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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

USS Missouri (I)

Steam Frigate:
  • Laid down in 1840 at New York Navy Yard
  • Launched, 7 January 1841
  • Commissioned USS Missouri, in 1842, CAPT. John Newton, USN in command
  • USS Missouri departing New York at the end of March 1842 on a trial run to Washington with sister ship USS Mississippi
  • Missouri grounded opposite Port Tobacco, MD., 1 April, and did not arrive in Washington until the 13th
  • She made numerous trial runs out of the Nation's capital during the spring and summer of 1842, demonstrating the advantages of steam propulsion in restricted waters to the Government, and then departed for a long cruise to the Gulf of Mexico
  • The frigate returned to Washington, 25 April 1843, and then underwent overhaul in preparation for extended distant service
  • On, 6 August 1843, Missouri embarked the Honorable Caleb Cushing, U.S. Minister to China, bound for Alexandria, Egypt, on the first leg of his journey to negotiate the first commercial treaty with China. The same day the ship was visited by President John Tyler who came on board for a few hours cruise in Hampton Roads, observing the crew working the ship and the powerful twin paddlewheels in action. The President disembarked at Old Point Comfort, and the frigate steamed from Norfolk, via Fayal in the Azores, for Gibraltar on the first power crossing of the Atlantic by an American steam warship.
  • Missouri arrived Gibraltar, 25 August, and anchored in the shadow of the historic fortress.
  • Final Disposition, on the night of the 26th, the engineer's yeoman accidently broke a demijohn of turpentine in the storeroom which soon ignited. The flames spread so rapidly that the warship was abandoned, the crew barely escaping with their lives. In four hours, Missouri reduced to a blackened and sinking hulk and finally at 0320 in the morning of the 27th, the forward powder magazine blew up, destroying the still burning skeleton of the ship. British ship-of-the-line HMS Malabar assisted the Missouri crew in fighting the fire and took aboard some 200 of her men The Governor of Gibraltar threw open the gates of that base to Missouri survivors in an unprecedented act of courtesy which was recognized by a resolution of appreciation from Congress. The remnants of the once proud frigate, a hazard to navigation, were painstakingly removed by divers, piece by piece, from the shallow waters of the harbor
    Displacement 3,220 t.
    Length 229'
    Beam 40'
    Depth of Hold unknown
    Draft 19'1"
    Speed unknown
    Complement 268
    two 10-inch guns
    eight 8-inch guns
    two sidewheels

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    Size Image Description Source
    79k Wash Drawing by R.G. Skerritt, 1903, depicting a steam paddle frigate which is one of two virtually identical ships, either USS Missouri (1842-1843), or USS Mississippi (1841-1863). Courtesy of R.C. Byron
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Catalog #: NH 85238
    John Spivey
    342k Color lithograph, "The explosion of the United States Steam Frigate Missouri, at Gibraltar, Aug. 26th, 1843". Drawn by E. Duncan, from a sketch made on the spot by LT. G.P. Mands, T.G. Dutton lith.; Day & Haghe lithrs. Lithographer to the Queen.
    Crew of HMS Malabar (foreground, left) watch as USS Missouri explodes and burns in the distance from accidental fire after completing first trans-Atlantic voyage of a US steam powered ship the day prior.
    Library of Congress
    US Library of Congress
    323k Lithograph "The burning of the United States Steam Frigate Missouri at Gibraltar, Aug. 20, 1843." by Artist : E. Duncan after LT P. Mends, USN, T.G. Dutton, Lithographer Day and Haghe, Lithographer to the Queen.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Catalog #: NH 47227 KN
    US Naval History and Heritage Command

    Missouri (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 16 December 2022