More on the USS Mongolia

Back in June 2007 as a result of reading a post at the Marmot’s Hole, I posted a brief history of the USS Mongolia – initially a mail steamer on the Pacific run then later the ship with the honour of having fired the US Navy’s first shot in anger in World War I – all in a ship named after a land-locked country.

I was reading some old Australian newspapers and I came across an article about the New Mongolia, a Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) steamer which lead on to a search and an article in the New York Times dated 19 September 1906 titled “To Save The Mongolia” concerning the original SS Mongolia.

h45961 Apparently there was a backlog of passengers wishing to travel across the Pacific stuck in Honolulu as a result of the SS Manchuria (sister ship to the Mongolia), a Pacific mail liner and the SS Sheridan, a transport, being stranded near Honolulu. This was compounded by the salvage operations needed by SS Mongolia which had struck a reef near Midway Islands all within a month.

A further vessel, the SS Buford, was supposed to leave Honolulu for San Francisco with passengers when those sailing orders were cancelled and she was instead ordered to sail to Midway to collect the Mongolia’s passengers and bring them back to Honolulu. It seems that none of the captains liked sailing to Midway because of the reefs in that area.

The most powerful tug in the Hawaiian Islands, the Iroquois, was due to sail to Midway as well on the 20th of September to tow the Mongolia off the reef.

Mongolia’s Merchant Marine

Map from the CIA World Factbook
Map from the CIA World Factbook

Knowing how I enjoy the bizarre, I found some information about Mongolia’s Merchant Marine – go on … look at the map 🙂

The Mongolian Merchant Marine currently stands at 77 vessels. Mongolia does provide flags of convenience. The types of vessels are: bulk carrier – 20 vessels; cargo – 44; chemical tanker – 2; liquefied gas – 1; passenger/cargo – 1; petroleum tanker – 2; roll on/roll off – 6; and vehicle carrier – 1 ship.

53 of these vessels are owned by the following foreign countries – China 1, Germany 4, Indonesia 1, North Korea 1, South Korea 1, Lebanon 2, Russia 9, Singapore 9, Thailand 1, Ukraine 1, Vietnam 23.

Happy Tsagaan Sar, New Year

To my Mongolian friends – I hope you have a happy Цагаан сар ((Tsagaan Sar))

To  my Korean friends – 새해 복 많이 받으세요 ((say hay boke mahn he pah du say oh))

To my Chinese friends – 新年快樂 ((Happy New Year)) or for my Cantonese Friends, 恭喜發財 ((kone hay far choi – or litterally, wishing you prosperity))

More Chinese Toxic Chemicals

The UB Post reported that the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia believes that there is a network of Chinese smuggling toxic chemicals into Ulaanbaatar and then from there out to the illegal (and possibly legal) mining operations. The chemicals are used to refine gold and a Chinese national was arrested in UB for having three tons of it in his possession.

Given the length of the border between Mongolia and China (over 4,000 kms) and given the remoteness of some areas of it, finding how it is smuggled in may be difficult. I can’t believe that too many legitimate mining concerns would be buying smuggled chemicals as they would normally have contracts for the supply of these chemicals in bulk. It would seem then that the major users of the chemicals are likely to be the illegal miners, the “ninja”. Solve the problem of the ninja and the smuggling of chemicals will be less attractive.

At the same time, I think China must start to take a more proactive role in protecting its borders from outgoing goods as much as from incoming ones.

Ulaanbaatar’s New Subway

Corporate Hotel’s Front Page ClaimsIn perhaps the best kept secret in the world the Mongolians have, according to their newest hotel, opened a Conference and Exhibition Centre and a Subway in Ulaanbaatar. The image to the right here (click on it to read the full size text) appeared on the front page of the website of the Corporate Hotel, Ulaanbaatar, on 14 July 2007. The interesting part is that it notes that:

The Ulaanbaatar’s Convention and Exhibition Centre and MTR subway stations are within easy walking distance of the hotel. The majority of tourist attractions and business areas are easily accessible within 5 minutes drive. The 55 well-appointed guestrooms and suites are tastefully decorated in pastelcolours , with opulent wood and brass accents carrying through the hotel’s neo-classical feel.

Well what can I say? Expensive rooms, classy joint (there is apparently a revolving lounge on the 11th floor overlooking UB), an altogether impressive new hotel in Ulaanbaatar which bears absolutely no resemblance at all to the Charterhouse Hotel in Hong Kong that can only claim:

The Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and MTR subway stations are within easy walking distance of the hotel. The majority of tourist attractions and business areas are easily accessible within 10 minutes drive .

The 294 well-appointed guestrooms and suites are tastefully decorated in pastel colours, with opulent wood and brass accents carrying through the hotel’s neo-classical feel.

Now the UB Corporate Hotel is obviously smaller – but a full 5 minutes closer to the tourist attractions and business area of Ulaanbaatar than the Charterhouse is to the equivalent in Hong Kong.

Oh, and there is definitely no MTR in UB … honest … I would have seen it if there was! 😆

Happy Naadam (Наадам) Festival

To my Mongolian friends – enjoy your Naadam (Наадам) festival and holiday.

For the rest, the Naadam festival is an annual festival and holiday in Mongolia, turning up on the 11th, 12th and 13th of July each year. The festival is in celebration of the three manly games of archery, horse-riding and wrestling. These are held over the Naadam festival period. In the countryside, there are Naadams in each town over the summer. In Ulaanbaatar the Naadam Festival and Holiday is over the period 11th to 13th of June.

These dates are significant in Mongolian modern history as it was in July 1921 that Sukhbaatar finally liberated the then town of Niislel Khuree and formed an independent Mongolia. Niislel Khuree was later renamed Ulaanbaatar or “Red hero” in honour of Sukhbaatar’s efforts and the support of Bolshevik Russia at the time, liberating Mongolia from the then Republic of China and other freebooters.

UB Post Back on the Air

The UB Post, Mongolia’s best (well I think it is) English Language newspaper have restored their website to the world again. It has been off the air for a few weeks. Today they noted:

Dear readers,

We apology for mistakenly erased all the contents together with user information created since last December. We found this happened when our company’s IT department tried to move our site to an another dedicated server. Those, who are members registered since last December, please create your user account again. We will work hard to retrieve all the contents as soon as possible, and not to repeat this again in the future. Thank you.


Well, OK, mostly English language 🙂 I, for one, have missed my weekly dose of Mongolian news and I am happy to see the paper back in action. You can see it at UB Post.

USS Mongolia

S.S. MongoliaBy 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.

Gallery Updates

I have been madly updating the gallery over the past few days with Mark I versions in place for:

  • Mongolian Landscapes
  • Places Visited

I have also uploaded all the museum photos from the old gallery. These are covering the Choson, Three Kingdom and Koryo Periods of Korean History as well as the Thai Airforce Museum. Labelling (captions) are still being updated for them. Also being updated are the wargaming pictures and the  how-to guides. They are also waiting captions and in some cases re-sorting.

To get there either click the photo to the left (Photo Images) or go to