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Section Patrol Craft Photo Archive

Helvetia (SP 3096)


  • The first Helvetia was built in 1905 by I. L. Snow and Co., Rockland, ME
  • Acquired by the Navy 18 July 1918 at Norfolk, VA and commissioned the same day
  • She was used as a decoy ship. It was expected that her innocent mercantile appearance would draw German submarines to the surface to make an easy gunfire attack. The unsuspecting U-boats would then
    be easy prey for a U.S. Navy submarine lurking submerged nearby. She apparently made active patrols for this purpose, but no U-boats rose to the bait
  • Sold to her former owner in February 1919
  • Renamed Wismy in 1944
  • Abandoned above Puerto Limon, Costa Rica in 1947
  • Fate unknown.


  • Displacement 499 t.
  • Length 157' 5"
  • Beam 36' 2"
  • Draft 12'
  • Complement 34
  • Propulsion: Sail.
    Click on thumbnail
    for full size image
    Size Image Description Source
    Helvetia 91k Probably photographed prior to World War I
    U.S. Navy photo NH 101784
    Original photo: Naval History and Heritage Command
    Replacement photo: Robert Hurst
    Helvetia 129k Probably photographed in July 1918, when she was inspected and acquired for the U.S. Navy. Intended to serve as a decoy to lure German U-boats within torpedo range of U.S. submarines operating nearby. She was operationally deployed but never encountered the enemy
    U.S. Navy photo NH 102631
    Naval History and Heritage Command
    Helvetia 124k Under sail, as seen from the submarine USS E-2 (SS-25), during an anti-submarine patrol in 1918
    Courtesy of the Submarine Force Library and Museum, Groton, Connecticut, 1972
    U.S. Navy photo NH 78920
    Helvetia 265k Decoy ship Helvetia accompanied by two U.S. submarines (one of which is USS E-2 (SS-25) while on an anti-submarine patrol in 1918
    Photo from "A History Of The Transport Service: Adventures Of United States Transports And Cruisers In The World War", by Vice Admiral Albert Gleaves, USN, Published by George H. Doran Company, New York
    Robert Hurst

    View the Helvetia (SP 3096)
    DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway website

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