1918: The Launch of a U.S. Navy Ship that Would Perform a Wide Range of Duties

September 7, 1918

USS Falcon (AM-28), the third U.S. Navy vessel bearing that name, was launched at the yard of the shipbuilding firm collectively known at the time as the Gas Engine & Power Company and Charles L. Seabury Company. (That shipbuilding firm had been formed by the merger of the Gas Engine & Power Company with the Charles L. Seabury Company in 1896; not long after the launch of Falcon, the firm was renamed the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation.) The company’s yard where the launch took place was located in the Morris Heights neighborhood of New York City’s Bronx borough.

As part of the launch ceremonies for Falcon, Mrs. Cora Pendleton Parslow christened the new ship. Her husband, William J. Parslow, was vice president of the Gas Engine & Power Company and Charles L. Seabury Company. A little over two months after those festivities, Falcon was commissioned into the Navy. Lieutenant Bailey E. Rigg became the ship’s first commanding officer.

From December 1918 to May 1919, Falcon served as a lightship for the area of the Mid-Atlantic region just off the coast of the United States. She sailed from New York to Scotland’s Orkney Islands in August 1919, and helped clear the large number of mines laid in the North Sea during World War I. 

By the following year, Falcon was performing various towing, salvage, and transport duties along the Eastern Seaboard. One of the more notable efforts involving Falcon took place in 1926 when she towed the submarine USS S-51 (sunk in a collision near Block Island the previous year and raised in an ambitious operation) to New York, all the while providing air pressure for the submarine’s pontoons and compartments.

Falcon’s contributions over the next several years included additional service as a salvage ship for submarines. This vessel was also used during that period to help improve deep-sea rescue techniques and train divers. In 1929, the ship’s official designation was changed from AM-28 to ASR-2.

During World War II, Falcon was used in New England waters for numerous salvage, towing, rescue, and training operations. Another role for Falcon, which was decommissioned in 1946, involved an appearance on the big screen; footage of the ship was included in the 1953 science fiction movie The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on USS Falcon (AM-28/ASR-2), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Falcon_(AM-28)

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