Joseph Hewes was born in Kingston, N.J., in 1730, and was educated at what is now Princeton. After engaging in business in Philadelphia, he moved to Edenton, N.C. in 1763 where he became a prosperous and influential merchant skipper. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1774, and in 1775 became a member of the Marine Committee. In this capacity Hewes played a major part in the procurement and outfitting of Continental vessels, and had the distinction of securing a commission in the Continental Navy in December 1775 for one of the sea's greatest heroes-to-be, John Paul Jones. Hewes continued to take an active part in the movement for independence in North Carolina. He also took part in the discussions leading to the Declaration of Independence and signed the historic document. He died 29 October 1779 shortly after his return to the Continental Congress.
(AP-50: dp. 14,100; l. 450' (w.l.); b. 61'6"; dr. 26'4"; cpl. 358; a. 1 5", 4 3", 8 20mm.)
Joseph Hewes (AP-50), formerly Excalibur, was built in 1930 by the New York Shipbuilding Co., Camden, N.J.; acquired by the Navy 8 January 1942; and commissioned I May 1942, Captain Robert McL. Smith in command. After conversion and fitting out, Joseph Hewes sortied from Hampton Roads 24 October with the Center Attack Group of Admiral Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force en route to French Morocco. She was carrying 80 officers and 1,074 men of the reinforced 3d Division, U.S. Army, plus vehicles and supplies. The transport arrived off Fedhala 8 November, by 0705 landed all troops, and then commenced unloading ammunition and supplies. By 11 November Joseph Hewes had completed unloading and had received 30 casualties from the beach. At 1950 she took a torpedo hit in No. 2 hold from U-173. The transport settled by the bow and began filling rapidly with water. Captain Smith endeavored to pick up anchor or slip chain but, as the entire forecastle was under water, this was not possible. He then attempted to beach the ship by backing engines but her propeller was out of the water, so the order was given to abandon ship. Joseph Hewes went down at 2032, taking Captain Smith and several seamen with her. By his coolness, calmness, and his devotion to duty in placing the safety of the crew and ship before his own, he instilled confidence in every officer and member of the crew. The U-113 paid heavily for her victory, for she was sunk 5 days later off Casablanca by American destroyers.
Joseph Hewes received one battle star for World War II service.