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USS Philadelphia (1799)

Laid down:14 November 1798
Launched:28 November 1799
Commissioned:5 April 1800
Fate:captured 1803
General Characteristics
Displacement:1,240 tons
Length:130 ft ( m)
Beam:39 ft ( m)
Depth:13.5 ft ( m)
Complement:307 officers and men
Armament:28 x 18-pounder guns

The second USS Philadelphia of the United States Navy was a 28-gun sailing frigate.

Originally named City of Philadelphia, she was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the United States Government by the citizens of the city in 1798-1799. She was designed by Josiah Fox and built by Samuel Humphreys, Nathaniel Hutton, and John Delavue. Her carved work was done by William Rush of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia was laid down about 14 November 1798, launched 28 November 1799; and commissioned 5 April 1800, Capt. Stephen Decatur, Sr, in command. Putting to sea for duty in the West Indies, she arrived on the Guadaloupe Station in May 1800 and relieved frigate Constellation. During this cruise she captured five French armed vessels and recaptured six merchant ships which had fallen into French hands.

Returning home in March 1801, Philadelphia was ordered to prepare for a year's cruise in the Mediterranean as part of a squadron commanded by Commodore Richard Hale. At his own request, Decatur was relieved of the command of Philadelphia by Capt. Samuel Barron. The squadron, with Commodore Hale in frigate President, arrived Gibraltar 1 July. Philadelphia was directed to cruise the Straits and blockade the coast of Tripoli, the Bashaw having threatened to make war on the United States.

Philadelphia departed Gibraltar enroute the United States 11 May 1802, arriving in mid-July. In ordinary until 21 May 1803, when she recommissioned, she again sailed for the Mediterranean 28 July. She arrived Gibraltar 24 August, Capt. William Bainbridge in command, and two days later recaptured the American brig Celia from the Moroccan ship-of-war Mirboka, 24 guns and 100 men, and brought them both into Gibraltar.

Burning of the Philadelphia, 1804

She cruised off Tripoli until 31 October 1803, when she ran aground on an uncharted reef off Tripoli harbor. All efforts to refloat her under fire from shore batteries and Tripolitan gunboats failed, and she surrendered to the enemy; her officers and men were made captives.

Philadelphia was boarded 16 February 1804 and burned where she lay in Tripoli Harbor with her guns pointed outward, by a volunteer party of officers and men under Lt. Stephen Decatur, Jr, in the ketch Intrepid. Nelson is said to have called this "the most bold and daring act of the age."

See USS Philadelphia for other Navy ships of the same name.

This article includes information collected from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.