USS Galena (1880)

For other ships of the same name, see USS Galena.
Career (USA)
Name: USS Galena
Namesake: Galena
Builder: Norfolk Navy Yard
Launched: 1879
Commissioned: August 26, 1880
Decommissioned: July 23, 1890
Struck: February 29, 1892
Fate: Sold
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,900 tons
Length: 216 ft (66 m)
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)
Draft: 16 ft 6 in (5.03 m)
Speed: 9.5 knots
Complement: 214
Armament: 6 x 9" smooth bore, 1 x 8" rifle, 1 x 6-pounder breech-loading rifle

USS Galena, was a wooden steamer built at the Norfolk Navy Yard in 1879 and commissioned there August 26, 1880, with Commander James O'Kane in command. Galena was the second ship of the United States Navy to bear that name.

Galena departed Hampton Roads December 19, 1880 and reached Gibraltar January 12, 1881. She cruised between the ports of France, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, along the coast of Africa and to the Canary, Cape Verde and Madeira Islands. On April 7, 1881 she arrived at Chios, in the Aegean Sea and remained until April 15 helping to relieve the distress caused by a severe earthquake. Her surgeon went ashore to treat the injured; her crew furnished work parties to help clear the rubble; and her steam launch moved relief supplies. Another mission began June 10, 1882 when she reached Alexandria, Egypt, to embark American citizens and personnel of the American Consulate for protection aboard during a rebellion. An Italian ship was chartered as a haven for about 135 refugees until June 27 when Admiral James W. Nicholson arrived in USS Lancaster to relieve Galena.

Galena departed Alexandria July 11, 1882 for operations along the eastern seaboard of South America out of Rio de Janeiro. From October 19, 1882 to January 31, 1883 she was the flagship of Rear Admiral Peirce Crosby, commanding American Naval Forces in the South Atlantic. She arrived at New York City September 10, 1883 to serve in the North Atlantic along the eastern seaboard and throughout the Caribbean to the shores of Aspinwall, Colombia (now Colón, Panama). This included station duty at Key West (May 1, – August 16, 1884) to prevent illegal filibustering expeditions from the United States to Cuba.


Another special service began March 11, 1885 when she arrived at Aspinwall from New Orleans during a serious revolution that threatened to interrupt traffic over the Isthmus of Panama. On March 30, 1885 after a party of revolutionists had seized the Pacific Mail Line steamer Colon, Galena regained the steamer and returned her the same day. The next day Galena's landing force went ashore to save a part of the town of Colon which had been set afire by the revolutionists. The landing force saved a part of the town and all the property of the Pacific Mail Company. On April 10 Admiral Jouett arrived in USS Tennessee and with a force of 600 sailors and marines, assisted by Galena, kept the Isthmus open to crossing travelers and enforced treaty obligations until order was restored in May.

Galena departed Colon June 9 and reached Portsmouth, New Hampshire, June 26, 1885 to begin several months cruising along the eastern seaboard. Galena returned to Colombian waters November 27, 1885 for service in the Caribbean. She visited St. Andrew Island 114 miles east of the Nicaraguan coast February 14, 1886 to investigate the detention of American steamer City of Mexico. Finding that United States neutrality laws had been violated by the steamer, Galena seized City of Mexico and sailed her under a prize crew to Key West where the steamer was turned over to the United States Marshals Service.

Galena returned to New York May 23, 1886 to join the squadron in battle practice along the New England coast. She then sailed to the Newfoundland fishing banks and back. She departed Portsmouth, New Hampshire, December 15, 1886 to cruise among ports of the West Indies and off Colombia until April 18, 1887.

Galena returned north in time to participate in ceremonies for the unveiling of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at New Haven, Connecticut, June 14. After a cruise that took her to Halifax, Quebec, Montreal, and Habitants Bay, Galena arrived at the Philadelphia Navy Yard September 12, 1887 to join other ships of the US Navy in celebrating the centennial of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. Target practice in Gardner's Bay, New York, was followed by repairs in the Norfolk Navy Yard until April 9, 1888. Galena then cruised with her squadron along the eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast visiting New Orleans, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; and Port Royal, South Carolina. From August 18 to September 15, 1888 she watched over political disturbances at Port-au-Prince, Haiti, then proceeded back to New York.

Galena departed New York December 12, 1888 as flagship of Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, Commander in Chief, North Atlantic Station, and reached Port-au-Prince December 20. Here, the American steamer Haytien Republic, seized by Haitian authorities for alleged violation of the blockade, was surrendered to the force under Admiral Luce.


Galena arrived in Key West, January 19, 1889. Here, on February 16 Rear Admiral Bancroft Gherardi relieved Admiral Luce as Commander in Chief, North Atlantic Station, and broke his flag in Galena. She sailed the following day for Haitian waters and then returned to New York May 29. Admiral Gherardi transferred his flag to USS Kearsarge on June 15.

After repairs at New York, Galena arrived at Cap-Haïtien September 6, 1889 and relieved Kearsarge as flagship. At the island of Navassa October 6, she took on board nine ring-leaders of a riot, then proceeded to Baltimore, Maryland, where they were turned over to the custody of the United States Marshal October 25. She repaired at the New York Navy Yard, then sailed December 3 to serve once more as Admiral Gherardi's flagship out of Key West in a series of cruises to waters of Haiti; She was relieved as flagship by USS Dolphin while at St. Nicholas Mole February 14, 1890 and departed Key West May 25 for calls at Port Royal and Charleston, South Carolina before arriving New York Navy Yard July 1. She decommissioned July 23, 1890 and remained there until March 12, 1891 when she was towed by tug USS Nina toward the Portsmouth Navy Yard, to be fitted with new boilers. The following day, both ships ran aground on a beach about a mile south of Gay Head, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.

Salvaged under a contract to the Boston Tow Boat Company, Galena arrived at the Portsmouth Navy Yard April 6, 1891. However, it was decided that repairs would be too costly. Galena was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on February 29, 1892 and was sold to E. J. Butler of Arlington, Massachusetts on May 9.


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