1917: A Motorboat is Commissioned into Military Service During World War I

May 12, 1917

Nearly a month-and-a-half after the United States entered World War I on the side of the Allied Powers, a private motorboat named Althea was commissioned into the U.S. Navy under the command of Ensign E.L. Anderson of the U.S. Naval Reserve Force. This vessel had been acquired from James H. Moore. Althea was built for him in 1907 by Williams-Whittlesey Motor Boat and Shipbuilding Company in New York City. The Navy’s formal purchase of this 60-foot (18-meter)-long motorboat did not actually take place until a little over a month after she was commissioned.  

USS Althea (SP-218), operating out of Detroit, was assigned to patrol and training duties in the Great Lakes region. She served there in those capacities throughout the remainder of the war and for several months beyond that.

After being stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on August 2, 1919, Althea was laid up at the Naval Training Station in Detroit. Althea was still there awaiting sale on March 18, 1920, when she sank due to ice. Exactly three years after she had been commissioned into the Navy, this vessel — now completely underwater — was sold for salvage to a Detroit resident named G.F. Colton. The following year, Colton registered her as a freight boat. Ultimately, however, Althea was discarded in 1926.

(The above photo of Althea was most likely taken prior to her naval service.)

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on USS Althea (SP-218), please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Althea_(SP-218) and http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/170218.htm

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