The cutter Algonquin was named for one of the most populous and widespread North American Native groups, with tribes originally numbering in the hundreds and speaking several related dialects. They inhabited most of the Canadian region south of Hudson Bay between the Rockies and the Atlantic Ocean and, bypassing select territories held by the Sioux and Iroquois, the latter of whom had driven them out of their territory along the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Builder: Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, Ohio
Commissioned 20 June 1898
Decommissioned: 11 December 1930; sold
Navigation draft: 13'6'' draft
Displacement: 1,181 tons Propulsion: triple-expansion steam, 25'', 37.5'', and 56.25'' diameter by 30'' stroke, 16 knots top speed
Complement: 1918: 8 officers; 5 warrants ; 1930: 10 officers, 63 men
Electronics: 1 x 2-KW DeForest spark transmitter with accompanying receiver (installed sometime prior to World War I)
Armament: 1918: 3 x 4-inch guns; (1500 rounds of ammunition stored in two magazines fore and aft); 16 x 300-lb depth charges; 4 x Colt machine guns; 2 x Lewis machine guns; 18 x .45 Colt pistols; 15 x Springfield rifles. 1930: 2 x 6-pdrs RF, 3 x .50-cal
The second cutter to carry the name Algonquin was constructed at Cleveland, Ohio, in 1897 by the Glove Iron Works under contract for $193,000. It was placed in commission in the United States Revenue Cutter Service as a First Class Cruising Cutter on 20 June 1898. It was immediately assigned to service with the Navy because of the 24 March 1898 Executive Order by President William McKinley that instructed the Revenue Cutter Service “to cooperate with the Navy.” Algonquin departed the Globe Shipyard on 22 June 1898 for Ogdensburg where it was cut in half and taken through the canals to the Atlantic coast. Its hull was reconnected when the “two halves” reached Montreal.
Once on the Atlantic coast Algonquin was assigned to the North Atlantic Fleet. Records are scanty regarding the exact nature of it's service during the Spanish American War. There is nothing to suggest that the cutter ever participated in an engagement, nor did it capture any prizes. It is probable that it did not serve on the Cuban blockade but, rather, replaced ships of the North Atlantic Fleet patrolling home waters. Algonquin served with the Navy until 17 August 1898 at which time it resumed operations under the Treasury Department.
Over the next two decades, Algonquin conducted normal Revenue Cutter Service/Coast Guard cruises. Initially, it operated along the east coast of the United States with periodic assignments to the West Indies. A break in that routine came in September of 1900 when it departed Baltimore, Maryland, bound for Galveston, Texas, and duty in the Gulf of Mexico.
During this time the New York Times on 29 September 1901 reported that Algonquin won a race with other cutters of its class while the cutters were patrolling the 1901 America’s Cup Race off New York:
RACE OF REVENUE CUTTERS: The Algonquin Proves the Proves the Fastest in Test of Engines—Guests on Board. On board the revenue cutter Algonquin, the third patrol boat on the leeward side of the course, the guests of Capt. Owen S. Willey were treated to a small race all their own. Capt. John W. Collins, engineer in chief of the Revenue Service of the United States, happened to be on board the Algonquin, and, as he had built the engines for most of the revenue cutters present, Onondaga, Gresham, Windom, Seminole, &c., he wanted to see which could do the best. The chief officers of the various boats named were no less anxious for a trial of speed, so when the Gresham, the flagship, started for the stakeboat at 9 o’clock the others got away as soon after as they could. The Seminole followed close on the heels of the Gresham, but the Algonquin and the Onondaga were delayed by late-arriving guests, so they were nearly five minutes behind the others in starting. The Algonquin soon had her engines going 145 to the minute without an ounce of forced draught while all three of the others were belching forth the tell-tale black clouds, yet the Algonquin easily distanced the others, and in spite of her handicap at the start, reached the stakeboat almost at the same time as the Gresham and the Seminole, while the Onondaga was left hopelessly in the rear.
That tour of duty lasted until 25 November 1901 at which time the cutter returned to the east coast at Charleston, South Carolina. It gained the distinction of being the first cutter to have a radio apparatus permanently installed aboard when on 6 November 1907 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Mr. J. S. Murphy, a representative of the DeForest Company, installed a 2-kilowatt DeForest spark transmitter with accompanying receiver in the cutter at a total cost of $2,470.22.
Algonquin then resumed her east coast-West Indies duties. On 22 March 1915 it was ordered to enforce the nation’s neutrality laws, and this and its normal Revenue duties occupied her time up until the United States formally entered World War I by which time it was serving out of Astoria, Oregon, while assigned to the Northern Division of the Pacific coast. When the United States joined the Allies in the war against the Central Powers on 6 April 1917, the Coast Guard was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Navy. Algonquin, at that time, was at the Depot at Arundel Cove, Maryland, undergoing a refit. When returned to active service the cutter was assigned to the 5th Naval District and was based at Norfolk for the first five months of this stint of naval service. It was under the command of Captain Byron L. Reed. After Reed read the mobilization orders to the assembled crew the cutter got underway for Baltimore where it assisted U.S. marshals in seizing three German merchant vessels interned there since 1914. Once that mission was completed Algonquin got underway for Norfolk where it was painted a wartime gray. After patrolling the submarine nets at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay it returned to the Navy Yard where it was outfitted with four 3-inch guns along with modern fire-control equipment and after calibrating its magnetic compass it resumed her patrols off Cape Henry.
In May, 1917, it was ordered to the 7th Naval District and arrived at Key West on 13 May. There it was designated as the flagship to Patrol Squadron Three which was based out of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Late in September, it embarked upon a 16-month tour of duty in European waters. Assigned to Division 6, Squadron 2, Patrol Force, it operated from the base at Gibraltar and served and a convoy escort. It arrived in the war zone on 16 October 1917 and conducted a total of 10 round trips between Gibraltar and the United Kingdom and 10 round trips between Gibraltar and the Azores, steaming approximately 60,000 nautical miles. During those voyages Algonquin safely escorted over 750 ships to their destinations. It encountered enemy submarines twice, one of which fired upon its with a deck gun and another shot a torpedo at the cutter and missed. During its tour of duty it made port calls in England, Portugal, Wales, Azores and Spain before departing the war zone on 9 January 1919 for the U.S.
While still under Navy control, the cutter departed New York on 26 June 1919, bound for the west coast. On 28 August, after its arrival in the 13th Naval District, it was returned to Treasury Department jurisdiction. For the remaining 11 years of its Coast Guard service, Algonquin patrolled the Pacific Northwest and the islands and coast of Alaska.
On 19 February 1920 it steamed for Alaskan waters on a cruise to enforce the fishing regulations and returned to Seattle on 29 March. On 15 April it was detached from the Northern Division and assigned to the Bering Sea Patrol, steaming for Hyder, Alaska, on the 30th and remained based there until 20 October. Another trip that year was made to Alaska from 28 October to 2 December 1920.
In 1921 it steamed for Alaska on 27 April and remained there until 2 October. The following year it steamed to Sitka on a cruise to protect seals and on 11 June 1922 was at Vqashik Bay, transporting witnesses for the Justice Department.
The cutter visited Ikatan and Unalaska and on 11 July was at St. George with the Secretary of Commerce and his staff, along with Bureau of Fisheries’ officials, aboard. Algonquin returned to Astoria, Oregon on 14 October to resume station.
On 16 March 1923 it was preparing for another cruise to Alaska, reporting to Bremerton Navy Yard on the 26th for armament, and steaming for Ketchikan on 20 April and for Sitka on 27 April for the seal patrol. On 30 May it reported at the Harris Cannery to receive and insane person for transportation. It arrived at Nome on 17 October, steaming from Evans Bay on 11 November for Seattle where it arrived on the 19th.
In 1924 it steamed for Unalaska on 6 April and spent the month of April in cooperation with the U.S. Army fliers in their famous “World Flight” venture whereby a number of Army aircraft attempted to circumnavigate the globe. The month of May was spent searching for a missing Army aircraft. After rendering assistance to native villages it departed Unalaska on 27 August for Astoria, Oregon, arriving there on 24 September 1924.
The 1925 Patrol began on 5 June when it departed for the Bering Sea, and lasted until 2 November 1925 when it arrived back in Seattle. It was again assigned to the Bering Sea Patrol Force in 1926, steaming for Unalaska on 5 June and remained on patrol until 27 October when it returned to Seattle and later to Astoria. On 16 November 1927 it was ordered to San Francisco but on 20 January 1928 was again assigned to the Astoria station.
On 14 February 1929 Algonquin left Astoria for a new permanent station at San Pedro, California and on 29 October 1930 was ordered to proceed to San Francisco for decommissioning. Algonquin was decommissioned there on 11 December 1930, whereby it was sold to the Foss Launch & Tug Company, Tacoma, Washington, on 23 September 1931 for $3,755.
Cutter History File, Coast Guard Historian's Office.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Washington, DC: USGPO.
Donald Canney. U.S. Coast Guard and Revenue Cutters, 1790-1935. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995.
“Early Radio”. U.S. Coast Guard Magazine (February, 1929), p. 19.
Alex R. Larzelere. The Coast Guard in World War I: An Untold Story. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2003.
U.S. Coast Guard. Record of Movements: Vessels of the United States Coast Guard: 1790 - December 31, 1933. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934; 1989 (reprint).