|USS Wateree (1863)|
Beached at Arica, 430 yards beyond the usual high water mark, after she was deposited there by a tsunami on 13 August 1868.
|Builder:||Reaney, Son & Archbold, Chester, Pennsylvania|
|Launched:||12 August 1863|
|Commissioned:||20 January 1864|
|Fate:||Sold, 21 November 1868|
|Length:||205 ft (62 m)|
|Beam:||35 ft (11 m)|
|Depth of hold:||11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)|
|Speed:||10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)|
• 2 × 100-pounder Parrott rifles|
• 4 × 9 in (230 mm) Dahlgren smoothbore guns
• 4 × 24-pounder howitzer
• 2 × 13-pounder guns
• 2 × 12-pounder rifles
Assigned to the Pacific Squadron, Wateree departed Philadelphia soon after commissioning. During the next 10 months, she made the arduous voyage around Cape Horn to the Pacific Ocean. In addition to struggling against the heavy weather for which the Cape region is noted, the warship experienced difficulty acquiring fuel. That problem necessitated her making numerous stops along the way to acquire wood for her boilers; and, as a result, Wateree did not reach San Francisco, until mid-November 1864.
Upon her arrival there, the ship entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for repairs to damage she suffered during her arduous voyage and for a hull scraping. She did not leave San Francisco until late February 1865 when she put to sea to patrol the coast of Central America. During 1866, American naval forces in the Pacific were divided into a North Pacific Squadron and a South Pacific Squadron. Wateree was assigned to the latter unit, whose patrol area extended south from Panama to Cape Horn and west to Australia. For the remaining two years of her brief naval career, Wateree patrolled the coasts of Central and South America, protecting American interests in that region.
On 13 August 1868, while she was in port at Arica (then part of Peru) a devastating earthquake struck the city subjecting Wateree and the other ships in the harbor to several massive tsunamis. The last tsunami broke the side-wheeler gunboat's anchor chains and drove her ashore almost 500 yards inland from the normal high-water mark. Too badly damaged for economical repair, the ship was sold to Mr. William Parker on 21 November 1868. Her hulk was used as an emergency hospital, an inn, a hospital again, and finally a warehouse. She was eventually completely destroyed by another tsunami on 9 May 1877.
Today all that remains are parts of her boilers, mounted on the shore north of the present town of Arica, and maintained as a National Monument of Chile.
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
- Manuel Fernández Canque, Arica 1868, un tsunami y un terremoto, Coedición Centro de Investigaciones Barros Arana y Universidad de Tarapacá, Arica, Santiago de Chile 2007 pp. 332, ISBN 978-956-244-194-0
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