Wreckage Is Not USS Chattanooga - And Response

Friday, April 30, 2021

The story Wreckage Located In Tennessee River is in error. There is no way that the ship wreckage found is USS Chattanooga. 

Both ships named USS Chattanooga were commissioned after the Civil War.  

The first Chattanooga, a screw steamer, was launched Oct. 13, 1864 by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pa.; completed by the Philadelphia Navy Yard and commissioned May 16, 1866, Captain J. P. McKinstry in command.

After final trials in August 1866, Chattanooga returned to the Navy Yard where she was decommissioned Sept. 3, 1866. She remained inactive there and at League Island, where in December 1871 she was holed and sunk at her dock by floating ice. The hulk was sold in January 1872.

USS Chattanooga (I)

Screw Steamer:

Laid down, date unknown, as the screw steamer Chattanooga by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, PA.

Launched Oct. 13, 1864

Completed by the Philadelphia Navy Yard

Commissioned USS Chattanooga, May 16, 1866, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, CAPT. J. P. McKinstry in command

After final trials in August 1866, Chattanooga, returned to the Navy Yard where she was decommissioned Sept. 3, 1866

Chattanooga remained inactive there and at League Island

In December 1871 she was holed by floating ice and sunk at her dock at League Island

Final Disposition, hulk was sold in January 1872

Chattanooga II (Cruiser No. 16)

(C-16: dp. 3,200; l. 308'10"; b. 44'; dr. 15'9"; s. 16 k.; cpl. 339; a. 10 5", 8 6-pdr.; cl. Chattanooga)

The second Chattanooga (Cruiser No. 16) was launched March 7, 1903 by Crescent Shipyard, Elizabethport, N.J.; sponsored by Miss L. N. Chambliss; completed at the New York Navy Yard; commissioned Oct. 11, 1904, Commander A. Sharp in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.

USS CHATTANOOGA (Cruiser No. 16/PG 30/CL 18 )

Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign: Nan - Dog - Easy

(Contributed by John Spivey)

CLASS - Denver

Displacement 3,200 Tons, Dimensions, 309' 10" (oa) x 44' x 17' 3" (Max)

Armament 10 x 5"/50, 8 x 6pdr, 2 x 1pdr.

Armor, 1 3/4" Sheilds, 2 1/2" Deck.

Machinery, 4,700 IHP; 2 Vertical, Inverted, Triple Expansion Engines, 2 screws

Speed, 16.5 Knots, Crew 339.

Operational and Building Data

Keel laid on 29 MAR 1900 by Crescent Shipyard, Elizabethport, NJ

Launched on March 7, 1903

Commissioned Oct. 11, 1904

Decommissioned Sept. 17, 1910

Commissioned April 21, 1914

Reclassified on July 7, 1920 as PG 30

Decommissioned July 19, 1921

Reclassified on Aug. 8, 1921 as CL 18

Stricken Dec. 13, 1929

Fate: Sold for scrap March 8, 1930

Mike McCullough

* * *

I appreciate the detail of Mike McCullough’s letter in which he claims that the wreck found in the Tennessee River could not be the USS Chattanooga. However, a simple Google search finds an article at the website of the US Army Quartermaster Foundation that refutes his claim.


To summarize the article, it appears that there was a flat-bottomed stern-wheeler that was hurriedly built at Bridgeport to supply the Union troops at Chattanooga under the order of General Rosecrans. This steamboat operated by the Army Quartermaster Corps was named the USS Chattanooga. The  USS Chattanooga was launched on Oct. 24, 1863 and made her first trip on Oct. 29, 1863.


Wayne Cook


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