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First U.S. Navy Ship - U.S.S. Alfred

First U.S. Navy Ship-U.S.S. Alfred

According to the U.S. Navy's official website, Alfred was "a ship-rigged vessel originally named Black Prince," which was built in Philadelphia during 1774.  She weighed 440 tons and carried twenty "9-pounder smooth bore cannon and ten 6-pounder smooth bore cannon."

Launched in the fall of 1774, as a merchant ship, she sailed to Bristol late that year and returned to Philadelphia on the 25th of April, 1775.  On her second return trip from Britain, she carried important letters which warned the Patriots of troubles to come: 

Private correspondence which Black Prince had brought from England to members of the Continental Congress reported that the British Government was sending to America two unarmed brigs heavily laden with gunpowder and arms.

As a result, Congress authorized a Continental Navy (consisting of four American ships) to capture the British brigs and divert their cargo to Washington's poorly equipped army.  The Naval Committee, which included John Adams, bought the Black Prince on the 4th of November, 1775.  She was renamed Alfred, four days later, then refitted as a man-of-war. 

In March of 1778, Alfred attempted to flee from British warships near Barbados.  Unable to get away, she was captured, refitted, purchased by the Royal Navy and put into service as a twenty-gun armed ship.  She was sold, again, in 1782.


Media Credits

Image, U.S. National Archives. 

Information and quotes, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Naval Historical Center web site.

 

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