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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

Continental Frigate Randolph

  • Construction of the Randolph was authorized by the Continental Congress, 13 December 1775
  • Laid down, date unknown, at Wharton and Humphreys, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Launched, 10 July 1776
  • CAPT. Nicholas Biddle was appointed commander of the Randolph, 11 July 1776
  • Randolph put to sea, 3 February 1777, escorting a large group of American merchantmen to sea
  • The ship then began a search for British ships but was forced to make port at Charleston, S. C., 11 March 1777, after she sprung her foremast and broke her main mast
  • Randolph was again ready for sea, 16 August 1777
  • The ship took four prizes, 3 September 1777, two ships and two brigs
  • Randolph returned to Charleston with her prizes ladden with rum, sugar, ginger, logwood and salt
  • Randolph in company with a number of South Carolina Navy ships sortied, 14 February 1778, out of the harbor at Charleston with orders to break the British blockade. When no British ships were found Randolph and her escorts sailed to the West Indies hoping to intercept British merchantmen
  • Randolph encountered the British 64-gun ship of the line HMSYarmouth, 7 March 1778
  • While engaging the British warship Randolph's magazines were ignited by an unknown source and the ship disintegrate in one blinding flash. 311 of her crew were killed with only 4 survivors
    Displacement unknown
    Length 132' 9"
    Beam 34' 6"
    Depth of Hold 10 6"
    Draft 18'
    Speed unknown
    Complement unknown
    Armament 32 guns
    Propulsion sail

    Submitted by Robert Hall
    Click On Image
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    Size Image Description Contributed
    Randolph 23k

    Peyton Randolph was born into an eminent Virginia family and educated, in the tradition of the time, in England. He Graduated Oxford University with honors and returned to Virginia to study law. He joined the Virginia Bar and was later made Attorney General of the colony. Randolph was also a military leader in the defense of the colony against Indian attack during the French and Indian War. At the end of the war he was elected to the House of Burgesses, where he often presided. He was the House leader when •Patrick Henry made his stand against the Stamp act, and later when the House was dissolved by the governor for its resolutions against parliamentary aggression to Massachusetts. He left his seat in the House of Burgesses to attend the first Continental Congress in 1774, was elected President of the congress by unanimous vote and so became the first President of the united colonies. He was again elected President the following session but, his health failing, he resigned the office 14 days later. He resumed a seat in the congress the following September but died that October in Philadelphia.
    Tommy Trampp
    Frigate Randolph 
(18th Century) 118k The 32-gun Continental Navy frigate Randolph ready for launching at Philadelphia, 10 July 1776.
    Illustration from the Charleston Naval Shipyard, now in the collection of Mr. Palmer Olliff.
    Randolph 26k Artist sketch of the Continental Navy frigate Randolph under way. Tommy Trampp
    Randolph 415k Sketch by J. O. Davidson, 1891, of the Continental Navy frigate Randolph engaging HMS Yarmouth, 7 March 1778. Randolph was under the command of CAPT. Nicholas Biddle and HMS Yarmouth was under the command of CAPT. Nicholas Vincent, RN.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 1102, US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics photo # BUAER 178950.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 56445
    207k Black and white photos of a two watercolors by artist Warren depicting the Continental Navy frigate Randolph blowing up during the battle with HMS Yarmouth, 7 March 1778, east of the Barbados, 7 March 1778. CAPT. Biddle was killed during the action.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo #'s HN 56444 and NH 56445. Description: Courtesy of the Mariners Museum, Newport News Virginia.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 56444
    Randolph 925k The explosion and sinking of Randolph tragically cut short CAPT. Nicolas Biddle's career, but the 27-year-old had already tallied more than his fair share of perils and feats at sea. His name would endure in American Naval lore.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 1170.
    Tommy Trampp
    38k Randolph - 1976 BICENTENARY OF AMERICAN REVOLUTION Stamp issues for Saint Lucia printed by the Format International Security Printers Ltd. Tommy Trampp

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    Last Updated 26 November 2021