Stephen Decatur, born 5 January 1779 in Sinepuxent, Md., was warranted a midshipman at the age of 19 and made his first cruise in the frigate United States. In command of the schooner Enterprise at the outbreak of the Tripolitan War, he captured the bomb ketch Mastico on 23 December 1803. He used this ship, renamed Intrepid, in his daring raid to burn the captured frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli, 16 February 1804. He also distinguished himself during the attacks on Tripoli in command of a gunboat division. Promoted to captain he was assigned command of Constitution, and later, in November 1804, Congress. He negotiated with the Bey of Tunis at the close of the Tripolitan War, and returned to the United States in September 1805 with the Tunisian envoy.
During the War of 1812 he commanded United States, capturing HMS Macedonian in one of the greatest single-ship actions of naval history. He took command of President at New York and attempting to slip through the blockade fell in with a British squadron of five heavy ships. After 2 hours of furious combat the frigate HMS Endymion was silenced but President had suffered such extensive damage that it was impossible to execute an escape. The twice-wounded Decatur reluctantly surrendered, but was paroled, landing at New London 22 February 1815.
Returning to the Mediterranean in 1815, Decatur in Guerriere, negotiated a treaty with the Dey of Algiers which ended tribute and exacted full payment for injuries to Americans, then concluded similar agreements with the Bey of Tunis and the Bashaw of Tripoli. From November 1815 until killed by Commodore James Barron in a duel 22 March 1820, Decatur served on the Board of Navy Commissioners.
(DD-5: dp. 420; l. 250'; b. 23'7"; dr. 6'6"; s. 28 k.; cpl. 73; a. 2 3", 2 18" tt; cl. Bainbridge)
The second Decatur (DD-5) was launched 26 September 1900 by William R. Trigg Co., Richmond, Va.; sponsored by Miss M. D. Mayo, great-grandniece of Commodore Decatur; and commissioned 19 May 1902, Lieutenant L. H. Chandler in command.
Decatur was designated lead vessel of the 1st Torpedo Flotilla with whom she conducted drills and maneuvers along the eastern seaboard and in the Caribbean until December 1903 when the flotilla departed Norfolk for the Asiatic Station, sailing by way of the Suez Canal. Arriving at Cavite, P.I., 14 April 1904, Decatur exercised along the China coast and cruised in Philippine waters until placed in reserve at Cavite 5 December 1905. For the next 3 years she made infrequent cruises, including one to the southern Philippines in January and February 1908 and Saigon in May 1908.
Placed out of commission 18 February 1909, Decatur was placed in commission in reserve 22 April 1910 and in full commission 22 December 1910. She resumed operations with the Torpedo Flotilla, cruising in the southern Philippines and between ports of China and Japan until 1 August 1917 when she departed for the Mediterranean. Assigned to U.S. Patrol Squadrons she arrived at Gibraltar 20 October 1917 for patrol and convoy duty in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean until 8 December 1918. Decatur arrived at Philadelphia 6 February 1919 and was decommissioned there 20 June 1919. She was sold 3 January 1920.
USS Decatur (DD-6). Admiral Nimitz commanded her in the Philippines early in his career—one of the unrealized preparations for his vast contributions in the Pacific.