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Built as a screw frigate by the New York Navy Yard at New York for the U.S.A. Navy.
October 1854 keel laid down.
23 February 1956 launched under the name NIAGARA, sponsored by Miss Annie C. O’Donnell.
Displacement 5.540 tons, dim. 328.10 x 66 x 24.5ft. (draught).
Powered by one steam engine, 1.955 ihp., speed 10.5 knots.
Armament 12 – 11 inch guns.
06 April 1857 commissioned under command of Captain William L. Hudson.
At that time she was the USS navy largest vessel and designed for speed, especially under sail.
22 April 1857 she left New York heading for Great Britain, to assist in the laying of the first Atlantic cable between the two continents.
14 May she arrived at Gravesend. There she was fitted out for laying the cable.
The cable made of 340.500 miles of copper and iron wire, insulated with 300 tons of gutta-percha, and stretches 2.500 miles, which was loaded on two vessels the USS NIAGARA and HMS AGAMEMNON.
The NIAGARA loaded her part of the cable in Birkenhead where she arrived on 22 June,
After a loading time of three weeks, she left from Birkenhead for Valentia, Ireland.
05 August the shore end of the cable was unloaded.
08 August the NIAGARA commenced with laying the cable, transmitting messages to shore when she steamed out in the North Atlantic, when on 8 August 255 miles of cable was laid, the cable went dead at 21.00 between the NIAGARA and Valentia, after several hours the cable came back to life.
The next morning at 03.45 the NIAGARA was hit by a large wave in which the cable snaps and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
With hundreds of miles of cable lost it was decided to abort the attempt this year, and both ships returned home.
The NIAGARA arrived in New York on 20 November and was decommissioned on 2 December.
Recommissioned on 24 February 1858 under command of Capt. William L. Hudson, sailing from New York on 8 March, arriving in Plymouth, U.K. 28 March.
In the spring of 1858 both vessels had arrive in Plymouth, where she loaded the cable, and the two vessels experimented together out at sea.
10 June the NIAGARA and AGAMEMNON sailed from Plymouth to a position 52 02N and 33 18W, and from this position the two ships would lay the cable after both ends were spliced together simultaneously.
25 June both vessels arrive at the rendezvous and the next day both ship steamed in opposite direction to the coast. On 27 June the signal between the two ships was lost, and she returned to the starting point, from where she set off again.
When on board the AGAMEMNON 140 miles of cable was laid the cable snaps and sinks to the bottom, where after the mission is abandoned.
July a new attempt was made and both ships left Ireland for the mid-ocean position and on 29 July after the cable was spliced together both ships set off in opposite direction.
04 August the NIAGARA reaches Trinity Bay, New Foundland while the next day the AGAMEMNON enters Valentia Bay.
05 August the boats of the NIAGARA carried the end of the cable ashore at Brills Mount Island, Newfoundland.
16 August the first official message is send through the cable between Queen Victoria and the President of the USA James Buchanan.
During September-December the NIAGARA made a roundtrip to Monrovia, Liberia, transporting two hundred Africans who had been liberated from a slave ship the ECHO off Cuba on 21 August by the American brig USS DOLPHIN.
20 September she left from Charleston, arriving 9 November Monrovia, and returned in New York on 11 December.
17 December decommissioned at New York.
14 May 1860 recommissioned under command of Capt. William McKean.
This time she had to carry the diplomatic mission from Japan from Washington to New York and then back home.
30 June sailed from New York and after making a call at Porto Grande, Cape Verde Islands, Sao Paulo-de-Loanda (now Luanda), Angola, Batavia (now Djakarta), Java and Hong Kong to Tokyo, entering Tokyo Bay on 08 November were her passengers disembarked.
27 November sailed via Hong Kong, Aden and Cape Town back to the United States, arriving at Boston on 23 April 1861.
The Civil War had broken out and she was used for blockade enforcement duty of the Southern ports.
10 May arrived off Charleston, South Caroline, and on 12 May she captured the blockade runner GENERAL PARKHILL which was underway from Liverpool to Charleston.
05 June off Mobile, Alabama, she took part in the cutting out expedition that captured the schooner AID.
The next year she stayed in the Gulf of Mexico and for some time as flagship of the East Gulf Blockading Squadron.
November 1961 took part in the bombardment of the Confederate fortifications McRee at Pensacola, Florida, and Warrington on 22 November; she got two holes above the waterline during this battle.
5 June 1862 sailed to Boston for repairs, 16 June decommissioned, she was lightly armed, and most work was carried out to enhance her battery of heavy guns.
14 October 1863 recommissioned but it was soon discovered that she was badly overloaded, so most of the new armament had to be removed.
Ready for duty on 14 June 1864 and she steamed to Europe, based at Antwerp where she arrived 26 June.
15 June captured the former Confederated raider GEORGE off Portugal.
March 1856 together with USS SACRAMENTO she arrived at La Coruna, when the Confederated ironclad STONEWALL had entered Ferrol a distance of around 9 miles from La Coruna for coal and repairs after she met bad weather on her voyage from French to Madeira.
On 24 March the STONEWALL steamed out of Ferrol and prepared for battle, however when the Federals, believing that the gun power of the STONEWALL was too great, she avoided the battle.
The STONEWALL bore away and sailed for Lisbon for coaling before crossing the Atlantic.
She patrolled with the European Squadron through 29 August when she cleared Cadiz for Boston, arriving there 20 September.
28 September 1864 decommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard.
She stayed there till 06 May 1885 when she was sold for breaking up.
Ireland 2008 82c sg?.
Source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-u ... iagra2.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Niagara_(1855) and some other web-sites