Archive for the 'Age of Sail' Category

Aug 14

Today in Naval History: The Capture of the U.S. Brig Argus by H.M Brig Pelican

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 10:15 AM

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Kimball Argus Burning commerce

Two hundred and five years ago today, on 14 August 1813, the U.S. Brig Argus, under command of Captain William H. Allen, fought her final battle with the HMS Pelican off the coast of England during the War of 1812. During the early-morning battle, Allen’s right leg was shot off, but he remained on station until fainting from a loss of blood. As Pelican‘s men boarded, Argus struck her colors. Allen died four days later. Writing about the incident in the May 1939 issue of Proceedings, Prof. Wilbur E. Apgar gave a thorough summary of the events. His summary is excerpted here. The amazing lack of concern… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 7

Ticonderoga: The Almost-First Steam-Powered Warship

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 12:01 AM

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Commodore Thomas Macdonough (Gilbert Stuart-National Gallery of Art)

Demologos, later renamed Fulton after its creator Robert Fulton, was the first steam-powered vessel in the U.S. Navy in 1815. The unique floating battery almost did not receive that distinction. Only a matter of months earlier, Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough almost brought a steam-powered warship to the most decisive battle of the War of 1812. The United States and Great Britain had been at war since June 1812, and Napoleon’s defeat in April 1814 brought thousands of experienced soldiers to Canada. The war of 1812 began as a sideshow to the British government, but now had their military’s undivided attention…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 31

Today in Naval History: The Four Ships Named USS Intrepid

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 1:43 PM

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Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum (Acroterion)

On this day in 1874, the USS Intrepid, second ship of her name, was commissioned by the U.S. Navy. The name Intrepid means fearless or adventurous, both things this mighty ship was not. Despite the cutting edge technology and new designs used to create the massive ship, she proved merely experimental. The Intrepid was the Navy’s first ship equipped with self-propelled torpedoes and led the way for future ships of more efficient and useful designs. Her predecessor, the USS Intrepid (1798) has a peculiar and distinguished history. Captured from the Tripolitan Navy several months after the USS Philadelphia ran aground, the first Intrepid was converted to a… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 20

The USS Essex From Mutiny to F-35s

Friday, July 20, 2018 12:01 AM

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Artist's rendition of the Battle of Valparaiso, depicting naval warfare between the frigate USS Essex, the HMS Phoebe, and the HMS Cherub. The battle raged for two and a half hours, ending with the surrender of the USS Essex. (Photo: USNI Archive)

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. 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… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 17

Earn Your Ink: Celebrate National Tattoo Day!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018 12:01 AM

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Getting “inked” is a tradition which spans back to the age of sail before the U.S. established its own navy. Many of the same tattoos from centuries ago are still found on sailors today. Sailors wear tattoos that depict their naval service. 1. Swallow Legend has it tattoos began when seven sailors from the ship “The Swallow” tattooed a swallow on their chests to mark their mutiny [1]. However, it is generally used measure how far a sailor travels. Originally a swallow was earned every 5,000 nautical miles. Due to the enhanced capabilities of today’s ships a sailor earns a… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 28

Here’s How the French Created Military Aviation

Thursday, June 28, 2018 8:28 AM

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On June 26, 1794, the French army launched their military balloon, L’Entreprenant, for reconnaissance during the Battle of Fleurus — the first use of an aircraft for military purposes. The Committee of Public Safety approved the creation of the French Company of Aeronauts in 1794 and sponsored the development of the hydrogen that would be used to raise the craft. After much testing and experimentation with gases and structures, L’Entreprenant was born [1].   Following a brief debut during a bombardment on June 2, L’Entreprenant was used to report enemy movements during a conflict with Austrian forces [2]. At Fleurus, the balloon… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 24

John Paul Jones and the North Channel Naval Duel

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 12:01 AM

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The USS Ranger and HMS Drake engaged in battle in the North Channel.

Dear reader, have you heard of John Paul Jones? Prior to working at the Naval Institute, I would have an easier time discussing Davey Jones than John Paul Jones. The first time he came up in conversation I could only nod my head and feign understanding, making a mental note to trawl the internet for information later. Thinking back on all the American History I’ve absorbed in every level of schooling, I cannot recall a single mention of John Paul Jones and that is a detriment to education. Jones is a fascinating character in history. Today, April 24, is the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 27

The Naval Act of 1794: Piracy and the U.S. Navy’s Re-Birth

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 3:00 PM

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Painting of the USS Constitution, the first ship completed after the re-establishment of the Navy.

I learned something today, dear reader. For nine long years, the United States didn’t have a Navy. Nine years! Between August 1785 and 27 March 1794, there were no Naval officers, nor sailors, not even a single ship to the Navy’s name. Yes, today is the anniversary of the rebirth of the United States Navy, and it is all thanks to pirates. At the end of the Revolutionary War in August 1785, Congress sold the last Continental Navy ship, the Alliance. There just simply wasn’t enough money available to maintain a ship or support a naval force. Moreover, the United… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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