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USS Nautilus (I)

  • Built in 1799 as a merchant vessel by Mr. Henry Spencer on the Eastern Shore of Maryland
  • Purchased by the Navy in May, 1803, at Baltimore, MD., from Mr. Thomas Tennant
  • Commissioned USS Nautilus, 24 June 1803, LT. Richard Somers in command
  • Nautilus sailed from Hampton Roads, 30 June 1803 for the Mediterranean to join the squadron stationed there assigned to protect the interests of the United States and its citizens residing or trading in that area, and threatened at that time by the Barbary States.
  • Nautilus arrived at Gibraltar 27 July and departed again on the 31st to deliver dispatches to CAPT. John Rodgers in USS John Adams, then returned to Gibraltar to await the arrival of COMM. Edward Preble on 12 September 1803, in USS Constitution, and join his squadron.
  • The squadron, less USS Philadelphia, sailed 6 October with vessels of CAPT. Rodgers' squadron to Tangier. This display of naval strength induced the Emperor of Morocco to renew the treaty of 1786
  • With capture of USS Philadelphia by the Tripolitans the squadron's interests were focused on Tripoli and Tullis. Using Syracuse as their rendezvous point, the vessels appeared off Tunis and Tripoli at different times between November 1803, and May 1804
  • In February 1804, LT. Decatur daringly sailed USS Intrepid into Tripoli harbor and burned the captured Philadelphia while Nautilus cruised off Tunis.
  • Late February, 1804 Nautilus retired to Syracuse, returning to Tripoli in mid-March
  • During May and June she repaired at Messina, departing 5 July, she joined Constitution off Tripoli on the 25th
  • During August and early September, she took part in the siege of Tripoli and saw action in five general attacks between 3 August and 3 September
  • For the next five months she continued to cruise off Tripoli, retiring periodically to Syracuse and Malta
  • On 27 April 1805, she arrived off Derne to participate in the attack, capture, and occupation of that town. She remained until 17 May, during which time she provided cover for the forces of Hamet Caramanli, Bashaw of Tripoli, as they went into action against the army of Hamet-s brother Yusuf, who had overthrown Hamet and assumed his title. Departing on the 17th, Nautilus retired to Malta with dispatches and casualties
  • At the end of April she returned to Tripoli and on 10 June hostilities ceased with the signing of a peace treaty
  • Nautilus remained in the Mediterranean for a year after the treaty went into effect, conducting operations from Malta and Gibraltar
  • In the spring of 1806 she was assigned to Algiers for dispatch duty, sailing in June for the United States. Arriving at Washington, D.C., in mid-July, she entered the Navy Yard there and was placed in ordinary
  • Reactivated in 1808, she was employed on the East Coast until entering the Navy Yard again in 1810 when she was altered to a brig with a battery of 12 18-pdr. carronades
  • Recommissioned in 1811 Nautilus joined the squadron commanded by Stephen Decatur
  • The following year war with England broke out and on 17 July 1812, Nautilus gained the dubious distinction of being the first vessel lost on either side
  • Captured off northern New Jersey by a squadron built around the Third Rate HMS Africa (64 guns) and two Fifth Rate frigates HMS Shannon (38 guns), and HMS Aeolus (32 guns) the brig was taken into possession for the use of the King's service
  • At the time of Nautilus's her capture mounted 16 guns, had crew of 106 men, under the command of LT. William M. Crane[1]
  • The British immediately but informally took Nautilus into service under the name Emulous, having just lost the Cruizer class brig-sloop HMS Emulous, 2 August 1812
  • On 29 August the Admiralty formally purchased Nautilus/Emulous for 3,252 17s 2d.[3]
  • On 2 February 1813 she was commissioned HMS Emulous, under CDR. William Mackenzie Godfrey, on the Halifax station
  • Emulous proceeded to capture a number of American privateers or merchant vessels listed below:
    25 August 1812, Emulous captured the American ship Gossamer. [2] the 74 ton American privateer schooner Science, under the command of CAPT. W. Fernald. The schooner of five guns and 52 men was on a cruise out of Portsmouth.[3]
    On 17 September, Emulous was among the vessels sharing in HMS Spartan's capture of the Melantho[4]
    On 21 September, Emulous, with HMS Orpheus, HMS Spartan and HMS Maidstone captured the brig Ambition, sailing from Baltimore to Boston[5]
    On 5 April 1813, she captured the American schooner privateer Cossack[6] the 48 ton Cossack, of Salem was pierced for 10 guns but carried only one long 18-pounder and had a crew of 40 men. Cossack arrived at Saint John, New Brunswick on 8 April.[11]
    On 5 May 1813, Emulous, Shannon, HMS Nymphe and HMS captured the 42 ton schooner Ann, sailing from New Orleans to Bourdeaux. That same day Nymphe, together with the same three other British ships, captured the American ship of war USS Montgomery, of 12 guns and a crew of 75 men. She was on her way home after a two-month cruise off the coast of Ireland.[7]
    Emulous recaptured the schooner the 330 ton Four Brothers, R. Sinclair, master.
    On 21 or 24 September 1813, the Canadian privateer Dart drove the American privateer Orange, a chebacco boat of two guns and 11 men, on to Fox Island in Machias Bay on the coast of Maine.[8] There the boats of Emulous and HMS Bream, under the command of LT.Wright of Emulous, destroyed her.
    On 10 October 1813, Emulous destroyed two small American privateers, schooner Orion and a rowboat Camelion in Passamaquaddy Bay, between Maine and New Brunswick, the Orion, of one gun and 16 men; the Camelion, with 17 men and small arms. At some point Emulous also captured the American ship Bird.
  • On 22 July 1814, CDR William Mackenzie Godfrey transferred to HMS Arachne and CAPT. John Gore assumed command of Emulous and remained until 3 February 1815
  • In June 1815 Emulous came under the command of CDR. John Undrell, still on the Jamaica station. His replacement was CDR. Thomas Wrenn Carter, who transferred to HMS Carnation in April 1816. Her last commander was LT. Caleb Jackson (acting).
  • Emulous arrived at Deptford,19 June 1816 to pay off and was laid up there.
  • The Admiralty sold her for 900 in August 1817.
    [1]A first-class share of the prize money, that of a captain, was 68 15s 11d; a sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth 12 s 0d.
    [2]Three years later a payment of prize money for Gossamer amounted to 26 1s 5d for Emulous's captain and 11s 10d for an ordinary seaman.
    [3]A first-class share of the prize money was worth 26 1s 5d; a sixth-class share was worth 11s 10d.
    [4]A first-class share of the prize money was worth 371 11s 3d; a sixth-class share was worth 3 16s 4d.>
    [5]A captain's share of the prize money was 121 12s 1d; an ordinary seaman's share was 1 8s 0d.
    [6]A captain's share of the prize money was 58 3s 9d; an ordinary seaman's share was 1 6s 2d.
    [7]A captain's share of the prize money was 19 6s 11d; an ordinary seaman's share was 2s 9d.
    [8]A chebacco was a narrow-sterned boat formerly used in the Newfoundland fisheries; also known as a pinkstern or chebec
    Displacement 186 t.
    Length 87'6" (overall)
    Beam 23'8"
    Depth of Hold 9'10"
    Draft unknown
    Speed unknown
    Complement 103
    US Navy 1803-twelve 6-pdr carronades
    US Navy 1811-twelve 18-pdr carronades, two 6-pdr long guns
    British service -twelve 12-pdr carronades, two 6-pdr guns
    Propulsion sail

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    Nautilus 185k USS Nautilus (I) taking fire from Tripolian corsairs during the Barbery Wars. 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

    USS Nautilus (I)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)

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    Last Updated 5 July 2019