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PG-34 / CL-22 New Orleans

The Albany and New Orleans were purchased from Brazil at the outbreak of the Spanish. USS New Orleans (1898-1930, later PG-34 and CL-22), a 3769-ton protected cruiser, was built at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, as the Brazilian Navy's Amazonas. Purchased by the U.S. Navy in March 1898, when freshly completed, she finished outfitting at New York and joined the fleet off Santiago, Cuba, in May.

The United States Government was buying or trying to purchase ships of war in various directions, and with varied success. The Navy Department, as early as March 3, 1898 issued instructions to the Office of Naval Intelligence to make special inquiries of naval attaches in Europe as to what men-of-war and torpedo boats could be purchased abroad. They were directed to submit estimates of cost and to report upon the condition of purchasable ships. It was considered important to secure any war vessels which might be in the market, not only to strengthen our own navy, but to prevent them from coming into the possession of Spain, and it was necessary that any purchases made abroad should be concluded before the outbreak of hostilities, which, under the neutrality laws, would then make their purchase impracticable.

With a view to these and other proper expenditures, Congress passed, on March 9, 1898, the Emergency Bill, appropriating $50,000,000 for National defence. A Board was at once appointed for the purpose of examining such vessels of the merchant marine as were deemed suitable for naval purposes. With the ample means thus provided, the purchase of vessels, ammunition, guns and all classes of naval war material went rapidly on. The inquiries set on foot in Europe showed the impossibility of obtaining war ships in any number in foreign markets. On the day of the passage of the Emergency Appropriation, the Naval Attache at London was authorized to negotiate for the purchase of two cruisers then building in England for the Brazilian Government. The Brazilian Government sold two, probably at a considerable profit, namely, the Amazonas and her sister the Almirante Barroso. The purchase of the Brazilian cruisers was effected in March 1898. They were sister ships of the protected-cruiser class. The two cruisers were purchased by Lieutenant John C. Colwell, the Naval Attache in London.

On 14 March 1898 Commodore John A. Howell was directed to sail in the San Francisco for Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he was to hoist the flag of the United States over the recently purchased cruisers New Orleans (Amazonas), and Albany (Abrouall). The command of the New Orleans devolved on Lieutenant-Commander Arthur P. Nazro, who was to proceed at once for New York under the convoy of the flagship. At this time the Spanish torpedo boat destroyer Audaz was in English waters, and it was feared that she might make an attack on the American cruisers. Howell sailed as instructed, but saw nothing of the Spaniard. The Almirante Abreu, since then named the Albany, was far from completion, but one vessel could not be bought without the purchase of both.

The Navy sent Commander W. H. Brownson, whose reputation as a diplomat as well as a fighter was well established in the navy, to Europe to buy more, but there was nothing in the market, and the US thereby learned that in future it must depend entirely on domestic resources - a good lesson learned at a small price. A torpedo boat, rechristened Somers, was purchased in Germany. Another small cruiser, the Diogenes, renamed Topeka, was also purchased in England. The cruiser Nictheroy was purchased of Brazil at Rio de Janeiro.

The Amazonas was built at Elswick, and was a very fine vessel. The displacement was 3,600 tons, being somewhat larger than the Cincinnati and Raleigh, with which they had been compared. She was 330 feet long, 43 feet 9 inches beam; her mean draught is 16 feet io inches, her horse-power 7000; There was a protective deck three inches thick on the slopes, which extends from stem to stern. Additional protection to the machinery and boilers is afforded by the reserve longitudinal bunkers, which carry coal to a height of about 6 feet above the water-line. Engines of 7,500 horse-power gave a speed of twenty knots. In hull and machinery there was no great difference between them and American designs, though they were about a knot swifter. The Amazonas attained a speed of 20 knots with natural draught, and 21.05 knots with forced draught.

They carried for her size a tremendous armament, including six 6-inch quick-firers, four 4.7-inch quick-firers, ten 6-pounders, four Maxims. The comparison of the guns, which were of the latest British make, there was a tremendous difference. For the British-built gun was fifty calibres long where Americans were but forty ; the projectile had a muzzle velocity of 2,780 feet per second to the our 2,150, and its striking energy is 5,373 tons to the American 3,204. The British projectile should pierce twenty - two inches of wrought iron to our fifteen. The British six-inch rifle is but little less powerful than American first eight-inch guns.

The guns of the New Orleans are of the latest pattern, and had much greater power for their size than guns made four or five years ago; they are provided with improved breech mechanism, which added to the rapidity of their fire. The 6-inch guns, for example, were about a third longer than was attempted for guns of this dimension a few years ago. Increased length in a gun adds to the velocity with which the projectile is driven from the muzzle, since it gives longer time for the gases from the powder to act. By such an increase in length, the power of larger guns can be attained by those of smaller diameter.

The gun positions are protected by 4-inch armor. A very powerful fore-and-aft fire can be obtained, as two of the 6-inch guns are in shields on the poop and forecastle, and the other four are sponsoned out, two forward and two aft. The 4.7-inch guns are carried in recessed ports, so as to be clear of the fire of the larger pieces. The ammunition is supplied through hoists worked by electric motors.

She has a protected steel deck extending from stem to stern, and is fitted with 14 water-tight bulkheads extending up to the berth deck. In addition to these divisions, she is fitted with a double bottom, minutely subdivided into watertight compartments; and the store rooms and coal bunkers below the protected deck are also watertight.

Designated PG-34 in 1920 and CL-22 in 1921, New Orleans was decommissioned in November 1922 and sold for scrapping in February 1930.

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Page last modified: 22-07-2011 17:37:06 ZULU