[From the “Dictionary of American Fighting Ships”]
NEW YORK (ACR-2) ( Renamed Rochester)
Displacement: 8,150 y. Length: 384’ Beam: 64’10” Draft: 23’3” Speed: 21 k. Armament: 6 8”; 12 4”; 8 6-pdrs; 4 1-pdr; 3 14” torpedo tubes
The fourth NEW YORK, an armored cruiser authorized by Congress in 1888, was laid down 19 September 1890 by William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia; launched 2 December 1891; sponsored by Miss Helen Page; and commissioned at Philadelphia 1 August 1893, Capt. John Philip in command.
Assigned to the South Atlantic Squadron, NEW YORK departed New York Harbor 27 December 1893 for Rio de Janeiro, arriving Taipu Beach in January 1894, she remained there until heading home 23 March, via Nicaragua and the West Indies. Transferred to the North Atlantic Squadron in August, the cruiser returned to West Indian waters for winter exercises and was commended for her aid during a fire that threatened to destroy Port of Spain, Trinidad. Returning to New York, the cruiser joined the European Squadron in 1895 and steamed to Kiel, where she represented the United States at the opening of the Kiel Canal. Rejoining the North Atlantic Squadron, NEW YORK operated off Fort Monroe, Charleston, and New York through 1897.
NEW YORK departed Fort Monroe 17 January 1898 for Key West. After the declaration of war in April, NEW YORK steamed to Cuba and bombarded the defenses at Matanzas before joining other American ships at San Juan in May, seeking the Spanish squadron. Not finding it, they bombarded fortifications at San Juan before withdrawing. NEW YORK then became flagship of Admiral Sampson’s squadron, as the American commander planned the campaign against Santiago; the battle, 3 July, resulted in complete destruction of the Spanish fleet.
The cruiser sailed for New York 14 August to receive a warrior’s welcome. For the next year, she cruised with various State naval militias to Cuba, Bermuda, Honduras, and Venezuela and conducted summer tactical operations off New England. On 17 October 1899, she departed New York for Central and South American trouble areas.
NEW YORK transferred to the Asiatic Fleet in 1901, sailing via Gibraltar, Port Said, and Singapore to Cavite, where she became flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. She steamed to Yokohama in July for the unveiling of the memorial to the Perry expedition. In October, NEW YORK visited Samar and other Philippine islands as part of the campaign against insurgents. On 13 March 1902, she got underway for Hong Kong and other Chinese ports. In September, she visited Vladivostok, Russia, then stopped at Korea before returning to San Francisco in November. In 1903, NEW YORK transferred to the Pacific Squadron and cruised with it to Ampala, Honduras in February to protect American interests during turbulence there. Steaming via Magdalena Bay, the cruiser returned to San Francisco, for a reception for President Roosevelt. In 1904, NEW YORK joined squadron cruises off Panama and Peru, then reported to Puget Sound in June where she became flagship of the Pacific Squadron. In September, she enforced the President’s neutrality order during the Russo-Japanese war. NEW YORK was at Valparaiso, Chile from 21 December 1904 to 4 January 1905, then sailed to Boston and decommissioned 31 March for modernization.
Recommissioning 15 May 1909, NEW YORK departed Boston 25 June for Algiers and Naples where she joined the Armored Cruiser Squadron 10 July and sailed with it for home on the 23d. Operating out of Atlantic and gulf ports for the next year, she went into fleet reserve, 31 December.
She was renamed ROCHESTER, 1 December 1917. After escorting a convoy to France, ROCHESTER commenced target and defense instruction of armed guard crews, in Chesapeake Bay. In March 1918, she resumed escorting convoys and continued the duty through the end of the war. On her third trip, with convoy HM-58, a U-boat torpedoed British steamer ATLANTIAN 9 June. ROCHESTER sped to her aid but ATLANTIAN sank within 5 min. Other ships closed in, but the sub was not seen again.
After the Armistice, ROCHESTER served as a transport bringing troops back home. In May 1919, she served as flagship of the destroyer squadron guarding the transatlantic flight of the Navy’s NC seaplanes. In the early 1920s she operated along the east coast.
ROCHESTER departed Balboa 25 February 1932 for service in the Pacific Fleet. She arrived Shanghai 27 April, to join the fleet in the Yangtze River in June and remained there until steaming to Cavite, to decommission 29 April 1933. She moored at the Olongapo Shipyard for the next 8 years. Her name was struck from the Navy Register 28 October 1938, and she was scuttled in December 1941 to prevent her capture by the Japanese.
In the late 1960’s the wreck was partially demolished to clear Subic Bay.
Tony Basi Adds:
“About 10 of July 1967 to about the 22 of July 1967 the outfit I was in Harbor Clearance Unit-1 began and finished demolition on the USS New York or Rochester as she was called, although the reporter who did the story said the heavy cruiser was blown up, I do not recall him being aboard when we were making the charge and the divers were planting the charges on the wreak. I was able to get two shots off of the waterspout. I was not a diver I was one of the crew on the YLLC-2 and packed the hose charges that were used. She was too big and too tough to blow completely up, the bow was pointed upwards and had to be pushed down to make room for a POL Buoy.”
The Rochester rested forgotten for more than 30 years, until rediscovered by divers in the early 1970s. Dale Sanders, made numerous dives on the hull between 1973 and 1978. The Rochester rests on her side, her 384′ hull half buried in the sand.
“Much of the superstructure is lying apart from the hull, and said that her smokestacks are also visible. Her guns, however, are gone, although some have been spotted in the sandy bottom close to the hull. During their years of exploring the Rochester, Sanders and his fellow divers were able to recover a number of items from the ship – brass portholes and fittings, porcelain coffee cups, and miscellaneous smaller items. Many of these items were on display at the Subic Bay Yacht Club.”
Although US Navy officials placed the Rochester off limits to divers, that prohibition ended in the fall of 1992 when the Navy vacated Subic Bay and returned the base to the Philippines. The ship lies on her side in 15 fathoms of water.