Eagle Class Patrol Craft (1918)
One hundred and twelve Eagle class patrol craft were ordered for the U.S. Navy in 1918, only sixty of which were completed between 1918 and 1919.
|Overview of 60 vessels|
|Citations for this data available on individual ship pages|
|Name||Hull No.||Builder||Laid Down||Launched||Commissioned||Fate|
|Eagle 1||PE-1||Ford Motor||7 May, 1918||11 Jul, 1918||27 Oct, 1918||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 2||PE-2||Ford Motor||10 May, 1918||19 Aug, 1918||7 Nov, 1918||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 3||PE-3||Ford Motor||16 May, 1918||11 Sep, 1918||11 Nov, 1918||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 4||PE-4||Ford Motor||21 May, 1918||15 Sep, 1918||14 Nov, 1918||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 5||PE-5||Ford Motor||3 Jun, 1918||16 Oct, 1918||19 Nov, 1918||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 6||PE-6||Ford Motor||8 Jun, 1918||5 Oct, 1918||21 Nov, 1918||Expended 30 Nov, 1934|
|Eagle 7||PE-7||Ford Motor||8 Jun, 1918||16 Oct, 1918||24 Nov, 1918||Expended 30 Nov, 1934|
|Eagle 8||PE-8||Ford Motor||10 Jun, 1918||11 Nov, 1918||31 Oct, 1919||Sold 1 Apr, 1931|
|Eagle 9||PE-9||Ford Motor||17 Jun, 1918||8 Nov, 1918||27 Oct, 1919||Sold 26 May, 1930|
|Eagle 10||PE-10||Ford Motor||6 Jul, 1918||9 Nov, 1918||31 Oct, 1919||Expended 19 Aug, 1937|
|Eagle 11||PE-11||Ford Motor||13 Jul, 1918||14 Nov, 1918||29 May, 1919||Sold 16 Jan, 1935|
|Eagle 12||PE-12||Ford Motor||13 Jul, 1918||12 Nov, 1918||6 Nov, 1919||Sold 30 Dec, 1935|
|Eagle 13||PE-13||Ford Motor||15 July, 1918||9 Jan, 1919||2 Apr, 1919||Sold 30 Dec, 1935|
|Eagle 14||PE-14||Ford Motor||20 Jul, 1918||25 Jan, 1919||17 Jun, 1919||Expended 22 Nov, 1934|
|Eagle 15||PE-15||Ford Motor||21 Jul, 1918||25 Jan, 1919||11 Jun, 1919||Sold 14 Jun, 1939|
|Eagle 16||PE-16||Ford Motor||22 Jul, 1918||11 Jan, 1919||5 Jun, 1919||To Coast Guard 1919|
|Eagle 17||PE-17||Ford Motor||3 Aug, 1918||1 Feb, 1919||3 Jul, 1919||Wrecked 22 May, 1922|
|Eagle 18||PE-18||Ford Motor||5 Aug, 1918||1 Feb, 1919||7 Aug, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 19||PE-19||Ford Motor||6 Aug, 1918||10 Feb, 1919||25 Jun, 1919||Destroyed 6 Aug, 1946|
|Eagle 20||PE-20||Ford Motor||26 Aug, 1918||15 Feb, 1919||28 Jul, 1919||To Coast Guard 1919|
|Eagle 21||PE-21||Ford Motor||31 Aug, 1918||15 Feb, 1919||31 Jul, 1919||To Coast Guard 1919|
|Eagle 22||PE-22||Ford Motor||5 Sep, 1918||10 Feb, 1919||17 Jul, 1919||To Coast Guard 1919|
|Eagle 23||PE-23||Ford Motor||11 Sep, 1918||29 Feb, 1919||19 Jun, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 24||PE-24||Ford Motor||13 Sep, 1918||24 Feb, 1919||19 Jun, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 25||PE-25||Ford Motor||17 Sep, 1918||19 Feb, 1919||30 Jun, 1919||Lost 11 Jun, 1920|
|Eagle 26||PE-26||Ford Motor||25 Sep, 1918||1 Mar, 1919||1 Oct, 1919||Sold 29 Aug, 1919|
|Eagle 27||PE-27||Ford Motor||22 Oct, 1918||1 Mar, 1919||17 Jul, 1919||Sold 4 Jun, 1946|
|Eagle 28||PE-28||Ford Motor||23 Oct, 1918||1 Mar, 1919||19 Nov, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 29||PE-29||Ford Motor||18 Nov, 1918||8 Mar, 1919||15 Aug, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 30||PE-30||Ford Motor||19 Nov, 1918||8 Mar, 1919||14 Aug, 1919||To Coast Guard 1919|
|Eagle 31||PE-31||Ford Motor||19 Nov, 1918||8 Mar, 1919||14 Aug, 1919||Sold 18 May, 1932|
|Eagle 32||PE-32||Ford Motor||30 Nov, 1918||15 Mar, 1919||4 Sep, 1919||Sold 3 Mar, 1947|
|Eagle 33||PE-33||Ford Motor||4 Dec, 1918||15 Mar, 1919||30 Aug, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 34||PE-34||Ford Motor||8 Jan, 1919||15 Mar, 1919||3 Sep, 1919||Sold 9 Jun, 1932|
|Eagle 35||PE-35||Ford Motor||13 Jan, 1919||22 Mar, 1919||22 Aug, 1919||Sold 7 Jun, 1938|
|Eagle 36||PE-36||Ford Motor||22 Jan 1919||22 Mar, 1919||20 Mar, 1919||Sold 27 Feb, 1936|
|Eagle 37||PE-37||Ford Motor||27 Jan, 1919||24 Mar, 1919||30 Sep, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 38||PE-38||Ford Motor||31 Jan, 1919||29 Mar, 1919||30 Jul, 1919||Sold 3 Mar, 1947|
|Eagle 29||PE-39||Ford Motor||3 Feb, 1919||29 Mar, 1919||20 Sep, 1919||Sold 7 Jun, 1938|
|Eagle 40||PE-40||Ford Motor||7 Feb, 1919||5 Apr, 1919||1 Oct, 1919||Expended 19 Nov, 1934|
|Eagle 41||PE-41||Ford Motor||10 Feb, 1919||5 Apr, 1919||26 Sep, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 42||PE-42||Ford Motor||13 Feb, 1919||17 May, 1919||3 Oct, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 43||PE-43||Ford Motor||17 Feb, 1919||17 May, 1919||2 Oct, 1919||Sold 26 May, 1930|
|Eagle 44||PE-44||Ford Motor||20 Feb, 1919||24 May, 1919||4 Oct, 1919||Discarded 14 May, 1938|
|Eagle 45||PE-45||Ford Motor||20 Feb, 1919||17 May, 1919||2 Oct, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 46||PE-46||Ford Motor||24 Feb, 1919||24 May, 1919||3 Oct, 1919||Sold 10 Dec, 1936|
|Eagle 47||PE-47||Ford Motor||3 Mar, 1919||19 Jun, 1919||4 Oct, 1919||Sold 30 Dec, 1935|
|Eagle 48||PE-48||Ford Motor||3 Mar, 1919||14 Jun, 1919||8 Oct, 1919||Sold 10 Oct, 1946|
|Eagle 49||PE-49||Ford Motor||4 Mar, 1919||14 Jun, 1919||10 Oct, 1919||Sold 20 Sep, 1930|
|Eagle 50||PE-50||Ford Motor||10 Mar, 1919||18 Jul, 1919||6 Oct, 1919||Sold 11 Jun, 1930|
|Eagle 51||PE-51||Ford Motor||10 Mar, 1919||14 Jun, 1919||2 Oct, 1919||Sold 29 Aug, 1938|
|Eagle 52||PE-52||Ford Motor||10 Mar, 1919||9 Jul, 1919||10 Oct, 1919||Sold 29 Aug, 1938|
|Eagle 53||PE-53||Ford Motor||17 Mar, 1919||13 Aug, 1919||20 Oct, 1919||Sold 26 May, 1930|
|Eagle 54||PE-54||Ford Motor||17 Mar, 1919||17 Jul, 1919||10 Oct, 1919||Sold 26 May, 1930|
|Eagle 55||PE-55||Ford Motor||17 Mar, 1919||22 Jul, 1919||10 Oct, 1919||Sold 3 Mar, 1947|
|Eagle 56||PE-56||Ford Motor||25 Mar, 1919||15 Aug, 1919||26 Oct, 1919||Torpedoed 23 Apr, 1945|
|Eagle 57||PE-57||Ford Motor||25 Mar, 1919||29 Jul, 1919||15 Oct, 1919||Sold 5 Mar, 1947|
|Eagle 58||PE-58||Ford Motor||25 Mar, 1919||2 Aug, 1919||20 Oct, 1919||Discarded 30 Jun, 1940|
|Eagle 59||PE-59||Ford Motor||31 Mar, 1919||12 Aug, 1919||19 Sep, 1919||Sold 29 Aug, 1938|
|Eagle 60||PE-60||Ford Motor||31 Mar, 1919||13 Aug, 1919||27 Oct, 1919||Sold 29 Aug, 1938|
Late in 1917, the Navy realized that it needed steel ships smaller than destroyers but having a greater operational radius than the wooden-hulled, 110-foot submarine chasers developed earlier in the year. The submarine chasers' range of about 900 miles at a cruising speed of 10 knots restricted their operations to off-shore antisubmarine work and denied them an open-ocean escort capability. Their high consumption of gasoline and limited fuel storage also were handicaps.
Attention turned to building steel patrol vessels. In their construction, it was necessary to eliminate the established shipbuilding facilities as possible sources of construction as they were totally engaged in the building of destroyers, larger warships, and merchant shipping. Accordingly, a design was developed by the Bureau of Construction and Repair which was sufficiently simplified to permit speedy construction by less experienced shipyards.
Earlier, in June 1917, President Woodrow Wilson had summoned auto-builder Henry Ford to Washington in the hope of getting him to serve on the United States Shipping Board. Wilson felt that Ford, with his knowledge of mass production techniques, could immensely speed the building of ships in quantity. Apprized of the need for antisubmarine vessels to combat the U-boat menace, Ford declared:
"What we want is one type of ship in large numbers." On 7 November, Ford accepted membership on the Shipping Board and an active advisory role. Examining the Navy's plans for the projected steel patrol ships, Ford urged that all hull plates be flat so that they could be produced quickly in quantity, and he also persuaded the Navy to accept steam turbines instead of reciprocating steam engines.
At this point, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels was drawn into the project. He recognized that no facilities were available at the Navy yards for building new craft and asked Ford if he would undertake the task. Ford agreed and, in January 1918, he was directed to proceed with the building of 100 of them. Later on twelve more were added for delivery to the Italian government.
Ford's plan for building the ships was meant to be revolutionary. Establishing a new plant on the Rouge River on the outskirts of Detroit, he proposed to turn them out as factory products, using mass production techniques, and employing factory workers. He would then send the boats by the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River to the Atlantic coast. However, Ford had little part in the design of the boats. Except for his insistence upon simple plans and the use of steam turbines, he contributed little of a fundamental nature to the design concept.
The assembly plant was completed in five months, and the first keel was laid in May 1918. The machinery and fittings were largely built at Ford's Highland Park plant in Detroit. At first, Ford believed that boats could be sent down a continuously moving assembly line like automobiles. The size of the craft made this too difficult, however, and a "step-by-step" movement was instituted on the 1,700-foot line. The first Eagle boat was launched on 11 July. The launching of these 200-foot craft was a formidable operation. Not built on ways from which they could slide into the water, the hulls moved slowly from the assembly line on enormous, tractor-drawn flatcars. They were then placed on a 225-foot steel trestle alongside the water's edge which could be sunk 20 feet into the water by hydraulic action.
The original contract called for delivery of 100 ships by 1 December, 1918. Although the first seven boats were completed on schedule, succeeding ones did not follow as rapidly, even though the labor force reached 4,380 by July and later peaked at 8,000. The chief reasons were Ford's excessive initial optimism and the inexperience of labor and supervisory personnel in shipbuilding. Upon the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, the order for 112 boats was cut to sixty. Of these, seven were commissioned in 1918, and the remainder in 1919.
The entire Eagle Boat operation came briefly under challenge by Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge in December 1918. At the ensuing Congressional hearings, Navy officials successfully defended the boats as being a necessary experiment and well made while Ford profits were proved to be modest.
The term "Eagle Boat" stemmed from a wartime Washington Post editorial which called for "... an eagle to scour the seas and pounce upon and destroy every German submarine." However, the Eagle Boats never saw service in World War I. Reports on their performance at sea were mixed. The introduction, at Ford's insistence, of flanged plates instead of rolled plates facilitated production but resulted in sea-keeping characteristics which were far from ideal. In the first years after the war, a number of them were used as aircraft tenders. Despite the handicap of their size, they serviced photographic reconnaissance planes at Midway in 1920 and in the Hawaiian Islands in 1921 before being supplanted by larger ships. A number of the Eagle Boats were transferred to the Coast Guard in 1919, and the balance were sold in the 1930s.
- two 4-inch/50 caliber
- one 3-inch/50 caliber AA gun
- two .50-caliber machine guns
- one Y gun (Eagle 4 through Eagle 7 only)
- Friedman, Norman (1987). U.S. Small Combatants: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
- Gray, Randal (editor) (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
- Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). The U.S. Navy Warship Series: The New Navy 1883-1922. New York: Routledge.