Return to DANFS IndexImage of an anchorReturn to Naval Historical Center homepage
flag banner
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships banner
DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Syren

 

(Brig.: t. 240; l. 94'3˝ "; b. 27'9"; dph. 12'6"; cpl. 120; a. 16 24-pdr. car.)

 

Syren—a brig built for the Navy in 1803 at Philadelphia by Nathaniel Hutton—was launched on 6 August 1803; and was commissioned some time later in the month of September, Lt. Charles Stewart in command.

 

The brig departed Philadelphia on 27 August 1803 and reached Gibraltar on 1 October. A fortnight later, she sailed via Leghorn to Algiers carrying presents and money to the Day. She then sailed to Syracuse where she arrived early in January 1804.

 

Meanwhile, the previous autumn, American frigate Philadelphia had run aground off Tripoli and had been captured by Tripolitan gunboats. To prevent the frigate from opposing his planned operations against Tripoli, the commander of the American squadron in the Mediterranean, Commodore Edward Preble, decided to destroy her. To achieve this end, Syren and ketch Intrepid got underway from Syracuse on 3 February 1804 and proceeded to Tripoli which they reached on the 7th. However, before the American ships could launch their attack, they were driven off by a violent gale and did not get back off Tripoli until the 16th. That night, Intrepid entered the harbor disguised as a Maltese merchantman. Americans from the ketch boarded Philadelphia; overcame her crew; set fire to the frigate; and quickly returned to Intrepid. Sweeps were manned; and the ketch retired from the harbor under fire by nearly 100 Tripolitan guns.

 

Syren returned to Syracuse on the morning of 19 February. On 9 March, she and Nautilus sailed for Tripoli. Soon after their arrival, Syren captured a polacca called Madona Catapolcana and sent her to Malta. Toward the end of the month, she cast off and captured armed brig Transfer belonging to the Pasha. Stewart named her Scourge, and she served the American squadron under that name.

 

Syren cruised in the Mediterranean during the spring and summer of 1804 and participated in the attacks on Tripoli in August and September 1804.

 

Syren continued to support the squadron's operation against Tripoli which forced the Pasha to accede to American demands. After a treaty of peace with Tripoli was signed on 10 June 1805, the brig remained in the Mediterranean for almost a year helping to establish and maintain satisfactory relations with other Barbary states.

 

Syren departed Gibraltar on 28 May 1806 and reached the Washington Navy Yard on or about 1 August. She was laid up in ordinary there until reactivated in 1807 and carried dispatches to France in 1809. The following year, her name was changed to Siren.

 

Little record has been found of the brig's service during the War of 1812, but we do know that she was captured at sea by HMS Medway on 12 July 1814 after an 11-hour chase during which she jettisoned her guns, anchors, cables, boats, and spare spars in a valiant but futile effort to escape from the British 74-gun ship of the line.