy yard on 18 October, she remained at Portsmouth until 8 December, when she got underway for Baltimore, reaching that port the next day. Departing coal-laden on 11 December, she then steamed directly to Culebra (18–22 December) before she returned to Baltimore via Hampton Roads (28 December) on the 29th. After again having loaded coal into her cargo holds, she departed on 31 December.

Underway on New Year’s Day 1904, Leonidas raised Culebra on 19 January to support fleet exercises there. After a week, she departed for Hampton Roads on the 26th, reaching her destination on 31 January. The collier then departed Norfolk on 20 February for Pensacola, to proceed via Key West (25 February). Arriving on 28 February, she remained on the Gulf coast until 30 March, when she departed and set course for Lambert Point, arriving on 6 April. She remained there until 9 May, when she departed the coal piers fully loaded, bound for the Azores. She made port at Horta, Fayal, on 22 May. After remaining a week in the Portuguese archipelago, the collier departed on 29 May and returned to Lambert Point on 10 June. After again loading at the coal pier, she sortied on 27 June for Portugal and reached Lisbon on 13 July, remaining there until 10 August. Transiting via Horta (14–20 August) and Menemsha Bight, Martha’s Vineyard, (2 September), she stood in to Lambert Point on 4 September.

Five days later, on 9 September 1904, Leonidas steamed to Baltimore (10-14 September), thence to Port Royal, where she arrived on 17 September and remained until the 25th. Touching at Lambert Point on 27 September, she shifted later that same day to Norfolk, where she entered the navy yard to undergo maintenance until 21 October. Having cleared the yard, she shifted the same day to Lambert Point and after loading at the coal pier, sailed for San Juan on 26 October. Reaching her destination on 7 November, she quickly departed that same day and returned to Lambert Point on the 14th. Shifting to Norfolk on 19 November, she stood out of the navy yard on the 26th. Bound for Culebra (2–13 December), she shifted to San Juan (13–15 December) before making the passage back to Lambert Point, arriving on 21 December. Underway on Christmas Eve, she steamed up the Chesapeake into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on Christmas Day, where she remained through the end of 1904.

Underway on 2 January 1905, Leonidas stood in to Hampton Roads on the 3rd, but was underway again the following day, clearing the Virginia capes and setting course for a return to Hispaniola. Making arrival at Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic (D.R.) on 11 January, she sailed three days later, on 14 January, then paused at Culebra (17–20 January) en route back to Baltimore, where she arrived on 28 January. Sailing again on 2 February, she set course via Hampton Roads (3–4 February) to return to the West Indies, reaching Guantánamo on 10 February. After six weeks of supporting fleet exercises in those waters, the collier put to sea on 22 March. Steaming into the Gulf of Mexico, she stood in to the Pensacola Navy Yard on 27 March. Departing on 5 April, she bypassed Key West and steamed directly to Port Royal (10–12 April) before proceeding to Norfolk and arriving on 15 April. After two weeks, she shifted to Newport News on 29 April, then went to sea on 2 May to return to the Caribbean. Following a visit to Monte Cristi, D.R. (13–17 May), she paused at Guantánamo (18–31 May), before returning to Lambert Point on 6 June. Again with a full load of coal, she departed on 21 June for New England. Arriving at Newport on 24 June, she remained there until 5 July when she proceeded to Baltimore (8–10 July) before returning to Hampton Roads on the 12th.

After a fortnight in port, Leonidas cleared Hampton Roads on 26 July 1905 bound for Baltimore, making arrival a day later. Having taken on a load of coal, she departed on 29 July steaming directly for Frenchman Bay. Arriving at Bar Harbor, Maine, on 4 August, she discharged her cargo and departed on the 8th to return to Chesapeake Bay, reaching Portsmouth on the 13th. That same day she shifted to Lambert Point, where she loaded at the coal pier before again setting course for Frenchman Bay on 17 August. After coaling those ships conducting training in the bay, the collier departed on 5 September and made her return to Lambert Point on the 9th to take on more coal. Fully loaded, she departed on 13 September for Provincetown, Mass., where she rendezvoused with the fleet units conducting training off Cape Cod. Having coaled those ships, she cleared Provincetown on 27 September and made her return to Lambert Point two days later.

Bound for Newport, Leonidas departed the coal piers fully loaded on 3 October 1905, and put in to Narragansett Bay two days later. She remained there until 16 October, when she departed for Lambert Point, arriving at her destination on 18 October. Over the next few weeks, she shifted between the anchorages in the lower Chesapeake Bay until 4 November, when she departed Newport News for the Boston Navy Yard, arriving there on 8 November. Clearing the yard on the 23rd, she proceeded to the Philadelphia Navy Yard (27 November–4 December) then returned to Boston (8–19 December). Sailing on the 19th, the collier stood back in to the Norfolk Navy Yard on 22 December, where she would remain through the New Year’s holidays.

After operating between Norfolk, Newport News, and Hampton Roads (14–18 January 1906), Leonidas proceeded to Culebra, where she supported the fleet’s annual training (25 January-3 February), after which time she shifted to San Juan (5 January), whence she sailed on the 5th for Hampton Roads, making arrival there on 9 February. After another onload of coal, she departed the Tidewater area on 15 February and returned to the West Indies, making landfall at Guantánamo on 19 February. She remained there supporting fleet training until 3 March, when she sailed for Pensacola, where she arrived on 8 March. Two weeks later, on 22 March, she was again underway, returning to Guantánamo on the 28th. She then remained there supporting the fleet until departing on 19 April. After touching at Key West (23 April), the collier visited the Dry Tortugas, Fla. (23–30 April), Monte Cristi (4–10 May), and Culebra (12–24 May), before standing in to Hampton Roads on 30 May. She remained there until 4 June, when she went to sea to steam up the Delaware River to visit League Island (5–12 June) and Port Richmond, Pa. (12–14 June). Touching again at League Island (14–16 June) en route to her departure down the Delaware River, she stood out of the Delaware Bay and out into the Atlantic, setting course for Hispaniola, making landfall at Monte Cristi on 23 June, where she remained into July.

Underway again on 17 July 1906, Leonidas steamed to Sanchez, D.R. (18–22 July) before returning to Monte Cristi (29–30 July) en route to Portsmouth (N.H.) Navy Yard, where she arrived on 7 August. After eleven days in port, the collier sailed for Lambert Point on 18 August, arriving at her destination on the 21st, after which she loaded, then departed on 23 August for a return to New England. She reached Newport (25–31 August) before proceeding to Oyster Bay [Long Island], N.Y., the site of Sagamore Hill, President Theodore Roosevelt’s estate and summer retreat. After two days there, she went to sea on 4 September, and steamed to Frenchman Bay. Arriving on 6 September, she initially touched at Rockland, Maine, before shifting to East Lamoine, Maine, later that same day. Steaming out from Frenchman Bay on 18 September, she returned to the Chesapeake Bay on 21 September, mooring at Newport News.

After taking on a load of coal, Leonidas got underway on 24 September 1906. Reaching Havana on 1 October, she remained in Cuban waters until 25 October, when she went to sea, reaching Key West the next day. She remained there until 6 November, when she departed initially bound for Colon, Canal Zone (C.Z.). She instead arrived at Guantánamo on 24 November and remained there until 6 December. Underway again, she proceeded to Hampton Roads making her arrival a week later on 13 December. After fully loading with coal, she cleared the Chesapeake on 21 December and steamed southward. Transiting via Key West (27–28 December), she arrived at Guantánamo on 3 January 1907, in anticipation of the fleet’s arrival for annual training in Cuban waters.

Leonidas went to sea on 10 January 1907 and visited San Juan (14–25 February) before making her return to Cuba at Guantánamo on 1 March. Six days later, on 7 March, she stood out from Guantánamo. Steaming to Portsmouth Navy Yard, she arrived on 16 March. Just under two months later, she was assigned to be an auxiliary with the Atlantic Fleet on 14 May. Clearing Portsmouth for the New York Navy Yard on 23 May, she touched at Tompkinsville [Staten Island], N.Y. (25 May), then steamed to Lambert Point, where she arrived on 30 May. She shifted to Hampton Roads on 10 June. With hostilities having broken out between Nicaragua and Honduras, however, U.S. Navy ships landed marines to protect U.S. interests. Clearing Hampton Roads on 16 June, Leonidas arrived off Puerto Cortez, Honduras, on 24 June, joining Paducah (Gunboat No. 18).

Leonidas remained at Puerto Cortez into the autumn, sailing for Hampton Roads on 9 October 1907, arriving at her destination on the 17th. Getting underway the following day, she passed Nantucket Shoals, Mass., on 20 October, then reached the Portsmouth Navy Yard on 22 October. Remaining there for just over a month, clearing those waters on 23 November. She stood in to Newport News on 29 November, shifted to Lambert Point on 1 December, taking on a load of coal, then sailed on 6 December for Trinidad, British West Indies (16–27 December). She made her return to Hampton Roads on 5 January 1908.

After three days in port taking on more coal, Leonidas departed on 8 January 1908 and set course for New England. Initially visiting Bradford, R.I. (10–15 January), then Boston (16–25 January), she returned to the Portsmouth Navy Yard on 26 January, where she was placed out of auxiliary service on 15 February 1908.

Ordered returned to service, Leonidas was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet on 20 May 1909, then was activated with a merchant complement on 11 June, Capt. Joseph T. Rodgers, Naval Auxiliary Service, master. After fitting out, the collier departed Portsmouth on Independence Day, standing in to Boston Navy Yard the following day. Clearing that port on 8 July, she proceeded to Provincetown to rendezvous with and support the fleet units conducting exercises in those waters. Moving with the fleet, she arrived on the Southern Drill Grounds off Virginia on 8 August. There she would remain, supporting fleet training until 17 September, when she made her return to Hampton Roads. She shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard (22–27 September), then to Newport News (27–30 September), before departing for Bradford (2–6 October). Returning to Hampton Roads on 8 October, she shifted the next day to the Norfolk Navy Yard. Entering dry dock on 10 November, she undocked on the 13th, then shifted to Lambert Point on the 15th. After loading coal through the night, she sailed the next day for Charleston, where she arrived on 19 November. She remained in port there until 2 December, when she set course for Central America.

Arriving at Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, on 10 December 1909, Leonidas departed the next day, then proceeded north to Bluefields, Nicaragua (12–15 December), before touching back at Puerto Limón (15 December) en route to Cristóbal, C.Z. (17 December). Departing on the 17th, the collier cruised off the coast, celebrating Christmas and New Year’s at sea, finally touching at Bocas del Toro, Panama (2–11 January 1910). After visiting Guantánamo (11–18 January), the collier steamed between Bluefields, Puerto Limón, and Bocas del Toro (28 January–14 February). After continuing to cruise the coastal waters of Central America, she stood in to Cristóbal on 26 March. She was again underway on 31 March, then cruised the Atlantic coast between Bluefields, Bocas del Toro, and Cristóbal (3 April–3 May), after which she steamed for Hampton Roads via Guantánamo (8–9 May) and stood in to her destination on 15 May. Shifting to the Norfolk Navy Yard on 23 May, she remained there until the 25th, when she sailed for South Carolina, standing in to the waters of the Charleston Navy Yard on 27 May. Entering dry dock on 7 July, she undocked on the 13th.

Leonidas stood out from Charleston on 18 July 1910 and reached Lambert Point on the 21st. After loading at the coal pier, she departed on 6 August. Upon reaching the Delaware Breakwater on 7 August, she lingered there only briefly, departing that same day for Guantánamo. Rerouted to Sewell’s Point, Va. (10–17 August), she then shifted to the Norfolk Navy Yard later on the 17th. She sailed for New York on the 27th, making landfall at Tompkinsville (29–31 August), then steamed back in to the lower Chesapeake on 2 September. Over the next several weeks, she frequented the anchorages and moorings of the lower Chesapeake and operated on the Southern Drill Grounds, before clearing Norfolk on 26 September for Boston. Reaching that port on 29 September, she remained there until 5 October. Touching at Sewell’s Point on 8 October, she cleared the Virginia capes on 25 October and paused at the New York Navy Yard (27–28 October) en route to Boston (30 October–12 November).

Departing Boston, Leonidas stood in to Hampton Roads on 15 November 1910. Over the following weeks, she serviced the fleet at different locations in the lower Chesapeake before clearing Hampton Roads on 7 December and returning to Boston (11–17 December). She then returned to the Chesapeake, making landfall at Sewell’s Point on 22 December. She remained there through Christmas, then set course on 28 December for the Caribbean.

Underway through the New Year’s holidays, Leonidas arrived at San Juan on 6 January 1911. Remaining for almost a fortnight, she went to sea on 19 January, setting course for Hampton Roads, where she arrived on 25 January. A week later, on 1 February, she got underway for Portsmouth (5–11 February), then returned to Hampton Roads on the 14th. Over the ensuing weeks, to 12 April, the collier remained in the lower Chesapeake shifting among the anchorages there. Entering the Norfolk Navy Yard on 12 April, she was drydocked on 14 April, undocking on the 18th. She remained at the Norfolk Navy Yard until she picked up a load of coal at Lambert Point before proceeding to the New York Navy Yard. The collier cleared New York on 25 May, then steamed directly for the Greater Antilles, reaching Havana on 31 May. She remained in Cuban waters, with the exception of a visit to Key West (24-27 July) into January 1912.

Leonidas departed Cuban waters on 29 January 1912 for the Chesapeake Bay, proceeding to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., after which time she sailed for Washington (9–16 February), en route to the Norfolk Navy Yard. Arriving on 18 February, she entered dry dock a week later, on 25 February, and remained there undergoing maintenance until clearing the yard on 2 March. Shifting to Lambert Point, she loaded at the coal pier (2–3 March) and then departed for Charleston. Arriving on 5 March, she remained until the 13th. Returning to Norfolk on 15 March, she collided with the schooner Ruth Merrill in Hampton Roads. Continuing on, she reached Norfolk later that same day. She remained in the lower Chesapeake until 27 March, when she sortied from Newport News. Steaming for Portsmouth, she reached her destination on 31 March, and was placed out of service there on 3 May.

Ten months later, on 10 March 1913, Leonidas was ordered fitted out at the Portsmouth Navy Yard for duty as a survey ship, to assist Hannibal in her hydrographic work. Upon the completion of her conversion, she was to cruise the Atlantic coast of Central America surveying the eastern approaches to the Panama Canal, which was then still under construction.

Recommissioned on 1 April 1914 at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Lt. Cleon W. Mauldin in command, Leonidas departed Portsmouth on 22 April. Steaming via Boston (23–25 April) and Guantánamo (4–7 May), she arrived at Almirante Bay, Panama (11–12 May), before reaching the Canal Zone at Cristóbal on 13 May.

Leonidas operated from Cristóbal surveying not just the waters east of the Panama Canal, but also the coasts of Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras through the summer of 1914, a period that saw hostilities breaking out on the European continent and the U.S. choosing the course of remaining neutral. Departing Cristóbal on 26 August 1914, she steamed via Guantánamo (2–3 September) and the North River anchorage off New York City (11–28 September), before steaming in to the Portsmouth Navy Yard on 1 October. The ship remained there through the year’s end.

Underway again on 27 January 1915, Leonidas departed Portsmouth and steamed via the Boston Navy Yard (29–30 January) for the Caribbean. She visited Guantánamo (8–14 February) and Grand Cayman Island (16–17 February) before steaming via the Honduran coast to Swan Island (18 February) and Cabo Gracias a Dios (19 February) into her assigned grounds along the Central American Atlantic coast north of Panama. She completed her work on 17 April and steamed in to Cristóbal on 19 April. Departing on 5 May, she conducted surveys near Colón, Panama, to 8 June, when she returned to Cristóbal. Underway again on 20 June, she returned to the waters off San Blas [Guna Yala], Panama, east of the canal’s Atlantic entrance. She returned to Cristóbal (20–26 July) in advance of continuing her survey (26 July–17 August). Touching at Cristóbal on the 17th, she continued on to New York (27 August–7 September) before standing back in to the Portsmouth Navy Yard on 9 September. With her hydrographic work completed, the ship remained in port into the New Year.

Leonidas put to sea on 25 January 1916, and, steaming via Boston (25–26 January), she proceeded first to Grand Cayman (5–7 February) then directly into her survey grounds of Panama’s northern coast (10 February–2 March). She returned to Cristóbal (2–13 March) then spent the succeeding three months surveying the San Blas Gulf, interspersed with visits to Cristóbal (19–22 March; 12–21 April; and 20–29 May). Returning to Cristóbal on 13 June, she departed two days later. On a heading for New York, she reached her destination on 26 June. Departing New York on 8 July, she steamed in to the Portsmouth Navy Yard for repairs on the 10th. That yard work was completed on 15 November.

Just over a week later, on 23 November 1916, Leonidas stood out from Portsmouth. Three days out, however, on 26 November, she developed a serious leak in her main condenser and had to put in at Newport for repairs. Upon her departure, she steamed directly to Grand Cayman (8 December). Touching only briefly, she was underway again that same day, bound for a return to the San Blas Gulf (12–23 December). Shifting to Cristóbal on 24 December, the ship’s crew spent the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in port, before the ship returned to her hydrographic duties in the San Blas Gulf on 2 January 1917, where she would spend the next three months.

Meanwhile, tensions between the United States and Imperial Germany had increased as a result of the latter’s reinstatement of unrestricted submarine warfare on 1 February 1917. Two days later, on 3 February, the U.S. severed diplomatic relations and declared war on 6 April 1917, entering the Great War as an “Associated Power” of Britain, France, and Russia.

With the U.S. entry into hostilities, Leonidas took up patrol duties in the waters adjacent to the Panama Canal. At Cristóbal on 15 April 1917, she received orders directing her to investigate reports of enemy raiders or submarines in the Gulf of Panama. She transited the Panama Canal to Balboa on the 17th and patrolled the approaches to the canal’s Pacific entrance until 25 April. That same day she received orders attaching her to the Caribbean Detachment, Patrol Forces, Atlantic Fleet. Having found no enemy vessels, she passed back through the canal to Cristóbal on the 26th. Afterward, through the summer, she patrolled the Caribbean Basin, from Cuba and the Yucatan Channel to the Colombian border, searching for possible enemy submarine bases. On 12 August, the survey ship submitted a report to Commander, Patrol Forces, stating that a search of her designated patrol area indicated no enemy presence. Three days later, on 15 August, the survey ship received orders attaching her to Squadron One, Division Two, Patrol Forces. With this re-assignment, she continued to patrol her designated search sectors.

Departing Cabo Tiburon, Panama, on 26 August 1917, Leonidas steamed to Havana, en route to a return to the U.S. Upon her arrival on 4 September, she took former German vessels, captured at Havana, under tow, and conveyed them to New Orleans. Arriving on 8 September, she entered the New Orleans Navy Yard to undergo repairs to her boilers and to install two 3-inch/50 caliber and two Colt .30 caliber (Marlin M1917) machine guns. During this time, on 27 September, she received orders detaching her from Patrol Forces, Atlantic Fleet. She was to proceed to Hampton Roads to receive modifications to enable her to towing armed yachts and submarine chasers for distant service.

Departing on 7 October 1917, Leonidas reached the Norfolk Navy Yard on 13 October. After coaling at Lambert Point, she stood out for New York on the 22nd and reached Tompkinsville [Base No. 21] two days later. There the ship remained until 28 October, when she got underway for Portsmouth. Arriving on 30 October, she entered the yard and underwent conversion to serve as a tender supporting two squadrons of wooden-hulled 110-foot submarine chasers. Leonidas’ modifications included the installation of a 6-inch/40 caliber gun and a machine shop capable of doing ordinary repair work.

Leonidas at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in 1917 after the recent gun installation on her forecastle. Also note the sentry at left, mobile crane in the center, and steam launch on a cradle at right. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 5...
Caption: Leonidas at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in 1917 after the recent gun installation on her forecastle. Also note the sentry at left, mobile crane in the center, and steam launch on a cradle at right. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 51135-A)

Shortly before Portsmouth completed her transformation from hydrographic ship to tender to 110-foot wooden warships, Leonidas received orders directing her to proceed to Tompkinsville upon the completion of her authorized repairs and alterations, where she was to obtain ammunition and equipment and to await further orders. Accordingly, she cleared Portsmouth on 8 March 1918, ultimately bound for European waters to support Submarine Chaser Squadron 4 and Submarine Chaser Squadron 5. Rendezvousing with the other ships of the convoy off Tompkinsville (11–18 March), she was to tow Submarine Chaser No. 90 [S.C. 90] to European waters via St. George’s, Bermuda [Base No. 24] (23 March–8 April), Ponta Delgada, Azores [Base No. 13] (22 April–7 May), and Gibraltar [Base No. 9] (13–19 May).

It was at Ponta Delgada that Capt. Charles P. Nelson, serving both as the tender’s commanding officer and commander of the submarine chaser flotilla, informed the 110-footers’ commanding officers that they were to operate from a base to be established at Corfu, Greece, designated Base No. 25. From there, the submarine chasers were to conduct anti-submarine patrols in the waters adjacent to the Otranto Barrage. Later, while at Gibraltar on 17 May, 110-footers tended by Leonidas engaged what they believed to be an enemy submersible off the Spanish coast; they employed depth charges with negative results. Afterward, the British Admiralty issued a statement indicating there was “no direct evidence of a submarine in this vicinity on [the] date mentioned.”

Passing into the Mediterranean on 19 May 1918, Leonidas and her attached flotilla continued their transit, pausing at Valletta, Malta [Base No. 28] (25–26 May), where a number of the submarine chasers entered dry dock to have their hulls cleaned and painted. While a number of the chasers stood in to their assigned duty station at Corfu on 4 June, Leonidas did not arrive until the 8th. The first patrol, consisting of twelve submarine chasers, commenced on 12 June. Shortly after arriving, the tender dropped anchor close to the beach and then ran lines into shore; her charges received orders to tie up by units to buoys already set out. The former collier proved fully capable of entirely supporting the ’chasers and keeping them fit to fight. “Leonidas appeared to have on board everything that through lack of foresight or accident might be requisitioned,” one of the 110-footers’ commanding officers marveled in his memoirs, “Every one of the chaser crews is ready to take his hat off to this most efficiently managed ship.”

Leonidas tending submarine chasers and other patrol craft in 1918, probably at Corfu. Note that at this point the vessel seems to have had lookout stations installed at both fore- and mainmasts. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 7...
Caption: Leonidas tending submarine chasers and other patrol craft in 1918, probably at Corfu. Note that at this point the vessel seems to have had lookout stations installed at both fore- and mainmasts. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 73480)

The most significant action in which Leonidas’ squadrons engaged was the Second Battle of Durazzo [Durrës]. Twelve of the submarine chasers were ordered to sea on 29 September 1918. Entering the port at Brindisi, Italy, the following day, they received orders tasking them as part of the Allied task force forming to attack the Austro-Hungarian naval base and logistics center on the Albanian coast. The submarine chasers were to screen an Allied force consisting of an Italian battleship, three Italian armored cruisers, three Italian light cruisers, five British light cruisers, fourteen British destroyers, two Australian destroyers, and eight Italian torpedo boats.

The submarine chasers remained at Brindisi for two days, getting underway at daybreak on 2 October 1918. Six of the chasers were to screen the bombarding force as it entered the bay at Durazzo. The other six were to guard against submarine attack. The action began with British and Italian aircraft bombing enemy troop concentrations and artillery batteries while the fleet was still steaming across the Adriatic. The U.S. submarine chasers arrived an hour early. They remained out of range, but were easily observed, so that the two Austro-Hungarian destroyers in the port raised steam and sortied to engage them. By the time the destroyers were in range, however, the Allied task force had arrived and began the attack. The Austro-Hungarian guns on the heights engaged the Allied ships. Three of the U.S. submarine chasers on the inboard screen came under fire, but emerged undamaged.

The northernmost section of three submarine chasers experienced the most action, encountering the Austro-Hungarian submarines U-29 (Linenschiffleutnant Robert Dürrigl commanding) and U-31 (Linenschiffleutnant Hermann Rigele). The submarine chasers spotted the enemy boats and maneuvered to attack. Firing their 3-inch guns at the submarine periscopes, the chasers also dropped depth charges. Initially, the U.S. craft initially received credit for having sunk both submarines, but subsequent investigations reduced the number to one before an official inquiry by the Austro-Hungarian Navy determined that neither had been sunk nor seriously damaged. The battle ended by 1:30 a.m. on 3 October. A week later, on 10 October, the last Austro-Hungarian units had cleared Durazzo, which was eventually occupied by the Italians on 16 October. This engagement stands as the only U.S. surface action during the Great War.

Hostilities against Austria-Hungary ended with an armistice on 5 November 1918. Shortly thereafter, Leonidas received word of the Germans having signed an armistice on 11 November, ending the Great War. Shortly thereafter, Leonidas and her charges proceeded up the Adriatic coast to Cattaro [Kotor, Montenegro], where the former Austro-Hungarian naval base served as a temporary headquarters for the U.S. vessels “showing the flag” in the immediate post-war Adriatic. Later, a number of the submarine chasers steamed north to Spalato [Split, Croatia].

Meanwhile, Leonidas returned to Corfu and made preparations for her return to the U.S., eventually departing that port on 28 November 1918 and crossing the Adriatic to Italy. Touching first at Brindisi (29–30 November), she then proceeded to Spalato (6–11 December), before returning to Corfu (19–22 December). Underway for Malta on the 22nd, she stood in to Valletta on Christmas Day and remained there in port through the New Year’s holidays.

Leonidas cleared Malta on 16 January 1919, bound for Gibraltar. En route, she touched at Messina (17 January); Civitavecchia (20–26 January); and La Spezia (27–29 January) in Italy and Villefranche (30 January–7 February) and Marseille (8–15 February) in France, before reaching Gibraltar on the 16th. She remained at the British Crown Colony until 13 March, when she stood out to sea and steamed for the Azores, via Lisbon, Portugal (15 March–6 April), reaching Ponta Delgada on 11 April. Departing again on 22 April, she steamed westward for Bermuda. Arriving on 2 May, she remained there until the 12th.

Departing that day, Leonidas, instead of continuing on a westerly course to return to the U.S., the tender steamed eastward, back into Ponta Delgada on 23 May 1919. Underway again on 28 May, she continued her eastbound transit, returning to Gibraltar on 2 June. There she remained until 28 June, when she went to sea and steamed northward along the Iberian coastline to Lisbon. her destination on 30 June, she remained at the Portuguese capital until 19 July. Having shuttled back to Europe, the tender finally received orders directing her to return to the U.S. Proceeding to Ponta Delgada (23–29 July), she continued on to Bermuda (8–15 August), and finally completed her homebound transit, standing in to the New York Navy Yard on 19 August for post-deployment overhaul and refit.

Leonidas cleared the New York Navy Yard on 8 September 1919 and steamed to Newport (9–11 September) before returning to New York and the North River anchorage (12 September–8 October). Passing through Hell Gate, she entered Long Island Sound and then proceeded up the Thames River to New London, Conn. (10–11 October). Continuing on her circuitous transit, she reached Key West (19–22 October), en route to Pensacola, where she arrived on 25 October. Two days later, she departed, shifting to New Orleans (27 November–2 December) before returning to Pensacola (3–18 December). Going to sea, she proceeded to New Orleans. Arriving on 20 December, she remained there for the balance of the year.

Leonidas departed New Orleans on 9 January 1920. En route to Charleston, she touched at Pensacola (10–12 January) and Key West (15–16 January) before the Charleston Navy Yard on 19 January. Assigned to support the destroyers of Reserve Destroyer Squadron 1, Atlantic Fleet, based at Charleston, the tender would remain there into the next year. During that time, on 17 July, she was re-designated as a destroyer tender, AD-7, as part of the Navy standardization of its nomenclature in classifying its ships and craft.

Getting underway for the first time in more than a year, Leonidas sailed for New York on 9 May 1921. She reached her destination on 14 May and entered the New York Navy Yard on the 24th. After a week in the yard, she stood out on 31 May, and steamed to Newport, where she arrived the next day, 1 June. The tender operated in the adjacent waters until 17 October 1921. Ordered to Charleston, she first steamed to the North River (18–28 October) and then with her orders amended, proceeding thence into Hampton Roads on 30 October.

Soon thereafter, on 2 November 1921, the Chief of Naval Operations instructed the Commandant, Fifth Naval District, to relieve Leonidas with the recently acquired Denebola (AD-12) (ex-Edgewood). Brought alongside the new tender during November 1921, Leonidas transferred stores and equipment to Denebola, and the old and new ship were then simultaneously decommissioned and commissioned. Placed on the sale list on 21 November 1921, Leonidas was decommissioned one week later, on 28 November.

A letter from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav) of 22 March 1922 noted that Leonidas would be considered as being stricken from the Navy Register as of the date she was actually disposed-of by sale. Bids opened within three months’ time, around 1 June 1922, and within a week, on 6 June 1922, the Secretary of the Navy authorized the acceptance of the 5 June 1922 bid of Ammunition Products Corp., Washington, D.C., the strike date being considered as 5 June 1922. Delivered to the buyer on 11 August 1922, ex-Leonidas was removed from naval custody from the Norfolk Navy Yard on 12 August 1922 and was scrapped subsequently.

Commanding Officers Dates of Command
Cmdr. William I. Moore 21 May–27 December 1898
Capt. J. S. Hutchinson 8 November 1900–22 July 1901
Capt. Erik S. Lind 22 July 1901–6 January 1904
Master E. D. P. Nickels, NAS 6 January 1904–10 March 1905
Master George Worley, NAS 10 March 1905–3 June 1907
Master Joseph T. Rodgers, NAS 3 June 1907–15 February 1908
Master Joseph T. Rodgers, NAS 11 June 1909–24 July 1910
First Officer F. C. Seibert, NAS 24 July–4 August 1910
Master F. E. Horton, NAS 4 August 1910–30 May 1911
Master W. R. Kennedy, NAS 30 May 1911–3 May 1912
Lt. Cleon W. Mauldin 1 April–3 April 1914
Lt. Cmdr. Walter M. Falconer 3 April–9 October 1914
Lt. Cleon W. Mauldin 9 October–3 December 1914
Lt. Herbert C. Cocke 3 December 1914–14 April 1916
Lt. Cmdr. John G. Church 14 April–10 August 1916
Lt. Cmdr. Owen Hill 10 August 1916–11 September 1917
Lt. Cmdr. Vaughn K. Coman 11 September 1917–5 January 1918
Lt. George Breed, USNRF 5 January–17 January 1918
Cmdr. Charles P. Nelson 17 January 1918–3 March 1921
Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels 3 March–28 November 1921

Christopher B. Havern, Sr.

12 August 2019

Published: Wed Aug 14 09:08:57 EDT 2019