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USS Adams (1799)

Name: USS Adams
Builder: John Jackson and William Sheffield
Cost: $76,622
Laid down: 30 July 1798
Launched: 8 June 1799
Commissioned: 23 September 1799
Fate: Scuttled 1814
General characteristics
Type: Frigate


in june 1812 725 american ton or 783 english ton

113 ft (34 m)

128 ft (39 m) in june 1812
Beam: 34 ft (10 m)
Depth: 10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
Complement: 220 officers and men
  • 24 × 12-pounder guns
  • 4 × 6-pounder guns
  • in june 1812 26 × 18-pounder columbiads
  • 1 × 12-pounder gun on quarterdeck

USS Adams was a 28-gun (rated) sailing frigate of the United States Navy. She was laid down in 1797 at New York City by John Jackson and William Sheffield and launched on 8 June 1799. Capt. Richard Valentine Morris took command of the ship.[1]


  • Quasi-War with France 1
  • First Barbary War 2
  • 1805–1811 3
  • War of 1812 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further Information 7
  • Further reading 8

Quasi-War with France

The frigate departed New York in mid-September 1799 and headed for the West Indies to protect American shipping from attacks by French privateers, during the Quasi-War with France. She arrived at Saint Christopher on 10 October and soon began cruising nearby waters in search of French men of war and any prizes which had been captured by warships flying French colors.

Later that month, she recaptured the brig Zylpha and assisted USS Insurgent in taking an unidentified 4-gun French privateer and freeing an English brig and a schooner from Boston which that vessel of prey had seized.

On 12 November, she again teamed with Insurgent in recapturing the 14-gun English brig Margaret. On the 15th, they took the French privateer Le Onze Vendémiaire. On the 20th, they cooperated in liberating the schooner Nancy which had struck her colors on the 18th.

On 10 January 1800, Adams and USS Eagle made the French schooner La Fougeuse their prize and, late in the month, Adams recaptured the schooner Alphia. Two more French schooners, L'Heureuse Rencontre and Isabella fell into her hands in February. The following month, she freed the sloop Nonpareil and she did the same for the schooner Priscilla in April.

But Adams most successful month came in May when she recaptured an unidentified schooner and teamed up with Insurgent once more in freeing a British letter of marque. During the same month she also recaptured another schooner named Nancy, one called Grinder, and an unidentified brig while capturing the brig Dove and the schooner Renommee.

In need of repairs, Adams returned to New York in July 1800, but early in the fall headed back to the Caribbean under the command of Capt. Thomas Robinson. However, on this cruise she did not have the success which she had enjoyed under Capt. Richard Morris but for the most part was limited to patrol and escort duty. She did manage to recapture the British schooner Grendin, but the date of the action is unknown. On 23 March, the Secretary of the Navy ordered her home and she was laid up at New York.[1]

First Barbary War

However, trouble in the Mediterranean prevented her respite from being long. The Strait of Gibraltar carrying orders for Commodore Richard V. Morris, her first commanding officer who was now in command of the American Mediterranean Squadron. She arrived there on 22 July and remained in that port blockading the Tripolitan cruiser Meshuda lest she escape and prey on American shipping. It was not until 8 April 1803 that she was freed of this duty. She then joined the rest of Morris' squadron in operations off Tripoli.

However, as a squadron commander, Morris seemed to have lost the dash and daring he had displayed in operations against the French in the West Indies while in command of a single ship. His indecisiveness in the Mediterranean prompted Washington to order his recall and he sailed for home in Adams on 25 September. The frigate carried Morris to Washington and was placed in ordinary at the navy yard there in November 1803.[1]


Reactivated under command of Capt. Alexander Murray in July 1805, Adams cruised along the coast of the United States from New York to Florida protecting American commerce. In the autumn of the following year she was again laid up in Washington and – but for service enforcing the Embargo Act in 1809 – remained inactive at the nation's capital until the outbreak of the War of 1812. In August 1811 she became the receiving ship at the Washington Navy Yard.[1]

War of 1812

In June 1812, Adams was cut in half amidships and lengthened 15 feet in the course of being completely rebuilt as a Savannah, Georgia, in April.

Underway again in May, she headed for the Newfoundland Banks and ultimately sailed eastward to waters off the British Isles. During this cruise, she took five more merchant ships chased two more into the River Shannon, and barely managed to escape from a much larger British warship. She captured the Woolbridge, which was sailing from India to Britain, but had to give her up when HMS Dannemark and HMS Albacore arrived on the scene while escorting a convoy to the Brazils.[2]

Near the end of her homeward passage, Adams ran aground on the Isle au Haut on 17 August 1814 and was damaged seriously. Skillful seamanship aided by a rising tide managed to refloat the ship and despite heavy leaking she made it into the Penobscot River and reached Hampden, Massachusetts (now part of Maine). There on 3 September 1814, during the Battle of Hampden, she was scuttled and set ablaze to prevent capture by a British squadron under the command of Rear-Admiral Edward Griffiths supporting British offensive operations in Maine.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e , 3rd sectionAdamsDANFS, USS
  2. ^ Lloyd's List,[2].

Further Information

  • " Adams"Ships Histories: The first USS". Dept U.S. Navy, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships - Naval Historical Center. 

Further reading

  • Frost, John (1845). The pictorial book of the commodores: comprising lives of distinguished commanders in the navy of the United States. Nafis and Cornish, New York. p. 432, ISBN 1-55750-839-9, E'Book
Harper & Brothers, New York. p. 443, E'Book
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