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Section Patrol Craft Photo Archive

Canonicus (ID 1696)

Navy call sign:
George - Quack - Boy - Dog

Call sign (Late 1919):
Nan - Cast - Sail

El Sud Class Freighter/Canandaigua Class Minelayer:

  • Built in 1899 as El Cid by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Corp., Newport News, VA for the Southern Pacific Co. Morgan Line
  • Delivered 16 December 1899
  • Acquired by the Navy 23 November 1917
  • Commissioned USS Canonicus (ID 1696) 2 March 1918
  • Decommissioned 7 August 1919 and returned to the United States Shipping Board
  • Scrapped in 1934.


  • Displacement 7,620 t.
  • Length 405' 1"
  • Beam 48' 3"
  • Draft 22' 6"
  • Speed 15 kts.
  • Complement 368
  • Armament: One 5"/51, two 3"/50 mounts and two machine guns
  • Propulsion: Three double ended boilers, one vertical triple expansion steam engine, one shaft.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Canonicus 350k c. 1918
    North Sea
    Photo © N. R. George from National Museum of the U.S. Navy
    Original photo: Naval Historical Center
    Replacement photo: Michael Mohl
    Canonicus 294k Original photo: Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken in British waters, 1918.
    Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1976
    U.S. Navy photo NH 85034

    Replacement photo: Library of Congress photo LC-USZ62-38945 © by N. R. George from National Museum of the U.S. Navy
    Michael Mohl
    Canonicus 35k c. 1918
    Protected by smoke screen in the North Sea
    Library of Congress photo LC-USZ62-98344 from National Museum of the U.S. Navy
    Canonicus 125k U.S. Navy Mine Layers steaming in line abreast during the laying of the North Sea mine barrage, September 1918. Analysis of camouflage patterns indicates that these ships are (from front to rear): USS Roanoke (ID 1695); USS Housatonic (ID 1697); USS Shawmut (ID 1255); USS Canandaigua (ID 1694); USS Canonicus (ID 1696); with USS Quinnebaug (ID 1687)and USS Saranac (ID 1702) in the left and right center distance. A four-stack British cruiser is in the left distance
    U.S. Navy photo 61101
    Naval Historical Center
    Quinnebaug 71k U.S. Navy minelayers proceeding to sea in two columns, in Area Number 2 of the North Sea, September 1918. Ships in the column at left are (from front to rear): Roanoke, Housatonic, Quinnebaug and Baltimore. Ships in column at right are (from front to rear): Canonicus (out of picture, to right), Canandaigua, Aroostook and Saranac.
    Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives.
    U. S. Army Signal Corps Photo 111-SC-43563
    Aroostook 111k American minelayers underway on 20 September 1918. They include; on the right: USS Roanoke (ID-1695), USS Housatonic (ID-1697), USS Quinnebaug (ID-1687), USS Baltimore (CM-1). On the left: USS Canonicus (ID-1696), USS Canandaigua (ID-1694), USS Aroostook (CM-3), USS Saranac (ID-1702)
    Imperial War Museum photo No. IWM(Q 20254) from American First World War Official Exchange Collection
    Mike Green
    Canonicus 190k Ship's officers and crew, photographed at Invergordon, Scotland, in October 1918. Her Commanding Officer, Captain Thomas L. Johnson, is seated in the center of the front row
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 51900
    Robert Hurst
    Canonicus 114k Canonicus, in a U.S. East Coast port, while employed as a troop transport in 1919.
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2005
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 102942
    Canonicus 90k Canonicus, in harbor in 1919, while employed as a troop transport.
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 105423
    Canonicus 190k Arriving off Newport News, Virginia, with homeward bound troops from France, 10 July 1919
    Panoramic photograph by Holladay, Newport News. The harbor tug Maren Lee is assisting Canonicus
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2008
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 106362

    Commanding Officers
    01CDR Thomas L. Johnson, USN - Awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal2 March 1918 - 7 August 1919
    Courtesy Joe Radigan

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships History: The second Canonicus (No. 1696) was launched 7 October 1899 by Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Newport News, VA., as El Cid; acquired 23 November 1917 from the Shipping Board, fitted out as a mine planter at Morse Dry Dock and Repair Co., Brooklyn N.Y.; and commissioned as Canonicus 2 March 1918 Commander T. L. Johnson, USNRF, in command.

    Canonicus cleared Newport, R.I., 12 May 1918 with Mine Squadron 1, bound for Inverness, Scotland. Arriving 27 May, she operated out of Inverness and Invergordon, Scotland, planting the mines of the North Sea barrage. This precise, demanding work continued through the close of the war, after which she returned to Hampton Roads, VA., 3 January 1919.

    On 7 February 1919 Canonicus was assigned to the Cruiser and Transport Force, and made three voyages between the east coast and France, returning 4,166 troops to the United States. Canonicus was decommissioned 7 August 1919, and returned to the Shipping Board for further transfer to her former owner.

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