USS Chester (CL-1)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Chester.
Chester
Chester
Career
Name: USS Chester
Builder: Bath Iron Works
Launched: 26 June 1907
Commissioned: 25 April 1908
Decommissioned: 10 June 1921
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 13 May 1930
General characteristics
Class and type: Chester-class cruiser
Type: light cruiser
Displacement: 3,750 long tons (3,810 t)
Length: 423.1 ft (129.0 m)
Beam: 47.1 ft (14.4 m)
Draft: 16.8 ft (5.1 m)
Speed: 24 kn (28 mph; 44 km/h)
Complement: 359 officers and enlisted
Armament: 2 × 5 inch (127 mm)/51 cal guns[1] (2x1), 6 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal guns (6x1), 2 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

USS Chester (CL-1) of the United States Navy was the first light cruiser built for the U.S. Navy.[2] She was launched on 26 June 1907 by Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, sponsored by Miss D. W. Sproul, and commissioned on 25 April 1908, Commander H. B. Wilson in command. She was named in honor of Chester, Pennsylvania.

Pre-World War I[edit]

Up to 1914[edit]

In the period prior to World War I, Chester operations included training activities off the East Coast and in the Caribbean, participation in the Fleet Reviews of February 1909, October 1912, and May 1915, and many duties of a diplomatic nature. She carried a Congressional committee on a tour of North Africa in 1909, and the next year, joined in a special South American cruise commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Buenos Aires, Argentina. As American interests in the Caribbean were threatened by internal political changes in several nations, Chester patrolled off Mexico, Santo Domingo, and Haiti, and transported a Marine occupation force in 1911. Later that year, she carried men and stores to the steam patrol yacht Scorpion, station ship at the then-Austrian port of Trieste, returning to Boston with the American consul at Tripoli.

In April, 1912, the Chester was ordered by the United States Navy to escort the RMS Carpathia back to New York, after the Carpathia had picked up the survivors from the sinking of the RMS Titanic.[3]

After a period in reserve from 15 December 1911 – 5 November 1913, Chester returned to duty in the Gulf of Mexico guarding American citizens and property during the revolution in Mexico.

1914[edit]

In 1914, she took part in the United States occupation of Veracruz.

On 2 January 1914, the Chester was off Gulfport, Mississippi. Aboard her, President Woodrow Wilson held a conference with John Lind, his personal envoy for Mexican affairs.[4]
On 21 April, just after 08:00 hrs, immediately upon receipt of orders to "seize Custom House" at Veracruz, Admiral Frank F. Fletcher directed Admiral Henry T. Mayo "to send him the scout cruiser Chester from Tampico".[5] Eventually, a fleet of at least seven ships left Tampico for Veracruz that day. Around midnight, on a moonless night,[6] the Chester was the second ship to arrive at Veracruz (after the USS San Francisco).
Her captain, William A. Moffett, ...

[...] had held the Chester at her top speed of twenty-one knots since leaving Tampico, ignoring the protests of her anguished engines. Nearing port, Moffett established radio contact with the Prairie. Fletcher warned him that the harbor lights were out, which would make navigating the eighty-six-foot-wide passage between the breakwaters into the inner harbor a hazardous undertaking. When Moffett asked for instructions, however, Fletcher left the matter to his discretion; if he wished, he could wait outside the breakwater until dawn. Moffett chose to run straight in, bringing the Chester through the narrow opening in a breath-taking display of seamanship and nerve. He droppped anchor at the Sanitary Warf at 00:05 hrs. From the Prairie, Fletcher signaled "Well done".[7]

For this action, Moffett was awarded the Medal of Honor.[8]
On 22 April, around 03:00 hrs, the Chester battalion landed at Pier 4.[9]
She also transported refugees to Cuba, performed various diplomatic missions, and carried mail and stores to the squadron off Veracruz until 19 June 1914.

She returned to Boston for overhaul and another period in reserve, from 12 December 1914 – 4 April 1915.

After 1914[edit]

Late 1915 and early 1916 found Chester in the Mediterranean to aid in relief work in the Middle East, and off the Liberian coast to protect American interests and show American support for the government there threatened by insurrection. Chester returned for duty as receiving ship at Boston, where she was out of commission in reserve from 10 May 1916 – 24 March 1917.

World War I[edit]

When recommissioned, Chester operated on protective patrol off the East Coast until 23 August, when she sailed for Gibraltar, and duty escorting convoys on their passage between Gibraltar and Plymouth, England. On 5 September 1918, the cruiser sighted an enemy submarine on her starboard bow. In attempting to ram the enemy, Chester passed directly over the U-boat as she dived, damaging her own port paravane. Depth charges were hurled at the submarine's presumed position, but no further contact was made.

At war's end, Chester carried several Allied armistice commissions on inspection tours of German ports, then carried troops to the Army units operating in northern Russia. On her homeward bound voyage, on which she cleared Brest, France on 26 April 1919, she carried Army veterans to New York, which she reached 7 May. 11 days later, she arrived at Boston Navy Yard for overhaul, and was decommissioned there on 10 June 1921. In 1927, she was towed to Philadelphia Navy Yard, and on 10 July 1928, her name was changed to York. She was sold for scrap on 13 May 1930.

References[edit]

  1. ^ *Preston, Anthony (1980). Cruisers. Prentice Hall. p. 60. ISBN 0-13-194902-0. 
  2. ^ in 1920; she was commissioned as a Scout Cruiser
  3. ^ Titanic Inquiry of Harold Bride
  4. ^ The Landing at Veracruz, Jack Sweetman, @ 1968, p.25
  5. ^ The Landing at Veracruz, Jack Sweetman, @ 1968, p.53
  6. ^ http://www.calendar-12.com/moon_phases/1914 The full moon had con April 10th, 1914
  7. ^ The Landing at Veracruz, Jack Sweetman, @ 1968, p.96, in reference to "Log of the Chester, April 21, 1914. Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, The National Archives; transcript of messages exchanged between Fletcher and Moffett, Naval Records Collection, The National Archives.
  8. ^ Military Times, Hall of Valor
  9. ^ The Landing at Veracruz, Jack Sweetman, @ 1968, p.97

This article includes information collected from the public domain sources Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships and Naval Vessel Register.

External links[edit]