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The US Naval Coaling Station

1901 To 1912

 

   

Photo courtesy of Julie Grindle

 

Shortly after the turn of the century, Lamoine was designated to play a key role for the US Navy with construction and operation of a ship refueling station.  Situated in Frenchman Bay, the Coaling Station offered enough deep water in a somewhat protected setting to safely load the fuel of choice at the time onto large warships. 

The Coaling Station opened in 1902 after a $200,000 construction project using scores of pilings and a great deal of granite.  The North Atlantic Naval Fleet arrived in 1903 to refuel.  The pictures of the USS Massachusetts shown here come from that stop. 

The Coaling Station’s lifespan was a short one thanks to weather and technology.  On August 22, 1904 a heavy gale brought down one of the towers used to load the coal onto the ships.   The cost to fix that tower was $100,000, and the station temporarily went out of service.  Ten additional coal cars and a belt were added to the station in 1907, but by then the US Navy claimed the station was seldom used.

By 1912 the Coaling Station ceased operation, and the US Government looked toward ultimate abandonment.  Oil engines were in vogue, rendering obsolete ships that operated on expensive coal, and ultimately the Coaling Station itself.

There was a short resurgence of military use of the area during World War I.  The bunkers that stored the coal became nitrate storage bunkers for munitions used during the war effort. 

When the war ended, the station was scrapped.  The steel was dismantled and reportedly sold to foreign nations.  Much of the granite in the bunker was reportedly shipped across Frenchman Bay and makes up the municipal pier in Bar Harbor.

The Federal Government gave the property to the State of Maine in 1949. The University of Maine used it for many years before it was turned into Lamoine State Park. 

The USS Massachusetts

Photo - Courtesy of Robert alvarez

The ship pictured at the Lamoine Coaling Station was built in Philadelphia by William Cramp and Sons beginning in June 1891 and launched June 10, 1893.  The Indiana Class battleship had its shakedown on August 4, 1896 and entered the New York Navy Yard for overhaul.  During much of 1897 it operated off the Atlantic Coast, making calls at major East Coast Ports.  On March 27, 1898 she joined the “Flying Squadron” for the blockade of Cuba. 

On May 31, 1898 the Massachusetts joined in the bombardment of forts at the entrance to Santiago de Cuba, and in an exchange of fire with a Spanish ship forced its retreat into the inner harbor.  She also helped force another Spanish cruiser to surrender on July 6, 1898.

After the Spanish-American War, the Massachusetts cruised the Atlantic Coast for 7-years as a member of the North Atlantic Squadron.  She served as a training ship for the Naval Academy off New England in 1904.  Her final full commission stop was in New York on November 12, 1905, and she was decommissioned on December 8, 1906. 

The Massachusetts was placed in reduced commission in May, 1910 and served as a summer practice ship for the US Naval Academy.  She entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in September 1912.  The next month she returned to Philadelphia until decommissioning on May 23, 1914. 

The Massachusetts was recommissioned on June 9, 1917 for training in Block Island Sound, continuing until May 27, 1918.  She was a heavy gun target practice ship in Chesapeake Bay until February 1919. 

The ship was renamed Coast Battleship No. 2 and decommissioned for the final time on March 31, 1919, and was loaned to the War Department as a target ship.  She was scuttled off Pensacola Florida in 1921, and declared the property of the State of Florida in 1956.

Displacement

Length

Beam

Draft

Speed

Complement

10,288 Tons

350’ 11”

69’ 3”

24’

16.21 Kts

586

Armament: Four 13” guns; Eight 8” guns; Four 6” guns; Two 3: guns; Twenty 6-pounders; Six 1-pounders, Six 18” torpedo tubes