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Arethusa II (Steamer)

Image related to Arethusa II
Caption: Arethusa refuels subchasers, SC-135, SC-370, and SC-388, at sea in a moderate gale, 1918. (NH 42568)

(Str: t. 3,319; l. 343'5.5"; b. 42'2"; dr. 23'6"; s. 9.5 k.; cpl. 94)


A nymph of Elis, one of the Nereids, who, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Oceanus and one of Diana's attendants. One evening on the island of Ortygia, near Syracuse, as Arethusa was heading home from the day's hunt, she chanced upon the Alpheus, a clear and beautiful brook. When she entered its cool waters seeking relief from heat and fatigue, she heard a voice rise from the stream which frightened her into leaping to land and fleeing in terror. The river god pursued her until, in desperation at her failing strength, she prayed to Diana for help. In response the kind goddess changed Arethusa into a fountain.


The second Arethusa, a steam tanker built in 1893 at Stockton, England, by Craig, Taylor & Company as Lucilene, was purchased by the Navy on 12 August 1898 to support the Fleet during the Spanish-American War and was commissoned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Comdr. John F. Merry in command.

After fitting out, the ship departed Philadelphia on 16 December, headed for the West Indies, anchored off Havana on Christmas Day, and provided water for American warships operating in the area until sailing for home on 14 January 1899. She reached Philadelphia on the 18th and was decommissioned there on 1 February 1899.

Recommissioned on 22 August 1900 she sailed for the Far East-via the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean route, and arrived on the Asiatic Station early in December of that year. She furnished water and supplies to American warships and, in 1901, she carried relief supplies to Guam. During the first half of the following year, she made several trips to the Philippine Islands delivering passengers and supplies to Olongapo, Luzon. After one of these runs, she arrived at Manila on 4 July 1902 and prepared for the long voyage home. Getting underway on 9 August, she retraced the same general route she had used in coming to the Orient and stopped at Singapore and Aden en route to the Suez Canal which she reached on 15 September. Departing Port Said, Egypt, on the 17th, she emerged from the Strait of Gibraltar 10 days later and reached Tompkinsville, N.Y., on Columbus Day.

Some two months of operations preceded her arrival at Culebra, Puerto Rico, on 14 December 1902. During most of the first half of 1903, Arethusa operated at San Juan and Ponce, before returning to Culebra on 14 June. She then bagan a long tour of dutyas a "water boat" there which ended early in 1906 when she moored at Philadelphia to be placed out of service on 16 March.

The ship was given a civilian crew and, on 17 July, began providing water to ships of the Atlantic Fleet. On 29 November, she received a new naval complement and was recommissioned to serve with the small group of auxiliaries that had been selected to support the "Great White Fleet" during its forthcoming cruise around the world. After being fitted out at the Norfolk Navy Yard, the ship moved to Lambert Point, Va., on 9 December 1907 and, two days later, sailed for the Pacific.

Proceeding down the Atlantic coast of South America, she rounded Cape Horn and steamed north to the Mare Island Navy Yard which she reached on 30 April 1908. Following voyage repairs and replenishment, Arethusa left the California coast on 17 June and reached Honolulu on the 30th.

However, her service with the "Great White Fleet" did not take the ship beyond Hawaiian waters. Instead, she was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet and, on 30 July, she got underway for San Francisco. She arrived at that port on 10 August and remained in that vicinity until sailing on 1 October for Magdalena Bay, Mexico, where she anchored on the 6th and began supplying American warships there. During this period, she served briefly as the flagship of the Pacific Torpedo Flotilla. Her hold emptied, the ship got underway for San Francisco on 1 October 1908 and, after reentering the Golden Gate, operated in nearby waters until decommissioned at Mare Island on 15 October 1909.

That same day, she was placed in service under a civilian crew and began preparations for a voyage back to the east coast. After departing San Francisco on 7 January 1910, she again sailed around South America and reached Hampton Roads on 29 March. Based at Norfolk, she issued oil to the ships of the Atlantic Fleet, primarily torpedo boat destroyers. She continued this duty until after the United States entered World War I, filling her tanks with oil at ports along the gulf coast and delivering it to bases in the Caribbean and on the Atlantic seaboard. During this phase of her career, she served between 30 April and 7 June 1914 with the fleet gathered off Veracruz, Mexico.

Recommissioned on 9 January 1918 for service in the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, Arethusa carried oil from the New York Navy Yard to the Azores where she issued it to destroyers and submarines. Upon returning to New York on 5 March, she spent more than a month undergoing repairs before sailing on 10 April. She reached the Azores on the 27th and, but for a quick run to Bermuda and back in mid-May, operated there until returning to New York on 10 June. On 28 June, she began another mid-Atlantic deployment which took her twice to Bermuda and once to the Azores before she refilled her tanks at Port Arthur, Tex., for another cargo of fuel oil which she once more issued in the Azores and at Bermuda before putting in at New York on 22 December, one month and 11 days after the signing of the Armistice stopped the fighting of World War I.

At New York, she filled her cargo tanks before sailing on 3 January 1919 for France. After topping off the fuel tanks of destroyers and submarine chasers operating out of Marseille, she headed for the Portuguese coast on 13 March and reached Lisbon on the 16th. From that port, she headed home via Gibraltar, the Azores, and Bermuda, supplying oil to warships whose bunkers were low, and arrived at Charleston, S.C., on 14 May. The following day, she entered the navy yard there for a thorough overhaul.

During the ensuing three years of peacetime operations,  primarily carrying oil from gulf ports to bases on the Atlantic seaboard, the ship was classified an oiler on 17 July 1920 and simultaneously designated AO-7. She was decommissioned at Boston on 28 June 1922 and sold on 7 July 1927 to Mr. Marshall B. Hall of Boston.


Published: Tue Jan 12 15:04:54 EST 2016