USS Lydonia (SP-700)

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USS Lydonia 1917 1919.jpg
The civilian steam yacht SS Lydonia II prior to her 1917 acquisition by the United States Navy.
Union Navy JackUnited States
Name: USS Lydonia
Namesake: Modification of Lydonia II, the ship's civilian name when acquired
Builder: Pusey and Jones, Wilmington, Delaware
Laid down: April 1911
Launched: 25 July 1911
Completed: 1912
Acquired: 21 August 1917
Commissioned: 27 October 1917
Decommissioned: 7 August 1919
Fate: Transferred to U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey 7 August 1919
Notes: Served as civilian yacht SS Lydonia II 1912-1917, owned by William A. Lydon
Flag of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey.svgUnited States
Name: USC&GS Lydonia (CS 302)
Namesake: U.S. Navy name retained
Acquired: 7 August 1919
Commissioned: 1919
Decommissioned: 1947
General characteristics (as U.S. Navy vessel)
Type: Patrol vessel
Tonnage: 497 gross tons
Length: 181 feet (55.2 meters)
Beam: 26 feet (7.9 meters)
Draft: 11 feet 5 inches (3.5 meters)
Propulsion: Steam engine
Speed: 12 knots
Complement: 34
General characteristics (as U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey vessel)
Type: Coastal survey ship
Length: 180.5 ft (55.0 m)
Beam: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Draft: 11.5 ft (3.5 m)
Propulsion: Steam engine

USS Lydonia (SP-700) was United States Navy patrol vessel in commission from 1917 to 1919 that saw service in the during World War I. Prior to her U.S. Navy service, she had been a private yacht, SS Lydonia II, from 1912 to 1917.[1] She spent most of the war based at Gibraltar, escorting and protecting Allied ships in the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic Ocean coast of Europe. After her U.S. Navy service ended, she served from 1919 to 1947 in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey as the coastal survey ship USCGS Lydonia (CS-302).


Lydonia was constructed as the 497-gross-ton steam yacht Lydonia II by Pusey and Jones in Wilmington, Delaware, as Hull #348[2] under contract #1205 for William A. Lydon, commodore of the Chicago Yacht Club, and was more than 250 gross tons larger than the Lydonia I completed for Lydon just two years earlier. Named in honor of Lydon's family and Lydon's second yacht of the name, Lydonia II was designed by William A. Gardner, with construction started in early April 1911. She was launched on 25 July 1911. Fitting out took nine months, with sea trials taking place on 1 May 1912. She was described as the "queen of the Great Lakes fleet" and "the finest on the Great Lakes."[1]

United States Navy service[edit]

The U.S. Navy acquired Lydonia II from Lydon on 21 August 1917 for use as a patrol vessel during World War I. Slightly modifying her name, the Navy commissioned her as USS Lydonia (SP-700) on 27 October 1917 with Lieutenant Commander R. P. McCullough in command.

After repairs and target practice off Bermuda, Lydonia departed the Caribbean in mid-November 1917 and arrived at Horta in the Azores on 7 December 1917. Two weeks later, she arrived at Gibraltar to join the U.S. Navy patrol squadron operating along the Atlantic and Mediterranean sides of the Strait of Gibraltar.

Mediterranean operations[edit]

Lydonia spent the early months of 1918 protecting Allied Mediterranean supply convoys from attacks by Imperial German Navy submarines (U-boats). She made two attacks on enemy submarines in February 1918 but did not sink them.

On 8 May 1918, Lydonia was steaming with a convoy from Bizerte, Tunisia, to Gibraltar when the German submarine UB-70 torpedoed and sank one of the convoy's ships, the British merchant ship SS Ingleside. Lydonia joined the British Royal Navy destroyer HMS Basilisk in counterattacking UB-70 beginning at 17:35, with the two ships making coordinated depth charge attacks. After 15 minutes, Lydonia and Basilisk ceased their attack and turned their attention to rescuing the survivors of Ingleside. Heavy seas prevented an immediate assessment of possible damage to UB-70, but later evaluations credited Lydonia and Basilisk with sinking the submarine.

For the rest of the war, Lydonia continued her escort operations between Bizerte and Gibraltar. After the conclusion of the war on 11 November 1918, she called at the Azores and Caribbean ports on her way back to the United States, where she arrived at Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 6 February 1919.

Decommissioning and transfer[edit]

The U.S. Navy decommissioned Lydonia at Norfolk, Virginia, 7 August 1919 and transferred her to the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey the same day.

United States Coast and Geodetic Survey service[edit]

USC&GS Lydonia
USC&GS Lydonia during World War II, during which the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey operated under the orders of the United States Navy.

In Coast and Geodetic Survey service, Lydonia became the coastal survey ship USC&GS Lydonia (CS 302). Intended for Coast and Geodetic Survey service along the coast of California, she fitted out at Norfolk until September 1919, when she departed for San Francisco, California, outfitting for hydrographic survey work during October 1919. In November 1919 she surveyed between Cape Mendocino and Point Arena. She then underwent repair and outfitting for service in the Territory of Alaska, for which she departed on 20 June 1919.[3] She later served primarily along the United States East Coast and in the Atlantic Ocean while with the Survey.

On several occasions during her long Coast and Geodetic Survey career, Lydonia assisted mariners in distress. On 7 August 1921, she assisted in helping survivors and searching for bodies in the wreck of the steamboat SS Alaska on Blunt's Reef off the coast of northern California. On 17 January 1927, she came to the aid of the United States Coast Guard Cutter USCGC Modoc (WPG-46), which was aground at the entrance to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, joining a tug in refloating Modoc at high tide. In May 1927, she and the survey ship USC&GS Hydrographer were sent to Memphis, Tennessee, to help victims of the great Mississippi River flood of that year.

On 23 August 1933, Lydonia was with the Coast and Geodetic Survey survey ships USC&GS Oceanographer (OSS-26) and USC&GS Gilbert at Norfolk, Virginia, when the 1933 Chesapeake–Potomac hurricane struck; the three ships handled considerable radio traffic for the Norfolk area, including U.S. Navy traffic, during the storm. On 24 April 1935, she directed the United States Coast Guard to the fishing trawler Malolo, which was disabled off the coast of Virginia. And in January 1937, Coast and Geodetic Survey personnel from her crew and from that of Oceanographer were detached to join three Coast and Geodetic Survey launches at Kenova, West Virginia, where they performed flood relief work under the direction of the Red Cross.

Along with the rest of the Coast and Geodetic Survey's ships, Lydonia operated in support of U.S. Navy requirements during the participation of the United States in World War II (1941-1945), although she remained a part of the Survey during the war.

The Coast and Geodetic Survey retired Lydonia from service in 1947.


Lydonia Canyon, an undersea canyon in the Atlantic Ocean off the Gulf of Maine on the slope of the Georges Bank, is named for USC&GS Lydonia.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Hagley Library. "Building the Lydonia II". Pusey and Jones Collection. Hagley Museum and Library, Greenville, Delaware. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  2. ^ T. Colton (7 June 2011). "Pusey & Jones, Wilmington DE". Shipbuilding History. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Director, United States Coast And Geodetic Survey (1920). Annual Report Of The Director, United States Coast And Geodetic Survey To The Secretary Of Commerce For The Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1920. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 60. 
  4. ^ NOAA Coast Survey: A Monumental History