USS Leyden (1865)

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For other ships with the same name, see USS Leyden.
USS Leyden (1865)
USS Leyden
History
United States
Name: USS Leyden
Namesake: Original merchant ship name retained after acquisition by U.S. Navy
Builder: James Tetlow, Chelsea, Massachusetts
Launched: 1865
Fate: Foundered near Block Island on 21 January 1903
General characteristics
Type: Armed tug
Displacement: 35 tons
Armament: 2 guns

The first USS Leyden was a screw steamer that operated as a tug in the U.S. Navy from 1866 to 1903 and saw combat service in the Spanish–American War in 1898.

Leyden was launched in 1865 by James Tetlow, Chelsea, Massachusetts. From 1866 to 1879 she operated as a yard tug at the Boston Navy Yard, performing various harbor duties out of Boston, Massachusetts, until reassigned to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1879. Leyden served there until 1897, when she was assigned to Newport, Rhode Island. While the ship was near Boston on 26 August 1881, Seaman Michael Thornton jumped overboard and rescued a fellow sailor from drowning, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.[1]

In 1898, Leyden performed towing operations off Cuba during the Spanish–American War. On 21 July 1898, her captain Ensign Walter S. Crosley joined armed yacht USS Wasp, and gunboats USS Annapolis and USS Topeka in firing on and sinking the Spanish sloop Jorge Juan in Nipe Bay, Cuba, in the Battle of Nipe Bay. She also fought at the Battle of Fajardo the night of 8–9 August, bombarding enemy positions with her one-pound guns to support bluejackets from USS Amphitrite (BM-2) holding the Cape San Juan Light against a Spanish ground attack. The next morning, Leyden transported 60 women and children from the town of Fajardo that had been quartered at the lighthouse to Ponce, Puerto Rico.[2]

From 1898 to 1903, Leyden alternated her services between the Caribbean and Newport, Rhode Island. While on a return passage from Puerto Rico on 21 January 1903, the tug foundered in heavy fog off Block Island, ending her long, useful career. Ordinary Seaman Ernest H. Bjorkman, Fireman First Class Loddie Stupka, Quartermaster Third Class August P. Teytand, and Chief Machinist Michael Walsh received the Medal of Honor "for heroism at the time of the wreck of that vessel".

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