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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USLHT Arctic
USS Arctic (1858 - 1859)
USC&GS Arctic (1857 - 1858)
USS Arctic (I) (1855 - 1857)

Screw Steamer:
  • Laid down in 1855 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard
  • Launched, date unknown
  • Commissioned, USS Arctic in 1855
  • USS Arctic was built for the purpose of rescuing the Arctic expedition under the command of Passed Assistant Surgeon Elisha K. Kane
  • Arctic departed New York, 4 June 1855, in company with USS Release, 4 June 1855
  • The two ships found Kane and his men at Discoe Island where they had arrived after a hazardous 84-day journey over pack ice and through water in open boats
  • Arctic and Release returned to the United States with Kane and his party in the fall of 1855
  • Arctic returned to sea in July 1856 to make soundings in preparation for the laying of the first Atlantic cable
  • She started at St. Johns, Newfoundland beginning a series of soundings, arriving at Queenstown, Ireland, 23 August
  • She completed her soundings for the cable returning to St. Johns, 20 September, 1856
  • Decommissioned, 21 October 1856, at New York
  • In 1857 and early 1858, Arctic was commissioned into the U.S. Coast Survey as USC&GS Arctic to making further cable soundings in the Atlantic
  • Recommissioned into U.S. Navy in May 1858 as USS Arctic, she cruised the waters around Cuba in company with an American squadron sent there to protect American merchantmen from British cruisers still practicing their so-called "right" of visit and search
  • Early in 1859, her machinery was removed, and Arctic was turned over to the Lighthouse Service to do duty as a lightship
  • After 20 years of service off the North Carolina coast, she was sold at public auction, 16 April 1879
    Displacement 125 t.
    Length 172'
    Beam 24'
    Depth of Hull unknown
    Draft 10'
    Speed unknown
    Complement unknown
    one 12-pdr gun
    Propulsion steam
    single propeller

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    142k USS Arctic underway, taking soundings for the Atlantic telegraph cable in 1856.
    Illustrated London News, 13 September 1856
    US Naval History and Heritage Command, (SH) No Photo #. Courtesy
    Robert Hurst
    277k "Mechanism for sounding the Atlantic Ocean."
    This is one of two illustrations published in the Illustrated London News, 13 September 1856, with a letter to the editor from Cork Harbor, Ireland, on the recent soundings for the Atlantic telegraph. This illustration shows the sounding apparatus onboard USS Arctic.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command, (SH) No Photo #
    Robert Hurst

    USS Arctic (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    USS Arctic (1855)
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    Last Updated 22 July 2022