United States Navy

Submarine Tenders

USS Elcano

USS Elcano
Captured as a War Prize by the US in 1898
From the Spanish at Manila Bay
620 Built / Launched 1885 / ?
Length 165' 6" Built By Spain
Beam 26' Class Elcano
Draft 10'Commisioned 11/20/1902
Speed (rated) n/a Decommissioned 6/30/1928
Compliment 103Disposition Sank as Target

Elcano (PG-38) was built of iron in 1885 in Spain; captured by the Armyduring the Battle of Manila Bay 1 May 1898; transferred to the Navy 9November 1899; outfitted for naval use at Cavite; and commissioned 20November 1902, Lieutenant Commander A. G. Winterhalter in command. She wasreclassified PG-38 on 18 July 1920.

Sailing from Manila 26 December 1902, Elcano with two other Spanish warprizes, Villalobos and Pompey, inaugurated the Yangtze River Patrol. Basedon Shanghai from February 1903, their mission was to protect Americancitizens and property, and promote friendly relations with the Chinese. On20 October 1907, Elcano returned to Cavite and was placed out of commission1 November 1907.

[Supplemental history]

During this period - the DANFS is silent on the Elcano. However - several Submarine's logs are not - such as this taken from the USS Porpoise SS-7's history:

Arriving at the Naval Station at Cavite, PORPOISE was launched on 8 July 1908, and recommissioned on 20 November. Due to the small size of these "boats," officers and men lived on board the gunboat ELCANO.
Using such supporting history - we've been able to establish that while decommissioned, the Elcano was assigend as the station ship at Cavite, serving as a tender to 1st Submarine Division, Asiatic Torpedo Fleet.

[back to the history as recorded in DANFS]

Recommissioned 5 December 1910, Elcano went back in March 1911 to theChina Station, based at Amoy until World War I. Recalled to Manila in April1917, she patrolled off Mariveles and Corregidor until the end of the war.Elcano returned to Shanghai 3 February 1920 to rejoin the Yangtze Patrol.Two days later, she made a short dash southwest to search for the ill-fatedBritish tanker Brisbane. She inquired throughout the Chusan Archipelago,and found much of the Brisbane's oil in the natives' possession but no traceof the tanker, her 45 men or the captain's wife.

Elcano became well known during 8 more years of service in Chinesewaters. In July 1921 she helped land Marines at Ichang and, as stationship, protected American lives and property there until September 1922. Shecontinued to patrol from her base at Shanghai, obtaining information onpolitical conditions, visiting ports where American citizens were located,and sending her officers ashore to confer with local officials and Americanconsuls.

During the Chinese revolution in 1926 and 1927, Elcano's personnelrequired immense tact, patience and judgment in facing the turmoil of thetimes. She transported refugees from the interior and convoyedconcentrations of those fleeing the lawlessness of the war-torn country. On24 March 1927 a major clash occurred at Nanking where the American ConsulGeneral and others were besieged on Socony Hill where they had congregatedfor safety. Elcano joined in the barrage laid around the hill to preventwholesale massacre.

In November 1927 Elcano was given new status as receiving ship atShanghai for crews assembled for gunboats under construction. She wasdecommissioned 30 June 1928, and used as a target until sunk 4 October 1928.

{History from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships}

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