Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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Continental ship Alfred, 1775-1778

By an act approved by the Continental Congress at the end of October 1775, the Naval Committee purchased the ship Black Prince at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 4.   Renamed Alfred, she was the first Continental Navy ship to have a Grand Union Flag raised onboard (by Lieutenant John Paul Jones) at her commissioning on December 3.   In March 1776, she served as the flagship to the first American squadron, led by Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins.   With the squadron, she participated in the first American amphibious landing operation at New Providence, Bahamas, to capture the forts for much needed ordnance and gunpowder.  On April 6, the squadron encountered the Royal Navy frigate HMS Glasgow carrying dispatches telling of the British withdrawal from Boston.   Skillfully eluding capture, the frigate's escape led Commodore Hopkins to be relieved.   On March 8, 1778, while on a return journey from France obtaining military supplies, Alfred was engaged by the Royal Navy ships Ariadne and Ceres near Barbados.   Eventually surrendering, the Continental ship was sold to the British and served as HMS Alfred until 1782 when she was sold.   During her service in the Continental Navy, Alfred captured 12 British Royal Navy and merchant ships.   

A model of Alfred can be found in The American Revolution and French Alliance section at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy.     

Image:    Continental Navy ship Alfred off the coast of France in company with Continental Navy frigate Raleigh, 1777.   Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, #64892.