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Today in Naval History
February 7
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1800 - USS Essex becomes first U.S. Navy vessel to cross the Equator.
On This Day


USS Essex becomes first U.S. Navy vessel to cross the Equator.


During the War of 1812, the schooner Enterprise and the brig Rattlesnake capture and burn the British merchant brig Rambler in the Caribbean Sea. 


The frigate Potomac, commanded by Capt. John Downes, shells a pirate stronghold at Qualla Battoo, Sumatra, destroying a fort. The day before a Potomac landing party destroys four forts, killing 150 pirates and the pirate leader, Rajah Po Mohamet. The Malays agree not to make further attacks on American ships


USS Growler (SS 215) fights a desperate night battle with the Japanese supply ship Hayasaki, during which the boat's commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Howard W. Gilmore, rams the enemy ship, badly bending Growler's bow. Wounded by machine gun fire and unable to go below, Gilmore gives the order "Take her down!" sacrificing himself so his submarine could dive to safety. For his "distinguished gallantry and valor" on this occasion and earlier in the patrol, he is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted one rank.


USS Thomason (DE 203) sinks the Japanese submarine RO 55 off Iba, Luzon. USS Bergall (SS 320) attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks Coast Defense Vessel No. 53 off Cam Ranh Bay. USS Guavina (SS 362) attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks merchant tanker Taigyo Maru, off Saigon, French Indochina while USS Parche (SS 384) sinks Japanese army cargo ship Okinoyama Maru in Tokara Retto. 


Seventh Fleet ships begin evacuation of Chinese nationalists from Tachen Islands


In response to a Viet Cong attack on barracks area at Pleiku, South Vietnam, aircraft from carriers, USS Coral Sea, USS Hancock, and USS Ranger attack North Vietnamese area near Donghoi.


Naval Aviator/Astronaut Bruce McCandless II makes the first untethered spacewalk as he flies some 300 feet from the Space Shuttle Challenger in the first test of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).