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Section Patrol Craft photo Archive

USAT Mercury
ex-USS Mercury (ID 3012)

Call sign:
George - Tare - Fox - Boy

ex-USS Barbarossa (ID 3012)

Mercury served both the U. S. Navy and Army.


  • Built in 1896 as Barbarossa by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, Germany
  • Acquired by the Navy 3 August 1917 and commissioned USS Barbarossa (ID 3012)
  • Renamed Mercury
  • Decommissioned 27 September 1919 and transferred to the War Department and renamed USAT Mercury
  • Transferred to the United States Shipping Board in August 1920 and sold to the Baltic Steamship Corp. of America for a proposed New York-Halifax-Copenhagen-Danzig service but the firm went bankrupt before it could begin
  • Returned to the United States and scrapped in February 1924 at Baltimore, MD.


  • Displacement 19,500 t.
  • Length 544'
  • Beam 60'
  • Draft 26'
  • Speed 14 kts.
  • Complement 494
  • Armament: Two 1-pounders and two machine guns
  • Propulsion: Two four-cylinder quadruple-expansion steam engines, two shafts.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    SS Barbarossa
    Barbarossa 82k Undated postcard Robert Hurst
    Mercury 323k Photo from "Passenger Liners of the World Since 1893" (1979) by Nicholas T. Cairis Tommy Trampp
    Mercury 243k Postcard issued between 1901 - 1907
    USS Barbarossa (ID 3012)
    Mercury 86k Probably photographed during the summer of 1917 while the ship was under repair at the Robins Dry Dock and Repair Company, Brooklyn, New York
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 105619
    Robert Hurst
    USS Mercury (ID 3012)
    Mercury 65k Sailing in convoy during 1918. photographed from USS Little (Destroyer # 79)
    U.S. Navy photo NH 46619
    Naval Historical Center
    Mercury 102k Alongside a pier at the New York Navy Yard, 1918
    U.S. Navy photo NH 63553
    Mercury 130k In a French port, probably St. Nazaire, in 1918. The transport at right is unidentified
    Courtesy of James Russell, 1980
    U.S. Navy photo NH 98565
    Mercury 73k In a floating drydock, possibly in France, 1918. She is painted in pattern camouflage.
    Courtesy of James Russell, 1980.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 98564
    Mercury 104k Photographed from on board USS Little (DD-79) as it approached the harbor of Brest, France, on 26 October 1918. A French blimp is patrolling overhead. Another U.S. Navy destroyer is in the left distance. The original print bears U.S. Army Signal Corps markings.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 51343
    Mercury 93k In harbor, with a full load of troops, circa 1918-1919.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 46230
    Mercury 76k In a harbor, circa 1919
    Courtesy of Mrs. W.A. Nightengale, 1971.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 46230
    Mercury 82k Underway in 1919, while bringing U.S. troops home from France.
    Photographed by O.W. Waterman, Hampton, Virginia.
    Courtesy of James Russell, 1980.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 91642
    Mercury 100k In harbour, circa 1919.
    Courtesy of Mrs W.A. Nightengale, 1971
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 98574
    Robert Hurst
    Mercury 111k In drydock, circa 1919. Note men painting the ship's side, amidships.
    Courtesy of Mrs. W.A. Nightengale, 1971.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 98576
    Naval Historical Center
    Mercury 153k In drydock, circa 1919. Note the decoration on the ship's stern, and the fire control structure erected above her after deckhouse. Men are painting the ship's side from stages suspended amidships.
    Courtesy of Mrs. W.A. Nightengale, 1971.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 98577
    Mercury 70k In a harbor, circa 1919.
    Courtesy of Mrs. W.A. Nightengale, 1971.
    U.S. Navy photo NH 98573
    Mercury 90k In port while engaged in transporting World War I veterans from Europe to the U.S., 1919.
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2005.
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 103287
    Robert Hurst
    Mercury 116k In harbor, with a full load of troops, circa 1918-1919
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2006
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 103577
    Mercury 367k The daily Inspection of troops on the ship's foredeck during a trans-Atlantic voyage, circa 1918-1919. Captain Brinser, USN, and the troops Commanding Officer are coming down the ladder
    Photo from "A History Of The Transport Service: Adventures And Experiences Of United States Transports And Cruisers in the World War, by Vice Admiral Albert Gleaves, USN, Published by George H. Doran Company, New York
    Mercury 100k Photograped by O.W. Waterman, Hampton, Virginia, while underway in 1919.
    Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2008
    Naval Historical Center photo NH 106017
    Mercury 119k At Newport News, Virginia on 5 July 1919, after arriving from Europe with troops of the American Expeditionary Force
    Donation of Charles R. Haberlein Jr., 2008
    Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 106378-A

    Commanding Officers
    01CDR Harry Lerch Brinser, USN - USNA Class of 1899
    Awarded the Navy Cross (1918) and the Legion of Merit - Retired as Rear Admiral
    3 August 1917
    Courtesy Joe Radigan

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships History: The fourth Mercury (ID-3012), was built as SS Barbarossa by Blohm and Voss, Hamburg, Germany, in 1896, and operated by the North German Lloyd Line until she took refuge in Hoboken, N.J., at the outbreak of WW I. She was seized when the United States entered the war 6 April 1917; damage inflicted by her crew prior to seizure was repaired; and she was commissioned 3 August 1917, Comdr. H. L. Brinser in command. Shortly after commissioning she was renamed Mercury.

    Mercury got underway for her first transatlantic troop ferrying mission 4 January 1918. Before the armistice 11 November 1918, she had completed seven voyages to France, carrying over 18,000 passengers. On July 1, 1918 the Mercury sailing in convoy with another troop transport ship, the USS Covington, came to the aid of the Covington when she was torpedoed. The Mercury took the Covington in tow but the Covington sank after gallant efforts from the Mercury. After the armistice, she reversed the flow of troops, making eight crossings to return more than 20,000 to the U.S. After completing her last crossing as a U.S. Navy ship 19 September 1919, she decommissoned and was turned over to the Army Transport Service 27 September 1919.

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