Eagle Boats

In June 1917, with America’s entry into WWI, President Wilson asked the car manufacturer Henry Ford to join the Navy’s Shipping Board in the hopes that he would be able to speed up production.  

Ford suggested the rapid building of one class of ship on a factory-like basis, as conventional ship yards were at capacity building larger vessels.  It was decided that a class of 200ft patrol/submarine chaser boats would be built to combat the U-Boat attacks on US shipping.  The steel hulled Eagle Boat was designed to be a submarine chaser with an increased speed of almost 20 knots, built from a steel frame and fitted with a cement bow for ramming as well as being armed with 2 4”/50 caliber Mark 9 guns.   In January 1918 100 boats were ordered with 60 being built at Ford’s works in Detroit before the end of the war.

However, these unusual boats never saw active service with reports from sea trials being mixed.  Following the end of the war some were transfered from the Navy to the Coast Guard, while some remained in service with the Navy as tenders into the 1930s.