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Whirlwind I (S. P. 221)


(Screw steamer: displacement 59; length 117'; beam 12'; draft 3'6"; speed 20 knots; complement 9; armament 1 3-pounder, 1 1-pounder, 1 machine gun)

Whirlwind (S. P. 221), a wooden-hulled, triple-screw steam yacht, completed in 1909 at Morris Heights, N.Y., by the Charles L. Seabury Co. and the Gas Engine and Power Co., was acquired by the Navy on 11 May 1917 from Julius Fleischmann of New York; and commissioned at New York Navy Yard on 26 June 1917, Lt. (jg.) A. S. Johnstone, USNRF, in command.

Whirlwind was outfitted at the Seabury yard and arrived at New Haven, Conn., on 17 August. She soon commercial patrols off the Cornfield Point lightship. Her duties included seeing that passing vessels kept within their designated channels and that other section patrol boats were on their stations. She also escorted Allied ships through the nets that guarded those waters.

Whirlwind continued her daily routine of patrols through the remainder of the month of August. During this time, in the course of one of her normal cruises, she prevented steamer Noreg, out of Nova Scotia, Canada, from fouling the submarine net during a heavy squall on the 24th. Early the following month, the patrol boat inspected the 11th Division of 3rd Naval District local patrol forces on station in Long Island Sound and continued her routine duties of hailing and instructing vessels as to proper channels.

By early September, it had become apparent that the vessel's sea-keeping qualities left much to be desired. Her heavy rolling and pitching caused the Navy to cease using her as an offshore patrol vessel. She arrived at her builder's yard at Morris Heights on 13 September for overhaul. She was then decommissioned at the Marine Basin, Brooklyn, N.Y., on 8 December 1917.

Reconsidered for naval use in a different nautical environment, Whirlwind was recommissioned at Waukegan, Ill., on 29 September 1918. Operating out of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Ill., the yacht cruised to Waukegan and Chicago, Ill., and to Milwaukee, and Manitowoc, Wis., before proceeding to Detroit, Mich., where she was decommissioned on 3 December 1918. During this time, she made three cruises on Lake Michigan with members of the training station commandant's family embarked. The commandant of Great Lakes at that time was Medal of Honor holder Capt. William A. Moffett, who later became Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics and who perished in lighter-than-air ship Akron (ZRS-4) in April 1933.

Whirlwind was struck from the Navy list on 24 April 1919 and was subsequently sold on 30 June 1919.

Published: Wed Feb 17 15:01:07 EST 2016