Special Service Squadron

The Special Service Squadron was a component of the United States Navy during the earlier part of the 20th century. The squadron patrolled the Caribbean Sea as an instrument of gunboat diplomacy. It was headquartered in Balboa, Panama Canal Zone.

Records of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet have correspondence from the Special Service Squadron in 1907.[1] The Special Service Squadron was stood up as a separate command from the fleet in 1920. Its purpose was to protect the Canal and American interests both in the Caribbean and on the Pacific coast of Central America (and it remained a separate command when the Atlantic and Pacific fleets were combined as the United States Fleet in 1922). The squadron consisted mostly of small, older ships and was abolished in 1940 as part of the consolidation of U.S. naval commands in the early 1940s.[2][3]


NH 48221 (29113325242)
Captain Julian L. Latimer. Photo taken while serving as Commandant of the Pelham Bay Naval Training Station, 1919.


  1. ^ "Letters sent by Rear Adm. C.H. Hockson, Special Service Squadron, 1907". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  2. ^ Allen, Keith. "Notes on U.S. Fleet Organisation and Disposition, 1898-1941". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  3. ^ Watson, Graham. "THE UNITED STATES NAVY: ITS RISE TO GLOBAL PARITY 1900-1922". Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  4. ^ "U.S.S. ERIE (PG-50)". Ship History. USS Erie.org. Retrieved April 16, 2015.
1702 Naval Air Squadron

1702 Naval Air Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy was formed in June 1945 at RNAS Lee-on-Solent as a Special Service squadron. It was equipped with the Supermarine Sea Otter, and by the end of World War II the squadron remained at Lee-on-Solent.

The squadron joined HMS Trouncer in September 1945 to search for mines in the Mediterranean.

Battlecruiser Squadron

The Battlecruiser Squadron was a Royal Navy squadron of battlecruisers that saw service from 1919 to the early part of the Second World War.

Cruise of the Special Service Squadron

In 1923–24, HMS Hood and the Special Service Squadron sailed around the world on The Empire Cruise, making many ports of call in the countries which had fought together during the First World War. The squadron departed Devonport on 27 November 1923 and headed for Sierra Leone. Returning from the Pacific, the battlecruisers passed through the Panama Canal, while the light cruisers rounded Cape Horn.

HMAS Adelaide (1918)

HMAS Adelaide was a Town-class light cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), named after Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. Laid down in 1915, wartime shortages and design modifications meant the ship was not completed until 1922, earning her the nickname "HMAS Longdelayed".

Adelaide served with the Royal Navy's Special Service Squadron during 1924 and 1925, and was involved in the 1927 Malaita massacre. She was decommissioned in 1928, but was modernised and returned to service just before World War II began. During the war, Adelaide was involved in successful efforts to secure the colony of New Caledonia for Free France, was present during the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour, and intercepted the German blockade runner Ramses.

The cruiser was decommissioned in 1946, and broken up for scrap in 1949.

HMS Dauntless (D45)

HMS Dauntless was a Danae-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company of Jarrow, launched on 10 April 1918 and commissioned on 22 November 1918.

HMS Hood

HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, she was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, Hood had design limitations, though her design was revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction. For this reason, she was the only ship of her class to be completed. Despite the appearance of new and more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for 20 years after her commissioning, and her prestige was reflected in her nickname, "The Mighty Hood".

Hood was involved in several showing-the-flag exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939, including training exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and a circumnavigation of the globe with the Special Service Squadron in 1923 and 1924. She was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet following the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to Britain in 1939 for an overhaul. By this time, advances in naval gunnery had reduced Hood's usefulness. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues, but the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades.

When war with Germany was declared, Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and she spent the next several months hunting for German commerce raiders and blockade runners between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea. After a brief overhaul of her propulsion system, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Relieved as flagship of Force H, Hood was dispatched to Scapa Flow, and operated in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet. In May 1941, the battleship Prince of Wales and she were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic, where they were to attack convoys. On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded, and sank within 3 minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Due to her perceived invincibility, the loss affected British morale.

The Royal Navy conducted two inquiries into the reasons for the ship's quick demise. The first, held soon after the ship's loss, concluded that Hood's aft magazine had exploded after one of Bismarck's shells penetrated the ship's armour. A second inquiry was held after complaints that the first board had failed to consider alternative explanations, such as an explosion of the ship's torpedoes. It was more thorough than the first board and concurred with the first board's conclusion. Despite the official explanation, some historians continued to believe that the torpedoes caused the ship's loss, while others proposed an accidental explosion inside one of the ship's gun turrets that reached down into the magazine. Other historians have concentrated on the cause of the magazine explosion. The discovery of the ship's wreck in 2001 confirmed the conclusion of both boards, although the exact reason the magazines detonated is likely to remain unknown since that area of the ship was destroyed in the explosion.

Henry Francis Bryan

Henry Francis Bryan (May 3, 1865 – 1944) was a United States Navy Rear Admiral and the 17th Governor of American Samoa. He served as governor from March 17, 1925 to September 9, 1927. Bryan was one of only three naval governors of the territory who had retired from naval service before serving as governor, the others being John Martin Poyer and his immediate predecessor, Edward Stanley Kellogg. In the Navy, he had numerous commands, and served in the Spanish–American War. His largest command was the Special Service Squadron.

Henry T. Mayo

Henry Thomas Mayo (8 December 1856 – 23 February 1937) was an admiral of the United States Navy.

Mayo was born in Burlington, Vermont, 8 December 1856. Upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1876 he experienced a variety of naval duties including coastal survey. During the Spanish–American War he served in the gunboat Bennington (PG-4) off the west coast of North America.

About 1909 he was in command of the cruiser USS Albany as she cruised in Central American waters protecting United States citizens and interests as part of the Special Service Squadron.

Appointed rear admiral in 1913, he commanded the naval squadron involved in the Tampico incident of 9 April 1914. His demands for vindication of national honor further accentuated the tense relations with Mexico.

Promoted to vice admiral in June 1915, as the new Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, he received the rank of admiral 19 June 1916. For his organization and support of World War I U.S. Naval Forces both in American and European waters, he was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and various foreign decorations. He evidenced foresight in urging the postwar development of fleet aviation.

Admiral Mayo retired 28 February 1921, and, for four years, served as Governor of the Philadelphia Naval Home. He retained his commission as an admiral by a 1930 Act of Congress. He died at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 23 February 1937.

USS Albany (CL-23)

The third USS Albany (later PG-36 and CL-23) was a United States Navy protected cruiser of the New Orleans class. She saw service in the Philippine–American War and World War I.

USS Asheville (PG-21)

USS Asheville (Gunboat No. 21/PG-21), the lead ship in her class of two United States Navy gunboats, was the first ship of the United States Navy named for the city of Asheville, North Carolina. The ship was built at the Charleston Naval Shipyard of North Charleston, South Carolina, from her keel laying in June 1918, her launching in July 1918, and her commissioning in July 1920.

Asheville began her career in the early 1920s on power-projection missions ("showing the flag") in Central America. After her 1922 conversion to oil power from coal, Asheville sailed through the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean to join the Asiatic Fleet in the Philippines. She spent the rest of the 1920s protecting American interests and showing the flag in China. Between 1929 and 1931, Asheville protected American lives and property in Nicaragua. She returned to the Asiatic Fleet and protected American interests as the Second Sino-Japanese War began.

With increasing tensions with Japan, Asheville was withdrawn to the Philippines in the summer of 1941, where she performed local patrol duty. After the American entry into World War II and the Japanese attacks on the Philippines, Asheville, and most of the surface ships in the Philippines, moved to Java to defend the Malay Barrier against the Japanese advance. When the Allied defense crumbled in early March, the remaining American ships were ordered to retreat to Australia. Sailing alone, Asheville was spotted, attacked, and sunk south of Java by a Japanese surface force of a heavy cruiser and two destroyers on 3 March 1942.

USS Bainbridge (DD-246)

The third USS Bainbridge (DD-246) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named for Commodore William Bainbridge, who served in the War of 1812 and the First and Second Barbary Wars.

USS Coghlan (DD-326)

USS Coghlan (DD-326) was a Clemson-class destroyer built for the United States Navy during World War I.

USS Sacramento (PG-19)

The second USS Sacramento (PG-19) was a gunboat in the United States Navy.

Sacramento was launched on 21 February 1914 by the William Cramp & Sons Shipbuilding Company, Philadelphia; sponsored by Miss Phebe Briggs; and commissioned on 26 April 1914 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard under the command of Commander Luke McNamee.

USS Selfridge (DD-320)

The first USS Selfridge (DD-320) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy following World War I. She was named for Thomas O. Selfridge.

USS Shirk (DD-318)

USS Shirk (DD-318) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy following World War I. She was named for James W. Shirk.

USS Taylor (DD-94)

USS Taylor (DD-94) was a Wickes-class destroyer built in 1918 for the United States Navy, which saw service in World War I and the years following. She was named for Rear Admiral Henry Taylor.

One of 111 ships of her class, Taylor was commissioned near the end of World War I and patrolled in the Atlantic Ocean during and immediately following the war, though she saw no service supporting the war. After eight years out of commission, she returned to service in 1930 patrolling along the East Coast of the United States and in Latin America. Decommissioned in 1938, she then became a training hulk. During World War II her forward section was removed and grafted onto USS Blakeley after the latter ship was damaged in a submarine attack. Taylor continued to serve as a training hulk until she was sold for scrap in 1945.

USS Trenton (CL-11)

USS Trenton (CL-11) was an Omaha-class light cruiser, originally classified as a scout cruiser, of the United States Navy. She was the second Navy ship named for the city of Trenton, New Jersey. She spent most of her pre-war career moving between the Atlantic and the Pacific. Trenton joined the Special Service Squadron in 1934, for a good-will tour of Latin America. In May 1939, she would join Squadron 40-T in protecting American interests during the Spanish Civil War and not return to the US until July 1940, when she carried the royal family of Luxembourg, fleeing from the Nazi occupation of their country.

United States Fleet

The United States Fleet was an organization in the United States Navy from 1922 until after World War II. The acronym CINCUS, pronounced "sink us", was used for Commander in Chief, United States Fleet. This was replaced by COMINCH in December 1941, under Executive Order 8984, when it was redefined and given operational command over the Atlantic, Pacific, and Asiatic Fleets, as well as all naval coastal forces. Executive Order 9096 authorized the offices of the CNO and COMINCH to be held by a single officer; Admiral Ernest J. King was first to do so, and 1944 was promoted to the five-star rank of fleet admiral.

Willard H. Brownson

Rear Admiral Willard Herbert Brownson, USN (July 8, 1845 – March 16, 1935), was a United States Navy officer whose career included service against pirates in Mexico and service during the Spanish–American War. He also served a term as Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy.

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