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DANFS - USS Philadelphia
(Gondola: length 57'; beam 17'; draft 2'; complement 45; armament 1 12-pounder, 2 9-pounders)


The city in Pennsylvania where the Continental Congress met during much of the American Revolution.


The first Philadelphia, a gondola constructed by Gen. Benedict Arnold on Lake Champlain at Skenesboro, N.Y., was laid down early in July 1776, launched in mid-August, and placed in service shortly thereafter under a Capt. Rice.

Arnold's flotilla was built to check the expected British invasion being launched from Montreal by the Royal Governor of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton. A thrust down the historic Lake Champlain-Hudson Valley invasion corridor was chosen to sever New England from the middle and southern American Colonies. An almost complete absence of intercolonial roads demanded that the approach be made by water.

The Americans had enjoyed unchallenged supremacy on Lake Champlain since the capture of the British shipyard at St. Johns toward the end of the first month of the war, but after the patriots withdrew from the Richelieu River a year later, the English embarked on a vigorous shipbuilding program to achieve naval superiority. The British, aided greatly by skilled men, equipment, and material of the Royal Navy in the St. Lawrence River, won the construction race.

However, Arnold was undaunted. Late in August he assembled his little fleet and cruised provocatively on the upper lake. On 23 September he stationed his ships on the New York shore near Valcour Bay to intercept the British squadron's advance on Fort Ticonderoga. The two forces clashed on 11 October. During a six-hour fight 12-gun schooner Royal Savage ran aground and was burned. Toward dusk the British guns holed gondola Philadelphia with a 24-pounder shot and she soon sank. Night closed the battle enabling Arnold to slip away with the remainder of his fleet, but he lost most of his ships during a two-day running battle.

The sacrifice was not in vain. Arnold's ships delayed the British advance until approaching winter caused them to suspend operations until spring. The Americans made good use of the year of grace which their ships on Lake Champlain had won. A much stronger patriot army awaited Burgoyne in 1777 and it finally forced him to surrender at Saratoga.

Philadelphia was raised in 1935 by a group of marine archaeologists headed by Col. Lorenzo F. Hogglund. She is now the property of the Smithsonian Institution and is on display in the Museum of History and Technology.


(Frigate: tonnage 1,240; length 130'; beam 39'; depth 13'6"; complement 307; armament 28 18-pounders)

The second Philadelphia, a frigate originally named City of Philadelphia, was built at Philadelphia, Pa., for the United States Government by the citizens of the city in 1798-1799. She was designed by Josiah Fox and built by Samuel Humphreys, Nathaniel Hutton, and John Delavue. Her carved work was done by William Rush of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia was laid down about 14 November 1798; launched 28 November 1799; and commissioned 5 April 1800, Capt. Stephen Decatur, Sr., in command. Putting to sea for duty in the West Indies, she arrived on the Guadaloupe Station in May 1800 and relieved frigate Constellation. During this cruise she captured five French armed vessels and recaptured six merchant ships which had fallen into French hands.

Returning home in March 1801, Philadelphia was ordered to prepare for a year's cruise in the Mediterranean as part of a squadron commanded by Commodore Richard Hale. At his own request, Decatur was relieved of the command of Philadelphia by Capt. Samuel Barron. The squadron, with Commodore Hale in frigate President, arrived Gibraltar 1 July. Philadelphia was directed to cruise the Straits and blockade the coast of Tripoli, the Bashaw having threatened to make war on the United States.

Philadelphia departed Gibraltar enroute the United States 11 May 1802, arriving in mid-July. In ordinary until 21 May 1803, when she recommissioned, she again sailed for the Mediterranean 28 July. She arrived Gibraltar 24 August, Capt. William Bainbridge in command, and two days later recaptured the American brig Celia from the Moroccan ship-of-war Mirboka, 24 guns and 100 men, and brought them both into Gibraltar.

She cruised off Tripoli until 31 October 1803, when she ran aground on an uncharted reef off Tripoli harbor. All efforts to refloat her under fire from shore batteries and Tripolitan gunboats failed, and she surrendered to the enemy and her officers and men made captives.

Philadelphia was boarded 16 February 1804 and burned where she lay in Tripoli Harbor with her guns pointed outward, by a volunteer party of officers and men under Lt. Stephen Decatur, Jr., in the ketch Intrepid. Nelson is said to have called this "the most bold and daring act of the age."


(Side wheel steamer: tonnage 500; length 200'; beam 30'; depth 10'; armament 2 12-pounders)

The third Philadelphia, a side-wheel, iron-hulled steamer, was operating as a trading vessel between Acquia Creek, Va., and Washington, D.C. at the outbreak of the Civil War. Seized 21 April 1862, in accordance with a Presidential order, she was ordered to the Washington Navy Yard, where she fitted out for naval service.

Philadelphia, Lt. William N. Jeffers in command, operated on the Potomac River as a patrol vessel. In May she was detailed to transport ordnance stores to Fortress Monroe, to Philadelphia and to New York. Upon return to the Washington Navy Yard, Jeffers reported that the steamer was in no respect suitable for outside service. She continued to operate on the Potomac River until October, 1861, primarily transporting troops downriver to Fort Washington.

Philadelphia was assigned duties with the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in October, and during January and February 1862 served as squadron flagship. Philadelphia took part in the expedition to Hatteras Inlet in January and served as flag-steamer to Flag Officer Louis M. Goldsborough at the battle of Roanoke Island, N.C. 7-8 February. She also took part in the capture of New Berne and later participated in the expedition to the Dismal Swamp Canal 17-20 April.

From August 1863 until 1865 Philadelphia was flagship of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. The highlight of her activities during this period was her participation in the operation against Charleston, S.C. in the fall of 1863.

With the close of hostilities Philadelphia was sent to the Washington Navy Yard where she decommissioned 31 August 1865. She was sold at public auction 15 September to N.L. and G. Griswold.


(Protected cruiser, C-4: displacement 4,324; length 335'; beam 48'6"; draft 19'2"; speed 19 knots; complement 384; armament 12 6", 4 6-pounders, 4 3-pounders, 2 1-pounders, 3 37 millimeters)

The fourth Philadelphia, cruiser number 4, was laid down 22 March 1888 by Wm. Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, Pa.; launched 7 September 1889; sponsored by Miss Minnie Wanamaker, daughter of merchant and philanthropist John Wanamaker; and commissioned 28 July 1890, Capt. B.F. Bradford in command.

While fitting out at the New York Navy Yard, Philadelphia was designated on 18 August as flagship of Rear Admiral Bancroft Gherardi, commanding the North Atlantic Squadron. The squadron departed New York 19 January 1891 to cruise the West Indies for the protection of American interests until May, thence to northern waters as far as Halifax, N. S. Early the following year, the flagship called at Montevideo, Uruguay 6-18 February, after which she resumed cruising in the West Indies.

Philadelphia continued operations with the Atlantic Squadron along the eastern seaboard of the United States and in the West Indies until 1 March 1893. She was then assigned to the Naval Review Fleet as flagship of Rear Admiral Bancroft Gherardi. Charged with conducting the International Rendezvous and Review, with a fleet of twelve American ships, he received the visiting foreign ships as they commenced arrival in Hampton Roads 8 April. The fleet steamed to New York 24 April, where it joined additional foreign visitors to form a combined fleet of 45 men-of-war. President Cleveland reviewed the Fleet 27 April, after which appropriately festive ceremonies took place, initiating a parade through the streets of New York. The Naval Review Fleet disbanded 31 May, and Philadelphia departed New York 30 June 1893 bound for the Pacific Station via Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Callao, Peru.

Cruiser Philadelphia arrived San Francisco 22 August 1893. As the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station, she cruised with the squadron, engaging in drills and maneuvers, and visiting various ports on the west coast of the United States, Mexico, and South America, and in the Hawaiian Islands. She arrived at the Mare Island Navy Yard 14 October 1897 and decommissioned there on 18 December.

Philadelphia recommissioned 9 July 1898 and became the flagship of Rear Admiral J. N. Miller, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station. She steamed from San Francisco 2 July to participate in the ceremonies attending the assumption of sovereignty by the United States over the Hawaiian Islands. Flagship Philadelphia arrived Honolulu 3 August, and nine days hence her officers and those of the steam sloop-of-war Mohican, with a force under arms from the two warships represented the United States Navy at the ceremonies transferring the Hawaiian Islands to the United States.

In March 1899, with Commander-in-Chief Rear Admiral Albert Kautz embarked, Philadelphia steamed to the Samoan Islands for duty in connection with the settlement of civil difficulties by the Samoan Commissioners of the United States, Great Britain, and Germany. A landing party from Philadelphia went ashore in the vicinity of Vaiele 1 April to act in concert with a British landing party. The combined force, ambushed by adherents of Chief Mataffa, sustained seven killed and seven wounded, including two American officers and two bluejackets killed, and five bluejackets wounded. Philadelphia remained in the Samoan Islands until 21 May 1899, when she steamed for the west coast via Honolulu.

Philadelphia served as flagship of the Pacific Station until 6 February 1900, when Rear Admiral Kautz transferred his flag to Iowa (BB-4). The cruiser continued Pacific operations until 1902, conducting training cruises, drills, target practice, and port visits.

Returning from a six-month cruise off the Panamanian coast, Philadelphia arrived San Francisco 17 July 1902. Needing extensive repairs, she was ordered to the Puget Sound Navy Yard for decommissioning. Arriving Bremerton, Wash. 23 August, she decommissioned at Puget Sound 22 September 1902.

Philadelphia was housed over and became a receiving ship at Puget Sound Navy Yard 12 May 1904. She continued this service until 4 November 1912, when she became a prison ship. Resuming service as a receiving ship 10 January 1916, she so remained until struck from the Navy List 24 November 1926. Cruiser Philadelphia was sold at public auction at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in 1927 to Louis Rotherberg.


(Light cruiser, CL-41: displacement 9,700; length 608'4"; beam 61'9"; draft 19'5"; speed 32 knots; complement 868; armament 15 6", 8 5", 20 40 millimeters, 10 20 millimeters; class Brooklyn)

The fifth Philadelphia, a light cruiser, was laid down 28 May 1935 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched 17 November 1936; sponsored by Mrs. George H. Earle, first lady of Pennsylvania; and commissioned at Philadelphia 23 September 1937, Captain Jules James in command.

After fitting out, the cruiser departed Philadelphia 3 January 1938 for shakedown in the West Indies followed by additional alterations at Philadelphia and further sea trials off the Maine coast.

Philadelphia called at Charleston, S.C. 30 April 1938 and hosted President Roosevelt the first week of May for a cruise in Caribbean waters. The President debarked at Charleston 8 May and Philadelphia resumed operations with Cruiser Division 8 off the Atlantic coast. She was designated flagship of Rear Admiral F.A. Todd, Commander Cruiser Division 8, Battle Force, 27 June. In the following months she called at principal ports of the West Indies, and at New York, Boston, and Norfolk.

Transiting the Panama Canal 1 June 1939, Philadelphia joined Cruiser Division 8 in San Pedro, Calif. 18 June for Pacific coastal operations. She departed Los Angeles 2 April 1940 for Pearl Harbor, where she engaged in fleet maneuvers until May 1941.

Cruiser Philadelphia stood out of Pearl Harbor 22 May 1941 to resume Atlantic operations, arriving Boston 18 June. At this point she commenced neutrality patrol operations, steaming as far south as Bermuda and as far north as Halifax, Nova Scotia. She entered Boston Navy Yard 25 November for upkeep and was in repair status there when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Eleven days after the Japanese attack, Philadelphia steamed for exercises in Casco Bay, after which she joined two destroyers for antisubmarine patrol to Argentia, Newfoundland. Returning to New York 14 February 1942, she made two escort runs to Hafnarfjordur, Iceland. She then joined units of Task Force 22 at Norfolk 16 May, departing two days later for an ASW sweep to the Panama Canal.

She then returned to New York, only to depart 1 July as an escort unit for a convoy bound for Greenock, Scotland. The middle of August found her escorting a second convoy to Greenock. Returning to Norfolk, Va. 15 September, she joined Rear Admiral H. Kent Hewitt's Western Naval Task Force.

This force was to land some 35,000 troops and 250 tanks of General Patton's Western Task Force at three different points on the Atlantic coast of French Morocco. Philadelphia became flagship of Rear Admiral Lyal A. Davidson, commanding the Southern Attack Group, which was to carry 6,423 troops under Major General E. N. Harmon, USA, with 108 tanks, to the landing at Safi, about 140 miles south of Casablanca.

Philadelphia's task group departed Norfolk 24 October and set course as if bound for the British Isles. The entire Western Naval Task Force, consisting of 102 ships and spanning an ocean area some 20 by 40 miles, combined 450 miles off Cape Race, Newfoundland 28 October. It was, to that time the greatest war fleet sent forth by the United States.

The task force swept northward 6 November, thence changed course toward the Straits of Gibraltar. But after dark a southeasterly course was plotted towards Casablanca, and shortly before midnight of 7 November, three separate task groups closed three different points on the Moroccan coast.

Philadelphia took up its fire support station as the transports offloaded troops in the early morning darkness of 8 November. Shore batteries opened fire at 0428, and within two minutes Philadelphia joined New York (BB-34) in bombardment of Batterie Railleuse which, with four 130mm. guns, was the strongest defense unit in the Safi area. Later in the morning, Philadelphia bombarded a battery of three 155mm. guns about three miles south of Safi.

Spotter planes from the cruiser also got into the act by flying close support missions. One of Philadelphia's aircraft discovered and bombed a Vichy French submarine 9 November in the vicinity of Cape Kantin. The next day the Vichy submarine Meduse, one of eight that had sortied from Casablanca, was sighted down by the stern and listing badly to port, beached at Mazagan, north of Cape Blanco. Thought to be the same submarine previously attacked off Cape Kantin, Meduse was again spotted by a plane from Philadelphia and was subsequently bombed.

Departing Safi 13 November, Philadelphia returned to New York 24 November. Operating from that port until 11March 1943, she assisted in escorting two convoys to Casablanca. She then joined Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk's Task Force 85 for training in Chesapeake Bay preparatory to the invasion of Sicily.

A convoy escorted by Philadelphia and nine destroyers sortied from Norfolk, Va. 8 June 1943 and arrived Oran, Algeria 22 June, where final invasion staging operations took place. The convoy stood out from Oran 5 July and arrived off the beaches of Scoglitti, Sicily shortly before midnight of 9 July Philadelphia assisted in furnishing covering bombardments as the troops of Major General Troy Middleton's 45th Infantry Division stormed ashore. By 15 July she had joined the gunfire support group off Porto Empedocle, where her guns were put to good use.

Philadelphia took departure from her gunfire support area 19 July and steamed to Algiers, where she became flagship of Rear Admiral Davidson's Support Force. This Task Force 88 was formed 27 July and given the mission of the defense of Palermo, gunfire support to the 7th Army's advance along the coast, provision of amphibious craft for "leap frog" landings behind enemy lines, and ferry duty for heavy artillery, supplies, and vehicles to relieve congestion on the railway and the single coastal road. Cruisers Philadelphia and Savannah and six destroyers entered the harbor at Palermo 30 July and the next day commenced bombardment of the batteries near San Stefano di Camatra.

Action in the area of Palermo continued until 21 August, when Philadelphia steamed for Algiers. During her operations in support of the invasion of Sicily, the cruiser had provided extensive gunfire support and, in beating off several hostile air attacks, had splashed a total of six aircraft. She touched at Oran, departing 5 September enroute Salerno.

Her convoy entered the Gulf of Salerno a few hours before midnight of 8 September 1943. Philadelphia's real work began off the Salerno beaches at 0943 the next day, when she commenced shore bombardment. When one of her scouting planes spotted 35 German tanks concealed in a thicket adjacent to Red Beach, Philadelphia's guns took them under fire and destroyed seven of them before they escaped to the rear.

Philadelphia narrowly evaded a glide bomb 11 September, although several of her crew were injured when the bomb exploded. While bombarding targets off Aropoli 15 September, the cruiser downed one of twelve attacking planes and assisted in driving off a second air attack the same day in the vicinity of Atlavilla. She downed two more hostile aircraft 17 September and cleared the gunfire support area that night, bound for Bizerte, Tunisia. After upkeep at Gibraltar, Philadelphia departed Oran, Algeria 6 November as part of the escort for a convoy which arrived at Hampton Roads 21 November.

Philadelphia underwent overhaul at New York and then engaged in refresher training in Chesapeake waters until 19 January 1944, when she steamed from Norfolk as an escorting unit for a convoy arriving Oran, Algeria 30 January.

Philadelphia joined the gunfire support ships off Anzio 14 February and provided support for the advancing ground troops through 23 May 1944. After overhaul at Malta, she joined Admiral C. F. Bryant's Task Group 85.12 at Taranto, Italy. The cruiser served as one of the escorting units for the group, which reached the Gulf of St. Tropez, France 15 August. At 0640 she teamed with Texas (BB-35) and Nevada (BB-36) and, with other support ships, they closed the beaches and provided counter-battery fire. By 0815 the bombardment had destroyed enemy defenses and Major General Eagles' famed "Thunderbirds" of the 45th Army Infantry Division landed without opposition.

After replenishing ammunition at Propriano, Corsica 17 August, Philadelphia provided gunfire support to the French army troops on the western outskirts of Toulon. Four days later her commanding officer, Capt. Walter A. Ansel, accepted the surrender of the fortress islands of Pomeques, Chateau D'If, and Ratonneau in the Bay of Marseilles. After gunfire support missions off Nice, she departed Naples 20 October and returned to Philadelphia, Pa., arriving 6 November.

Philadelphia underwent overhaul at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and then refresher training in the West Indies, returning to Norfolk, Va. 4 June 1945. She steamed for Antwerp, Belgium 7 July, acting as escort for Augusta (CA-31) who had embarked President Harry S. Truman and his party, including Secretary of States Byrnes and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy. Arriving Antwerp 15 July, the President departed Augusta and was flown to the Postdam Conference. Before the conference ended, Philadelphia proceeded to Plymouth, England to await return of the President.

On 2 August 1945, Philadelphia rendered honors to King George VI, who visited President Truman in Augusta. The ships departed that same day and Philadelphia arrived Norfolk, Va. 7 August.

Philadelphia stood out of Narragansett Bay for Southhampton, England 6 September, returning 25 September as escort for the former German liner Europa. After operations in Narragansett Bay and in Chesapeake Bay, she arrived Philadelphia 26 October 1945. Steaming for Le Harve, France 14 November, she embarked Army passengers for the return to New York 29 November. She made another "Magic Carpet" run from New York to Le Harve and return 5-25 December, and arrived Philadelphia for inactivation 9 January 1946. She decommissioned in the Philadelphia Navy Yard 3 February 1947. Struck from the Navy List 9 January 1951, she was sold to the government of Brazil under terms of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. She now serves in the Brazilian Navy under the name Barroso (C-11).

Philadelphia received five battle stars for World War II operations.

28 December 2001