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NavSource Online: Cruiser Photo Archive

USS VESUVIUS (Dynamite Cruiser)


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign: Nan - Victor - Mike
(Contributed by John Spivey)

Click on image for full size - Drawing courtesy of Robert Jensen

Displacement 930 Tons, Dimensions, 252' 4" (oa) x 26' 5" x 11' 3" (Max)
Armament 3 x 15" Pneumatic Dynamite Guns, 3 x 3pdr.
Armor, None.
Machinery, 3,200 IHP; 2 vertical, inverted triple expansion engines, 2 screws
Speed, 20 Knots, Crew 70.
Operational and Building Data
Keel laid SEP 1887 at William Cramp and Sons Ships and Engine Building Co., Philadelphia, PA
Launched 28 APR 1888
Commissioned 02 JUN 1890
Decommissioned 25 APR 1895
Commissioned 12 JAN 1897
Decommissioned 16 SEP 1898
Commissioned 21 JUN 1906
Decommissioned 27 NOV 1907
Commissioned 14 FEB 1910
Decommissioned 21 OCT 1921
Fate: Sold for scrap to J. Lipsitz and Co., Chelsea, MA on 21 April 1922.
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - Spanish Campaign Medal

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An undated pic of the dynamite cruiser USS Vesuvius at anchor. Note the three 15" dynamite tubes projecting near the bow; they were aimed by pointing the ship at the target.

USN Photo

Robert Hurst
Vesuvius 70k USS Vesuvius (1890-1922) photographed circa the early 1890s. The muzzles of her three pneumatic "dynamite" guns are visible below her foremast boom.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 69211.


The USS Vesuvius taken sometime between 1890 and 1901.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Bill Gonyo

Starboard broadside of the USS Vesuvius (Dynamite Cruiser) underway at an unknown location. Photo dates between 1890-1901.

Library of Congress, LC-D4-21047

Mike Green
Vesuvius 195k Port bow underway, 1891. Image # (19-A-2-87) National Archives

The Dynamite Cruiser USS Vesuvius at New York, during the Columbian Naval Parade, 27 April 1893. Photographed by Loeffler (1864-1946).

Image courtesy of  DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Robert Hurst
Vesuvius 151k Port side view underway, 1895. PAHRC
53k Starboard bow view, 1898. Daniel Wilmes

Interior of the USS Vesuvius conning tower located behind the dynamite guns.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Bill Gonyo


Vesuvius carried three 15-inch (38-cm) cast iron pneumatic guns, mounted forward side-by-side at a fixed elevation of 16 degrees. Gun barrels were 55 feet (17 meters) long with the muzzles 15 feet (4.6 meters) above the deck 37 feet (11 meters) abaft the bow. In order to train these weapons, the ship had to be aimed, like a gun, at its target. Compressed air from a 1000 psi (70 atm) reservoir projected the shells from the "dynamite guns." Two air compressors were available to recharge the reservoir.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Bill Gonyo

Interior image of the USS Vesuvius (Dynamite Cruiser) showing projectile carriers for the three guns. Photo dates from 1809-1901.

Library of Congress, LC-D4-20115

Mike Green

Interior image of the breeches of the dynamite guns of the USS Vesuvius (Dynamite Cruiser). Photo dates from 1890-1901.

Library of Congress, LC-D4-20113

Mike Green

USS Vesuvius air chambers for the dynamite guns. The shells fired from the guns were steel or brass casings 7 feet (2 meters) long with the explosive contained in the conical forward part of the casing and spiral vanes on the after part to rotate the projectile. The explosive used in the shells themselves was actually a "desensitized blasting gelatin" composed of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine. It was less sensitive to shock than regular dynamite but still sensitive enough that compressed air, rather than powder, had to be utilized as the propellant. Shells containing 550 pounds (250 kg) of explosive had a maximum range of 1 mile (1.6 km), but range could be extended to 4000 yards (3.7 km) by reducing projectile weight to 200 pounds (100 kg). Maximum muzzle velocity was 800 feet (250 meters) per second. Range could be reduced by releasing less compressed air from the reservoir. Ten shells per gun were carried on board, and 15 shells were fired in 16 minutes 50 seconds during an 1889 test. The shells employed an electronic fuse which could be set to either explode on contact or delayed to explode underwater.

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Bill Gonyo

USS Vesuvius and USS Sterling laid up at Boston Naval Shipyard, circa 1900.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph #NH 90373.

Mike Green

Commanding Officers
Name/Rank Final Rank Dates
Schroeder, Seaton, LT RADM 06/02/1890 -
Knox, Harry, CDR 08/12/1894 -
Pillsbury, John E., LCDR RADM 01/12/1897 -
Sexton, Walton Roswell, LT   06/21/1906
Bingham, Donald Cameron, LT   02/14/1910

View This Vessels DANFS History Entry on the U.S. Navy Historical Center website.

Crew Contact And Reunion Information
Not Applicable To This Ship

Additional Resources
Hazegray & Underway Cruiser Pages By Andrew Toppan.
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