Friday, January 4, 2013

The USS Enterprise: 1775-2012 (Part 1)

One of the last acts of the 112th Congress was for the Senate to unanimously agree (yesterday, January 3, 2013) to S. Res. 630, a resolution congratulating the Navy and the current and former officers and crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN 65) on completion of the 26th and final deployment of the vessel.

The U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN-65) was deactivated on December 1st, 2012.  Over 100,000 Marines and sailors (including my Uncle Rick) served aboard her during her 51 years in service.


This U.S.S. Enterprise is 8th in a long line of ships by that name that served their country well.  Everything has changed so much in the past 238 years.  The U.S. Navy is no exception--just take a look at the evolution of the U.S.S. Enterprise:

Enterprise I
(The Revolutionary War)

The first USS Enterprise was originally a 70-ton British supply sloop.  Colonel Benedict Arnold (who later became an infamous traitor) and 35 men captured it from a shipyard in Quebec, Canada on the 18th of May 1775. They armed the ship with twelve 4-pounder guns and 10 swivel guns.  The ship was manned by 50 officers and enlisted men.  The USS Enterprise was engaged in the Battle of Quebec and the Battle of Valcour Island. On the July 7, 1777 , the ship was assigned to duty during the evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga.  The small American fleet was no match for the British, and the Enterprise was ran aground on the shores of Lake Champlain.  The Americans burned the ship to avoid its re-capture.

Enterprise II
(The Revolutionary War)

The second Enterprise was purchased by the Continental Navy in 1776.   Because she was commissioned before the first USS Enterprise was deactivated, she is not called the USS Enterprise--just the Enterprise. She was a 25 ton, 8-gun schooner and carried a crew of 80 men.  The ship was commanded by Captain James Campbell.  During the Revolutionary War, the Enterprise guarded convoys and protected the shores against British pillagers.

Enterprise III
(The Quasi-War, The First Barbary War, and the War of 1812)
USS Enterprise vs. Tripoli
The third Enterprise was built in 1799 by Henry Spencer for $16,240.   It was a 135 ton, 12  6-pounder gun schooner, and was manned by a crew of 70.  The ship was rebuilt several times, eventually becoming a 16 gun, 165 ton brig rigged ship. Its first task was defending United States Merchantmen in the Caribbean against French Privateers during the Quasi-War with France. In 1801, the Enterprise joined other ships for the First Barbary War.  Not far from Malta, she defeated the Tripolitan corsair Tripoli after a 3 hour battle.  No one on the USS Enterprise was injured while 40% of the Tripoli’s crew were killed or wounded.  Throughout the remainder of her patrol in the Mediterranean during the war with Tripoli , the USS Enterprise made a good showing for herself.
The USS Enterprise was repaired at Washington Naval Yard, and recomissioned in  1811.  She was at sea when war was declared against Great Britian.
On the 5th of September 1813, the HMS Boxer  and the USS Enterprise sighted each other off the coast of Maine.  The British commander Captain Samuel Blyth nailed the Union Jack to his ship’s mast, indicating his intention of fighting to the end.  Lieutenant William Burrows, leading the Americans, declared, " We are going to fight both ends and both sides of this ship as long as the ends and the sides hold together.“  Both Blyth and Burrows were killed or mortally wounded during the first few minutes of the battle.  The battle lasted 30 minutes and left the HMS Boxer in ruins.
The third USS Enterprise remained in service, patrolling and suppressing pirates, slave-traders, and smugglers until she was shipwrecked on Little Curacao Island in the West Indies in 1823.

Enterprise IV

The fourth USS Enterprise  was a 197 ton schooner, armed with two 9 pound guns and eight 24 pound carronades, and outfitted with a full complement of 72 men.  She was launched on the 26th of October 1831, and sailed for South America in 1832.  Here she patrolled the Brazil Station until 1834.  Next, she cruised to the Far East, then proceeded to Hawaii and then to Mexico.  From there she continued to the west coast of South America which she patrolled until 1839.  The ship left Valparaiso, Chile, rounded the Horn, and returned to Philadelphia where it was inactivated in July 1839.  It was recomissioned in November and returned to its duties protecting U.S. commerce on the coast of South America until 1844 when it was decommissioned and sold.

Enterprise V
The fifth USS Enterprise was a steam corvette with auxiliary sail power.  It had a displacement of 1375 tons, a crew of 184 men, traveled at a speed of 11.4 knots, and was armed with an 11-inch moth bore, four 9-inch broadside guns, one 60-pounder pivot, and 1 short Gatling gun.  It was commissioned in 1877.
Its first assignment was to surveying operations at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and its next assignments were similar operations at the Amazon and Madiera Rivers. 
From 1883 to 1886, the ship sailed on a hydrographical survey which took it around the world. 
Later, it was used for training and practice for the U.S. Naval Academy and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  The USS Enterprise was returned to the navy in 1909 and then  sold.   

Enterprise VI
The sixth Enterprise was a motor patrol craft  purchased by the Navy in 1916 .  It was transferred to the Bureau of Fisheries in 1919.

USS Enterprise--Part 2 (Role of the carrier Enterprise in World War II): coming tomorrow

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