USS Oahu (PR-6)

Last updated
USS Oahu PR-6.jpg
US flag 48 stars.svg
Name: USS Oahu
Namesake: The island of Oahu in Hawaii
Builder: Kiangnan Dock and Engineering Works
Launched: 26 November 1927, as PG-46
Commissioned: 22 October 1928, as PY-6
Stricken: 8 May 1942
Honours and
1 battle star
Fate: Sunk by enemy action, 5 May 1942
General characteristics [1]
Displacement: 450 long tons (460 t)
Length: 191 ft (58 m)
Beam: 28 ft 1 in (8.56 m)
Draft: 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)
Propulsion: 1,900 hp triple expansion engines
Speed: 15 knots (17 mph; 28 km/h)
Complement: 55

The first USS Oahu (PR-6), a Yangtze River gunboat, was laid down by Kiangnan Dock and Engineering Works, Shanghai, China, 18 December 1926; launched as PG–46 on 26 November 1927; sponsored by Mrs. Bryson Bruce, wife of Comdr. Bruce; and commissioned 22 October 1928, Lt. Comdr. A. C. Thomas in command.


Service history

One of six river gunboats built for use on the Yangtze Kiang in south central China, Oahu departed Shanghai on her shakedown cruise 3 November 1928, proceeding upriver to Chungking, 1,300 miles (2,100 km) inland, stopping at the open treaty ports en route and returning to Shanghai 2 June 1929. She then operated all along the Yangtze from the river's mouth to Chungking and in the tributaries in protection of American lives and property into the 1930s. In the course of her service with the Yangtze Patrol Force, the gunboat convoyed American and foreign merchantmen up and down the river, supplied armed guards to U.S. and British river craft, landed bluejackets at treaty ports threatened by unrest and evacuated foreign nationals in times of danger.

Beginning in 1934, Oahu took up duty as station ship at various Yangtze ports supplying the increasing river traffic with naval armed guard detachments on a regular basis. Serving station ship duty at Ichang, Chungking, Hankow, Wuhu, and Nanking into 1937, the gunboat made intermittent patrols down the length of the river on convoy duty and then following the Japanese invasion of China in July, served as escort for merchantmen and protected American neutrality in the conflict. Following the sinking of sister gunboat Panay off Nanking by Japanese planes 12 December 1937, Oahu picked up the survivors and carried them to Shanghai, returning to the scene of the incident to conduct salvage operations.

As the Japanese campaign in China grew, the gunboat operated only on the lower river as far as Wuhu and Hankow, in addition serving as station ship and radio relay vessel for American officials at the temporary U.S. embassy at Nanking. Whenever the warship attempted to cruise the river on regular patrol, she was convoyed by Japanese minesweepers that kept watch on her movements while protecting her from attacks by their planes. Oahu remained as station ship at ports below Hankow, returning to the latter city to refit and give liberty to her crew until late in November 1941 and then, under orders of Commander, Asiatic Fleet departed Shanghai for the Philippines as signs of approaching war with Japan became clearer.

Following a long and difficult voyage across the South China Sea, the gunboat, never designed for open sea operations, arrived at Manila Bay in the week before the attack on Pearl Harbor. When war began, the warship operated in and around Manila Bay and Cavite Navy Yard on inshore patrol and in support of U.S.-Filipino forces on Bataan until after the fall of that peninsula 8 April 1942, and then continued to operate about the island fortress of Corregidor until sunk by enemy gunfire on 5 May. She was struck from the Navy List three days later.

Oahu, one of the last "old China hands", never actually voyaged to the U.S. She received one battle star for World War II service. She is sunk at the "tadpole's tail end" at Corregidor (in 20 feet of water). The only thing showing is the ship's railing. Everything else is buried in the very small coral gravel. She may have sunk and washed up in the bay at the end of the island, and slowly settled down into the sand and gravel and still lies there.


Related Research Articles

United States Asiatic Fleet

The United States Asiatic Fleet was a fleet of the United States Navy during much of the first half of the 20th century. Before World War II, the fleet patrolled the Philippine Islands. Much of the fleet was destroyed by the Japanese by February 1942, after which it was dissolved, and the remnants incorporated into the naval component of the South West Pacific Area command, which eventually became the Seventh Fleet.

USS <i>Wake</i>

USS Wake (PR-3) was a United States Navy river gunboat operating on the Yangtze River, that was captured by Japan on 8 December 1941.

River gunboat

A river gunboat is a type of gunboat adapted for river operations. River gunboats required shallow draft for river navigation. They would be armed with relatively small caliber cannons, or a mix of cannons and machine guns. If they carried more than one cannon, one might be a howitzer, for shore bombardment. They were usually not armoured. The fictional USS San Pablo described in Richard McKenna's The Sand Pebbles is an example of this class of vessel, serving on the US Navy's Yangtze Patrol. Stronger river warships were river monitors.

USS <i>Panay</i> (PR-5) River gunboat

The second USS Panay (PR–5) of the United States Navy was a river gunboat that served on the Yangtze Patrol in China until sunk by Japanese aircraft on 12 December 1937 on the Yangtze River.

Yangtze Patrol

The Yangtze Patrol, also known as the Yangtze River Patrol Force, Yangtze River Patrol, YangPat and ComYangPat, was a prolonged naval operation from 1854–1949 to protect American interests in the Yangtze River's treaty ports. The Yangtze Patrol also patrolled the coastal waters of China where they protected U.S. citizens, their property, and Christian missionaries.

USS <i>Stewart</i> (DD-224)

USS Stewart (DD-224) was a Clemson-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was the second ship named for Rear Admiral Charles Stewart. Scuttled in a port, she was later raised by the Japanese and commissioned as Patrol Boat No. 102. She came back under American control in 1945 after the occupation of Japan.

USS <i>Tutuila</i> (PR-4)

USS Tutuila (PG-44) was a gunboat in the service of the United States Navy from 1928, until her transfer to China, under lend-lease in 1942.

USS <i>Isabel</i> (PY-10)

USS Isabel (SP-521), later PY-10, was a yacht in commission in the United States Navy as a destroyer from 1917 to 1920 and as a patrol yacht from 1921 to 1946.

USS <i>Finch</i> (AM-9) United States minesweeper

USS Finch (AM-9) was a Lapwing-class minesweeper acquired by the U.S. Navy for the dangerous task of removing mines from minefields laid in the water to prevent ships from passing. Finch was named for the finch, and is strictly speaking the only U.S. vessel named for such.

USS <i>Palos</i> (PG-16)

The second USS Palos (PG-16), a shallow draft gunboat built for service on the Yangtze River, China, was pre-constructed at Mare Island Navy Yard in 1912; dismantled and shipped to Shanghai, China: laid down by the Shanghai Dock and Engineering Co., on 28 April 1913; launched on 23 April 1914; sponsored by Mrs. Lee S. Border, wife of Naval Constructor Border who supervised the gunboat's construction ; and commissioned on 24 June 1914, Lt. Frank Rorschach in command.

USS <i>Pigeon</i> (ASR-6)

The first USS Pigeon (AM-47/ASR-6) was a Lapwing-class minesweeper of the United States Navy. She was later converted to a submarine rescue ship. She was named for the avian ambassador, the pigeon.

USS <i>Monocacy</i> (PG-20)

USS Monocacy was one of two shallow draft gunboats designed for service on the upper Yangtze River over 900 miles (1,400 km) inland. It was pre-constructed at Mare Island Navy Yard in 1912 and then dismantled and shipped to Shanghai, China. She was laid down by the Shanghai Dock & Engineering Co. 28 April 1913. One year later, or 27 April 1914 she was launched, sponsored by Mrs. Andrew E. Carter, and commissioned 24 June 1914, with Lt. Andrew F. Carter in command.

USS <i>Tulsa</i> (PG-22)

USS Tulsa (PG-22), nicknamed the Galloping Ghost of the South China Coast, was an Asheville-class gunboat of the United States Navy that was in commission from 1923 to 1946. She was named after the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the county seat of Tulsa County.

USS <i>Elcano</i> (PG-38)

USS Elcano (PG-38) was a gunboat that the United States Navy captured from the Spanish Navy during the Spanish–American War. She was officially commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1902. She served for many years in the Yangtze Patrol where she saw action against pirates and warlords. She served until decommissioning in 1928, when she was sunk for target practice.

USS <i>Luzon</i> (PG-47)

The first USS Luzon (PG-47) was laid down 20 November 1926 by the Kiangnan Dock and Engineering Works, Shanghai, China; launched 12 September 1927; sponsored by Miss Mary C. Carter, daughter of Commander Andrew F. Carter, USN; and commissioned 1 June 1928.

USS <i>Mindanao</i> (PR-8)

The first USS Mindanao (PR‑8) was a river gunboat in the service of the United States Navy before and during World War II.

USS <i>Quiros</i> (PG-40)

USS Quiros (PG-40), previously designated Gunboat No. 40, was a United States Navy gunboat in commission from 1900 to 1904, from 1904 to 1908, and from 1910 to 1923, seeing service in the Philippines and China. Prior to her U.S. Navy service, she was in commission in the Spanish Navy from 1896 to 1898 as Quirós, seeing service during the Philippine Revolution and the Spanish–American War.

USS <i>Samar</i> (PG-41)

USS Samar (PG-41) was a gunboat of the United States Navy. She was initially built for the Spanish Navy, but was captured during the Spanish–American War and taken into service with the US Navy. Samar had two sister-ships which also served in the US Navy, USS Pampanga (PG-39) and USS Paragua.

USS <i>Villalobos</i> (PG-42)

USS Villalobos (PG-42) was a steel screw gunboat originally built for the Spanish Navy as Villalobos but captured by the United States Army in 1898 during the Spanish–American War and commissioned into the United States Navy in 1900. The ship spent almost all of her life as an American gunboat in the Yangtze Patrol on the Yangtze River.

Steamboats on the Yangtze River

After thousands of years of junk and sampan traffic on the Yangtze River (Jiang), river steamers were introduced by Europeans during the mid- to late-nineteenth century. The age of the steamer lasted nearly 150 years—from 1835 to 1980—and had lasting impacts on China, where river trade was essential to the economy due to the poor road network and few railways.


  1. Silverstone, Paul H (1966). U.S. Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company. p. 243.

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships .The entry can be found here.