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Bulloch History with Roger Allen - Augusta ships have a long military history
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Roger Allen

    The first two naval ships the Augusta were British: the first, a "Fourth rate" armed with 60 guns; and the second, a "Third rate" double-decked warship armed with 64 guns.
    The first warship the U.S.S. Augusta was a 14-gun Brig built in Pennsylvania in 1799. In 1800 she captured three French schooners. She was decommissioned in March 1801 and sold shortly thereafter.
    The second U.S.S. Augusta was a 1,330-ton side-wheel steamer built by William H. Webb for the New York and Savannah Steam Navigation Company. The U.S. Navy bought her in 1861.
    Armed with 33 deck guns, she captured both the British blockade-runner Cheshire and the Confederate ship the Island Belle. In 1872, she became part of the Ocean Steamship's passenger service after being renamed the Magnolia.
    The third USS Augusta began its life as a 103-foot-long yacht built in 1912 by the Nelson Shipyard in Texas. Converted into patrol craft SP-946 in 1917, Ensign Norman V. Pillot, son of the original owner, commanded the SP-946 until she was returned to his family in 1918.
    The fourth USS Augusta (CL-31,/CA-31) was a 9,300-ton 'Heavy' cruiser built in 1928 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Virginia.
    On Oct. 23, 1942, with Major General George S. Patton onboard, the Augusta headed for North Africa and the beginning of "Operation Torch," the Allied invasion of Morocco. The Vichy French 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron sailed out from Casablanca's harbor to meet the Allied force.
    The result: their ships the "Boulonnais," "Fougueux," and "Primauguet" were sunk, the "Milan" was beached, and the "Brestois" and "Frondeur" barely made it back into the harbor before capsizing.
    The Augusta then sailed north with Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, to become his floating command center during the Normandy invasion. After the landings, the Augusta returned state-side.
    Shortly thereafter President Truman and his advisors boarded the Augusta on a trans-Atlantic trip to attend the "Potsdam Conference" and then returned. On July 16, 1946, the Augusta was decommissioned. In 1959, the Augusta was sold for scrap to Robert Benjamin of Panama City, Fla.
    The latest U.S.S. Augusta (SSN-710) was a Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Connecticut in 1983.
    The Augusta is best remembered because it collided with the Russian submarine K-219 in the Atlantic on Oct. 3, 1986. The K-219 sank or was scuttled by its crew shortly thereafter. Needless to say, the Russian's were not happy.
    In 2003, the USS Augusta was one of a handful of American submarines that launched Tomahawk Cruise Missiles at the start of "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Augusta was decommissioned in early 2008, and her reactors were disassembled in November 2008.
    Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look at the area's historical past. Email Roger at

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