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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Ferret

 

An animal of the weasel family; to drive or hunt out of a hiding place, to extract.

 

III

 

(Sch: t. 51; cpl. 31; a. 3 guns)

 

The third Ferret, a schooner, was purchased 20 December 1822 at Baltimore, Md.; and commissioned early in 1823, Lieutenant S. Henley in command.

 

Ferret sailed from Hampton Roads 14 February 1823 with a squadron commanded by Commodore D. Porter, bound for the West Indies. Based at Key West, she was one of the many small craft which comprised Porter's "Mosquito Fleet," assigned to suppress piracy in the Caribbean. Along with convoying merchantmen, she raided a pirate barge and seven boats in a Cuban bay named Bacuna Yeauga on 18 June 1823. With her small boat holed at the water line by a buccaneer's musket ball, Ferret had to break off the attack, since a high wind and heavy sea prevented her from entering the channel. She put to sea to seek aid, and returned next day with a boat loaned by a British ship to find that the governor of the province had already dispersed the pirates.

 

Twice during her service Ferret sailed north to Washington Navy Yard for repairs, supplies, and new crew members. On 4 February 1825, while on patrol off Cuba, she capsized in a gale and heavy seas, about 8 miles off the port of Canasi. One officer and three men were sent in the small boat for assistance, while the others lashed themselves to the wreck. By morning the schooner was almost completely under water, and settling fast. While a raft was made by lashing the foremast and main boom together, several of the best swimmers headed for shore to get help. Just then Jackall arrived, and took off the survivors who had been clinging to the wreck nearly 21 hours. Five members of the crew were lost.