U.S.S. Merrimac (1894)

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U.S.S. Merrimac (1894)
Hull Number: None
Builder: Swan Hunter[1]
Purchased: 12 Apr, 1898[2]
Launched: 29 Sep, 1894[3]
Commissioned: 11 Apr, 1898[4]
Expended: 3 Jun, 1898[5]
Fate: Blockship
U.S.S. Merrimac was a collier purchased by the U.S. Navy in 1898 and scuttled in an unsuccessful attempt to bottle up the Spanish squadron in Santiago Harbor.


Originally named Solveig, she was launched by Swan Hunter on 29 September, 1894.[6] Renamed Merrimac early in 1898, she was purchased by the U.S. Navy on 12 April, 1898 from Jefferson T. Hogan.


Merrimac commissioned on 11 April, 1898, a day before her purchase was finalized![7] Her first commanding officer was Commander James M. Miller.[8]

Loaded with steam coal, the Merrimac rendezvoused with Commodore Schley's force off Cienfuegos on 20 May. After her cargo was transferred to the hungry warships, Merrimac was chosen to be sacrificed in an audacious attempt to trap Admiral Cervera's squadron in Santiago Harbor. Commander Miller was relieved by Lieutenant Richmond P. Hobson on the morning of 2 June, and Merrimac's crew reduced to seven volunteers.

Hobson's Gambit

In the early morning hours of 3 June, Hobson and his skeleton crew sailed Merrimac straight into the entrance of Santiago Harbor, planning to scuttle the collier at the narrowest point in the channel. It was hoped the floodtide would force her stern around to the opposite bank, completely blocking the channel.

The Spanish defenses discovered Merrimac and opened fire, and a hit knocked out Merrimac's steering gear, leaving her to sink in the channel without blocking it. An effort to recover Hobson and his men with a picket launch failed and they were captured by the Spaniards, who praised them highly for their bravery.


Dates of appointment are provided when known.



  • two 6-pounders

See Also


  1. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.
  2. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.
  3. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.
  4. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.
  5. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.
  6. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.
  7. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.
  8. Records of Living Officers (7th ed). p. 143.
  9. Records of Living Officers (7th ed). p. 143.
  10. Silverstone. The New Navy. p. 131.


  • Hamersly, Lewis Randolph (1902). The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Seventh ed. New York: L. R. Hamersly Co.
  • Hobson, Richmond Pearson (1899). The Sinking of the "Merrimac": A Personal Narrative. New York: The Century Co.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). The U.S. Navy Warship Series: The New Navy 1883-1922. New York: Routledge.

Collier U.S.S. Merrimac
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