USS Dolphin, Rockport, circa 1900
The USS Dolphin (PG-24) was commissioned in 1885 as a naval dispatch vessel (there were no reliable radio communications at the time), and later became a gunship. She was the first of the ABCD ships (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Dolphin), who were revolutionary steel-hulled warships for America’s “New Steel Navy.” Their masts, unlike those of later warships, were meant to carry sail, as naval officers did not trust coal-fired steam power. The ABCD vessels were transitionary: from wood to steel construction, and from wind to steam power. In fact, they were called the “Squadron of Evolution.”
During her 40 years of service in the US Navy, Dolphin fought in the Spanish American War and World War I. She transported three US Presidents, cabinet members, and also hosted the United States Congress on deck in 1909, during welcoming ceremonies for the homecoming of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet after its circumnavigational cruise. Incredibly, in 1888, Dolphin had made her own 18 month, 58,000 mile trip around the world. During the entire voyage, the engine was shut down for less that two hours for maintenance. Where can you get a car (or boat) like that?
Fredrik D. Bodin
Bodin Historic Photo
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