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Remlik (S.P. 157)


The Navy retained the name carried by this ship (the owner's last name, Kilmer, spelled backwards) at the time of her acquisition for "distant service."

(S.P. 157: displacement 600; length 200'0" (overall); beam 23'0"; draft 13'6"; speed 14 knots (maximum); complement 62; armament 2 3-inch, 2 machine guns)

Candace, a steel-hulled, single-screw steam yacht, was built by Cook, Walton, & Gimmell, Hull, England, in 1903. Subsequently renamed Remlik, the luxurious vessel was purchased by the Navy from her owner, Willis Sharpe Kilmer, newspaper publisher, sportsman, and entrepreneur, of Binghamton, N.Y., on 1 June 1917; delivered on 10 June 1917; converted for use as a patrol vessel and commissioned on 11 July 1917, Lt. Cmdr. Isaac C. Johnson, Jr., in command.

Following commissioning, the armed yacht got underway for France, where, in late summer, she assumed antisubmarine patrol and coastal escort duties in the Bay of Biscay. Originally with the 2nd U.S. Patrol Squadron, and later with the 8th, Remlik was on patrol on the morning of 17 December 1917 when she found herself fighting a storm, stalking a submarine, and endangered by one of her own depth charges.

The submarine, sighted off the starboard beam, submerged before the guncrews could fire. The U-boat's periscope reappeared three times, but the extremely rough weather precluded the use of her torpedoes and she finally disappeared. Remlik, although prohibited from using her depth charges by her speed, only 2 knots against the gale, remained in the area in hopes her quarry would reappear.

Shortly thereafter, the depth charge box on Remlik's taffrail aft was washed overboard. Its Sperry depth charge, however, fell inboard, lost its safety pin, and began rolling around on deck.

In the ensuing minutes, 31-year old CBM John MacKenzie, USNRF, ran down the deck and, despite the rolling and pitching of the vessel, got a firm grip on the cylinder; put it on end; then, sat on it to hold it in place until others could lash it down. MacKenzie was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that probably saved "the ship and the entire crew."

Remlik continued her patrols and escorted ships along the French coast through the remainder of the Great War [World War I]. After the end of hostilities, she returned to the United States for inactivation.

Decommissioned at Norfolk, Va., on 7 November 1919, Remlik was sold to J. S. Webster, Baltimore, Md., on 7 June 1920.

Updated, Robert J. Cressman

1 December 2020

Published: Tue Dec 01 13:26:46 EST 2020