USS Bagley (DD-185), Guantanamo Bay, 1920

USS Bagley (DD-185), Guantanamo Bay, 1920

USS Bagley (DD-185), Guantanamo Bay, 1920

Here we see the Wickes class destroyer USS Bagley (DD-185) in Guantanamo Bay during 1920. Note that her awnings have been erected to keep the deck cool

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann .The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.


USS Bagley (DD-185), Guantanamo Bay, 1920 - History

USS Bridge , a 5207-ton (displacement) store ship built by the Boston Navy Yard, was commissioned in early June 1917. During the remainder of World War I, as a unit of the Atlantic Fleet Train and the Naval Overseas Transportation Service, she made four voyages to and from the European war zone as well as carrying supplies to ports and fleet units in the Western Hemisphere. Following the conflict's end she continued service with the Atlantic Fleet, and later the U.S. Fleet's Base Force, and was designated AF-1 in July 1920. Bridge deployed to the eastern Mediterranean area in 1922 and 1923. A decade and a half later, she was temporarily assigned to the Asiatic Fleet. As the United States built up its Naval strength in the central Pacific in 1940 and 1942, the ship kept busy taking supplies to Hawaii, Midway, Wake and Guam.

During World War II Bridge was actively employed supporting U.S. and Allied forces throughout the Pacific, steaming as far south as New Zealand and in the northern waters of Alaska. Following the end of fighting she participated in occupation efforts in Japan and Korea. On 1 November 1945, while off Korea, the ship was badly damaged by a mine. Following repairs, she continued her occupation work until decommissioned at Sasebo, Japan, in late June 1946. USS Bridge was sold at Manila, Philippines, in December 1947. After several years as the commercial steamer Don Jose she was scrapped in 1953.

This page features all the views we have concerning USS Bridge (Supply Ship # 1, later AF-1).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

USS Bridge (Supply Ship # 1)

At Queenstown, Ireland, while wearing pattern camouflage, circa 1918.
Possibly taken from USS Melville (Destroyer Tender # 2).
The original photograph is printed on postcard stock.

Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 57KB 740 x 460 pixels

USS Bridge (Supply Ship # 1)

In harbor, circa 1918, while painted in pattern camouflage.

Collection of Arthur J. Rozette.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 56KB 740 x 480 pixels

USS Bridge (Supply Ship # 1)

Anchored in the Hudson River off New York City, 27 December 1918.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 86KB 740 x 610 pixels

USS Bridge (Supply Ship # 1)

At anchor in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in January 1920.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 63KB 740 x 545 pixels

USS Bridge (Supply Ship # 1)

Anchored in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 1920.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 57KB 740 x 545 pixels

Loading provisions at Naval Operating Base, Hampton Roads, Virginia, in October 1922, before she accompanied destroyers to Turkish waters.
Note her tall topmasts, with long-range radio antennas suspended between them.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 59KB 740 x 565 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Photographed circa the late 1920s or early 1930s.

Donation of Captain Stephen S. Roberts, USNR (Retired), 2008.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 77KB 740 x 620 pixels

Note: The same photo may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system as Photo # 80-G-456560 and/or 80-G-1025893.

In the following views USS Bridge (AF-1) is seen distantly, or in the background of an image of another subject:

"Victory Over Sea < s >Fleet in New York Harbor April 1919"

Panoramic photograph by The Pictorial News Service, 225 W. 36th St., New York City, showing Atlantic Fleet battleships and other vessels anchored in the Hudson River.
Ships present, as identified on the original print, are listed on Photo # NH 76558 (complete caption).

Collection of Colonel J. Willcox, USMC (Retired).

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 133KB 2000 x 390 pixels

"Combined Atlantic and Pacific Fleets in Panama Bay, Jan. 21st 1921"

Right section (of three) of a panoramic photograph taken by M.C. Mayberry, of Mayberry and Smith, Shreveport, Louisiana. Other views in the series are Photo #s: NH 86082-A and NH 86082-B.
Among the ships present in this image are (from left to right): USS Sicard (DD-346), USS Hatfield (DD-231), USS North Dakota (BB-29), USS Delaware (BB-28), USS Brazos (AO-4), USS Prometheus (AR-3), USS Utah (BB-31), USS Oklahoma (BB-37), USS Bridge (AF-1), USS Nevada (BB-36), USS Schenck (DD-159), USS Arizona (BB-39), USS Black Hawk (AD-9), USS Dickerson (DD-157), USS Dahlgren (DD-187), USS Herbert (DD-160), USS Columbia (CA-16), USS Cleveland (PG-33), USS Tacoma (PG-32), USS Semmes (DD-189) and one other destroyer.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, D.H. Criswell Collection.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 43KB 740 x 340 pixels

Towing the floating drydock ARD-1 in Colon Harbor, Panama Canal Zone, on 28 October 1934.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 66KB 740 x 605 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Lieutenant (Junior Grade) John D. Bulkeley, USN, (seated, center) with the men of the ship's "E" Division, at Shanghai, China, 15 February 1938.
Photographed by Skvirsky, Shanghai.
Seated to the right of LtJG Bulkeley is Chief Machinist's Mate Herman W. Koch, USN.
In the left background is USS Bridge (AF-1).
Note the life ring, pair of captstans and Sacramento 's forward 4"/50 gun.

Courtesy of Mr. R.W. Koch, 1976.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 58KB 740 x 470 pixels

In addition to the images presented above, the National Archives appears to hold other views of USS Bridge (AF-1). The following list features some of these images:

The images listed below are NOT in the Naval History and Heritage Command's collections.
DO NOT try to obtain them using the procedures described in our page "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions".

Reproductions of these images should be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system for pictures not held by the Naval History and Heritage Command.


World War II Database

Photo(s) dated 1 Jan 1920

Timeline Section Founder: Thomas Houlihan
Contributors: Alan Chanter, C. Peter Chen, Thomas Houlihan, Hugh Martyr, David Stubblebine
Special Thanks: Rory Curtis

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Remembrances

"Let Us Never Forget" Navy's First Army-Navy Game Running Back, USNA 1893, Killed in Action, Ensign Worth Bagley, USN

Every year many watch the Army-Navy game for its rivalry and traditions. But few realize that games in 1891 was the start of the Bill the Goat as mascot and the game in 1893 saw the first use of a padded leather helmet. Naval Cadet Bagley was the leader of that Navy team and later Ensign Bagley was the first Naval Officer killed in action during the Spanish American War.

Worth Bagley was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on April 6, 1874 to William Henry Bagley and Adelaide (Worth) Bagley. He initial entered the Naval Academy on September 5, 1889, but resigned in June 17, 1891 due to academics. He entered the Naval Academy a second time on September 7, 1891. His younger brother also graduated from the Naval Academy, Admiral David Worth Bagley (USNA 1901). While at the Academy, Naval Cadet (rank later changed to Midshipman) Bagley became the leader of the Academy’s football team, playing in the first Army-Navy game in 1891 at West Point. It was at this game that the Navy acquired its goat mascot, a symbol which still takes the field with each Navy football team. While the Naval Cadets were on their way to the football game, they realized that other schools had a mascot and convinced a farmer to give up his goat.

This group of Naval Cadets who pioneered football at the Naval Academy in 1891 played in accordance with the rules of the day which was a combination of Soccer, Rugby and American Football. Their sport was strictly a student activity and not supported in anyway by the Naval Academy, at least along official lines. Expenses were footed by the players and a few of their student friends.

Later, Naval Cadet Bagley led the Navy team to victory over the Army team on the Navy’s home turf played on Worden Field in 1893. In a newspaper article, which added that the game was won “chiefly through the efforts of young Bagley” it was stated that: “Both teams were well coached during the season of 1893, and faced each other at Annapolis under even conditions. West Point was a trifle the stronger, but excellent generalship at critical points gave the game to Annapolis by a score of 6 to 4. Annapolis was superior in the kicking game, which was just being introduced, and this helped her defeat the soldiers.”

Unfortunately, the 1893 game resulted in post-game brawls and possible threat of a duel between an admiral and general at New York’s Army-Navy Club which caused President Cleveland to cancel future Army-Navy games. President McKinley would step in and reinstitute the game in 1899.

The 1893 game also debuted the first football helmet. The origin of the modern football helmet is credited to Naval Cadet Joseph M. Reeves, later Admiral Reeves (USNA 1894). An Annapolis shoemaker created the leather helmet for Naval Cadet Reeves, who had been advised by a Navy doctor that he would be risking death or "instant insanity" if he took another kick to the head. This helmet would also serve as the basis for the first aviator caps as Naval Aviation had its founding at Greenbury Point across the Severn River from Annapolis.

The glory of being the leader of the football team did have its cost. Naval Cadet Bagley developed a heart problem from the violent exercise and constant pounding in the days before padding and safety were a major concern to football teams. The apex of his heart was shifted two inches to the left!

Naval Cadet Bagley graduated 29 of 41 Naval Cadets on June 7, 1895.

Naval Cadet Bagley was first assigned to the battleship USS Indiana (BB-1), but was soon transferred to the armored cruiser USS Maine (ACR-1), in 1896. Fate intervened for Bagley and he was transferred off the vessel in July of 1897. Maine was destined to explode in Havana harbor in February 1898 touching off the Spanish American War.

Naval Cadet Bagley’s transfer was precipitated by his being assigned to report to the Columbia Iron Works were a torpedo boat, the Winslow, was being constructed. This time, fate would be less kind.

Having completed two years at sea as a Naval Cadet Bagley was commissioned Ensign on July 1, 1897.

In December 1897, USS Winslow (Torpedo Boat No. 5) was placed in commission, with Ensign Worth Bagley as it’s second in command under Lieutenant John Baptiste Beradou (USNA 1880).

At the beginning of hostilities between the United States and Spain late in Apri1 1898, Ensign Bagley was serving in Winslow a ship that was soon on blockade station off the northern coast of Cuba.

On May 11. 1898, Winslow left her position for Cardenas to replenish her coal bunkers from one of the larger warships located there. When she reached Cardenas, the senior officer present, the commanding officer of Wilmington ordered her to reconnoiter Cardenas Bay for mines in company with the revenue cutter Hudson. The negative report on the mines at the completion of their mission prompted Wilmington’s commanding officer to decide to take his ship into the bay to search for three Spanish gunboats reportedly lurking there. Bagley’s ship and Hudson served as escorts. At about 3,000 yards from Cardenas, a lookout caught sight of a small, gray steamer moored alongside the wharf. Winslow moved in for a closer look. At about 1335 that afternoon, Bagley’s torpedo boat reached a point about 1,500 yards from the wharf when a puff of smoke announced the beginning of an artillery duel that lasted an hour and 20 minutes. Winslow’s 1 pounder responded, and then Spanish shore batteries opened on her. The little torpedo boat bore the brunt of Spanish fury and quickly suffered a number of hits.

The first shell to strike Winslow put both her steam and manual steering out of action. While members of her crew tried to rig some type of auxiliary steering gear, Ensign Bagley carried orders to the after engine room hatch in order to keep the warship maneuvering with her propellers. However, at one point the ship swung broadside to the enemy batteries, and a shell knocked out her port main engine. Wilmington and Hudson came to the rescue with their larger guns, and Winslow requested Hudson to tow her out of action. While the two ships attempted to make fast a towline, a shell burst near the after engine room hatch. At that moment, a shell hit the armored deck, sending up a cloud of shrapnel. Ensign Bagley and four other crew fell to the deck suffering mortal wounds. Ensign Bagley’s torso was shattered and his face carried away. Lieutenant Bernadou, who had also been wounded during the action, had the bodies of the dead covered with torpedo tube covers. Soon, the Hudson was able to tow the stricken vessel to safety. The action, which was one of the few victories gained by Spanish naval forces during the war, was soon over. He was the only naval officer killed in action in the Spanish American War.

Ensign Bagley’s body and the bodies of the other dead sailors were transported to Key West. From there Ensign Bagley’s remains were taken to Jacksonville, where the corpse was presented to one of his brothers, Mr. W. H. Bagley. On May 16, 1898, the body arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina, the home of Ensign Bagley’s mother who lived at 125 South Street.

The funeral for Ensign Bagley was a huge affair. The funeral cortege included three thousand people, including fifteen hundred soldiers, twelve hundred school children, two hundred college cadets, as well as state and city officials. Since no church was large enough for the cortege and onlookers, the services were held in the Capitol Square. On the day of the funeral, the coffin was escorted into the Capitol rotunda by the Governor’s Guard, and allowed to lie in state. Schools and businesses were closed in honor of the event and flags placed at half-mast.

The young man who had escaped possible death on the Maine through fate, met his fate in the waters of Cardenas harbor. Ensign Bagley was laid to rest on Oakwood Cemetery. The young man left behind at least two sisters, two brothers and a widowed mother.

Several ironies surround Ensign Bagley. First, the man who led the Army team in the first Army-Navy game in 1891, Bagley’s opposite number, was killed in the assault on San Juan Hill. His name was Lieutenant Dennis Michie (USMA 1892). Army’s football stadium is named for Michie. Ensign Bagley’s sister married Josephus Daniels, the future secretary of the Navy. The Ensign’s brother, Lieutenant Commander David Bagley, commanded the first United States vessel sunk in World War One, destroyer USS Jacobs James (DD-61).

Today, Ensign Bagley is remembered in Raleigh, North Carolina, through a bronze statue bearing his likeness. The statue, located near the state Capitol building was unveiled in 1907.


Contents

Collier

President William H. Taft attended the ceremony when Jupiter's keel was laid down on 18 October 1911 at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California. She was launched on 14 August 1912 sponsored by Mrs. Thomas F. Ruhm and commissioned on 7 April 1913 under Commander Joseph M. Reeves. [4] Her sister ships were Cyclops, which disappeared without a trace in World War I, Proteus, and Nereus, which disappeared on the same route as Cyclops in World War II.

After successfully passing her trials as the first turbo-electric-powered ship of the US Navy, Jupiter embarked a United States Marine Corps detachment at San Francisco, California, and reported to the Pacific Fleet at Mazatlán Mexico on 27 April 1914, bolstering U.S. naval strength on the Mexican Pacific coast in the tense days of the Veracruz crisis. She remained on the Pacific coast until she departed for Philadelphia on 10 October. En route, the collier steamed through the Panama Canal on Columbus Day, the first vessel to transit it from west to east. [4]

Prior to America's entry into World War I, she cruised the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico attached to the Atlantic Fleet Auxiliary Division. The ship arrived at Norfolk, Virginia on 6 April 1917, and, assigned to the Naval Overseas Transport Service, interrupted her coaling operations by two cargo voyages to France in June 1917 and November 1918. The first voyage transported a naval aviation detachment of 7 officers and 122 men to England. [5] It was the first U.S. aviation detachment to arrive in Europe and was commanded by Lieutenant Kenneth Whiting, who became Langley's first executive officer five years later. [5] Jupiter was back in Norfolk on 23 January 1919 whence she sailed for Brest, France on 8 March for coaling duty in European waters to expedite the return of victorious veterans to the United States. Upon reaching Norfolk on 17 August, the ship was transferred to the West Coast. Her conversion to an aircraft carrier was authorized on 11 July 1919, and she sailed to Hampton Roads, Virginia on 12 December, where she decommissioned on 24 March 1920. [4]

Carrier

Jupiter was converted into the first U.S. aircraft carrier at the Navy Yard, Norfolk, Virginia, for the purpose of conducting experiments in the new idea of seaborne aviation. On 11 April 1920, she was renamed Langley in honor of Samuel Pierpont Langley, an American astronomer, physicist, aeronautics pioneer and aircraft engineer, and she was given the hull number CV-1. She recommissioned on 20 March 1922 with Commander Kenneth Whiting in command. [4]

As the first American aircraft carrier, Langley was the scene of several seminal events in U. S. naval aviation. On 17 October 1922, Lt. Virgil C. Griffin piloted the first plane—a Vought VE-7—launched from her decks. [6] Though this was not the first time an airplane had taken off from a ship, and though Langley was not the first ship with an installed flight deck, this one launching was of monumental importance to the modern U.S. Navy. [4] The era of the aircraft carrier was born introducing into the navy what was to become the vanguard of its forces in the future. With Langley underway nine days later, Lieutenant Commander Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier made the first landing in an Aeromarine 39B. [6] On 18 November, Commander Whiting was the first aviator to be catapulted from a carrier's deck. [4] [7] [8]

An unusual feature of Langley was provision for a carrier pigeon house on the stern between the 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns. [9] Pigeons had been carried aboard seaplanes for message transport since World War I, and were to be carried on aircraft operated from Langley. [9] The pigeons were trained at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard while Langley was undergoing conversion. [10] As long as the pigeons were released a few at a time for exercise, they returned to the ship but when the whole flock was released while Langley was anchored off Tangier Island, the pigeons flew south and roosted in the cranes of the Norfolk shipyard. [10] The pigeons never went to sea again and the former pigeon house became the executive officer's quarters [9] but the early plans for conversion of Lexington and Saratoga included a compartment for pigeons. [10]

By 15 January 1923, Langley had begun flight operations and tests in the Caribbean Sea for carrier landings. In June, she steamed to Washington, D.C., to give a demonstration at a flying exhibition before civil and military dignitaries. She arrived at Norfolk on 13 June, and commenced training along the Atlantic coast and Caribbean which carried her through the end of the year. In 1924, Langley participated in more maneuvers and exhibitions, and spent the summer at Norfolk for repairs and alterations, she departed for the west coast late in the year and arrived San Diego, California on 29 November to join the Pacific Battle Fleet. [4]

In 1927, the USS Langley was at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. [11] For the next 12 years, she operated off the California coast and Hawaii engaged in training fleet units, experimentation, pilot training, and tactical-fleet problems. [4] The Langley was featured in the 1929 silent film about naval aviation The Flying Fleet. [12]

Seaplane tender

On 25 October 1936, she put into Mare Island Navy Yard, California for overhaul and conversion to a seaplane tender. Though her career as a carrier had ended, her well-trained pilots had proved invaluable to the next two carriers, Lexington and Saratoga [4] (commissioned on 14 December and 16 November 1927, respectively).

Langley completed conversion on 26 February 1937 and was assigned hull number AV-3 on 11 April. She was assigned to the Aircraft Scouting Force and commenced her tending operations out of Seattle, Washington, Sitka, Alaska, Pearl Harbor, and San Diego, California. She departed for a brief deployment with the Atlantic Fleet from 1 February-10 July 1939, and then steamed to assume duties with the Pacific Fleet at Manila arriving on 24 September. [4]

On the entry of the U.S. into World War II, Langley was anchored off Cavite, Philippines. [4] [13] On 8 December, following the invasion of the Philippines by Japan, she departed Cavite for Balikpapan, in the Dutch East Indies. As Japanese advances continued, Langley departed for Australia, arriving in Darwin on 1 January 1942. [13] She then became part of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) naval forces. Until 11 January, Langley assisted the Royal Australian Air Force in running anti-submarine patrols out of Darwin. [4] [13]

Langley went to Fremantle, Australia to pick up Allied aircraft and transport them to Southeast Asia. Carrying 32 P-40 fighters belonging to the Far East Air Force's 13th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional). [13] At Fremantle Langley and Sea Witch, loaded with crated P-40s, joined a convoy designated MS.5 that had arrived from Melbourne composed of the United States Army Transport Willard A. Holbrook and the Australian transports Duntroon and Katoomba escorted by USS Phoenix departed Fremantle on 22 February. [4] [14] Langley and Sea Witch left the convoy five days later to deliver the planes to Tjilatjap (Cilacap), Java. [4] [14]

In the early hours of 27 February, Langley rendezvoused with her anti-submarine screen, the destroyers USS Whipple and USS Edsall. [4] [13] At 11:40, about 75 mi (121 km) south of Tjilatjap, nine Aichi D3A1 "Val" dive bombers [2] of the Japanese 21st and 23rd Naval Air Flotillas [3] attacked her. The first and second Japanese strikes were unsuccessful, but in the third Langley took five hits and 16 crewmen were killed. The topside burst into flames, steering was impaired, and the ship developed a 10° list to port. [4] [13] Unable to negotiate the narrow mouth of Tjilatjap harbor, Langley went dead in the water, as her engine room flooded. At 13:32, the order to abandon ship was passed. [4] The escorting destroyers fired nine 4 in (100 mm) shells and two torpedoes into Langley, [4] to ensure she didn't fall into enemy hands, and she sank. (Her approximate scuttle coordinates are: S 8° 51′ 04.20″ × E 109° 02′ 02.56″ Ap) [13] After being transferred to USS Pecos, many of her crew were lost when Pecos was sunk en route to Australia. [15] Thirty-one of the thirty-three pilots assigned to the 13th Pursuit Squadron being transported by Langley were lost with Edsall when she was sunk on the same day while responding to the distress calls of Pecos. [13]


USS Annapolis (PG-10)


Figure 1: USS Annapolis (PG-10) docked at the New York Navy Yard, circa 1897. The decommissioned USS Atlanta lies in the background (left). US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 2: USS Annapolis (PG-10) in wartime gray paint, 1898. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 3: Mare Island Navy Yard, California. An early U.S. Navy submarine (probably Grampus or Pike) underway off the yard, circa early 1905. Gunboats Petrel and Princeton are in the center background. At left are the decommissioned gunboats Annapolis and Vicksburg. Courtesy of Ted Stone, 1986. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 4: Broadside view of USS Annapolis (PG-10) at the coal sheds at Mare Island in 1905. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 5: Broadside view of USS Annapolis in the Mare Island channel in 1912. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 6: Broadside view of USS Annapolis off San Francisco in 1912. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 7: Broadside view of USS Annapolis circa 1912 in the Mare Island channel. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.


Figure 8: View of USS Annapolis circa 1934. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after the capital of Maryland, USS Annapolis (PG-10) was a 1,153-ton barkentine-rigged gunboat that was built at Elizabethport, New Jersey, and was commissioned at New York on 20 July 1897. The ship was approximately 203 feet long and 36 feet wide, had a top speed of 13.17 knots, and had a crew of 133 officers and men. Annapolis was armed with six 4-inch guns and four 6-pounders.

After her shakedown cruise, Annapolis participated in training exercises along America’s east coast and in the Caribbean. In March 1898, she joined the North Atlantic Fleet and on 18 April she left New York and arrived at Key West, Florida, on 25 April. On that day, President William McKinley signed a joint resolution of Congress that formally declared war on Spain. Annapolis made a round-trip voyage from Key West to Tampa and back before joining the US naval blockade of Cuba on 2 May. After participating in the blockade of Havana for 19 days, Annapolis assisted the gunboat USS Mayflower in capturing the Spanish sailing ship Santiago Apostol, which was carrying a load of fish bound for Havana.

Annapolis left Cuban waters on 21 May and spent eight days in Key West and then two weeks at Tampa before returning to the Cuban blockade at Daiquiri on 22 June. On 29 June, while steaming off the coast of Guantanamo Bay, Annapolis, along with the USS Ericsson and USS Marblehead, were involved in an international incident when they captured the British steamer Adula. Adula, then under charter to a Spanish subject, was seized for attempting to run the blockade established at Guantanamo Bay and was subsequently sent to the port of Savannah for adjudication. Adula, a vessel of 372 tons, was built at Belfast in 1889 for her owner, the Atlas Steamship Company, Limited, a British corporation, and was registered in the name of its managing director, Sir William Bowers Forwood. Prior to the Spanish-American War, she was engaged in general trade between Kingston and other ports on the coast of Jamaica, and from time to time had made voyages to Cuban ports. After the war began, various persons chartered the steamer for voyages to Cuba. Adula eventually was released from American custody after the war ended.

On 13 July, Annapolis shelled an enemy shore battery at Baracoa, situated on Cuba’s northeastern coastline. On 18 July, Annapolis was ordered to assist in the capture of Bahia de Nipe, located approximately 90 miles from Baracoa. She joined USS Wasp, USS Leyden, and USS Topeka on 21 July and the ships successfully navigated their way through a known minefield to get into Bahia de Nipe Bay. The four American warships encountered some cannon fire from shore while entering the port, but they quickly silenced it with their own guns. They also sank the Spanish gunboat Jorge Juan, which was lying at anchor near shore. The American ships formally captured Bahia de Nipe and assisted in the removal of mines from the bay itself. Annapolis left Bahia de Nipe on 22 July and was ordered to sail to Puerto Rico, where she assisted the US Army in capturing the city of Ponce on 30 July. Annapolis remained on station off the coast of Puerto Rico for the rest of the war, with the exception of a brief trip to St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies before the war ended.

After cruising along the coast of New England and the West Indies for several months, Annapolis was decommissioned on 5 September 1899. The gunboat was re-commissioned 14 November 1900 and was sent to the Far East via the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean. Annapolis arrived at Cavite in the Philippines on 24 April 1901 and stayed there for the next three years. In 1903, Annapolis joined the US Navy’s Far Eastern Fleet and visited ports in China, Japan, and Formosa before returning to Cavite on 19 November. After spending several months in the Philippines and making another brief visit to China, Annapolis left for the United States on 2 June 1904.

Annapolis arrived at the Mare Island, California, Navy Yard later that summer and was decommissioned. She underwent a major overhaul but was not placed back in commission until 25 March 1907. The gunboat left San Francisco on 5 April and sailed to American Samoa, arriving there on 22 May. She became the station ship there and stayed until 9 September 1911, when she was ordered back to the United States. Annapolis arrived at San Francisco on 9 October and entered the Mare Island Navy Yard that same day. She was decommissioned yet again on 16 December 1911.

Annapolis was re-commissioned at Mare Island on 1 May 1912 and on 21 May was ordered to steam along the coast of Nicaragua, which was in the midst of serious political turmoil at that time. The gunboat remained in Central American waters for several months, patrolling off the coasts of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. But most of her time was spent at Corinto, Nicaragua, where landing parties were sent ashore to restore order and to protect American lives and property. Annapolis left Nicaragua on 9 December and returned to San Francisco, arriving there on 30 December 1912. As usual, she entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs.

After completing her repairs, Annapolis left Mare Island on 20 January 1913 and returned to Central America on 7 February. She spent some time at Amapala, Honduras, on 17 February and returned to Nicaragua on 10 March. After making another brief visit to Amapala, Annapolis sailed to Mexico. At this time, Mexico was in the midst of a major civil war and, for the next six years, Annapolis patrolled the Mexican coastline to protect American lives and property and to assist any US citizens that needed to be evacuated from that troubled country. During this six-year period, Annapolis returned occasionally to California for overhauls, supplies, and training exercises.

In June 1918, Annapolis transited the Panama Canal and steamed to her new base at New Orleans, Louisiana. She patrolled the Gulf of Mexico until 25 April 1919 and returned to the west coast in May. On 1 July 1919, Annapolis was decommissioned at Mare Island and in 1920 was towed to Philadelphia where she was given to the Pennsylvania State Nautical School on 1 April. The old gunboat served as a school ship for the next 20 years. Finally, on 30 June 1940, USS Annapolis was struck from the Navy list and was transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal and eventual scrapping. It was the end of an impressive career for a ship that served this nation for an amazing 43 years.


USS Bagley (DD-185), Guantanamo Bay, 1920 - History

(Battleship No. 20: dp. 16,000 (n.) 1. 456'4" b. 76'10" dr. 24'6" (mean), s. 18 k., cpl. 880, a. 4 12" 8 8"12 7", 20 3", 12 3-pars., 4 1-pars, 4 .30-cal. mg.,
2 .30-car. Colt mg. cl. Connecticut)

The second Vermont (Battleship No. 20) was laid down on 21 May 1904 at Quincy, Mass., by the Fore River Shipbuilding Co., launched on 31 August 1905 sponsored by Miss Jennie Bell, the daughter of Governor Charles J. Bell of Vermont, and decommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard on 4 March 1907, Capt. William P. Potter in command.

After her "shaking down" cruise off the eastern seaboard between Boston and Hampton Roads, Va., Vermont participated in maneuvers with the 1st Division of the Atlantic Fleet and, later, with the 1st and 2d Squadrons. Making a final trial trip between Hampton Roads and Provincetown, Mass., between 30 August and 5 September, Vermont arrived at the Boston Navy Yard on 7 September and underwent repairs until late in November 1907.

Departing Boston on 30 November, she coaled at Bradford, R.I., received "mine outfits and stores" at Newport, R.I., and picked up ammunition at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, N.Y. and arrived at Hampton Roads on 8 December.

There, she made final preparations for the globegirdling cruise of the United States Atlantic Fleet. Nicknamed the "Great White Fleet" because of the white and spar color of their paint schemes, the 16 pre-dreadnought battleships sailed from Hampton Roads on 16 December, standing out to sea under the gaze of President Theodore Roosevelt who had dispatched the ships around the globe as a dramatic gesture toward Japan, a growing power on the world stage.

Vermont sailed as a unit of the 1st Division, under the overall command of Rear Admiral Robley D. "Fighting Bob" Evans, who was concurrently the Commander in Chief of the Fleet. Over the ensuing months, the battleship visited ports in Chile, Peru Mexico, California, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia the Philippines, Japan, China, and in the Mediterranean, before she returned to Hampton Roads-again passing in review before President Roosevelt-on Washington's Birthday, 22 February 1909. During the voyage, Vermont's commanding officer, Capt. Potter, was advanced to flag rank and took command of the division, his place was taken by Capt. (later Admiral) Frank Friday Fletcher.

Following her return to the United States, Verinont underwent repairs at the Boston Navy Yard from 9 March to 23 June and then rejoined the fleet off Provincetown. She subsequently spent the 4th of July at Boston as part of the 1st Division of the Fleet before spending nearly a month, from 7 July to 4 August, in exercises with the Atlantic Fleet. Subsequently coaling at Hampton Roads, the battleship conducted target practice off the Virginia capes in the operating area known as the Southern Drill Grounds.

For the remainder of 1909, Vermont continued maneuvers and exercises, broken by visits to Stamford,

Conn., for Columbus Day festivities and to New York City for the observances of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration from 22 September to 9 October. She spent the Christmas holidays at New York City, anchored in the North River.

The battleship then moved south for the winter, reaching Guantanamo Bay on 12 January 1910. For the next two months, she exercised in those Caribbean climes, returning to Hampton Roads and the Virginia capes for elementary target practice that spring. Ultimately reaching Boston on 29 April, the battleship underwent repairs at that yard through mid-July, before embarking members of the Naval Militia at Boston for operations between that port and Provincetown from 22 to 31 July.

Vermont subsequently visited Newport and then sailed for Hampton Roads on 22 August, where she then prepared for target practices between 25 and 27 September, before visiting New York City with other ships of the Atlantic Fleet.

After minor repairs at the Philadelphia Navy Yard the battleship sailed for European waters on 1 November. Reaching the British Isles a little over two weeks later, Vermont-with other units of the 3d Division, Atlantic Fleet-visited Gravesend, England, from 16 November to 7 December and then called at Brest France, where she remained until heading for the West Indies on 30 December.

Vermont engaged in winter maneuvers and drills out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 13 January 1911 to 13 March, before sailing for Hampton Roads. In the ensuing weeks, the battleship operated in the Southern Drill Grounds and off Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay, where she conducted target practice. After dropping off target materials at Hampton Roads on 8 April, Vermont sailed later that day for Philadelphia where she arrived on 10 April and entered drydock.

Later in the spring, Vermont resumed her operations with the other pre dreadnought battleships of the 3d Division. She operated off Pensacola, Fla., and ranged into the Gulf of Mexico, calling at Galveston, Tex., from 7 to 12 June before returning to Pensacola on 13 June for provisions.

Shifting northward to Bar Harbor, Maine, Vermont spent the 4th of July there before she drilled and exercised with the Fleet in Cape Cod Bay and off Provincetown. The battleship then operated off the New England seaboard through mid-August, breaking her periods at sea with a port visit to Salem and alterations at the Boston Navy Yard. She then shifted south to conduct experimental gunnery firings and autumn target practice in the regions from Tangier Sound to the Southern Drill Grounds.

After repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard from 12 September to 9 October, Vermont rejoined the Fleet at Hampton Roads before participating in the naval review in the North River, at New York City, between 24 October and 2 November. She then maneuvered and exercised with the 1st Squadron of the Fleet before returning to Hampton Roads.

Touching briefly at Tompkinsville on 7 and 8 December, Vermont reached the New York Navy Yard on the latter day for year-end leave and upkeep and remained there until 2 January 1912, when she sailed for the Caribbean and the annual winter maneuvers. She operated in Cuban waters, out of Guantanamo Bay and off Cape Cruz, until 9 March, when she sailed for the Norfolk Navy Yard and an overhaul that lasted into the autumn.

She departed Norfolk on 8 October and reached New York City on the 10th. She participated in the naval review at that port from 10 to 15 October before embarking Commander, 2d Division, Atlantic Fleet, at Hampton Roads between 16 and 18 October.

Vermont subsequently worked out of Hampton Roads, in the Virginia capes Southern Drill Grounds area, into December. During that time, she conducted target practices and twice participated in humanitarian deeds searching for the stranded steamship SS Noruega on 2 November and assisting the submarine B-2 ( Submarine No. 11) between 13 and 15 December.

The battleship spent Christmas 1912 at the Norfolk Navy Yard before steaming for Cuba and winter maneuvers. En route, she visited Colon, Panama, a terminus of the nearly completed Panama Canal, and reached Guantanamo Bay on 19 January 1913. She subsequently operated out of Guantanamo and Guayancanabo Bay until sailing for Mexican waters on 12 February.

Vermont arrived at Vera Cruz on the 17th and remained at that port into the spring, protecting American interests until 29 April, when she sailed north to rejoin the fleet in Hampton Roads. The battleship conducted one midshipman's training cruise that summer embarking the midshipmen at Annapolis on 6 June. After rejoining the fleet, Vermont cruised in Block Island Sound and visited Newport.

The battleship then received her regular overhaul at Norfolk from July into October before she conducted target practice off the Southern Drill Grounds. Vermont then made her second European cruise, departing Hampton Roads for French waters on 25 October, reaching Marseilles on 8 November. Ultimately departing that Mediterranean port-on 1 December— Vermont reached the Norfolk Navy Yard five days before Christmas, making port on the end of a towline because of storm damage to a propeller.

Soon after she had completed her post-repair trials and had begun preparations for the spring target practice with the Fleet in the Southern Drill Grounds, tension in Mexico beckoned the battleship. Departing Hampton Roads on 15 April, Vermont reached Vera Cruz very early in the morning of 22 April in company with Arkaneas (Battleship No. 33), New Hampshire (Battleship No. 25), South Carolina (Battleship No. 26), and New Jersey (Battleship No. 16). Her landing force-a "battalion" of 12 officers and 308 men-went ashore after daybreak that same day as United States forces occupied the port to block an arms shipment to the dictator Victoriano Huerta. In the fighting that ensued, two officers from the staff were awarded Medals of Honor: Lt. Julius C. Townsend, the battalion commander, and Surgeon Cary Dey. Langhornes, the regimental surgeon of the 2d Seaman Regiment. During the fighting, Vermont's force suffered one fatality, a private from her Marine detachment, killed on the 23d. But for a visit to Tampico, Mex., from 21 September to 10 October, Vermont remained in that Mexican port into later October.

Over the next two and one-half years, Vermont maintained her schedule of operations off the eastern seaboard of the United States, ranging from Newport to Guantanamo Bay, before she lay in reserve at Philadelphia from 1 October to 21 November 1916. Vermont subsequently supported the Marine Corps Expeditionary Force in Haiti from 29 November 1916 to 5 February 1917 and then conducted battle practices out of Guantanamo Bay. She ultimately returned to Norfolk on 29 March 1917.

On 4 April 1917, Vermont entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard for repairs. Two days later, the United States declared war on Germany. The battleship emerged from the yard on 26 August 1917 and sailed for Hampton Roads for duty as an engineering training ship in the Chesapeake Bay region. She performed that vital function for almost the entire duration of hostilities, completing the assignment on 4 November 1918, a week before the armistice stilled the guns of World War I.

Her service as a training ship during the conflict had been broken once in the spring of 1918 when she received the body of the late Chilean ambassador to the United States on 28 May 1918 embarked the American Ambassador to Chile, the Honorable J. H Shea on 3 June and got underway from Norfolk later that day. The battleship transited the Panama Canal on the 10th, touched at Port Tongoi, Chile, on the 24th and arrived at Valparaiso on the morning of 27 June.

There, the late ambassador's remains were accompanied ashore by Admiral William B. Caperton and Ambassador Shea. Departing that port on 2 July, Vermont visited Callao, Peru, on the 7th, before retransiting the Panama Canal and returning to her base in the York River.

Vermont entered the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 5 November and was there converted to a troop transport. She subsequently sailed from Norfolk on 9 January 1919 on the first of four round-trip voyages, returning "Doughboys" from "over there." During her time as a transport, the battleship carried some 5,000 troops back to the United States, completing her last voyage on 20 June 1919.

Prepared at the Philadelphia Navy Yard for inactivation, Vermont departed the east coast on 18 July sailing from Hampton Roads on that day, bound for the west coast. After transiting the Panama Canal, the battleship visited San Diego, San Pedro, Monterey and Long Beach, Calif., Astoria, Oreg. and San Francisco, Calif., before reaching the Mare Island Navy Yard Vallejo, Calif., on 18 September. There, the battleship was decommissioned on 30 June 1920. She was subsequently reclassified as BB-20 on 17 July of that same year.

Vermont remained inactive at Mare Island until her name was struck from the Navy list on 10 November 1923. She was then sold for scrapping on 30 November of the same year in accordance with the Washington Treaty limiting naval armaments.


A Brief History of Guantanamo Bay, America’s “Idyllic Prison Camp”

One day, our dispatch-boat found the shores of Guantánamo Bay flowing past on either side. It was at nightfall, and on the eastward point a small village was burning, and it happened that a fiery light was thrown upon some palm-trees so that it made them into enormous crimson feathers. The water was the colour of blue steel the Cuban woods were sombre high shivered the gory feathers. The last boatloads of the marine battalion were pulling for the beach.

–Stephen Crane, “War Memories”

Twenty years ago, I went to Santiago de Cuba to gather material for a magazine article on the centennial of the Spanish-American War. Over the course of several days, I visited Daiquirí, Siboney, Las Guásimas, El Caney, and of course San Juan Hill—all the main sites associated with that war. All, that is, except one: Guantánamo Bay. But visiting Guantánamo was practically impossible, even then, five years before it became a detention camp for prisoners of the “War on Terror.” The sites related to the Spanish-American War were located inside the perimeter of the US Naval Base—“Gitmo,” to use the military’s shorthand designation—and there was no access to the base from Cuba proper. The only way to enter Gitmo was to fly in on a Navy transport airplane from Virginia Beach, Virginia. And to do that, I would have to obtain permission—rarely granted—from naval authorities. So, much as I would have liked to visit the scene of the war’s first clash between Spanish and American troops, I had to accept the impracticality of such a visit.

Forgoing Guantánamo was especially disappointing because of Stephen Crane’s connection to the place. Crane’s writing about the war and his various adventures in Cuba had long intrigued me. He was one of the few reporters to witness both the landing of the Marines at Guantánamo and their subsequent skirmish with Spanish troops. He wrote several accounts of the event, a couple of which are counted among his best work. In fact, a significant portion of Crane’s writing concerns Cuba, including a book of short stories (Wounds in the Rain), a long semiautobiographical essay (“War Memories”), and some of his best journalism.

The time he spent on the island—a little over five months all told—holds outsized significance in his biography and his oeuvre. It was in Cuba that Crane—already famous for writing a war novel—finally witnessed warfare firsthand and up close. Shortly after hostilities ended, Crane came down with a severe bout of either yellow fever or malaria and had to be evacuated in a state of delirium. The “Cuban fever,” as he called it, certainly exacerbated his latent tuberculosis nevertheless, while he was still recovering Crane mysteriously returned to Cuba—well after the other correspondents had left—and spent the better part of four months living a kind of underground existence in Havana. Though he filed an occasional report for Hearst’s Journal, he was for the most part incommunicado even his closest companions and his common-law wife had no idea where he was or what he was doing. The Havana sojourn remains something of an enigma in Crane’s biography.

As it turned out, though I had all but given up on the possibility of visiting Gitmo, while I was in Santiago I fortuitously learned of an opportunity to see the base—or at least to see into it. I was told that a Cuban travel agency, Gaviota, offered tours to a Cuban military facility, an observation post called Mirador de Malones, located on a hillside just outside the American-occupied site. From there, one could look through a telescope and spy on the naval base. It sounded too bizarre to be true—as so many things in Cuba do but when I inquired at the Gaviota office in Santiago, the bizarre turned out to be true—as it so often does in Cuba. The agent told me that a German tour group was going to the military lookout the next day. I could join the group if I wished. Moreover, the Germans were going to pass the night in Caimanera, the small town closest to the naval base, a town normally off-limits to visitors. This, too, I could do if interested. I booked the tour.

The following day I joined the Germans on a sleek tour bus that raced along a highway all but devoid of motorized traffic. There were plenty of bicycles, horses, and pedestrians, but few buses or trucks and even fewer private cars. After a couple of hours, we passed through Guantánamo City, once a favorite destination of American sailors on liberty call but now a sleepy provincial town “with little to recommend it,” as guidebooks like to say. Beyond Guantánamo City, the road passed through sugarcane fields until, after 25 kilometers or so, it arrived at the northern edge of Guantánamo Bay. The bus left the main highway and came to a checkpoint, the entrance to Cuba’s military zone. From there, the road led into the hills overlooking the wide southern portion of the bay where the US base was located. At the foot of one hill, we exited the bus, passed through a concrete bunker, and climbed steps to the lookout—which proved to be not much more than a ramada draped with camouflage netting.

A thousand feet below and several miles distant, the bay and the naval base rippled in the tropical haze. It looked unreal, like some mythic realm. But once I got my turn at the military telescope, what I saw through the viewfinder was not mythic in the least. It was, in fact, all too familiar and mundane: cars on a boulevard, a shopping center, a church, a golf course, the American flag flapping. What made it strange, of course, was that this all-American scenery was on Cuban soil, situated behind concertina-wire fencing and bordered by a minefield.

The guide, speaking in German, drew attention to various features of the base, first on a detailed map and then in reality, pointing to one hazy sector or another while the German tourists craned necks, snapped photos, and tried to clarify for one another what the guide was pointing to. Unable to follow the German conversation, I moved a little way off and tried to correlate the panorama before me with what I knew from reading Stephen Crane’s account of the Guantánamo episode that began the Spanish–American War.

On June 6, 1898, Crane arrived at Guantánamo Bay just after the Marines had landed and secured the location. With night falling, Cuba appeared “sombre” to Crane. Come daylight, he would note that it was a craggy country, cut with ravines. Sandy paths disappeared into thickets of tropical vegetation. Along the coastline, chalky cliffs and cactus-covered ridges overlooked the sea. “The droning of insects” competed with the sound of waves lapping the shore. Crane watched as the Marines—a force of over 600—set up camp and dug trenches. Encamped on the beach beneath ridges, they were in a vulnerable position. But the Marines had met no resistance upon landing and for a day and a half all was tranquil: “There was no firing,” Crane reported. “We thought it rather comic.”

The tranquility did not last. The next night, Spanish snipers opened fire and the Americans scrambled for cover. “We lay on our bellies,” Crane wrote. “It was no longer comic.” Crane, who had written his famous war novel, The Red Badge of Courage, without any personal knowledge of warfare, was finally experiencing what he had only guessed at beforehand. For the first time, he felt “the hot hiss of bullets trying to cut [his] hair.”

But whatever satisfaction or thrill he felt in finally experiencing battle conditions was soon undercut: On the third night, the sniper fire intensified. The company’s surgeon, struck by a Spanish bullet, lay suffering a few yards from Crane. “I heard someone dying near me,” Crane wrote.

He was dying hard. Hard. It took him a long time to die. He breathed as all noble machinery breathes when it is making its gallant strife against breaking, breaking. But he was going to break. He was going to break. It seemed to me, this breathing, the noise of a heroic pump which strives to subdue a mud which comes upon it in tons. The darkness was impenetrable. The man was lying in some depression within seven feet of me. Every wave, vibration, of his anguish beat upon my senses. He was long past groaning. There was only the bitter strife for air which pulsed out into the night in a clear penetrating whistle with intervals of terrible silence in which I held my own breath in the common unconscious aspiration to help. I thought this man would never die. I wanted him to die. Ultimately he died.

My view of Caimanera from the observation tower suggested that the little town was much better off now that it had no traffic with the base.

Crane did not know the man’s identity until a voice in the darkness announced that the doctor had died. He then realized that the dead man was John Gibbs, whom Crane had befriended during the previous two days. War was suddenly very real to the previously inexperienced war correspondent: “I was no longer a cynic,” he wrote. These first nights under fire proved to be trying in the extreme: “With a thousand rifles rattling with the field-guns booming in your ears with the diabolical Colt automatics clacking with the roar of the Marblehead coming from the bay, and, last, with Mauser bullets sneering always in the air a few inches over one’s head, and with this enduring from dusk to dawn, it is extremely doubtful if any one who was there will be able to forget it easily.”

The next day, there were services for Gibbs even as the Spanish resumed their sniping. Crane retreated to the beach and sat on a rickety pier with a bottle of whiskey that he had procured from a fellow journalist. He stared into “the shallow water where crabs were meandering among the weeds, and little fishes moved slowly in the shoals.”

Though he confessed to feeling somewhat unnerved from “the weariness of the body, and the more terrible weariness of the mind” that came with being under fire, Crane accepted an invitation to tag along with a detachment of Marines on an expedition to flush Spanish guerrillas from the surrounding hills. Some 200 Marines left camp at dawn, guided by a contingent of 50 Cuban insurgents. American correspondents covering the war generally expressed a negative view of Cuban soldiers such as these. Crane’s impression of them was more ambivalent: “They were a hard-bitten, undersized lot,” he wrote in a dispatch for Pulitzer’s World, “most of them negroes, and with the stoop and curious gait of men who had at one time labored at the soil. They were, in short, peasants—hardy, tireless, uncomplaining peasants—and they viewed in utter calm these early morning preparations for battle.” In Crane’s view, they demonstrated a similar stolidity and nonchalance in response to their officers’ orders.

Crane thought he detected greater determination in the American soldiers: “Contrary to the Cubans, the bronze faces of the Americans were not stolid at all. One could note the prevalence of a curious expression—something dreamy, the symbol of minds striving to tear aside the screen of the future and perhaps expose the ambush of death. It was not fear in the least. It was simply a moment in the lives of men who have staked themselves and come to wonder who wins—red or black?”

The Cuban terrain impressed Crane as he followed the American soldiers. A narrow path wound around the bases of some high bare spurs then ascended a chalky cliff and passed through dense thickets. Insects hummed all around. Reaching a clearing, Crane and the soldiers could look down the chaparral-covered ridges to the sea. Next came a steep climb through cactus patches and then a hike along a ridge to where the troops—exhausted and thirsty but also, according to Crane, “contented, almost happy”—encountered the Spanish guerrillas who were hidden in a thicket, waiting to open fire on the Americans and Cubans.

“The fight banged away with a roar like a forest fire,” Crane observed. During the ensuing combat, this intense noise proved overwhelming. “The whole thing was an infernal din. One wanted to clap one’s hand to one’s ears and cry out in God’s name for the noise to cease it was past bearing.” Amidst this din, Crane detected a variety of sounds, the nuanced noise of war:

And still crashed the Lees and the Mausers, punctuated by the roar of the [USS] Dolphin’s guns. Along our line the rifle locks were clicking incessantly, as if some giant loom was running wildly, and on the ground among the stones and weeds came dropping, dropping a rain of rolling brass shells.

Crane’s propensity for eliciting such precise details from a scene amazed—and exasperated—his fellow correspondents. They readily perceived his obvious disdain for the grind of daily journalism Crane often said his real aim was not to produce dispatches but to collect material for a new novel. According to his colleague Ernest McCready, Crane was “contemptuous of mere news getting or news reporting.” In composing his dispatches, Crane was, according to another colleague, “an artist, deliberating over this phrase or that, finicky about a word, insisting upon frequent changes and erasures.” Reportedly, he went through many cigarettes as he wrote (despite being tubercular). McCready, a journalist with long experience, urged Crane “to forget scenery and the ‘effects’” and stick to the fundamentals: “This has to be news,” the veteran correspondent told him, “sent at cable rates. You can save your flubdub and shoot it to New York by mail. What I want is the straight story of the fight.”

But Crane could not easily settle for the straight story, even if months had to pass before his personal impressions yielded up the deeper story that he sought. In the case of Guantánamo, half a year went by before Crane turned those impressions into what his colleague and rival Richard Harding Davis called “one of the finest examples of descriptive writing of the war.” The story, published in McClure’s Magazine (February 1899) and later in Crane’s collection Wounds in the Rain, was “Marines Signalling Under Fire at Guantánamo.”

The narrative concerns “four Guantánamo marines, officially known for the time as signalmen, [whose duty it was] to lie in the trenches of Camp McCall, that faced the water, and, by day, signal the Marblehead with a flag and, by night, signal the Marblehead with lanterns.” No other journalist mentions these signalmen Crane, however, devoted an entire story to them, closely observing them and detailing their extraordinary courage—a trait that always fascinated Crane—as they were called upon “to coolly take and send messages.” Crane described how, without hesitation, a signalman would stand on a cracker box to send messages to the ships offshore, exposing himself to sniper fire. “Then the bullets began to snap, snap, snap at his head, while all the woods began to crackle like burning straw.” Watching the signalman’s face “illumed as it was by the yellow shine of lantern light,” Crane noted “the absence of excitement, fright, or any emotion at all in his countenance” as the signalman performed his duty. In contrast, watching from the relative safety of the trench, Crane felt “utterly torn to rags,” his nerves “standing on end like so many bristles.”

Later, during the hilltop skirmish with Spanish guerrillas, another signalman stood exposed on a ridge to send the requisite message. “I watched his face,” Crane wrote, “and it was as grave and serene as that of a man writing in his own library. He was the very embodiment of tranquility in occupation . . . There was not a single trace of nervousness or haste.” Crane’s admiring account of this “very great feat” emphasizes the stoic, masculine qualities that he saw in the regulars, the foot soldiers who did the arduous fighting. Elsewhere, he would criticize the press corps for ignoring these paragons of courage in favor of heaping praise on volunteers such as Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. Crane refused to overlook the regulars, making them the focus of his dispatches and stories, lauding their stoicism and grace under pressure, and holding them up as exemplars of what Crane perceived as American ideals.

Crane tried to live up to those ideals himself, according to those who observed his activities during the fight. A letter from a Marine commander recalled Crane’s bravery at Guantánamo. An official Navy report recognized Crane’s “material aid during the action” in delivering messages between platoons. The report does not say whether Crane did more than carry messages, but a biographer (Paul Sorrentino) says that “he quietly carried supplies, built entrenchments, dragged artillery up hills, and helped to fire guns.” In “War Memories,” which is taken to be semi-autobiographical, Crane’s stand-in narrator (named Vernall) is asked by a Marine captain to undertake a brief scouting mission. Crane/Vernall does so: “All the time my heart was in my boots,” he says, contrasting his fear with the stoic regulars “who did not seem to be afraid at all, men with quiet composed faces who went about this business as if they proceeded from a sense of habit.”

Shortly after the hilltop battle, an exhausted and somewhat unnerved Crane left Guantánamo on the dispatch boat with his fellow journalists. Ahead of him were the events at Daiquirí, Siboney, Las Guásimas, and San Juan Hill, followed by a breakdown (perhaps malaria or yellow fever), which further eroded his already precarious health. Just shy of two years after the events at Guantánamo, Stephen Crane was dead at 28.

Standing at the Malones Lookout, gazing across the hills at the approximate location of these events, I recalled Crane’s description of this same landscape. He wrote two versions—one version in a news dispatch and a second version in “War Memories.” Both passages involve a panoramic survey from atop the mountain where the skirmish took place. In the dispatch, Crane noticed the view in the heat of combat: “The sky was speckless, the sun blazed out of it as if it would melt the earth. Far away on one side were the waters of Guantánamo Bay on the other a vast expanse of blue sea was rippling in millions of wee waves. The surrounding country was nothing but miles upon miles of gaunt, brown ridges. It would have been a fine view if one had had time.”

In the second version, Crane (through his fictional narrator Vernall) takes in the view during the relative calm after the fight is over: “I discovered to my amazement that we were on the summit of a hill so high that our released eyes seemed to sweep over half the world. The vast stretch of sea, shimmering like fragile blue silk in the breeze, lost itself ultimately in an indefinite pink haze, while in the other direction, ridge after ridge, ridge after ridge, rolled brown and arid into the north.”

This was essentially the same panoramic view that I now had at Malones Lookout, although my view—if I had the geography right—was a little farther inland and a little higher up. And, of course, later in time by a century. Because of the time that had passed, I could see what Crane could not: the upshot, the end result of the Marine action at Guantánamo in June 1898—namely, the naval base spread out before me. As Crane sailed out of view, off to report on the coming battles of the war, I turned my attention to Gitmo, one of the principal prizes of that war.

What a convoluted history had gone into the making of the base and the odd little township that had developed along with the naval facility. Following Spain’s surrender in the Spanish-American War, Cuba became a protectorate of the United States. Overt American administrative control of the country lasted a little over three years while US officials and Cuban representatives negotiated the conditions of Cuba’s independence. That any terms at all should be imposed was outrageous to Cubans even worse, the United States insisted on particularly onerous terms.

These were outlined in the notorious Platt Amendment of 1901, which the United States insisted on inserting into the new Cuban constitution. The Platt Amendment (so called because, as introduced by Senator Orville Platt, it had amended an Army Appropriations Bill in the US Congress) gave the United States the right to intervene in Cuban affairs whenever American interests were threatened. It also stipulated that Cuba would lease territory to the United States for the purpose of establishing a coaling station and port facilities. The territory in question was Guantánamo Bay.

The war had demonstrated to the Navy the bay’s strategic value: a protected body of water from which the Navy could monitor approaches to New Orleans and the Panama Canal (then in the planning stages). Although Cubans were loath to accept the base of a foreign power within Cuban territory, the United States insisted: no base, no independence. By 1903, it was a done deal the United States had secured the right to operate, essentially in perpetuity, a naval base of 45 square miles on Guantánamo Bay. Remuneration was to be around 2,000 dollars a year. “Naval Station Guantánamo Bay” became one of America’s first overseas naval bases, and it remains the oldest overseas American base still in operation.

Despite the Navy’s insistence on Guantánamo’s importance, development of the facilities occurred fitfully. Congress did not provide sufficient funding for many years. Early photos show that the naval station was not much more than a camp with rows of tents for Marines and sailors. Early on, however, the base proved useful as a staging area for American interventions in Cuba and the Caribbean region, and eventually the facilities were improved.

By 1920, the base could accommodate visits from the naval fleet periodically, training exercises involving 20,000 sailors were conducted there. A National Geographic correspondent accompanied the fleet in 1921 and reported that Guantánamo, a “plant of extraordinary value,” featured rifle ranges, a landing strip, a balloon school (at the time, hot-air balloons were considered to have military utility), hospitals, clubhouses, canteens, and a sports complex with baseball fields and tennis courts. There was also a pigpen, which the National Geographic writer called a “principal attraction” for sailors from the Midwest “with fond recollections of the old farm.”

The correspondent marveled at the base’s natural setting: “Now and then the sharp fin of a shark is seen. Pelicans drift overhead with their air of aldermanic dignity. Fish hawks are forever circling against a sky of almost incandescent blue.” Summarizing the near-pristine quality of the place, the writer called it a “sanctuary” for “the wild animals of the hills.”

In years to come, the base continued to expand with more permanent facilities and housing for military personnel. A community developed, a small American town in the tropics, as families of officers arrived. By 1927, according to a visiting journalist, there were “low green bungalows” nestled “in a tangle of palms and trumpet vines, a flowery oasis in a desert of scrub and thorn.” The wives of naval officers rode “lazy ponies over the hill to call on the ladies of the Marine Corps at Deer Point.” It was, when the fleet was not in port, a place of “vast, placid stillness”—a languid and somewhat dull outpost of the expanding American Empire. “Old Civil Service clerks thankfully close their desks as the shadows start to lengthen,” the journalist observed, “and scramble into motor boats to go home and loll on their breezy porches on the bare yellow crest of Hospital Key. A shout or a loud, hearty laugh would be as noteworthy in Guantánamo as it would be in a church. There was just enough tennis to keep in condition, just enough swimming to keep moderately cool, just enough bridge of an evening to exhaust the conversation of your neighbors.”

Such were the appearances. Beneath the placid surface, Gitmo could be stultifying and dismal. This was the impression conveyed in an anonymously written “tell-all” magazine article published in 1930. Under the byline of “Navy Wife,” the writer described what she called the “Guantánamo Blues.” The article’s subtitle coyly promised “A Taste of Tropical Fruits of Prohibition.” For the most part, the writer agreed with previous observers that life on the base was merely dull: “no daily papers, no real news except a few items that sifted in by radio.” During the Prohibition years, not even alcohol was available on the base—at least not officially. According to the Navy Wife, American women living on the base spent the bulk of their time playing bridge, holding teas and dinner parties, and gossiping, sometimes ruthlessly, about one another (“the usual post-mortems,” she called such gossip). It was a life of “coffee cups, long ribald conversations about nothing.” One lived with “an inescapable smell of stale paint . . . the buzz and thud of tropical insects against the screens.”

But when the fleet returned, so did the excitement—sometimes more than was welcome. With men outnumbering women forty to one, every woman, even those who were married, received plenty of unwanted attention, especially at fleet dances. These were “a nightmare,” the Navy Wife recalled. She was sweet-talked, pulled onto the dance floor, propositioned, and groped. She was “protected only by the thin shred of circumstance which lies in the proximity of others.” Her “woman’s instinct” told her she “must not dare get outside the circle of light and moving white figures,” lest she become subject to “a violent seizure as if I were to be the victim of a rape.”

This undercurrent of lust, potential violence, and vicious gossip hidden below the superficial boredom made Guantánamo seem like a tropical Peyton Place. Over the decades, other residents and visitors noticed this undercurrent as well, even as the base was growing and taking on the appearance of a typical all-American town with outdoor movie theaters, hamburger joints (including, eventually, a McDonald’s), Little Leagues, Scout troops, bowling alleys, golf courses, skating rinks, playgrounds, and skateboard parks. But this surface placidity concealed (barely) drug and alcohol addiction, racism, classism, and sexism. Crime was minimal, but visiting journalists noted that violence did occur now and then, particularly alcohol- and jealousy-fueled spousal abuse.

In the publications it provided to newly arrived families, however, the Navy continued to project the image of Guantánamo as an idyllic community. “One of the nice luxuries of Guantánamo Bay,” one such publication noted, was “the fact that domestic help is available.” Besides the cheap labor of Cuban maids, residents on the base could enjoy a variety of recreational activities, hobby shops, libraries, and theater, along with “dances, special parties, bingo and the like.” There were religious services, Bible studies, choirs, and Sunday school. Residents could join any number of clubs, from the PTA to Toastmasters. Touting these perks, the Navy publications presented life on the base as pleasant, even blissful. And indeed, former residents typically have fond memories of their time at Gitmo.

After 1960 and the success of Fidel Castro’s revolution, however, life on the base became even more insular. As tensions between the United States and the new Cuban government mounted, the gates to Guantánamo closed. US personnel were no longer allowed to venture beyond the perimeter to explore and enjoy Cuba proper. Both sides mined the area around the perimeter—making it the largest minefield in the Western hemisphere—and cacti were planted to make the barrier even more difficult to penetrate. This so-called “cactus curtain” featured sandbagged outposts, watchtowers, and perimeter patrols. The base was turned into a sealed-off garrison. Guantánamo became what a National Geographic reporter in 1961 called “an idyllic prison camp.” One military wife told the reporter that life at Gitmo could be described as “comfortable claustrophobia.” The base had everything families needed, she said, “but in fifteen minutes you can drive from one end of it to the other. . . It’s the same old thing day after day.”

In such circumstances, the “Guantánamo Blues” that the anonymous writer struggled with in the 1930s became all the more acute. Visiting journalists in the 1960s and 1970s reported on racial tensions, drug and alcohol problems, and occasional violence. According to a 1973 article in Esquire, “Guantánamo is a good place to become an alcoholic. During the last twelve months gin has been the leading seller at the base Mini-Mart, with vodka a close second.”

A strange place to begin with, Gitmo became even stranger during the Cold War period, given that it was a US military facility on the sovereign territory of a country aligned with the Soviet bloc. By the time I stood at the Malones Lookout in 1998, with the Cold War supposedly a thing of the past, Gitmo seemed like a weird anachronism of both neo-colonialism and the Cold War. My opinion at the time was that Guantánamo was outdated and unnecessary keeping it seemed counterproductive, and returning it to Cuba seemed like the right thing to do.

I had said as much in some of my conversations with Cubans. In fact, I had told many of my interlocutors that I had a gut feeling President Clinton was going to normalize relations with Cuba and begin the process of returning Guantánamo before he left office in two years’ time. What I didn’t understand then—even though I lived in Miami—was that both political parties were already anticipating that Florida would be the decisive state in the 2000 presidential election, so Clinton could not possibly consider jeopardizing the Florida electoral vote by making amends with Cuba.


USS Mason, USS PC-1264, and the African-American Crews during World War II

In 1941, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt demanding that African Americans be used in roles other than messmen in the US military. The momentum of the NAACP and the black community forced President Roosevelt to deal with the issue of discrimination against African Americans in the Armed Services during World War I

I. Although, the US Navy was reluctant to admit African Americans, it decided under pressure, to allowed two of its vessels be manned by nearly all-black crews. RG 24 Logbooks of U. S. Navy Ships and Stations, 1941-1978 (NAID 594258) consist of chronological entries documenting the daily activities of a commissioned Navy ship, including the daily occurrences on board the USS Mason and PC-1264, which had mostly all-black crews.

The USS Mason was involved in several convoys across the Atlantic Ocean during the war. A few of the escorts included journeys to Belfast, Ireland and Plymouth, England. On one particular convoy in the Atlantic, the USS Mason was damaged during a severe storm in 1944. The African-American crew repaired the ship and was able to continue with their voyage. These men did not received any letters of commendation for this act until 1994. Beginning on December 17, 1944, the USS Mason joined with the USS TF-64 on a tour to Oran, Algeria. Below are the deck log pages showing the activities during this journey.

The USS Mason was decommissioned on October 12, 1945 and sold for scrap.

With missions along the East Coast, the PC-1264 had to stop at various ports along the way. The vessel experienced some difficulty docking in southern ports due to racial discrimination and the Jim Crow culture. Despite these challenges, the mostly black crew of the PC-1264 completed many convoys from New York to Cuba or Key West. Below are the deck logs documenting one of the convoys.

During the course of the PC-1264, there were several white men in command of the submarine chaser. On May 2, 1945, Ensign Samuel L. Gravely, Jr. reported to duty on board the PC-1264. Although, the vessel was placed out of service, Gravely became the only African American to command the PC-1264. The PC-1264 was decommissioned on February 7, 1946 and is currently at the Whitte Brothers Marine Scrap Yard in New York. Below are the deck log pages signed by Gravely.

The performances of the USS Mason and PC-1264 forced the Navy to reevaluate its discriminatory policies towards African Americans. Both vessels received letters of commendations for their service during World War II.


USS Bagley (DD-185), Guantanamo Bay, 1920 - History

USS Paul Jones (DD-230)
Ship's History

Source: Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (Published 1981)

The third Paul Jones (DD-230), was laid down 23 December 1919 by Wm. Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pa. launched 30 September 1920 sponsored by Miss Ethel Bagley and commissioned 19 April l921.

After shakedown Paul Jones joined the Atlantic Fleet for maneuvers, training, and coastal operations until transferred to the Pacific in 1923. She crossed the Pacific and joined the Asiatic Fleet in protecting American interest in the troubled Far East. Paul Jones participated in the Yangtze River patrol and was assigned other patrol duties along the China coast, while making occasional voyages to and from Manila.

As flagship of Destroyer Squadron 29, Asiatic Fleet, she received the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor 8 December 1941, at Tarakan, Borneo, and immediately stripped for action She got underway with Marblehead (CL-12), Stewart (DD-224), Barker (DD-213) and Parrott (DD-218) for Makassar Roads and for the remainder of December acted as picket boat in the vicinity of lombok Strait and Soerabaja Harbor, Java.

Her first war orders were to contact Dutch Naval Units for instructions pertaining to the search for a sub in the Java Sea, which was reported to have sunk the Dutch vessel Langkoens, contact her survivors on Bawean Island and cheek the waters for additional survivors. Paul Jones was unable to make contact with the submarine, but rescued the Dutch crewmen. On 9 January 1942, after a Japanese submarine had sunk a second Dutch merchantman, Paul Jones saved 101 men from drifting life-boats. With HNMS Van Ghent, she salvaged the abandoned U.S. Army cargo vessel Liberty, 12 January, and towed it safely to Soerabaja. She joined a raiding group consisting of three other old four-stackers: John D. Ford (DD-228), Pope (DD-225), and Parrott (DD-218) and cruisers: Marblehead and Boise (Cl-47), hoping to intercept a large enemy convoy heading southward toward Balikpapan. Boise retired early from the group because of a grounding mishap and Marblehead developed a faulty turbine forcing her to reduce speed and remain behind the destroyers to act as cover for withdrawal. The old destroyers raced ahead and engaged the Japanese convoy and its screening warships the night of 23-24 January. Despite overwhelming odds, they came out of the fracas with only minor damage to John D. Ford. The enemy suffered large losses from the torpedo attacks launched by the destroyers as they raced back and forth through the convoy formation.

On 5 February Paul Jones rendezvoused with SS Tidore off Sumbawa Island to escort her to Timor. Shortly after they joined up, they were attacked by three separate groups of Japanese bombers. Paul Jones successfully dodged approximately 20 bombs, but Tidore was aground and a total loss. Fifteen crew members were picked up from a life boat, five were taken off the stricken vessel, and six more were gathered from the beaches. Paul Jones then steamed on to Java.

The Australian, British, Dutch, and American Naval units under a joint command (ABDA), commenced sweeps 24 February in search of enemy surface forces which might be attempting to make landings in the Java area, and to give what opposition they could to the Japanese advance. They encountered a Japanese covering force in the afternoon of 27 February and the Allies opened fire, beginning the Battle of the Java Sea. By 1821 Paul Jones had expended her torpedoes. Dangerously low on fuel, she retired to Soerabaja. The next morning Paul Jones and three other U.S. destroyers escaped encirclement by Japanese forces closing on all sides of Java, by hugging close to the shore line and laying smoke at high speed when sighted in the Bali Strait. Paul Jones and John D. Ford later escorted Black Hawk (AD-9) on to Fremantle, Australia, arriving 4 March.

Following repairs at Fremantle and Melbourne, Paul Jones sailed 12 May for San Francisco. She reached San Francisco 29 June and was assigned convoy escort duty between California and Pearl Harbor which continued until the end of March 1943.

Sailing in company with Parrott and Barker, Paul Jones departed San Francisco 30 March, transited the Panama Canal 6 May and reported to New York where she commenced convoy escort duty 28 May between North African ports and the US.

Convoy assignments were carried out until April 1944 when Paul Jones was assigned temporarily to ASW patrol seaward of Chesapeake Bay. She then made convoy runs to several United Kingdom ports before being assigned as training ship for newly commissioned submarines at Balboa, Canal Zone, which commenced 9 November and terminated 6 April 1945, when she sailed for New York. She was next assigned to a task group consisting of oilers and destroyers serving as an at-sea terminus tanker group, for the purpose of refueling escorts of east and west bound convoys between Horta Azores and Casablanca, French Morocco.

Paul Jones moored at Norfolk 11 June and was assigned as a plane guard destroyer for Lake Champlain (CV-39), in which capacity she served until 4 August, when she sailed independently from Guantanamo Bay to return to Norfolk in preparation for inactivation. She was reclassified as a miscellaneous auxiliary (AG-120) as of 30 June 1945.

In October she was stripped and assigned to the Commandant 5th Naval District for administrative purposes. She decommissioned 5 November 1945 was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 28 November 1945 and sold 5 October 1947 to the Northern Metal Co. Norfolk, Va., which scrapped her in April 1948.


Watch the video: A Day in the Life at GTMO