USS Philadelphia (1800-1803)

USS Philadelphia, a 1240-ton frigate, was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a contribution to the Navy by the citizens of that city during the 1798-1800 Quasi-war with France. Commissioned in April 1800, the ship conducted wartime operations in the West Indies for several months, capturing five enemy armed vessels and recapturing six American merchant ships that had previously been taken by the French. In June 1801 Philadelphia sailed across the Atlantic for service against Tripoli, which had been conducting warfare against U.S. commercial shipping in the Mediterranean area. After nearly a year overseas, the frigate returned to the U.S. in July 1802 and was laid up.

Philadelphia was recommissioned in May 1803 and again went to the Mediterranean Sea for operations against the North African Barbary states. In late August she retook an American merchantman from a Moroccan warship. Some weeks later, after the arrival of the larger frigate USS Constitution, under Commodore Edward Preble, Philadelphia was sent eastwards to begin a blockade of Tripoli. On 31 October 1803 the American frigate ran aground while chasing an enemy corsair. Despite desperate efforts to get her afloat, she remained on the rocks and was soon forced to surrender in the face of an overwhelming force of Tripolitan gunboats. Philadelphia's Commanding Officer, Captain William Bainbridge, and her entire crew became prisoners, a status they endured well into 1805.

Soon refloated, Philadelphia was taken into Tripoli harbor, where she represented a constant menace to the now-weakened U.S. Naval force in the Mediterranean. To eliminate the threat she presented, Commodore Preble organized a daring raid under the command of Lieutenant Stephen Decatur. During the night of 16 February 1804, Decatur and his men sailed the ketch Intrepid into Tripoli harbor, boarded the captured frigate, set her ablaze and escaped. The former USS Philadelphia was rapidly consumed by the flames and sank.

This page features, and provides links to, all the views we have related to USS Philadelphia (1800-1803).

Other images related to this ship:

Click on the photograph to prompt a larger view of the image.

Photo #: NH 65865

"View of Tetuan, on the Coast of Morocco"

Stipple engraving by Wells, after a drawing by "P.S.O.", published by J. Gold, London, England, in the "Naval Chronicle", Volume 10 (1803).
This print depicts the U.S. Frigate Philadelphia (1800-1803) entering the harbor, where two British ships-of-the-line lie at acnhor.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 92KB; 740 x 530 pixels

Photo #: NH 65865-A

U.S. Frigate Philadelphia

Image cropped from the engraving "View of Tetuan, on the Coast of Morocco" by Wells, published by J. Gold, London, England, in the "Naval Chronicle", 1803.
For the entire original image, see Photo # NH 65865.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 132KB; 600 x 765 pixels

Photo #: NH 50457

"Preparation for War to defend Commerce."

"The Swedish Church Southwark with the building of the Frigate Philadelphia."

"Drawn Engraved & Published by W. Birch & Son ... Sold by R. Campbell & Co. No.30 Chesnut Street Philada. 1800."

Courtesy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1936.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 134KB; 740 x 655 pixels

Photo #: NH 42799

U.S. Frigate Philadelphia

Fragment of the decorative woodwork from the ship's stern, recovered from Tripoli harbor and presented to the Naval Lyceum, Brooklyn, New York, on 10 February 1835 by Midshipman J.A. Underwood.
The artifact was subsequently transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy Museum.

U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 84KB; 610 x 765 pixels


For higher resolution images see: Obtaining Photographic Reproductions

To the best of our knowledge, the pictures referenced here are all in the Public Domain, and can therefore be freely downloaded and used for any purpose.

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