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Joshua Humphreys (T-AO-188)


Destroyer Humphreys (DD-236) was the first ship named in his honor.

Joshua Humphreys, born on 17 June 1751, in Haverford, Pennsylvania, to Joshua Humphreys (Sr.) and Sarah (Williams) Humphreys, they owned large amounts of land in Delaware County. Humphreys worked as a ship carpenter’s apprentice in Philadelphia as a young man, and following the death of the master, he assumed control of the shipyard. Humphreys subsequently gained status as a naval architect by establishing his own shipyard, and the fledgling U.S. Congress commissioned him in 1776 to build ships in Philadelphia and prepare them for the Revolutionary War. He married Mary Davids that year, a union that produced eleven children. His work during the war included primarily designing frigate Randolph.

After the war, the federal government commissioned Humphreys to build a naval fleet to protect the Republic. The plans required these ships to match those commissioned by the European powers in order to compensate for their lack of numbers against the numerically larger European fleets. Humphreys consequently made key changes that improved the six frigates (Chesapeake, Congress, Constellation, Constitution, President, and United States) that became the foundation of the American Navy. The government approved his designs and modifications, and appointed him naval constructor to build the frigates, in 1794. Not all of the ships were built in Philadelphia because of cost and logistics issues, however, and he only directed supervised the construction of United States in that city. Humphreys’ modifications nonetheless improved the frigates, and they became known for their speed and efficiency.

In 1801, Humphreys began to build a shipyard for use by the Navy in Philadelphia. He participated politically in the city, and attained some success as a businessman. Joshua Humphreys’ brother Charles served as a member of the Continental Congress; his son Samuel (23 November 1778–16 August 1846) also became a naval architect, and worked with the federal government after Joshua Humphreys resigned; and his grandson Andrew A. Humphreys served as a general during the American Civil War. Joshua Humphreys died on 12 January 1838.

(T-AO-188: displacement 40,700; length 677'; beam 97'; draft 35'; speed 20 knots; complement 94; armament 2 Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (CIWS) mounts, aircraft helicopter landing platform; class Henry J. Kaiser)

Joshua Humphreys (T-AO-188) was laid down on 17 December 1984 at New Orleans, La., by Avondale Shipyard, Inc.; launched on 22 January 1986, sponsored by Mrs. Julie P. Hamre, wife of Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. John J. Hamre; and was placed in service with the Military Sealift Command on 3 April 1987, Capt. Robbie L. Williams in command.

Auxiliary dry cargo ship Alan Shepard (T-AKE-3—left) and Joshua Humphreys (right) breakaway from Boxer (LPH-4—out of the picture)
Auxiliary dry cargo ship Alan Shepard (T-AKE-3, left) and Joshua Humphreys (right) breakaway from Boxer (LPH-4, out of the picture) after they supply the amphibious assault ship in the Gulf of Aden, 27 April 2011. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Trevor Welsh, U.S. Navy Photograph 110427-N-ZS026-095, Military Sealift Command)

Joshua Humphreys served in the Atlantic but was temporarily taken out of service on two occasions and berthed at the Naval Sea Systems Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility, Philadelphia, Pa. (29 June 1996–23 February 2005) and (1 October 2006–2010).

Joshua Humphreys is scheduled to be taken out of service on 31 March 2014.

Detailed history under construction.

Mark L. Evans

10 March 2014

Published: Thu Jul 23 15:40:06 EDT 2015