By now most of the readers of my blog know that I have a particularly soft spot for Mongolia, the Land of the Endless Blue Sky. Most of you have realised as well that I love ships … all of them … big buggers, small ones, sailing, steam, oar-powered, you name it. Then there is the other passion of mine … wargaming. Back on 7 April 2007 then, I was pleased to see a piece in The Marmot’s Hole concerning USS Mongolia.
The Mongolia was a 13,638 gross ton passenger-cargo steamship. She was built in the USA at New Jersey in 1904 and first worked Pacific Ocean routes. During the First World War she was moved to work Atlantic routes.
Self-defence armament of two US Navy-manned 6-inch guns was installed in March 1917 (one forward and the other aft). Her biggest claim to fame however, was that she was the first US vessel to fire on the Germans. It was on 19 April 1917 that she engaged a German submarine, fighting the submarine off. I have not been able to determine yet whether she was successful in sinking that submarine, I shall keep looking.
At this time, she was a civilian vessel still, although she had a US Navy gun and gun-crew.
It was in April 1918 she was taken over by the US Navy and then commissioned as USS Mongolia. She acted as a transport until being decommissioned in September 1919 and returned to her owner.
Mongolia kept sailing for another 25 years until finally being scrapped in 1946 at Shanghai. Her name was changed twice in that period as well, to President Fillmore in 1929 and Panamanian in 1940.
She had a sister ship, the SS Manchuria and more information about the Manchuria and the SS Mongolia can be found at the Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center. There are also lots of photographs of the vessels as well as many other naval vessels.
Click on the picture at the top for a larger view of the SS Mongolia.