Jul 20

The USS Essex From Mutiny to F-35s

Friday, July 20, 2018 12:01 AM

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As reported by USNI News, the USS Essex quietly deployed last Tuesday, 10 July. [Essex Amphibious Ready Group Quietly Deployed on Tuesday with Marine F-35s] The lack of “fanfare” was for “reasons of operational security”, according to USNI sources. The USS Essex is carrying the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and their F-35s.

However, this isn’t the first time a US Navy ship named USS Essex made headlines.

Painting depicting a port side view of the frigate USS Essex at sea. (Photo: USNI Archive)

Painting depicting a port side view of the frigate USS Essex at sea. (Photo: USNI Archive)

There were five ships named USS Essex in U.S. Navy history, starting with the 32-gun sailing frigate commissioned in 1799. On 9 December 1813, the sailors of USS Essex staged a mutiny. Luckily, CAPT Porter was able to keep the crew together and squash the rebellion without too much trouble. There are a few journal entries that tell the story; one even from ADM David G. Farragut, at the time a Midshipman. He served onboard during the War of 1812. A 1933 Proceedings article tells the complete story of the mutiny. [The Suppressed Mutiny On The “Essex”]

From October 1813 to December 1813, Captain Porter and the crew of the Essex were anchored in Nukahiva for repairs and overhauling. The tropical island was a paradise for these hardened sailors. On 9 December 1813, Porter locked up the Sailors liberty to finish preparing the ship for an early morning departure. Many among the crew were upset that they could not spend one last night on the island. Three sailors took action and swam to shore. The sailors were captured on the beach and brought back immediately. Porter decided to use them as an example and set them to work in chains with the other prisoners.

This punishment seemed disproportionate by the rest of the crew. Some sailors said their lack of liberty was worse than slavery. Porter gathered all hands on deck and gave a riveting speech. He spoke to the necessity of getting back to sea. He then called White, the sailor who started all the rumors to the front. Porter told him to never be in Porter’s sight again then sent White off in a canoe. The full account, written in Porter’s words can be found in the Proceedings article from 1933. [The Suppressed Mutiny On The “Essex”]

the frigate USS Essex taking heavy damage during the War of 1812. (Photo: USNI Archive)

The frigate USS Essex taking heavy damage during the War of 1812. (Photo: USNI Archive)