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Williams I (Battleship No. 9)

John Poster Williams, born on 12 October 1743 at Boston, Mass., was appointed a captain in the Navy of Massachusetts and received command of the brig Hazard late in 1777. In the following year, he took her to sea in a fruitless search for British West Indiamen; but he and his ship eventually achieved success in 1779. While cruising in the West Indies, Hazard fell in with the privateer brigantine Active on 16 March. At the end of a "smart action" of 35-minutes' duration, "yard arm to yard arm," Active struck her colors and became Hazard's prize, after having suffered 13 killed and 20 wounded out of her 95-man crew. Hazard sent the captured brigantine back to Massachusetts under a prize crew and subsequently returned home in April, after taking several other prizes.

In May, Hazard returned to sea, this time in company with the brig Tyrannicide. At 0830 on 15 June, the two ships fell in with two British ships and, after a short, sharp engagement, forced both enemy vessels to strike their colors. Later that summer, Hazard, like the rest of the Massachusetts Navy, took part in the ill-fated Penobscot expedition, an operation which eventually cost the state's navy all of its commissioned vessels.

Williams received command of the new 26-gun frigate Protector in the spring of 1780 and took her to sea in June. In accordance with instructions from the Board of War, the new warship cruised in the vicinity of the Newfoundland Banks, on the lookout for British merchantmen. Her vigilance was rewarded early in June.

At 0700 on 9 June 1780, Protector spotted a strange ship bearing down on her, flying British colors. At 1100, the Continental frigate, also flying English colors, hailed the stranger and found her to be the 32-gun letter-of-marque Admiral Duff, bound for London from St. Kitts. When the enemy's identity had been ascertained, Protector hauled down British colors and ran up the Continental flag, opening fire almost simultaneously. The action ensued for the next hour and one-half, until Admiral Duff caught fire and exploded, leaving 55 survivors for Protector to rescue soon thereafter.

With the coming of peace, Williams returned to his native Boston and died there on 24 June 1814.

George Washington Williams, born in Yorkville, S.C., on 30 July 1869, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1890. He served the required two years of sea duty in Pensacola, before he was commissioned an ensign on 1 July 1892.

Williams served in a succession of sea and shore billets through the turn of the century: the former in Essex, Columbia, Yankee, Buffalo, Panther, Richmond, and Monongahela ; the latter at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, R.I. In addition, he served on the staff of the Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, in 1899 and commanded the torpedo boat Bainbridge in 1903 before commanding the 1st Torpedo Boat Flotilla. Reporting to Wisconsin (Battleship No. 9) on 5 April 1905, Williams subsequently joined the protected cruiser Chicago for a tour of duty which included participating in relief efforts at San Francisco, Calif., in the wake of the destructive earthquake and fire which destroyed much of that city.

In the years immediately preceding World War I, Williams served as ordnance officer in Montana (Armored Cruiser No. 13); commander of the Atlantic Torpedo Fleet; Inspector of Ordnance in Charge at the Naval Torpedo Station; commanding officer of the cruiser Cleveland and later of battleship Oregon, before he assumed command of Pueblo (Armored Cruiser No. 7) on 29 April 1917.

Williams, by that time a captain, was awarded the Navy Cross for "distinguished service in the line of his profession" while commanding Pueblo during World War I, as the armored cruiser engaged in the "important, exacting, and hazardous duty of transporting and escorting troops and supplies to European ports through waters infested with enemy submarines and mines."

Detached from Pueblo on 6 September 1918, Williams participated in fitting out the new dreadnaught Idaho (Battleship No. 42) and later served ashore in the Office of Naval Intelligence. He took the Naval War College course in 1919 and 1920 before commanding the new dreadnaught New Mexico (BB-40) from 31 May 1921 to 18 May 1922. After detachment from New Mexico, Williams became the senior member of the Pacific Coast section of the Board of Inspection and Survey.

Reaching flag rank on 29 September 1922, Williams served as Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, and later as the Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, when the former command was reorganized. Detached from this duty in the spring of 1923, Williams subsequently served at Charleston, S.C., as the commandant of the 6th Naval District before breaking his two-star flag in Concord (CL-10) on 15 September 1924 as Commander, Destroyer Squadrons, Scouting Fleet.

Rear Admiral Williams died on 18 July 1925 at the Naval Hospital, Charleston, S.C.

The second Williams (DD-108) commemorates John Foster Williams; the third (DE-372) honors Rear Admiral George Washington Williams.


(ScStr.: t. 97 (gross); l. 90'0"; b. 21'0"; dr. 7'9" (mean); dph. 9'0"; s. 8.0 k.)

Apparently, sometime in 1917, E. T. Williams, a tug built in 1898 by Thomas McCluskey at Baltimore, Md., was chartered by the Navy and assigned the classification SP-3241. However, records of the vessel's naval career are both sparse and conflicting. Although Navy General Order No. 314, issued on 28 July 1917, had specified that scout patrol vessels bearing compound names should thereafter be known solely by their surnames, in this case Williams, the 1918 issue of Ships Data, U.S. Naval Vessels listed the tug as E. T. Williams. It also reported that she was assigned to the 5th Naval District. The 1919 issue, on the other hand, states that E. T. Williams was ". . . not taken over." No logs or other records have been found to resolve the matter or to delineate the details of the tug's service, if any, in the Navy.


(MB: t. 41 (gross) ; l. 90'0"; b. 12'0"; dr. 5'; dph. 6'; s. 15 k.; cpl. 11; a. 3 3-pdrs., 2 mg.)

Williams, sometimes cited as Williams '18, was originally built as Grayling. Completed in 1907 at City Island, N.Y., by B. Frank Wood, and designed by the firm of Tams, Lemoine, and Crane, the wooden-hulled, screw steam yacht was owned by Justus Ruperti of New York City in the years preceding World War I.

Acquired by the Navy for inshore patrol duties, Williams, assigned the classification S. P. 498, was commissioned at New York City on 16 March 1918, Boatswain M. T. Moran, USNRF, in command. During the vessel's "unofficial trial trip" on 18 March, the patrol craft suffered a broken propeller shaft and was towed to the Philadelphia Marine Basin for repairs. One month later, while being taken in tow by Aramis (S. P. 418), Williams was jammed between Aramis and the dock, suffering damage again.

Apparently still without propulsion, Williams was towed to an offshore mooring and used for a month as a floating classroom by groups of hydrophone trainees, or "listeners." At the end of each day, she was towed back to port. Drydocked in May and apparently restored to active duty (instead of being towed to her offshore duty station) with a repaired shaft, Williams made a trial trip on 14 May.

Ten days later, misfortune again reared its head. Williams' propeller struck the bottom while off Sandy Hook and was damaged. After repairs soon thereafter, the motor patrol boat trained "listeners" using "listening tubes" for the remainder of the spring and summer of 1918. During this time, she suffered slight damage in collision with the tug Relief on 27 September.

At 1045 on 16 October, Williams speedily got underway to reach the area where the British steamer Port Phillip was sinking. She arrived and lay to off the ship. There is no indication in the patrol craft's log as to providing assistance for Port Phillip, but we can assume that she aided the distressed steamer and its crew.

On 17 October, all listening gear was removed and stored; and the ship was drydocked for repairs at the New York Navy Yard. She apparently remained at the yard into December, after the armistice which ended World War I. All armament, ammunition, and gear were removed during the early part of December, 1918. Williams then sailed to Shady Side, N.J., on 18 December 1918, where she was simultaneously decommissioned and returned to her owner. She was apparently struck from the Navy list on the same day.

Published: Wed Feb 17 15:53:35 EST 2016