USS Yacona
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Yacona ScStr

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(ScStr: t. 627 (gross); 1. 211'0"; b. 27'3"; dph. 16'9"; dr. 13'9"; s. 10.0 k.; cpl. 67; a. 2 3", 2 .30-cal..Colt mg.; 10 Mk. I dc.)

The first Yacona—a steel-hulled screw steam yacht formerly named Gem and Amelia—was built in 1898 at Kinghorn, Scotland, by John Scott and Co., shipwrights, and was purchased around 1906 by the noted financier and oil industry pioneer, H. Clay Pierce, of New York City. The Navy acquired the graceful yacht at New York City on 29 September 1917 for service during World War I. Yacona was fitted out at the Boston Navy Yard; assigned the designation SP-617 and commissioned on 10 December 1917, Lt. Comdr. John W. Wilcox, Jr., in command.

Following operations in coastal waters as far south as New York, Yacona—now commanded by Lt. Comdr. George A. Alexander—departed Newport, R.I., on 24 February, bound for Bermuda. The voyage was uneventful until 26 February, when, at 1130, heavy seas smashed in the ports on the starboard side of the deck house in Yacona, flooding her pay office and radio room and carrying away part of the bulwarks on the starboard bow. Later that day, the ship developed a leak that inundated some of her bunker spaces and flooded the fireroom to a depth of one foot. Reducing speed accordingly, the yacht nevertheless performed a service for SC-256 the following day, taking the 110-foot craft in tow during the afternoon. Yacona's log noted that during the 1200 to 1600 watch, all hands were engaged in removing water from the fireroom bilges.

Arriving at Bermuda on 1 March, Yacona remained there into April, undergoing voyage repairs. She departed Bermuda's waters on the morning of 8 April to escort a convoy that consisted of two Army tugs, Cadmus and Seminole, the tanker Chestnut Hill (SP-2526); the destroyer tender Leonidas; and six subchasers SC’s 147,179, 227, 338, and 95. En route to the Azores, Yacona conducted gunnery and general quarters drills and made part of the passage under sail to conserve coal. Yacona and her convoy arrived at Ponta Delgada on the morning of 22 April and moored alongside the Russian bark Montrosa. After coaling ship, Yacona headed for Bermuda on 4 May, in company with Wadena and the fuel ship Arethusa, and made port at Hamilton 10 days later.

The yacht made one more round-trip voyage to Ponta Delgada and back, escorting a group of six subchasers the cruiser Salem and the destroyer Connelly eastbound and returning west-bound in company with the tugs Arctie (SP-1158), GoMah, Undaunted, and Wadena on 20 June. After engine repairs at the British dockyard there and having her hull painted, Yacona departed Bermuda on 9 July in company with the minesweeper Comber (SP-344) and the tug Moiave (SP-15) and headed for New London. On the voyage to the Connecticut coast, the converted yacht carried the American vice consul to Switzerland, Louis Lombard, and his son as passengers.

The ship reached New London on the afternoon of 12 July and spent almost two months on the east coast undergoing repairs. On 6 September, she departed Charleston, S.C., escorting a convoy—consisting of three 110-foot subchasers assigned to the French Navy: SC-565, S-66, and S-67—and headed for Bermuda.

Yacona, in company with the cruiser Chicago, escorted one more convoy to the Azores between 15 and 27 September. While Yacona's crew was heaving in her port anchor as she was departing Ponta Delgada on 2 October, it fouled the mooring gear. To "expedite matters and join the convoy" then sortieing for Hamilton, Yacona slipped the anchor and 15 fathoms of chain. At 1622 on the afternoon of 9 October, Yacona spotted a suspicious object on the surface; went to general quarters, commenced firing three minutes later; but, after identifying the target as a drifting buoy, ceased fire

Yacona arrived back at St. George's Harbor, Bermuda, on the 12th; departed those waters at 1620 on 5 November, bound for New York; and arrived at the New York Navy Yard on 11 November 1918, the day that the armistice ended World War I.

Next attached to Division 3, Battleship Force 1, United States Atlantic Fleet, Yacona departed Boston on 10 December and anchored off the mouth of the York River, VA., on the 13th. The following day, she shifted her anchorage up the river and, on the 15th, briefly flew the flag of Rear Admiral Thomas Washington. After moving to Hampton Roads the day after Christmas of 1918, Yacona sailed for New York, N.Y., and arrived at Tompkinsville, Staten Island, on the 13th. Yacona did not tarry long, however, for she sailed for New London on the 15th, arriving there the following day.

Placed in reserve in January 1919, Yacona remained at New London into June. Yacona departed New London on 13 June and arrived at the New York Navy Yard on the 16th to unload her ammunition and have her ordnance removed. On 26 June 1919, Yacona was decommissioned and placed in reserve.

The ship apparently languished inactive at the New York Navy Yard until the autumn of 1920. On 22 April 1920, the Navy decided to sell the vessel but, on 14 September, cancelled the sale order. Instead, Yacona was taken out of reserve and recommissioned on 11 October 1920, Lt. Comdr. Ralph E. Simpson, USN, in command.

The yacht remained at the navy yard into February 1921, being prepared for a long voyage to the Far East. Upon completion of her overhaul, Yacona departed New York on 1 March and proceeded to Bermuda, utilizing sails once more in order to conserve precious coal. After calling at Hamilton from 5 to 14 March, Yacona pressed on across the Atlantic, visiting Ponta Delgada from 24 to 29 March before reaching Gibraltar on 3 April.

She remained at that British bastion for almost a month, weighing anchor on the 28th and heading for Malta on the next leg of her passage to the Orient While at Malta from 3 to 8 May, Yacona full-dressed ship in honor of the anniversary of the accession of King (leorge V to the throne of England and, along with all other ships and batteries in the harbor, fired a 21-gun national salute at noon that day to celebrate the event.

Yacona got underway again on 8 May, bound for the entrance to the Suez Canal. Amer taking on supplies at Port Said, Yacona transited the canal on the 13th and proceeded to Aden, Arabia. There, Yacona took on fresh water and coal and resumed her eastward voyage on the 23d and arrived at Bombay, India, on 1 June. There, she once again dressed-ship, this time for the King's Birthday on the 3d. The ship departed that port on the 4th. After calling at Colombo, Ceylon, from 9 to 24 June and at Singapore from 3 to 7 July, Yacona stood into Manila Bay on 14 July her long odyssey from the eastern seaboard of the United States completed. There, Yacona was decommissioned on 27 July 1921 and turned over to representatives of the Insular Government. Records of her service for the Philippines apparently have not survived.