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USS Delaware (1820)

Model of USS Delaware
Model of USS Delaware
Name: USS Delaware
Builder: Norfolk Navy Yard
Laid down: August 1817
Launched: 21 October 1820
Commissioned: before 10 February 1828
Decommissioned: before 22 March 1844
Fate: Scuttled, 20 April 1861
General characteristics
Type: Ship of the line
Tonnage: 2633
Length: 196 ft 2 in (59.79 m)
Beam: 53 ft (16 m)
Draft: 26 ft 2 in (7.98 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Complement: 820 officers and men
  • 30 × long 32-pounder guns
  • 32 × medium 32-pounder guns
  • 2 × 32-pounder carronades

The third USS Delaware of the United States Navy was a 74-gun ship of the line, named for the state of Delaware.

She was laid down at Norfolk Navy Yard in August 1817 and launched on 21 October 1820. She was roofed over and kept at the yard in ordinary until on 27 March 1827, was she was ordered repaired and fitted for sea.

Delaware put to sea on 10 February 1828 under the command of Captain J. Downs to become the flagship of Commodore W. M. Crane in the Mediterranean. Arriving at Algeciras Bay, Spain on 23 March, she served in the interests of American commerce and diplomacy in that area until returning to Norfolk on 2 January 1830. According to Ned Myers, who shipped on her maiden voyage, " required some little time to get her trim and sailing. She turned out, however, to be a good vessel; sailing fairly, steering well, and proving to be an excellent sea-boat."[1]

Delaware was decommissioned on 10 February, and lay in ordinary at Norfolk until 1833. Recommissioned on 15 July 1833, she received President Andrew Jackson aboard on 29 July, firing a 24-gun (sic) salute at both his arrival and departure. The following day she set sail for the Mediterranean where she served as flagship for Commodore D. T. Patterson and cruised on goodwill visits and for the protection of the rights and property of American citizens until her return to Hampton Roads on 16 February 1836. She was placed in ordinary from 10 March 1836 until recommissioned on 7 May 1841 for local operations from Norfolk.

Delaware sailed on 1 November for a tour of duty on the Brazil Station as flagship for Commodore Charles Morris. She patrolled the coasts of Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina to represent American interests during political unrest in those countries. On 19 February 1843, she sailed from Rio de Janeiro for another cruise in the Mediterranean. Delaware returned to Hampton Roads on 4 March 1844 and was decommissioned at Norfolk Navy Yard on the 22nd. Still in ordinary there in 1861, she was burned on 20 April along with other ships and the yard facilities to prevent their falling into Confederate hands.


In June 1930, a bronze replica of the USS Delaware's Figurehead was presented by the Class of 1891 to the United States Naval Academy. This bust, one of the most well known relics on the Yard (It is not referred to as a Campus by Naval Personnel). Actually, it is a replica of the revered peaceful Delaware Indian Chief Tamanend who welcomed William Penn to America when he arrived in Delaware country on 2 October 1682. Tradition tells us the Midshipmen of that time renamed their statute Tecumseh, a more warlike Shawnee Indian Chief who fought for the British and the French on our Western frontier during the War of 1812. The original figurehead of the USS Delaware is on display indoors on the second floor of the USNA Visitors Center near Gate #1 in Annapolis, Maryland.


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