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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Porpoise (II)


Dolphin Class Brig:
  • Built in 1835 as the hermaphrodite brig Porpoise at Boston, MA.
  • Launched, 31 May 1836
  • Commissioned, USS Porpoise, date unknown, LT. William Ramsay in command
  • Assigned to coast surveying of the southern coastline in the summer of 1837, interrupted in search of pirates in October
  • December 1836, with LT. Cadwallader Ringgold in command Porpoise was assigned to the around the world United States Exploring Expedition Squadron under the command of Lt. Charles Wilkes
  • Departed Hampton Roads, 18 August 1838 assisted in the exploration and survey work confirming the existence of the Antarctic Continent, charted vast areas of the South Pacific, circumnavigated the world, and returned to New York in 1840
  • Overhauled at New York from the end of 1842 to 8 February 1843
  • 1843 - 1884 patrolled the West Coast of Africa for slavers,
  • February 1845 and July 1847 cruised Gulf of Mexico participating in Naval operations during the War with Mexico
  • Decommissioned, 1 January 1848, at Norfolk, VA.
  • Recommissioned in 1849 to patrol with the West Africa Squadron in search of slavers
  • Decommissioned, 3 August 1852, at New York
  • Recommissioned in May 1853, assigned to the exploring squadron under CDR. Cadwallader Ringgold
  • Departed Hampton Roads, 11 June 1853, and with the squadron explored and charted many Pacific islands and shoals before arriving in China in March 1854
  • Porpoise and the rest of the squadron put to sea to explore in the Bonins, the Ladrones, and the Marianas
  • 21 September 1854, Porpoise parted company with the squadron between Formosa and China, and was never heard from again
  • Final Disposition, lost with all hands in the South China Sea, probably, foundered in a heavy typhoon which occurred a few days after she left the squadron
    Specifications:
    Displacement 224 t.
    Length 88'
    Beam 25'
    Depth unknown
    Speed unknown
    Complement 80
    Armament
    two 9-pdrs
    eight 8-pdr carronades
    Propulsion sail

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    Size Image Description Contributed
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    Vincennes 408k A modern rendering of the six vessels of the U.S. Exploring Expedition assembled at Orange Bay, near Cape Horn, in February 1839. Shown from the left are the schooner Sea Gull at anchor; the flagship USS Vincennes in the foreground, hoisting out her launch; the schooner Flying Fish under way, shifting her anchoring ground; the sloop-of-war USS Peacock with her hands furling sail; the brig USS Porpoise standing in and shortening sail, preparing to anchor; and the store ship USS Relief in the distance with her upper yards sent down, preparing to distribute provisions. Artist unknown.
    From "Sea of Glory: The Epic South Seas Expedition 1838-42" by Nathaniel Philbrick.
    Robert Hurst
    Porpoise 144k USS Porpoise and the schooner Sea Gull in the vicinity of the South Shetland islands during the first Antarctic cruise of the United States Exploring Expedition.
    From the narrative, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Library, contained in the "Sea of Glory: The Epic South Seas Expedition 1838-42" by Nathaniel Philbrick.
    Robert Hurst
    Porpoise 108k Lithograph by J. Baillie, New York, and J. Sowle, New Bedford, MA. of USS Porpoise under full sail.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo #: NH 63630. Courtesy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 1936.
    Tommy Trampp

    USS Porpoise (II)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 1 January 2015