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PG-35 Topeka

In 1924 six new Yangtze gunboats were authorized, as most of the patrol were ex-Spanish gunboats captured during the Spanish American war and were aging beyond seaworthiness. Funds were appropriated in 1926 and construction on the new ships began in Shanghai.

The first Callao (PG-37) was built at Cavite as a Spanish gunboat; captured in Manila Bay 12 May 1898; immediately put in service, Lieutenant B. Tappan in command; and commissioned 2 July 1898, Lieutenant Tap-pan remaining in command. Callao served through the remainder of the Spanish-American War as tender to Admiral G. Dewey's flagship Olympia. Until decommissioned for repairs at Cavite 21 February 1901, she ranged throughout the Philippines, patrolling to suppress smuggling, covering Army scouting parties operating against insurgents, transporting troops, and firing on insurgent positions. Classified PG-37 on 17 July 1920, she was redesignated and returned to service as YFB-11 in June 1921, and served in the 16th Naval District as a ferryboat until sold at Manila 13 September 1923.

Elcano (PG-38) was built of iron in 1885 in Spain as El Cano; captured during the Battle of Manila Bay 1 May 1898; transferred to the Navy 9 November 1899; outfitted for naval use at Cavite; and commissioned 20 November 1902, Lieutenant Commander A. G. Winterhalter in command. She was reclassified PG-38 on 17 July 1920. Elcano became well known during 8 more years of service in Chinese waters. In November 1927 Elcano was given new status as receiving ship at Shanghai for crews assembled for gunboats under construction. She was decommissioned 30 June 1928, and used as a target until sunk 4 October 1928.

Pampanga (PG-39), a schooner rigged iron gunboat, was laid down for the Spanish Navy by the Manila Slip Co., Cavite, Philippine Islands, in March 1887; launched in February 1888; captured by the Army at Manila Bay in June 1898; commissioned in American service 18 June 1899; and turned over to the Navy at Cavite Navy Yard 9 November 1899, Lt. F. R. Payne in command. In the course of her service, she cruised the West River to Canton and beyond protecting American interests, especially in the period of heavy unrest in the middle 1920's, and made frequent visits to Hong Kong, Swatow, and the other ports of the area in the performance of her duty. The warship remained on this station until decommissioned at Hong Kong 6 November 1928, and was sunk by gunfire from Asheville and Sacramento off the China coast after being stripped of all usable gear 21 November.

USS Quiros (PG-40), a 350-ton schooner rigged composite gunboat, was laid down for the Spanish Navy by the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Co., Hong Kong, China in June 1894; launched in early 1895; captured by the U.S. Army at Manila in 1898; acquired by the Navy 21 February 1900; and commissioned at Cavite Navy Yard 14 March 1900; Lt. P. J. Werlich in command. Her first decade of service was spent in the Philippines, but in 1911 Quiros was sent to Chinese waters and spent the rest of her career there. She was decommissioned at Shanghai in August 1923 and expended as a target the following October.

The first Samar (PG-41), launched in November 1887 by the Manila Ship Co., Canacao, Philippine Islands, for the Spanish Navy, was captured during the Spanish-American War, acquired by the United States Navy from United States Army authorities on 9 November 1898 at Zamboanga, convoyed to Manila 13-20 April 1899 and commissioned at Manila on 26 May 1899, Ens. George C. Day in command. Admiral John A. Schofield, then an Ensign commanding Samar, later wrote the gunboat captured a banca in a cove off Paragua and rescued two "fair young maidens" who had been kidnapped by bandits from the town of Puerto Princessa. At the start of the rainy season that summer, the gunboat proceeded to Cavite, Luzon, for boiler repairs and was decommissioned on 23 September 1901.

The first Villalobos-a steel-hulled, screw gunboat- was laid down in September 1895 at Hong Kong, British Crown Colony, by the Hong Kong and Whampoa Dock Co., for service with the Spanish Navy. Launched during the following year, she was completed in July 1896 and was based at Cavite, Philippine Islands, at the time of the Spanish-American War. Captured by the United States Army along with near-sisters General Alava and Quiros, Villalobos was acquired by the Navy on 21 February 1900 and commissioned at Cavite on 5 March 1900, Lt. Edward Simpson in command. On 29 December 1927, President Calvin Coolidge authorized the destruction of Villalobos by gunfire; and the gunboat was placed out of commission on 29 May 1928. Struck from the Navy list on 4 October, the venerable gunboat was towed to sea and sunk in experimental destroyer gunnery exercises off the China coast on 9 October 1928.

CallaoElcanoPampangaQuirosSamarVillalobos
PG-37G-38PG-39PG-40 PG-41PG-42
displacement t243620243350243270
1ength ft121'165'6"121'121'156'2"
beam ft17'10"26'17'10"22'9"17'10"23'0"
draft ft6'6"10'7'6"7'9"7'6"7'6"
speed k10 11101110.511.0
complement3110330572857
armament
  • 4 3-pdr. rf.,
  • 2 1-pdr. rf.
  • 4 4" r.f.
  • 1 6-pdr.,
  • 3 3-pdrs.
  • 2 6-pdrs.,
  • 2 3-pdrs.
  • 1 3-pdr.,
  • 2 1-pdrs.
  • 4 3-pdrs.,
  • 2 1-pdrs.


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