Recently I posted a few pictures that I came across in my collection of the USS Marblehead. There have been three USS Marblehead US Navy ships named after the Port of Marblehead. The first was launched in 1861 and was a gunboat that served in the Civil War. The second was launched in 1892 and served in the Spanish American War and was sold in 1921. The third and the topic of this post was launched in 1923 and served in WW II and was scraped in 1947.
On July 1, 1918 the navy authorized the building of the third USS Marblehead and it was built by William Cramp and Sons shipbuilders in Philadelphia. She (as boat’s are called) had an overall length of 555 feet 6 inches and was beam was 55 feet 4 inches. She was powered by 4 Parsons steam turbines generated by 12 White Forester boilers and could reach a top speed of 25 knots (40 mph).
Mrs Joseph Evans (Hannah Martin Graves), a Gold Star mother from Marblehead was given the honor of christening the USS Marblehead in Philidelphia in October 1923. Hannah was born November 12, 1854, the daughter of Samuel E. Graves and Abigail Phillips. On May 27, 1884 she married Joseph Evans, the son of William T. Evans and Abigail M. Caswell. Hannah died on August 10, 1942. Joseph and Hannah had three children:
- Annie Alice Evans born September 4, 1884 who married John Edward Harris
- Aubrey Lewis Evans born September 4, 1884 single
- Charles Herbert Evans born March 11, 1887. He married Mary L. Salkins on March 15, 1910. Charles served in World War I and was killed in the Chateau Thierry Drive in France on July 20, 1918. ( you can read more about him and WW I in my book “Marblehead and World War I At Home and Overseas).
It was noted in the Boston Herald October 7, 1923 that ” Mrs. Evans, whose only son was killed in World War I will Christen the boat in honor of her native town.” Instead of the time honored champagne used to christen boats, Mrs. Evans used a bottle filled with water from Marblehead Harbor. “The ship took her initial dip in the Delaware River with the grace of a yacht.” She was welcomed by a shrieking siren chorus from scores of river craft. A large party of Marblehead officials and naval officers from Philadelphia and other cities witnessed the launch.
After her launch the USS Marblehead, departed for Boston onto the English Channel and into the Mediterranean Sea. She made many voyages from 1923 to 1941 when on December 7, 1941 she received the message “Japan started hostilities: govern yourselves accordingly.” One of her battles in the Makassar Strait she maneuvered safely through for three battles. Then the fourth wave of seven bombers released bombs on the USS Marblehead and she took 2 direct hits and fires swept throughout the ship, but she continued onto port with her gunners still firing. The damaged cruiser was left with 15 dead or mortally wounded and 84 seriously injured. She was repaired and her last mission was in southern France.
The USS Marblehead returned to the United States where she conducted a summer training cruise for Naval Academy midshipman and then entered the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard where she was decommissioned on November 1, 1945. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 28 and her hull was scraped on February 27, 1946.