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Gunboat Photo Archive

Helena (PG 9)

Call sign (1928):
Negative - Affirmative - Sail - Cast

Call sign (1919):
George - Quack - Mike - Tare

ex-Helena (Gunboat No. 9)

Call sign (1912):
Nan - George - Yoke

Wilmington Class Gunboat:

  • The first Helena was laid down 11 October 1894 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA
  • Completed 29 January 1896
  • Launched 30 January 1896
  • Commissioned USS Helena (Gunboat No. 9), 8 July 1897 at the New York Navy Yard
  • Decommissioned 19 April 1905 at Cavite, Philippine Islands
  • Recommissioned 16 July 1906
  • Decommissioned
  • Recommissioned 15 August 1917
  • Designated PG-9, 7 July 1920
  • Placed in reduced commission 29 June 1929
  • Decommissioned 27 May 1932 and struck from the Navy list
  • Sold for scrap 7 July 1934.


  • Displacement 1,390 t.
  • Length 251' 10"
  • Length between perpendiculars 250' 9"
  • Beam 40' 1½"
  • Draft 9'
  • Speed 13 kts.
    1914 - 15.50 kts.
  • Complement 175
    1911 - 187
    1921 - 195
  • Armament: Four 4" gun mounts, four 11-pounders and one 3" rifle
    1905 - Eight 4" rapid fire mounts, four 6-pounder rapid fire mounts, four 1-pounder rapid fire mounts and two 6mm mounts
    1911 - Eight 4"/40 rapid fire mounts and four 3-pounder rapid fire mounts
  • Propulsion: Four Hohenstein boilers, two 980ihp vertical triple expansion steam engines, two shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Nashville 235k 19 October 1895
    USS Nashville (PG-7) ready for launching at Newport News, Virginia on October 19, 1895. Just ahead of her on the building way is USS Wilmington (PG-8), which was also launched on that day. Under construction at right is USS Helena (PG-9)
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 45653
    Mike Green
    Helena (Gunboat No. 9)
    Helena 414k Replacement photo: Photo from The American Navy; Belford, Middlebrook and Co., Chicago - 1898 Original photo: Tommy Trampp
    Replacement photo: Thomas Becher
    Helena 303k c. 1898
    Photo from the New York Tribune Illustrated Supplement
    Mike Mohl
    Helena 141k c. 1898
    Photo from Colliers History of the Spanish American War, published immediately after the war
    Dan Wilmes
    Helena 183k One of the vessels of the escort convoying troops from Key West to Santiago, 1898
    From the Collection of Rear Admiral C.H. Taylor
    National Archives photo USN 903391
    Naval History and Heritage Command
    Helena 187k c. 1898
    Helena approaching New York (Armored Cruiser No. 2)
    Photo from the Louise White Collection, Florida Keys Public Libraries
    Robert Hurst
    Helena 76k Photographed in Far Eastern waters sometime after 1899, while dressed with flags for a holiday
    U.S. Navy photo NH 53500
    Naval Historical Center
    Helena 204k Helena sometime between 1897 and 1901
    Photo courtesy of the Detroit Publishing Co. Image from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographic Division under digital ID: det.4a13896
    Robert Hurst

    Ship's Officers aboard USS Helena (PG 9), in 1898. Seated in the right center is her CO, Commander William T. Swinburne. Standing in exact center is Lieutenant Junior Grade J.W. Oman. From the Collection of Commander Edward Moale Jr., USN ret.

    U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command. Photo # NH 91962.

    Robert Hurst
    Helena 72k Chinese postcard Tommy Trampp
    Helena 109k c. 1903
    At winter quarters in a mud dock at Newchwang, China
    Courtesy U.S. Warships of World War I
    Mike Green
    Helena 168k Photo from the 5 March 1904 edition of the Army and Navy Register showing Helena at her winter quarters mud dock at Newchwang, China Ron Reeves
    Helena 247k Newchwang, China
    Photo at from the 7 May 1904 edition of the Army and Navy Register
    Helena 107k Painted by the Chinese artist Qikit, 1905
    Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC
    Donation of Mrs. A.W. Lott. Navy Art Accession: 76-301-A
    U.S. Navy photo NH 85566-KN
    Naval Historical Center
    Helena 50k Photo by Rau from the 1914 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships Robert Hurst
    Helena 72k Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York
    Photo from the George E. Stonebridge Photograph Collection, 1897-1918 at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library website
    Daniel Hacker
    Photos added 10 July 2021
    Helena 66k
    USS Helena (PG 9)
    Helena 308k c. 1923/1924
    Hong Kong, China
    American Man of War in Hong Kong Harbor. Identified ships are: Huron (CA 9), Helena (PG 9), Sacramento (PG 19), Asheville (PG 21), Black Hawk (AD 9), Hart (DM 8), Rizal (DM 14), Hulbert (DD 342), Noa (DD 343), William B. Preston (DD 344), Preble (DD 345), later DM-20; Sicard (DD 346), later DM -21; Pruitt (DD 347), later DM-22; Finch (AM 9), Bittern (AM 36) and SS President Jackson
    Photo by A. Fong
    Photo from the collection of Chief Walter E. Pegg
    Jay Milewski
    Helena 210k 16 August 1924
    In the Dewey Drydock, Olongapo, Luzon, Philippines
    Photo from the collection of Chief Walter E. Pegg
    Helena 232k
    Helena 203k
    Helena 210k c. May 1925
    Hong Kong, China
    Helena and Canopus AS-9 with 3 or 4 submarines
    Photo from the collection of Chief Walter E. Pegg
    Helena 107k c. 1925
    Canton, China
    U.S. Navy photo
    Robert M. Cieri

    Commanding Officers
    01CDR William Thomas Swinburne, USN - USNA Class of 18668 July 1897 - 8 December 1897
    02CDR Charles Hurbert Stockton, USN - USNA Class of 18658 December 1897 - 7 August 1899
    03CDR Edwin King Moore, USN - USNA Class of 18687 August 1899 - 5 April 1901
    04CDR Royal Rodney Ingersoll, USN - USNA Class of 1868
    Retired as Rear Admiral
    5 April 1901 - 8 August 1903
    05CDR Frank Ezra Sawyer, USN - USNA Class of 18728 August 1903
    06CDR James Clarkson Gillmore, USN - USNA Class of 187616 June 1906 - 25 July 1907
    07CDR Richard Morris Hughes, USN - USNA Class of 187825 July 1907 - 16 May 1908
    08CDR John William Buchanan, USN16 May 1908 - 21 May 1909
    09CDR Reuben Oscar Bitler, USN21 May 1909 - 25 January 1910
    10CDR Chester Mahlon Knepper, USN - USNA Class of 188425 January 1910
    11CDR George Ralph Marvell, USN - USNA Class of 1889
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1918) - Retired as Rear Admiral
    1910 - 1911
    12CDR Richard Harrison Jackson, USN - USNA Class of 1887
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1918) - Retired as Admiral
    1911 - 1913
    13CDR William Carey Cole, USN - USNA Class of 1889
    Awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal (1918) - Retired as Rear Admiral
    27 December 1913 - 5 June 1914
    14CDR William Daniel Botherton, USN - USNA Class of 18915 June 1914 - 25 September 1914
    15LCDR Arthur St.Clair Smith, Jr., USN - USNA Class of 189725 September 1914
    16CDR Aubrey Kirk Shoup, USN - USNA Class of 1904
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1918) - Retired as Captain
    29 November 1919
    17CDR Robert Andrew Abernathy, USN - USNA Class of 190010 January 1923 - 26 May 1923
    18CDR James Patrick Lannon, USN - USNA Class of 1902
    Awarded the Medal of Honor (1914 - Awarded in 1929) and the Navy Cross (1918) - Retired as Rear Admiral
    26 May 1923 - 5 September 1924
    19CAPT Edward Theodore Constein, USN - USNA Class of 18985 September 1924
    20CDR Eldred Bewes Armstrong, USN - USNA Class of 1906
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1918)
    15 June 1926 - 6 December 1926
    21LCDR William Palmer Bacon, USN - USNA Class of 191617 July 1929
    22LCDR Melville Cochran Partello, USN - USNA Class of 191510 July 1931 - 27 May 1932
    Courtesy Wolfgang Hechler, Ron Reeves, Bill Gonyo and Joe Radigan

    View Helena (PG-9) Library of Congress Images
    View the Helena (PG 9)
    DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command website
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