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Title: A Brief History of the U. S. S. Imperator, one of the two Largest Ships in the U. S. Navy.
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Brief History of the U. S. S. Imperator, one of the two Largest Ships in the U. S. Navy." ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
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  Transcriber's note:

  Italics is represented with underscores (_Text_).
  A list of corrections made can be found at the end of the book.


  _OF THE_



[Illustration: _The U. S. S. IMPERATOR, one of the two largest ships in
the world._]


The Imperator was first commissioned in 1913, at Hamburg, Germany, by
the Hamburg-American Steamship Line of Hamburg. She made regular
passenger runs from Hamburg to New York from the time she was
commissioned by her original owners up until the latter part of July,
1914. Her passenger quota was: 700 first class, 600 second class, 1000
third class and 1,800 fourth class. And on account of her up-to-date
safety devices, she was one of the best patronized steamers belonging
to the Hamburg American Line.

The Imperator was built by the Vulcan Steel Works of Hamburg. She has a
length of 919 feet over all, a width of 98 feet 3 in., and a depth of
70 feet. She is electric lighted throughout, and has a very powerful
wireless set--installed after being taken over by the Navy, and
supplanting the old set--together with submarine signalling devices,
watertight bulkheads and doors, which are opened and closed by
hydraulic power. She carries 2,000 tons of permanent ballast.

The maximum speed of the Imperator is 22 knots, about 25 land miles,
and she burns about 850 tons of coal per day. Her steaming radius is
about 5,000 miles, and in port, under ordinary circumstances, she burns
about 60 tons per day. The total capacity of her coal bunkers is 8,550
tons. The maximum draft when she is loaded and ready for sea is 40 feet
and 6 inches, and in a single trip across the Atlantic her draft
diminishes to 36 feet and 4 inches.

Her troop carrying capacity is 1,000 officers, 966 non-commissioned
officers, and 7,939 enlisted men of the Army. Her total Naval
complement is 2200 officers and enlisted men of the regular Navy.

[Illustration: _Captain Casey B. Morgan, Commanding._]


The Commanding Officer of the Imperator is Casey B. Morgan, Captain,
U. S. N. He graduated from the Naval academy in 1888, and his first
cruise in a seagoing vessel of the Navy was in the U. S. S. Atlanta. He
took part in a number of campaigns and received his first commission,
that of Ensign, in 1890. While in this rank he served in the Alert,
Dolphin, and the Michigan--now the Wolverine; the Raleigh during the
Cuban blockade. He sailed for the Asiatic in the Raleigh in December,
1897, and arrived at Hong Kong, China, on Feb. 18th, 1898, and it was
upon the arrival of the Dolphin that the destruction of the Maine was
learned. He served with Admiral Dewey as a Lieutenant (jg) during the
Spanish-American war, and took part in the Battle of Manila Bay, also
the bombardment of the city of Manila and the capture of Subic Bay and

Captain Morgan served in many vessels since the war, his service has
been both varied and honorable. He was promoted up the ladder of
success steadily, and in 1910 he received his commission as a Commander
in the Navy. Captain Morgan was the first officer in the Navy to take a
ship of the Navy through the St. Lawrence River and canals to Chicago,
that vessel was the Dubuque. Captain Morgan was the senior Naval
officer present during the Cuban outbreak in 1911, and was S. O. P.
during the Santa Dominican and Haitian Revolutions in that year and the
one following. He was in command of the battleship Minnesota at Vera
Cruz in 1914, and was at the War College, Newport, R. I., when we
declared war on Germany.

His first command during the war was the Sixth Squadron, Patrol Force,
with Hampton Roads as its base, and the Albany as the flagship. The
patrol was ordered to the other side, and Captain Morgan was ordered to
command the Agamemnon, the ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II. In April, 1918, he was
ordered to the staff of Vice-Admiral Gleaves as Force Transport
Officer, and remained in that capacity until May 23, at which time he
took command of the Great Imperator.

[Illustration: _The U. S. S. North Carolina which operated with the


It was a big job, placing the Imperator in commission for the first
time by American Navalmen. Fresh from the hands of the enemy into the
hands of proud Yankee sailors was the fate of this great leviathan of
the deep. She had been tied up alongside the docks at Hamburg, Germany,
for four years and nine months, and while her engines and boilers were
in fair condition, they were, nevertheless new to the men who were
first to sail her under the Stars and Stripes.

Getting a crew to man her was also a big proposition. Without men she
would not serve us our purpose, so her first commanding officer had to
draw his crew from several naval bases in France, London, and Cardiff,
Wales. The Imperator was brought to Brest by a German crew, including a
commodore, two captains and a score of other German officers. She was
officially placed in commission with Old Glory flying proudly at her
flagstaff on the 5th day of May, 1919. Captain John K. Robison, U. S.
Navy, was her first commanding officer, and Commander Laird, U. S.
Navy, was her first executive officer, and 2500 Yankee fighting men
comprised her crew.

Many of the Imperator's officers and enlisted men had been on foreign
station for some time, and her commanding officer was ordered from
Admiral Sims' headquarters in London.


She sailed from Brest on May 15, with 1500 officers of the Army, 300
enlisted men of the Army, many distinguished civilians and 500 nurses
on board. She left in company with the Leviathan, and the two vessels
had an exciting trip across the Atlantic. While it was not officially
announced as a race, it was a close run all the way over. The Leviathan
won by a few hours, but be it remembered that the "Levi" had made about
twenty trips over, they were hardened to the transport duty, and they
knew their ship. When we get a little more accustomed to the packet,
we'll show 'em how to put the old Imperator through the water!

The Imperator arrived in New York on the 22nd of May, after a
delightful passage over, and she tied up to the dock along with her
sistership, the Leviathan. Two of the world's greatest ships--Leviathan
and Imperator--at the same dock, and best of all the dock was in the
good old U. S. A., and greatest of all, they had the American flag
floating over them.

The Imperator lay at the dock at Hoboken until June 3rd, at which time
she sailed for Brest. During her stay in port she was given a complete
overhauling, standee bunks were installed by the thousands, a new
wireless outfit was placed on board, as was a complete and up-to-date
printing department, installed by John F. Kennedy, chief printer, who
was sent to her from the staff of Admiral Sims. She also took on board
tons and tons of fresh provisions and supplies.

It was the next day, after her first arrival in the United States after
an absence of nearly five years, that the Imperator received her
present commanding officer, C. B. Morgan, Captain, U. S. Navy, and her
present executive officer. Commander R. A. White. Many other officers
to head important departments were also received.


The Force to which the U. S. S. Imperator belongs and with which she
has operated since being taken over by the U. S. Navy is the greatest
force of vessels ever operated under any nation's flag. At the time the
Cruiser and Transport Force was first commissioned, early in April,
1917, there were only a handfull of vessels ready to carry the
thousands of soldiers who were then being assembled all over the
country, to France. However, by the time the first sailing date
arrived--June 14th, 1917--we had equipped and ready to sail thirty odd

The Force has been, and is to-day, under the command of Vice-Admiral
Albert Gleaves, U. S. Navy, who commanded all of our troopships,
transports and cruisers during our two years of war against the Central
Powers of Germany; the untiring efforts of Admiral Gleaves, his staff
of officers and enlisted men is now known to the world. Before the
armistice was signed, and before the Force begun to diminish, there
were one hundred and thirty-nine vessels in commission and extending
their efforts in bringing our soldiers back to their homeland.

There are ships operating in six different divisions, the largest of
which is the New York Division, with headquarters at Hoboken, N. J. To
transport safely approximately 1,750,000 troops to France and England,
together with their fighting equipment, their food and supplies and
food for our Allies, who had been three years at war, was no small
undertaking--it required hundreds of ships and thousands of officers
and enlisted men to accomplish the feat, but it HAS BEEN DONE!

Not too much praise can be given to the officers and men of the Navy
and especially those of the Cruiser and Transport Force, whether they
made one trip or a dozen. Every man who had his shoulder to the great
wheel which was pushed ahead until that spoke arrived which had
inscribed upon it VICTORY, deserves a like amount of credit for the
glorious accomplishments in the world's greatest struggle for humanity,
justice and the final eradication of militarism and autocracy.

[Illustration: _The "Y" gun, one of the valuable developments during
the war._]


The sister ship to the Imperator, and largest vessel in the world, is
the Leviathan. The Leviathan is 954 feet in length, and has a beam of
one hundred feet. She displaces 68,000 tons of water and has a mean
draft of 40 feet of water; has a speed of 24 knots, and carries 8,750
tons of coal when loaded and ready for sea. She was also one of the
Hamburg-American Line steamers, and was known as the Vaterland before
being taken over by the Navy.

The Leviathan was more fortunate in the cause of the Allied nations, as
she was on this side of the Atlantic when war was declared. The
Imperator was on the other side and she never ventured to sea again.

The "Levi," as she is affectionately known by her crew, transported
more than 110,000 troops to France and England before the armistice was
signed, and has been bringing them back at a 12,000 rate a trip ever
since. The Imperator was not taken over--as has been said--and has only
made three successful trips with troops, civilians and nurses since the
armistice. There is one redeeming feature about the "Imp" and that is
the fact that all the troops and passengers she does carry--are
homeward bound! Home to their beloved land for which they fought and
for which they unstintingly offered their lives to defend. The fact
that it is home matters not so much, but the fact that their homes are
in the great United States means all to them!


While in Brest, shortly after the ship was placed in commission, and
before she sailed on her maiden voyage under the Red, White and Blue
ensign, Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, visited the ship and
made an address to the ship's company. He expressed himself as being
sorry that he could not make the first trip with the new and
all-American crew of one of the world's greatest vessels. "It is up to
us (the Navy) to get the soldier boys home, and then we will go home
ourselves," said the Secretary.

  Transcriber's note:

  The following corrections have been made:
  "runs from Hambrug to New York" -> Hamburg
  "Ensign in 1890" -> Ensign, in 1890
  "is 1,000 offiicers" -> officers
  "Santa Domincan" -> Santa Dominican
  "be it reembered" -> remembered
  "packet, We'll" -> we'll
  "militarism and autrocracy" -> autocracy
  "since the the armistice" -> superfluous "the" removed
  "import-and departments" -> important

  Spacing after punctuation standardized, inconsistent hyphenation and
  archaic spelling retained.

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