Please report any broken links or trouble you might come across to the Webmaster. Please take a moment to let us know so that we can correct any problems and make your visit as enjoyable and as informative as possible.

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
  • Sold for commercial service as a fishing vessel, renamed 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

    Click On Image
    For Full Size Image
    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
    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

    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office - Iris 1899
    Back to the Navsource Photo Archives Main Page Back To The Service Ship Type Index Back To The Miscellaneous Ship (IX) Photo Index
    Comments, Suggestions, E-mail Webmaster.
    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
    All pages copyright NavSource Naval History
    Last Updated 13 November 2015