Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Zafiro (Collier)


The Navy retained the name carried by this vessel at the time of her acquisition.

(Collier: tonnage 1,062 (gross); length 213'8-"; beam 31'9-"; draft 15.6'; speed 10.5 knots  (trial) ; cpl. 1 (1898), 45 (1900); a. 2 37mm. revolving cannons (1900))

Zafiro, a collier constructed in 1884 at Aberdeen, Scotland, by Hall Russell & Co., was purchased for the Navy by Admiral Dewey at Hong Kong on 9 April 1898 just before his squadron sailed for the Philippines. Though the Secretary of the Navy's Report for 1900 indicates that she was placed in commission on 10 April 1898, her role as a commissioned ship must have been unique indeed for her complement showed only one Navy man, her commanding officer. Her status in the Navy from 1898 to 1900 is further complicated by the fact that there are no deck logs extant for her during the period. Her first log begins on 20 September 1900. Finally, after her service in the Spanish-American War, she had no naval complement on board until Ens. L. A. Gotten reported on board to assume command on 10 May 1900. Thus, the date upon which she was placed in commission cannot be established with any precision.

In any event, she sailed from Hong Kong with Dewey's Fleet and served with it as a collier and supply ship during the Battle of Manila Bay and the ensuing Philippines campaign. The lack of documents covering her activities in 1898 and the first half of 1899 precludes any detailed narrative for that period. Presumably, she plied the waters of the Philippine Islands carrying troops, supplies, and dispatches between points in the archipelago. Based at Cavite on Luzon, she is known to have performed such missions during the period from July 1899 to June 1904. Those movements in support of the Army's suppression of the Philippine insurrection and campaigns against the Moslem Moro tribesmen took her to a host of exotic places, and length and breadth of the islands. On 10 June 1904, Zafiro was placed out of commission at Cavite. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 15 January 1906; and, on 21 October 1910, she was sold to Mr. J. W. Zeeve of Seattle, Wash.

Published: Thu Dec 10 13:56:04 EST 2015