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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

USS Vixen (I)

  • Built in the spring of 1803, at Baltimore, MD., designed by Benjamin Hutton Jr. and built by William Price
  • Launched and Commissioned, 25 June 1803, LT. John Smith in command.
  • Vixen joined the Mediterranean Squadron at Gibraltar, 14 September 1803
  • Vixen and USS Philadelphia established a blockade at Tripoli in October 1803
  • Vixen while not present at the grounding of Philadelphia, off Tripoli on 14 October 1803 but carried dispatches to Gibraltar in December with the news of the loss of the frigate and imprisonment of her crew
  • Vixen participated in the bombardments of Tripoli in August and September 1804
  • Rerigged as a brig in September 1804, to improve sailing qualities
  • Participated in the actions at Tunis in August 1805
  • Placed in ordinary at Washington Navy Yard upon her return from the Mediterranean in August 1806
  • Reactivated in 1807, to operate along the Atlantic coast under LT. James Lawrence and LT. Charles Ludlow
  • During the War of 1812, USS Vixen sailed along the southern coast under the command of Master Commandant Christopher Gadsden and after his death, 28 August 1812, under the command of LT. George Washington Read
  • Captured by HMS Southampton, 22 November 1812, in the West Indies
  • Final Disposition, wrecked on Concepcion Island in the Bahamas soon after capture
  • Crew and officers survived, however LT. Read died of Yellow Fever in Jamaica before he could be exchanged.
    Displacement 170 t.
    Length 84'
    Beam 23'
    Depth of Hold 3' 6"
    Draft unknown
    Speed unknown
    Complement 111
    twelve 18-pdr carronades
    Propulsion sail
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    Size Image Description Source
    Vixen 204k Pen and ink sketch by Henry Rusk of the schooner-of-war USS Vixen on the stocks while under construction at Baltimore in 1803.
    Scanned from "The History of American Sailing Ships" by Howard Irving Chapelle, Bonanza Books.
    Robert Hurst
    Vixen 177k A perspective view of the schooner-of-war USS Vixen drawn by George C. Wales.
    Scanned from "The History of American Sailing Ships" by Howard Irving Chapelle, Bonanza Books.
    Robert Hurst
    Vixen 460k Drawing showing the draught lines of the schooner-of-war USS Vixen as redrawn by Howard Irving Chapelle
    Scanned from "The History of American Sailing Ships" by Howard Irving Chapelle, Bonanza Books.
    Robert Hurst
    Argus 129k Bombardment of Tripoli, 3 August 1804
    Oil by Michael Felice Corne, depicting Commodore Edward Preble's squadron engaging the Tripolitan gunboats and fortifications during the afternoon of 3 August 1804. U.S. Navy vessels shown in the foreground are, from left to right:
    schooner USS Enterprise,
    schooner USS Nautilus,
    brig USS Argus,
    brig USS Syren,
    schooner USS Vixen,
    mortar boat Dent,
    gunboat Somers,
    frigate USS Constitution (Preble's flagship),
    mortar boat Robinson, and
    gunboat Blake.
    Attacking the enemy flotilla in the center background are LT.Stephen Decatur's three gunboats and a gunboat commanded by LT. James Decatur, who was killed in this action.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command Photo # NH 65536-KN. Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    Vixen 45k Artist version of USS Vixen after she was rerigged as a brig in 1804. US History and Heritage Command

    USS Vixen (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
    Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
    Documents Relating to the Case of the Capture and Destruction of the Frigate Philadelphia"
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 31 March 2017