1st USS America
First USS America

1st USS America

The America was completed in 1782. In November of 1776 the Continental Congress ordered the construction of a 74-gun ship of the line to be named America. This specific class of warship was the state-of-the-art naval weapon of the late eighteenth century, and one of the most complex engineering constructions of its day. America was also the biggest ship built in North America at the time. She was constructed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, overseen and launched by Capt. John Paul Jones. However, America fell victim to politics and even before completion was given to America's ally – France -- in a grand gesture. Although popularly believed to be the first USS America, she was never commissioned as a U.S. Naval Ship. For more history on the first USS America visit the Navy Archive page at http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/a8/america-i.htm.

The first USS America was originally built as a schooner-rigged yacht in New York City and launched on 3 May 1851. The yacht was constructed for a syndicate headed by John Cox Stevens, the commodore of the New York Yacht Club, and including other prominent sportsmen who wished to win recognition for American shipbuilding and sailing skill. She established her fame when she won the trophy, the “America’s Cup,” from the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes, England, on 22 August 1851 – a triumph personally witnessed by Queen Victoria. Subsequently renamed Camilla, she was acquired by the Confederate government for service as a blockade runner and despatch boat and arrived at Charleston, S.C., in April 1861. Renamed Memphis but apparently never employed in her intended role, the schooner was scuttled to prevent her use by the Federal Navy. Raised and reconditioned, she was recommissioned under her former name, America, and served with the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, taking part in two captures. withdrawn from blockading service in 1863, she served as a practice [training] ship, first at Newport, R.I., then at Annapolis, Md.; during the ensuing decade; among her commanding officers during that period was Lt. Comdr. George Dewey, future victor of Manila Bay. Sold to private ownership in 1873, America was ultimately returned to the Navy in 1921. Classified as a naval relic (IX 41) in 1941, America suffered irreparable damage in 1942, and was scrapped in 1945.

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