Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore John A. Howell, Commander, Northern Patrol Squadron, to Captain Richard P. Leary and Commander Charles J. Train

U.S.Flagship San Francisco,      

Provincetown, Mass.,      

May 15, 1898.     

Sir:-

     The following are hereby established as the details for the patrol of the middle line, by the San Francisco and the Prairie:-1

     1.   The Prairie will be off Highland Light2 about three o’clock every afternoon.

     2.   If possible the San Francisco will meet her there and communicate with her.

     3.   After communicating in this way the Prairie will steam on to the end of her line (the particular end to be designated when the two ships meet), along the line to the other end, and thence to the meeting place with this ship again, so setting her speed as to arrive at the rendezvous at the designated time. In her night run down the line she shall keep so far to the eastward as to be certain that she and the San Francisco cannot sight each other.

     4.   The San Francisco, unless special circumstances prevent, will leave Provincetown at six o’clock every afternoon, will meet the Prairie as arranged in the preceding paragraph, and sill [i.e. will] then cruise up and down well inshore, being sure to keep well out of sight of the Prairie’s line. This shall be continued until morning, then she shall return to Provincetown, reaching port about seven in the morning.

     5.   Should the Prairie not find the San Francisco at the appointed place in the afternoon she shall proceed with her patrol, taking such direction as her commanding officer may deem best, and before leaving Highland Light she shall make to the signal station at that point the International signal “BQC”---“Report me all well.” precee\ded by her old international number as the [El] Sol, “KRTY”.3 Arrangements will be made with the signal station at that when this signal is understood it shall be reported to the Commander-in-Chief at Provincetown.

     6.   Should the San Francisco desire to have the Prairie come into Provincetown instead of going out to meet her, the signal station will be instructed to signal to the Prairie international signal - “DIJS”---“You may come into port”, as soon as the ship shall have made her number. When this signal is made it shall be construed by the commanding officer of the Prairie as a mandatory order from the Commander-in-Chief for him to bring his ship to Provincetown without loss of time.

Very respectfully,     

J.A.Howell        

Commodore,U.S.Navy.    

Commanding Northern Patrol Squadron.

Source Note: CbCy, DNA, RG 313, Entry 40. Addressed below close: “To the/Commanding Officer,/U.S.N.F.S.San Francisco,/Provincetown, Mass./Also No.10 to Prairie.” Document reference: “No. 10.”

Footnote 1: The protected cruiser San Francisco, Capt. Richard P. Leary commanding, and auxiliary cruiser Prairie, Cmdr. Charles J. Train commanding.

Footnote 2: Highland Light, Cape Cod, MA.

Footnote 3: The international maritime and U.S. Navy signal flags used alphabetical letters or combination of letters to send messages. Prairie, formerly S.S. El Sol, was purchased from the Southern Pacific Co. for use as an auxiliary cruiser. It retained its original international designation number.

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