The USS Penguin was 155 feet long, had a 30.8 foot beam and mounted one 12-pdr. gun and four 32-pdrs.
It was purchased 23 May 1861 in New York City and commissioned 25 June 1861, under Acting Volunteer Lt. Thomas A. Budd. It was decommissioned 24 August 1865.
It was assigned to the North Atlantic blockading Squadron and joined the Potomac Flotilla 19 August 1861. Evidently, before joining it, the Penguin had chased the Louisa onto the shoals off Wilmington, N.C..