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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

US Frigate Alliance (I)

  • Laid down as Hancock in 1777 at Salisbury, MA. by William and James K. Hackett
  • Launched, 28 April 1778
  • Renamed Alliance, 29 May 1778
  • Placed under the command of CAPT. Pierre Landais
  • Alliance departed Boston, 14 January 1779, bound for Brest, France with the Marquis de La Fayette as passenger to petition the French court for more support
  • While at Brest assigned by Benjamin Franklin to a squadron to be commanded by CAPT. John Paul Jones
  • CAPT. Landais refused to obey the orders of CAPT Jones and operated independent of the squadron
  • During the encounter between Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis on 23 September 1779, Landais in Alliance, stood off until late in the battle and then actually fired into Bonhomme Richard
  • Jones had relieved Landais of command of Alliance soon thereafter
  • Landais returned to the ship while Jones was away in Paris and took command sailing the ship for home
  • Landais was forcibly relieved of command as his behavior was that of an insane man
  • Alliance, under the command of LT. James A. Degge, arrived at Boston, 19 August 1780
  • The subsequent trials of Landais and Degge resulted in the ousting of both men from the service
  • Alliance lay idle at Boston until the first week of February 1781 when she carried COL. John Laurens appointed envoy extraordinary to France
  • During this voyage Alliance took the British privateer Alert
  • Alliance departed France for the US escorting a old East Indiaman laden with supplies for the Continental Army
  • Alliance took two privateers as prizes during the voyage and two sugar-laden Jamaicamen
  • 10 days later Alliance defeated two British sloops-of-war HMS Atalanta and HMS Trepassey in May reaching Boston, 6 June with her prizes
  • Alliance was again chosen to carry the Marquis de La Fayette home to France departing Boston, 24 December 1781 and arriving off L'Orient, 17 January 1782
  • Alliance arrived back at New London, CT. 13 May 1782, after being chased into port by a Royal Navy ship of the line
  • The ship sailed, 4 August in search of British shipping taking seven prizes in all before putting into Groiz Roads, France, 17 October
  • Alliance departed France, 9 December 1782, for the West Indies where she escorted another American warship Due de Lauzun laden with funds for the new republic, the two ships chased by British warships made port in March
  • Damage by grounding Alliance was sold in Philadelphia, 1 August 1785, converted to a merchantman sailing for China in June 1787
  • Final Disposition, abandoned, near Philadelphia, date unknown, hulk destroyed in 1901 during a dredging operation
    Displacement 900 t.
    Length 151'
    Beam 36'
    Depth 12' 6"
    Draft unknown
    Speed 13 kts
    Complement 300
    twenty-eight 12-pdr smoothbores
    eight 9-pdr smoothbores
    Propulsion sail

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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Alliance 49k Photograph of a painting by Nowland Van Powell of US Frigate Alliance underway under full sail. Courtesy of the Bruce Gallery, Memphis, TN.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 92873-KN
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Bonhomme Richard 130k Oil on canvas by Thomas Mitchell (1735-1790), signed and dated by the artist, 1780. It depicts Bonhomme Richard (center), commanded by Continental Navy Captain John Paul Jones, closely engaged with HMS Serapis, commanded by Royal Navy Captain Richard Pearson, off Flamborough Head, England. Firing at right is the Continental frigate US Frigate Alliance, while at left the British Countess of Scarborough is engaging the American Pallas. 23 September 1779.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo #: KN-10855 (color)
    Robert Hurst
    Bonhomme Richard 283k US Frigate Alliance fires on the closely engaged HMS Serapis and Bonhomme Richard.
    Libaray of Congress photo from "History of the US Navy", by James M. Morris, page 23.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alliance 33k Detail of a Contemporary painting by Captain Matthew Parke. USMC, depicting US Frigate Alliance passing Boston Lighthouse from sea, 1781.
    US Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.
    Tommy Trampp
    105k Photo of a watercolor painting of US Frigate Alliance defeating two British sloops-of-war HMS Atalanta and HMS Trepassey, 29 May 1781.
    Bailey Collection, US Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alliance 188k US Frigate Alliance under full sail.
    US Naval Institute Archives.
    Tommy Trampp
    Alliance 943k Treasury Dept 1st Auditor letter of 4 January 1843, subject - Prize money claim, John Paul Jones crew, US Frigate Alliance and Bonhomme Richard. Tommy Trampp
    43k US Frigate Alliance - 1976 BICENTENARY OF AMERICAN REVOLUTION Stamp issues for Saint Lucia printed by the Format International Security Printers Ltd. Tommy Trampp

    US Frigate Alliance (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 26 November 2021