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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

Big Chief (IX-101)
USLHST Iris (1899 - 1934)

International Radio Call Sign:
November - Juliet - Bravo - Kilo
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from left to right
American Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal

  • Laid down as the steamer SS Plymouth in 1897 by Neafie & Levy, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Purchased and retrofitted by the US Lighthouse Service for $84,406.76 for use as an engineering tender in the 4th Lighthouse District out of Philadelphia
  • Commissioned USLHST Iris by the Light House Service, 18 December 1899
  • Decommissioned by the US Coast Guard and sold 21 June 1934
  • Placed in commercial service by her new owners as the freighter SS Big Chief
  • Acquired by the US Navy, 5 May 1943, from the War Shipping Administration
  • Placed in service, 5 May 1943, as Big Chief
  • Designated IX-101, 11 May 1943
  • Placed out of service, 28 May 1946, and returned to the War Shipping Administration for disposal
  • Struck from the Naval Register, 3 July 1946
  • Registered in 1948 by William S. Sanders, Norfolk, VA. as fishing boat Big Chief
  • Registered in 1950 by Sanders Products Co., Inc. Southport, N.C. as fishing boat Big Chief, homeport, Wilmington N.C.
  • Registered in 1955 by Norfolk Ship Salvage Co., Inc. Norfolk, VA as fishing boat B. O. Colonna
  • Registered in 1961 by FV B.O. Colonna, Inc. White Stone, VA. as fishing boat B. O. Colonna, homeport, Reedsville, VA.
  • Registered in 1970 by Haynie Products, Inc., Reedsville, VA. as fishing boat B. O. Colonna
  • Final Disposition, scrapped in 1973
    Specifications: Displacement 2,323 t.
    Displacement 606 t.
    Length 153'
    Beam 30'1"
    Draft 13'4"
    Speed 14 kts.
    Complement 21 (1907)
    Armament none
    Propulsion steam engine; coal-fired boiler; single propeller; 800 IHP, diesel after World War II

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    USLHST Iris
    Big Chief 15k USLHST Iris moored to the pier while serving the lighthouse at the Delaware Breakwater in 1899. Photo from U.S.LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE TENDERS, Eastwind Publishing. With permission from Eastwind Publishing
    Big Chief 254k USLHST Iris underway, date and location unknown.
    US National Archives and Records Administration photo RG26-LSH-24-4 a US Lighthouse Service now in the collections of the US National Archives.
    Commercial Service
    Big Chief 61k Ex-Big Chief (IX-101) hauled out circa October 1949 to begin conversion to the menhaden fishing vessel B. O. Colonna. After a brief period as a merchant freighter she served as a lighthouse tender from 1899 to 1934 and then returned to merchant service.
    "Atlantic Fishing Company" from The Colonna Papers. Photo courtesy
    Robert Hurst
    Big Chief 95k Ex-Big Chief (IX-101) in 1955 during conversion to a menhaden fishing vessel by Colonna's Shipyard, Inc., Norfolk, VA. Her high forecastle has been cut down and only the smokestack and the lower portion of the deckhouse were retained aft. Colonna's Shipyard. Photo courtesy Robert Hurst
    Big Chief 103k F/V B. O. Colonna at Norfolk in 1956, completed, outfitted and heading out for her first fishing season.
    "Atlantic Fishing Company" from The Colonna Papers. Photo courtesy
    Robert Hurst

    Big Chief (IX-101)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation - Navy Log

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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 12 January 2024