U.S.S. Lykens (SP-876/AT-56)


Dublin Core


U.S.S. Lykens (SP-876/AT-56)

Alternative Title

USS Lykens (SP-876/AT-56)


World War, 1914-1918


A photograph of the USS Lykens (SP-876/AT-56), which was a 170-foot steam-powered tugboat. The photograph was taken sometime in 1917, after the ship was acquired by the United States Navy. Built in 1899, the Lykens started as a private vessel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After the Navy acquired it, the ship operated in the Atlantic, reaching as far out as Bermuda and the Azores, primarily serving as a tender/decoy ship. Tender/decoy missions involved a ship travelling with an allied submarine in order to keep the sub supplied, while also acting as bait to draw out enemy submarines.

A notable crewmember was the ship's commander, Leo Rosser Davis (1880-1951). Born in Tallahassee, Florida, to James and Nora Davis, Leo was the oldest of four children. On June 1, 1918, at the age of thirty-eight, Leo received a commission as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Reserve. He reported to the Naval Auxiliary Reserve in New York on June 3, 1918. Then, on June 22, he began his service aboard the USS Lykens (SP-876/AT-56). By late July, Leo commanded the ship, which operated in the northern Atlantic, off the coast of New England. Leo continued to command the ship through the end of World War I. On April 18, 1919, he was discharged and returned to Florida. After having spent so much time at sea, Leo earned the title of a master mariner. He sailed the civilian cargo ship SS Lake Felicity, a 250-foot steam-powered ship. On at least three occasions in 1919 and 1920, he commanded this ship and sailed between New Orleans, Louisiana, various Caribbean islands, and New York. On March 20, 1951, Leo passed away in the Bay Pines Hospital after spending nearly his entire life in the St. Petersburg area. He was survived by his wife Anna, his stepson William, his brothers Claude and Herbert, and his mother Nora. Leo is buried in Bay Pines National Cemetery at Section 16, Row 6, Site 11.

In 2017, the University of Central Florida was one of three universities selected to launch the National Cemetery Administration’s Veterans Legacy Program Project. The program engaged a team of scholars to make the life stories of veterans buried in the Florida National Cemetery available to the public. The project engages UCF students in research and writing and fosters collaboration between students, faculty and local Central Florida schools to produce interactive curriculum for K-12 students. The corresponding website exhibit uses RICHES Mosaic Interface to create a digital archive of related data. The public can use the project-developed augmented-reality app at more than 100 gravesites at the Florida National Cemetery, where they can access the UCF student-authored biographies of veterans.


Digital reproduction of original black and white photograph: NH102011, US Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.

Date Created

ca. 1917-09-18 to 1917-11-10




50.2 KB


1 black and white photograph




Still Image


Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Accrual Method



History Teacher


Originally created by the United States Navy and published by the Naval History and Heritage Command.

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O'Neil, Rhiannon

Source Repository

External Reference

Abney, Barb. "VA Selects UCF Historians to Archive Stories of Deceased Veterans Veterans." UCF Today, March 13, 2017. Accessed August 9, 2017. https://today.ucf.edu/va-selects-ucf-historians-archive-stories-deceased-veterans/.
Tuchman, Barbara W., and Robert K. Massie. The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I. 2014.


United States Navy, “U.S.S. Lykens (SP-876/AT-56),” RICHES, accessed May 21, 2024, https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka/items/show/10676.