Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Essex (1799-1814) 

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Essex (1799-1814) 

USS Essex (1799-1814) was launched 30 September 1799 by Enos Briggs, Salem, Mass., at cost of $139,362 subscribed by the people of Salem and Essex County, Mass. On 17 December 1799 she was presented to the United States and accepted by Captain Edward Preble.

With the United States involved in naval action against France on 6 January 1800 USS Essex (1799-1814), Captain Edward Preble, departed New York in company with USS Congress to rendezvous with and convoy merchant ships returning from Batavia, Dutch East Indies. Captain William Bainbridge commanded USS Essex (1799-1814) on her second cruise whereon she sailed to the Mediterranean with the squadron of Commodore Richard Dale. Dispatched to protect American trade and seamen against depredations by the Barbary Powers, the squadron arrived at Gibraltar on 1 July 1801 and spent the ensuing year convoying American merchantmen and blockading Tripolitan ships.

Returning to the Washington Navy Yard in July, USS Essex (1799-1814) was placed in ordinary until February 1809 when she was recommissioned for sporadic use in patrolling American waters and a single cruise to Europe. In January 1814 USS Essex (1799-1814) sailed into neutral waters at Valparaiso, Chile, only to be trapped there for 6 weeks by the British frigates, Phoebe and Cherub. Porter determined to gain the open sea, but a heavy squall crippled USS Essex (1799-1814) forcing her return to the harbor. The enemy, disregarding the neutrality of the harbor, proceeded to attack the disabled ship. The engagement which followed was one of the most remarkable in naval history. For 2- hours, USS Essex (1799-1814) resisted with intrepidity the enemy's superior fighting power; however, the loss of 155 men forced the gallant frigate to surrender.

USS Essex (1799-1814) was repaired by the British, sent to England, and in 1833 served as a prison ship at Kingston, Jamaica. On 6 June 1837 she was sold at public auction.

For a complete history of USS Essex (1799-1814) please see its DANFS page.