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C-5 San Francisco
CM-2 Tahoe / Yosemite

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.

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.

She had a poop and a forecastle deck, with an open gun deck between. The protective deck was twenty-one inches above the water line amidships. It was two inches thick on the horizontal part, and three inches thick on the inclined sides. There were three steel masts, with sail area of 5410 square feet. The fore and main masts had military tops.

The main battery consists of twelve 6-inch B. L. R., two mounted on the poop deck, two on the forecastle deck, and the others in sponsons on the gun deck. In the secondary battery are four 6-pounder R. F. G., four 3-pounder R. F. G., two i- pounder R. F. G., three 37-mm. R. C. and four Catlings. There were six above-water torpedo-launching tubes.

It was originally intended to build the machinery of the Baltimore and San Francisco after the same plans, but a virtually new design for the San Francisco was the result of the alterations and modifications, made to conform to the plans prepared by Engineer-in-Chief Melville, before his appointment to that office, and these changes led to a considerable reduction in weight. The stroke was reduced from forty-two to thirty-six inches ; the framing, pillow blocks and valve gear were altered ; slide valves were retained only for the L. P. cylinders; independent air pumps were provided ; the boilers were lengthened, and the furnaces and combustion chambers rearranged for the new system of forced draft, a substitution of closed ash pits for closed fire rooms.

The contract called for an average speed of 19 knots per hour, to be maintained for four consecutive hours, with the ship loaded to a mean draught of i8f feet, a bonus of $50,000 being earned for each quarter knot over, and a penalty exacted of the same amount for each quarter knot under 19 knots.

The first SAN FRANCISCO, a steel protected cruiser, was launched on 26 October 1889 at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, CA, and commissioned on 15 November 1890. This protected cruiser followed the general arrangement typical of sailing ships, with all armament carried in broadside positions.

Initially assigned to the South Pacific Squadron, the cruiser became the squadron's flagship and served with the other vessels as the unofficial international "police force" patrolling the South American coastline and Hawaii.

In June 1908, SAN FRANCISCO was ordered refitted as a mine vessel, one of the Navy's first specialized mine vessels. In 1910, she was rearmed with 8 5" guns. On 21 August 1911, she was recommissioned but retained in reserve; and was placed in full commission on 29 November 1911. Designated a mine planter on 19 December 1912, she remained based at Norfolk. With the April 1917 entry of the United States into World War I, SAN FRANCISCO began laying antisubmarine nets in the Hampton Roads area. In June, she shifted to New York, whence she conducted experimental deep water minelaying operations, and, during August, she underwent overhaul at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. From December 1917 to March 1918, she underwent an extensive overhaul; and, in April, she became flagship of Mine Squadron 1. On 12 May the ships sailed for the United Kingdom and, within two weeks, the squadron had joined the Allied effort of creating the Northern Mine Barrage across the North Sea to restrict German submarine traffic into the Atlantic. SAN FRANCISCO conducted minelaying operations until the Armistice on 11 November.

Designated CM-2 on 17 July 1920, she was ordered inactivated in 1921; and, on 6 October, she arrived at Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 24 December. Remaining in reserve through the decade, CM-2 was renamed TAHOE, and then YOSEMITE, effective 1 January 1931, to allow the name SAN FRANCISCO to be given to CL-38, then under construction. As YOSEMITE, she remained at Philadelphia for another eight years. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 8 June 1937.



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