USS Washington (1814)

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USS Washington in 1814-by-John-S-Blunt.jpg
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard launching its first new construction, the 74-gun USS Washington
US flag 23 stars.svgUnited States
Name: USS Washington
Builder: Portsmouth Navy Yard
Laid down: May 1813
Launched: 1 October 1814
Commissioned: 26 August 1815
Decommissioned: 1820
Fate: Broken up, 1843
General characteristics
Type: Ship of the line
Length: 190 ft 10 in (58.17 m) p/p
Beam: 54 ft 7.5 in (16.650 m)
Draft: 24 ft 4 in (7.42 m)
Depth of hold: 19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Complement: 750
Armament: 90 guns

USS Washington was a ship of the line of the United States Navy.

Ship of the line type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century

A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century. The ship of the line was designed for the naval tactic known as the line of battle, which depended on the two columns of opposing warships maneuvering to fire with the cannons along their broadsides. In conflicts where opposing ships were both able to fire from their broadsides, the side with more cannons, and therefore more firepower typically had an advantage. Since these engagements were almost invariably won by the heaviest ships carrying the most powerful guns, the natural progression was to build sailing vessels that were the largest and most powerful of their time.

United States Navy Naval warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. With the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.


The ship was authorized by the United States Congress on 2 January 1813 and was laid down in May of that year at the Portsmouth Navy Yard under a contract with the shipbuilders, Hart and Badger. The ship was launched on 1 October 1814 and was commissioned at Portsmouth on 26 August 1815, Captain John Orde Creighton in command.

William Badger (shipbuilder) American shipbuilder

William Badger was a master shipbuilder operating in Kittery, Maine, United States who built more than 100 vessels.

Service history

After fitting out, Washington sailed for Boston on 3 December 1815. In the spring of the following year, the ship-of-the-line shifted to Annapolis, Maryland, and arrived there on 15 May 1816. Over the ensuing days, the man-of-war welcomed a number of distinguished visitors who came on board to inspect what was, in those days, one of the more powerful American ships afloat. The guests included Commodore John Rodgers and Capt. David Porter, Col. Franklin Wharton, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and President and Mrs. James Madison. The Chief Executive and his lady came on board "at half past meridian, to visit the ship, on which occasion yards were manned and they were saluted with 19 guns and three cheers."

Annapolis, Maryland Capital of Maryland

Annapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Maryland, as well as the county seat of Anne Arundel County. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, 25 miles (40 km) south of Baltimore and about 30 miles (50 km) east of Washington, D.C., Annapolis is part of the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. Its population was measured at 38,394 by the 2010 census.

David Porter (naval officer) officer in the United States Navy

David Porter was an officer in the United States Navy in the rank of captain and the honorary title of commodore. Porter commanded a number of U.S. naval ships, including the famous USS Constitution. He saw service in the First Barbary War, the War of 1812 and in the West Indies. On July 2, 1812, Porter hoisted the banner "Free trade and sailors' rights" as captain of USS Essex. The phrase resonated with many Americans. Porter was later court martialed; he resigned and then joined and became commander-in-chief of the Mexican Navy.

Franklin Wharton United States Marine Corps Commandant

Franklin Wharton was the third Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.

Washington then sailed down Chesapeake Bay and embarked William Pinkney and his suite on 5 June. On 8 June, the ship of the line set sail for the Mediterranean flying the broad pennant of Commodore Isaac Chauncey, the commander of the Navy's fledgling Mediterranean Squadron. Washington reached Gibraltar on 2 July, en route to her ultimate destination, Naples.

Chesapeake Bay An estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia

The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula with its mouth located between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. With its northern portion in Maryland and the southern part in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a very important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay's 64,299-square-mile (166,534 km2) drainage basin, which covers parts of six states and all of Washington, D.C.

William Pinkney American politician

William Pinkney was an American statesman and diplomat, and was appointed the seventh U.S. Attorney General by President James Madison.

Isaac Chauncey American Commodore

Isaac Chauncey was an officer in the United States Navy who served in the Quasi-War, The Barbary Wars and the War of 1812. In the latter part of his naval career he was President of the Board of Navy Commissioners.

Washington made port at Naples on 25 July, and Pickney debarked to commence his special mission—to adjust the claims of American merchants against the Neapolitan authorities. The talks ensued well into August. At the end of the month, the demands of diplomacy apparently satisfied, Washington set sail.

For the next two years, the ship-of-the-line operated in the Mediterranean as flagship of the American squadron, providing a display of force to encourage the Barbary states to respect American commerce. Dignitaries that visited the American man-of-war during this Mediterranean cruise included General Nugent, the commander in chief of Austrian forces (on 5 August 1817) and Prince Henry of Prussia (1781–1846) (on 12 August 1817).

Laval Nugent von Westmeath Irish soldier

Laval Graf Nugent von Westmeath was a soldier of Irish birth, who fought in the armies of Austria and the Two Sicilies.

Prince Henry of Prussia (1781–1846)

Prince Frederick Henry Charles of Prussia was a Prussian prince and army officer.

On 1 February 1818, Commodore Charles Stewart relieved Commodore Chauncey as commander of the American Mediterranean Squadron, at Syracuse harbor, after which time Washington cruised to Messina and the Barbary Coast. She set sail for home on 23 May 1818—convoying 40 American merchantmen—and reached New York on 6 July 1818. The next day, the Vice President of the United States, Daniel D. Tompkins, visited the ship; and the warship blocked her colors at half-mast on the 8th, in honor of the interment of the remains of General Richard Montgomery, who had been killed leading the Continental assault against Quebec in 1775.

Charles Stewart (1778–1869) officer in the United States Navy, born 1778

Charles Stewart was an officer in the United States Navy who commanded a number of US Navy ships, including USS Constitution. He saw service during the Quasi War and both Barbary Wars in the Mediterranean along North Africa and the War of 1812. He later commanded the navy yard in Philadelphia and was promoted to become the Navy's first flag officer shortly before retiring. He was promoted to rear admiral after he retired from the Navy. He lived a long life and was the last surviving Navy captain who had served in the War of 1812.

Messina Comune in Sicily, Italy

Messina is the capital of the Italian Metropolitan City of Messina. It is the third largest city on the island of Sicily, and the 13th largest city in Italy, with a population of more than 238,000 inhabitants in the city proper and about 650,000 in the Metropolitan City. It is located near the northeast corner of Sicily, at the Strait of Messina, opposite Villa San Giovanni on the mainland, and has close ties with Reggio Calabria. According to Eurostat the FUA of the metropolitan area of Messina has, in 2014, 277,584 inhabitants.

Barbary Coast coastal region of North Africa inhabited by Berber people

The term Barbary Coast was used by Europeans from the 16th century to the early 19th to refer to the coastal regions of North Africa inhabited by Berber people. Today this land is part of the modern nations of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.

Following her return to the United States, Washington was commanded by Captain Arthur Sinclair until 1819.

Washington did little cruising thereafter, remaining at New York as Commodore Chauncey's flagship until 1820. Placed "in ordinary" that year, the ship-of-the-line remained inactive until broken up in 1843.

(The dimensions of the ship are uncertain, since no plan has survived, and there is evidence that the shipbuilder's plan was never sent to the Navy.)

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  1. Chapelle, Howard (1949). The History of the American Sailing Navy. Bonanza Books a division of Crown Publishers, Inc.