History of the Gunboat USS Sacramento (1914 - 1947)


The Sacramento (PG-19) was a gunboat built by the William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company of Philadelphia, Pa. She was launched February 21, 1914, under the sponsorship of Miss Phebe Briggs, daughter of Doctor Ellery Briggs of Sacramento, Calif. The gunboat was commissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard on April 26, 1914, under the command of Commander Luke McNamee.

Sacramento (PG-l9) had a length overall of 226 feet, 2 inches, beam of 40 feet, 11 inches; trial displacement of 1,395 tons; mean draft of 11 feet, 6 inches; and a trial speed of 12.78 knots. Its initial compliment was 11 officers, 155 men and its initial armament was three 4-inch .50 caliber guns, two 3-pounders, two l-pounders, and three 3-inch field guns.

Sacramento arrived off Vera Cruz, Mexico from Philadelphia on May 14, 1914, serving with Tampico in watching over Mexican gunboats Zaragona and Bravo as they transported coal to Puerta, Mexico. It left Vera Cruz on July 13 for Haiti and the Dominican Republic, thence to Hampton Roads where it returned October 18. It came off Tampico, Mexico on December 20, 1914 from Key West and remained largely in Mexican waters as a part of the Special Service Squadron until June of the following year. During this service, May 13, 1915, it landed 1st Lt. Y. P. Wilcox, USMC, to accompany the American Vice-Consul to Panuco and other points to determine existing conditions with a view of protecting American lives and property. The next twelve months were largely devoted to watching over conditions of unrest in waters ranging from the Dominican Republic to Honduras, Blue Fields, Nicaragua, and ports of Mexico.

Sacramento arrived in New Orleans, La. from Vera Cruz on March 17, 1917. Here on April 6 and 9, 1917, it assisted Customs authorities in taking over the interned German Ships Breslau, Andromeda, Anna Louise, and Teresa. It left New Orleans on April 15 for patrol and escort duties in ocean approaches to the New England coast out of Newport, R. I. On May 8, 1917, it raced to the scene of the British motor ship Sebastian whose cargo of oil caught fire to envelop her in flames. The crew of the Sebastian, 36 officer and men were taken on board Sacramento in heavy seas as fire and rescue parties from both ships fought to save the British ship. Sebastian sank while under tow toward Newport the morning of May 10, all but one of its crew survived. For its part in rescue and salvage attempts, Sacramento was commended by the British Government. On June 25, 1917 it went to the assistance of the cruiser Olympia aground at Cerebus shoal. It transported the men of Olympia into Newport and stood by during salvage operations that saw the cruiser floated on July 6 and taken into New York Naval Shipyard for repairs. In this same yard, Sacramento was fitted out for foreign service.

On July 22, 1917 Sacramento left New York with a British mercantile convoy of 18 ships which reached Gibraltar on August 6, 1917. Here Sacramento acted under fleet instructions of the Senior British Naval Officer until the arrival of Admiral Harry B. Wilson in the cruiser Birmingham on August 17, 1917. As part of the United States Patrol Force based at Gibraltar it constantly performed convoy voyages up the Atlantic seaboard to the British Isles with time out for similar duty along the Barbary Coast and ports of Italy. By the time of its departure from Gibraltar for the United States on December 11, 1918, it had given protection to 483 ships in 343 days at sea which had included many special patrol and sea-rescue assignments. Sacramento cruised 63,640 miles during its war service in European waters.

Sacramento arrived in New Orleans from Gibraltar on January 8, 1919 for repairs, then sailed from New York on April 10, 1919 for duty with the U. S. Naval Forces in Northern Russia. It arrived in Murmansk by way of the Azores and England on May 22, 1919, giving support to the Russian Detachment of the U. S. Atlantic fleet at this port, Archangel, Klokalaka, Susnovaya Bay, Kem, Umba Bay, Chuya Bay, Keret Bay and Ku Village. It again visited Murmansk from July 3 to 13, 1919, then proceeding by way of ports of Norway, England and France to Gibraltar where it arrived on September 20 to assist with the demobilization of forces there in accordance with the terms of the armistice. It returned to Hampton Roads, Va. from this cruise on February 15, 1920 and spent much of the following 18 months with the Atlantic Patrol Force and Special Service Squadron which closely watched over political upheavals and unrest in the Caribbean Sea, especially off Honduras. Departing Charleston, S. C. on June 12, 1922 it entered the Mediterranean to pass through the Suez Canal, thence by way of Bombay, India, Colombo and Singapore, to join the Asiatic Fleet at Cavite, Philippine lslands.

As a unit of the Asiatic Squadron, Sacramento gave valuable support putting down various insurrections in the Philippines and watching over United States interests among ports of China and Japan. This duty was intervened with a stay in Vladivostok, Siberia from September 11 to November 24, 1922. It remained on Asiatic station until December 21, 1928 when it set course from Cavite for duty with the Special Service Squadron in the Caribbean Sea.

Sacramento arrived in Mare Island Navy Yard, California from the Philippines on February 14, 1929 and sailed from San Diego on March 7, for constant cruising with Special Service Squadron among ports on Central America and the West Indies with time out for periodic overhaul in the Boston Naval Shipyard. This duty continued until January 11, 1932 when it departed Balboa for a cruise that took it first to San Diego and San Francisco; thence by way of Pearl Harbor and Guam to Shanghai. It arrived in Shanghai on April 1, 1932 for seven years of operations with the Asiatic Fleet which were largely spent watching over American lives and property during the Sino-Japanese War. Departing Cavite on January 12, 1939, it transited the Suez Canal and proceeded through the Mediterranean back to New York where it arrived on May 27, 1939.

After repairs in the New York Navy Yard, Sacramnent proceeded to Michigan City, Ind. where it was placed in the service of the 9th Naval District on November 20, 1939 to be operated in the training of Naval Reservists on the Great Lakes. It returned to Boston Naval Shipyard at the close of the year for overhaul until May 16, 1942, then fitted out at the Norfolk Navy Yard from May 18 to June 23, 1941. On the latter date it set course by way of Cuba, the Panama Canal and San Diego, for duty in the Hawaiian Islands. It entered Pearl Harbor on August 15, 1941 for defense patrol in Hawaiian waters and was in that port on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese launched their infamous aerial attack.

All its battle stations were manned at 8 a.m. and two minutes later its gunners were firing on enemy torpedo planes attacking battleship row. It assisted in destroying an enemy plane which crossed its bow about 200 yards ahead, then helped down another of a group of planes straffing battleship Nevada. About an hour later one of its boats, dispatched to the stricken battleship, Oklahoma, returned with two survivors of the battleship, having already landed twenty-five survivors in a place of safety in company with a motor boat from the battleship California. A rescue and breathing apparatus was sent to the California and Sacramento took aboard 36 survivors of Utah for subsistence along with one crewman of battleship Nevada. Sacramento earned one battle star for her actions that day.

Sacramento patrolled the Hawaiian Sea Frontier out of Pearl Harbor until January 27, 1942 when it began duty as a tender for Torpedo Boat Unit No. 6, Division 2, Motor Torpedo Squadron One, at Palmyra Island. Here it also served as air-sea rescue boat for the Naval Air Station Landing Field. It departed the island on November 25, 1942 on a voyage that took it by way of Pearl Harbor to San Diego, Calif.

Sacramento entered San Diego Harbor on December 12, 1942 to train armed guard crews in gunnery practice and other training as a unit of the Western Sea Frontier. Later it was employed by this same command as a part of the Local Defense Force until March 17, 1945. It then operated out of San Francisco Bay on weather patrol and plane guard station off the California coast for the remainder of the war. Sacramento was decommissioned in Suisan 3ay, Calif. on February 6, 1946 and simultaneously turned over to the War Shipping Administration which sold it on August 23, 1947.

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