USS Philadelphia (Cruiser # 4, C-4, later IX-24), a 4,324-ton protected cruiser generallly similar to the Baltimore (Cruiser # 3). By the Act approved March 3, 1887, Congress authorized the construction of two protected cruisers of about 4,000 tons displacement; to develop on trial a speed of 19 knots an hour, and to cost, exclusive of armament, not more than $1,500,000 each. This was the outcome of a bill introduced in the Senate in January previous by Senator Cameron, of Pennsylvania, and subsequently proposed as a Senate amendment to the House Bill, providing for the construction of ten such cruisers. The Senate, upon consideration of the House Bill, had reduced Senator Cameron's ten cruisers to four, and the Conference Committee between the House and Senate again reduced the four to two, which were known in the Navy as the SAN FRANCISCO and the PHILADELPHIA.
Plans were prepared by the Navy Department, the hulls being similar to that of the NEWARK, but heavier and more powerful engines were to be carried. When bids were opened, the Cramp Company submitted a special bid for a vessel having the hull of the BALTIMORE, with modifications to suit the different battery to be carried, and with engines of the Company's design. The contract was awarded on this bid November 29, 1887, the price being $1,350,000.
It is worthy of note that the system of speed premiums was inaugurated in the contracts for construction of the 19-knot cruisers, the basis of premiums in the contracts for previous ships having been the unit of indicated horsepower. This system, so far as the Atlantic coast was concerned, had the serious drawback that in consequence of the shoalness of water at any point near enough to land to admit of fixed ranges for observation, the ships must be run at a formidable disadvantage.
The Act of 1887 contained a proviso that one of the cruisers might be built on the Pacific coast if a reasonable bid should be received from that quarter; and upon this authority, the President awarded the contract for construction of the SAN FRANCISCO to the Union Iron Works, of that city, for $1,428,000, and on the Department's design. The SAN FRANCISCO was 320 tons smaller than the PHILADELPHIA, and her cost was $78,000 greater under this award; a discrepancy which the President considered reasonable in view of the public desirability of promoting the development of ship-building on that coast.
The battery consisted of twelve 6-inch breech-loading rifles, four 6-pounder rapid firing, four 3-pounder rapid firing, two 1 -pounder rapid firing guns, three 37 millimeter revolving cannon and 4 Gatlings.
She had horizontal twin-screw, triple-expansion engines with cylinders of 38, 58, and 86 inches diameters, with stroke of pistons of 40 inches. She has four boilers, each of 14 feet diameter and 20 feet length. Pressure, 160 Ibs. Propellers of 14 feet, 6 inches diameter, 21 feet maximum, 18-1/2 feet minimum, and 20 feet mean pitch. Revolutions, 125.
The PHILADELPHIA was launched September 7, 1889. Her trial trip was had in June, 1890, off the coast of Long Island. She sailed from the Shipyard August 5, 1890. The vessel for more than four hours developed a speed six hundred and seventy-eight thousandths of a knot in excess of what was guaranteed, earning bonus for her builders, $135,600.00. Of this amount $35,600 was withheld by the Government, in consequence of a ruling by the Navy Department that only complete quarter knots could be recognized as a basis of premium.
Commissioned in July 1890, the protected cruisers followed the general arrangement typical of sailing ships, with all armament carried in broadside positions. Newark (Cruiser # 1) and San Francisco (Cruiser # 5) served in the Atlantic and Caribbean theatres during the Spanish-American War. Baltimore (Cruiser # 3) was in the Asiatic Squadron and participated in the Battle of Manila Bay.
On completion of her trials, the PHILADELPHIA was commissioned under command of Captain Frederick Rogers, and hoisted the flag of Rear Admiral Bancroft Gherardi, as Flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron. In that capacity she cruised principally on our own coasts and in the West Indies. She took part in the Columbian Review, carrying the flag of Rear Admiral Gherardi, the Commander-in-Chief. Upon the conclusion of those ceremonies, the PHILADELPHIA was ordered to the Pacific Station as Flagship, and proceeded at once from New York, via the Straits of Magellan, to Honolulu. The noteworthy event of this voyage was the longest run on one coaling ever made by an American man-of-war without sail-power and under steam alone. In this respect the machinery of the PHILADELPHIA held the record for cruising economy and coal endurance over all other ships of her class and date.
Philadelphia (Cruiser # 4), a Pacific Squadron ship, took part in the occupation of Hawaii. She served in the Atlantic until 1893, then joined the Pacific Station, remaining there to the end of her Navy career. In 1898, she represented the United States at ceremonies marking the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands and was involved in combat operations in Samoa the following year. Late in 1898 intertribal warfare broke out in the Samoan Islands, which was jointly administered by the United States, Great Britain, and Germany. American and British landing parties, the former from the protected cruiser USS Philadelphia (C 4), was put ashore to guard their consulates. On 01 April 1899, an Anglo-American patrol was ambushed in the jungle near Apia, on Upola Island. Four Americans and three British are killed and seven wounded.
Philadelphia became a stationary receiving ship at Puget Sound Navy Yard in 1904, serving in this and related roles until struck from the Navy List in November 1926. She had been redesignated IX-24 in 1920 and was sold in 1927.
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