James Lawrence was born in Burlington, New Jersey, on 1 October 1781. Though educated in the field of law, he joined the infant United States Navy in September 1798 as a Midshipman and served in the ship Ganges and frigate Adams during the undeclared war with France. Commissioned in the rank of Lieutenant in 1802, he served in the schooner Enterprise during the War with Tripoli, taking part in a successful attack that burned enemy craft ashore on 2 June 1803. In February 1804 he was second in command of ketch Intrepid during the daring expedition to destroy the captured frigate Philadelphia in Tripoli harbor. Later in the conflict he commanded Enterprise and a gunboat in battles with the Tripolitans. He was also First Lieutenant of the frigate John Adams and, in 1805, commanded the small Gunboat Number 6 during a voyage across the Atlantic to Italy.
Subsequently, Lieutenant Lawrence commanded the warships Vixen, Wasp and Argus. In 1810 he also took part in trials of an experimental spar-torpedo. Promoted to the rank of Master Commandant in November 1810, he took command of the sloop of war Hornet a year later and sailed her to Europe on a diplomatic mission. From the beginning of the War of 1812, Lawrence and Hornet cruised actively, capturing the privateer Dolphin on 9 July 1812. Later in the year Hornet blockaded the British sloop Bonne Citoyenne at Bahia, Brazil, and on 24 February 1813 captured HMS Peacock.
Upon his return to the United States in March, Lawrence learned of his promotion to Captain. Two months later he took command of the frigate Chesapeake, then preparing for sea at Boston, Massachusetts. She left port on 1 June 1813 and immediately engaged the Royal Navy frigate Shannon in a fierce battle. Captain Lawrence, mortally wounded by small arms fire, ordered "Don't give up the ship" as he was carried below. However, his crew was overwhelmed by British boarders shortly afterwards. James Lawrence died of his wounds on 4 June, while Chesapeake was being taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, by her captors. His body was later repatriated to New York for burial.
(DDG-4: displacement 3,370 tons; length 437'0"; beam 20'0"; draft 20'0"; speed 35 knots; complement 354; armament 1 "Tartar" missile launcher, 2 5-inch guns, 1 ASROC launcher, 6 ASW torpedo tubes; class Charles F. Adams)
The fifth Lawrence, a 3370-ton Charles F. Adams guided-missile destroyer built at Camden, New Jersey, was laid down 27 October 1958 by New York Shipbuilding Corp.; launched 27 February 1960; sponsored by Mrs. Fernie C. Hubbard, great-great-grand-daughter of Capt. James Lawrence; and commissioned 6 January 1962, Comdr. Thomas W. Walsh in command.
After a shakedown cruise on the Great Lakes, Lawrence proceeded to Norfolk for duty in the Atlantic Fleet. Following the rapid development of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, the warship deployed with Task Group 136.1, a surface quarantine group of cruisers Canberra (CAG-2), Newport News (CA-148), three guided-missile destroyers including Lawrence and twelve escorts. The group took up a blocking position north of Cuba on 24 October, two days into the crisis. On Friday the 26, Lawrence and MacDonough (DLG-8) began shadowing Grozny, a tanker proceeding towards Cuba. The next day, the Soviet Union agreed to defuse the crisis and military forces on both sides began standing down.
After returning to Norfolk on 6 December, Lawrence began the first of many Mediterranean cruises on 6 February 1963, steaming across the Atlantic to join the Sixth Fleet for operations in European waters, where she remained until 1 July. Following a second Mediterranean deployment between April and August 1964, the warship received an extensive overhaul in Norfolk over the ensuing winter. Before the end of the decade she conducted four more cruises; a Sixth Fleet deployment in 1965 (24 August to 17 December), a NATO exercise in the North Atlantic in 1966 (3 August to 5 September), another Mediterranean tour in 1966-67 (27 September to 1 February) and a third Sixth Fleet cruise in 1968 (10 January to 4 May). During her fourth Mediterranean deployment, Lawrence helped rescue crewmen from the sinking merchant vessel New Meadow, in distress off the coast of Crete.
Following two additional Mediterranean deployments, one in 1969-70 and another in 1971, the much-travelled destroyer made one Vietnam War tour in the Western Pacific in 1972-73, providing naval gunfire suport, dodging enemy return fire and serving as plane guard during aircraft carrier operations. Two more Sixth Fleet cruises followed in 1977-78 and 1979, and during the latter she briefly visited the Black Sea. Lawrence also passed through the Mediterranean en route to the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf, deployments that took place in 1974-75, 1980 and 1983.
Lawrence also saw frequent service closer to home, in the western Atlantic and Caribbean, and occasionally visited other waters. In 1986 she steamed around South America as part of Operation Unitas XVII, exercising with Latin American navies and visiting ports in Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil.
Lawrence was decommissioned in late March 1990 and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register a few months later. She was sold in April 1994, but was repossessed in October 1996 after the failure of the ship breaking firm. Following two more years in Navy custody, Lawrence's hulk was again sold for scrapping in February 1999.
20 July 2005