XCL Harvard - Armed Merchant Cruiser / Auxiliary Cruiser
S.S. City of New York, a 10,499 gross ton passenger steamer, was built at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1888. A sister of the S.S. City of Paris, and of equally striking appearance with three smokestacks and a "clipper" bow, she operated between the United Kingdom and the United States under the British merchant flag until 1893, when she was transferred to U.S. registry and renamed New York. Her commercial activities remained as before until April 1898, when she was chartered by the U.S. Navy for Spanish-American War service. Converted to an auxiliary cruiser and renamed Harvard, she was placed in commission in late April and served thereafter on scouting duties in the Caribbean and as a transport. During the 3 July 1898 naval battle off Santiago, Cuba, she rescued more than 600 survivors of wrecked Spanish warships. After carrying U.S. troops home from Cuba, Harvard was decommissioned in September 1898 and returned to her owners.
Resuming the name New York, she spent nearly two decades more in the U.S. merchant marine. In 1901-1903 the ship was rebuilt, emerging with two tall smokestacks and new engines. On 9 April 1917, a few days after the United States entered World War I, New York was approaching Liverpool, England, when she struck a German mine. Following repairs, she was employed under Army charter to take U.S. troops to the European war zone.
In May 1918 New York was taken over by the U.S. Navy for continued employment as a troop transport. Commissioned later in that month as the 15,390 ton (displacement) USS Plattsburg (ID # 1645), she made four voyages to France, carrying nearly 9,000 servicemen, before the 11 November 1918 Armistice brought the First World War's fighting to an end. The ship then began bringing American forces home, making seven more trips with more than 24,000 passengers by the end of August 1919. Decommissioned in October of that year, she subsequently returned to merchant service as S.S. New York. Between 1920 and 1922 the now quite elderly liner went through a series of owners, none of whom succeeded commercially. She was scrapped at Genoa, Italy, in 1923.
The steamship City of Paris, a 10,499 gross ton twin screw passenger liner, was built at Glasgow, Scotland. Completed in 1889, she soon began a series of record trans-Atlantic passages, earning the "Blue Ribband" for fast passenger service. SS City of Paris, built for the Inman Line at J & G Thomson's Clydebank Shipyard, was last major transatlantic liner with a clipper bow. Like her sister, City of New York, she originally carried three stacks, triple expansion engines and three masts rigged for sails. City of Paris was one of the first ships with twin screws on the North Atlantic service. The resultant extra speed earned her the first of two Blue Ribands with record crossings on both legs of a Liverpool-New York roundtrip soon after her maiden voyage in 1889.
In 1893 she was transferred to American registry with the American Line under the name Paris, but remained active on the passenger route between the U.S. and England. During the 1898 Spanish-American War she was under charter to the U.S. Navy, serving as USS Yale. Following the conflict she returned to commercial work as Paris.
While westbound on 21 May 1899, Paris ran on the rocks in western Britain. Refloated after a major salvage effort, the badly damaged ship was rebuilt at Belfast, Ireland, receiving new engines and having her triple smokestacks replaced by a pair of taller ones. Renamed Philadelphia in 1901, she resumed North Atlantic passenger service.
After the United States entered World War I in 1917 she was used as a transport, carrying U.S. troops to Europe. This important duty continued in 1918, when the U.S. Navy took her over and renamed her Harrisburg (ID # 1663). Returned to her owners in September 1919 and again named Philadelphia, she once more was employed carrying passengers between America, Britain and France. By now very elderly and old-fashioned, in 1922 the ship was purchased by new owners, who planned to use her in the Mediterranean. However, financial problems stopped Philadelphia at Naples, Italy, where she remained until sold for scrapping in 1923.
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