(SP-3294: t. 34; l. 62'10"; b. 16'; dr. 4'; s. 11 k.)
Esek Hopkins, Commander in Chief of the Fleet, was born 26 April 1718, in what is now Scituate, R.I. Prior to the Revolutionary War he made voyages to nearly every quarter of the globe, commanded a privateer in the French and Indian War, and served as a deputy to the Rhode Island General Assembly. Appointed a brigadier general to command all the colony's military forces 4 October 1775, he immediately began to strengthen Rhode Island's defenses. A few months later, 22 December 1775, he was appointed Commander in Chief of the Fleet authorized by the Continental Congress to protect American commerce.
Hopkins took command of eight small merchant ships that had been hastily altered as men of war at Philadelphia, then sailed south 17 February 1776 for the first U.S. Fleet operation that took the fleet to Nassau in the Bahamas. The amphibious assault on the British colony there 3 March 1776 was also the first U.S. Amphibious Assault. Marines and sailors landed in "a bold stroke, worthy of an older and better trained service," capturing munitions desperately needed in the War of Independence. The little fleet returned to New London 8 April 1776, having also made prizes of two British merchantmen and a six-gun schooner. John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress, wrote Hopkins: "I beg leave to congratulate you on the success of your Expedition. Your account of the spirit and bravery shown by the men affords them [Congress] the greatest satisfaction . . ."
Hopkins' little fleet was blockaded in Narragansett Bay by the superior British seapower, but he never wavered in his loyalty to the cause of American independence. He continued to serve the Rhode Island General Assembly through 1786, then retired to his farm where he died 26 February 1802.
Hopkins (SP-3294) merchant name retained, was launched by Hahnes Co., Portsmouth, Va., in 1917. She was purchased by the Navy from Hopkins Fish and Oyster Co., Norfolk, and placed in service 3 October 1918.
Hopkins was attached to the 5th Naval District for harbor duties at Norfolk. Following the close of war she transferred to the War Department 4 March 1920.