Tuesday, April 16, 2013

4th USS America to be Christened in 2013

Pam Hillman
You just never know what you’re going to find out over Sunday dinner. One of the guests at my mother-in-law’s dinner table this past Sunday is a maritime electrician at Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS.

After an absolutely wonderful dinner consisting of pork chops, potato salad, field peas, corn, fried okra, cornbread, and an unnamed, but yummy dessert everyone raved about (we never did find out what it was called...), the conversation turned to Bro. Johnson’s day job.

I found out that he’d been wiring ships off and on for 37 years, and that he’d worked on commercial ships as well as naval ships of all shapes and sizes. So that led to my next question. Had he worked on the USS America?

Uh, which one?

Turns out there have been four ships commissioned USS America, one that Ingalls just completed in 2012. Wow! I never knew. This begged for more research, so I started digging…

Hercules, a man-of-war similar to
USS America 1782
USS America (1782)

When laid down in 1777, this 74-gun man-of-war was the largest warship built in America. Built for the Continental Navy, it was given to France upon launch. A shortage of skilled workers and well seasoned timber delayed construction for many months. In 1779, Captain John Barry was named as her prospective commanding officer and was ordered to complete the ship as soon as possible. In spite of his efforts, little progress had been made on the ship when Barry was ordered to take command of the 36-gun frigate Alliance.

The unfinished ship languished in the shipyard until June 1781 when Congress named Captain John Paul Jones as commanding officer. Jones was ordered to make America seaworthy. Jones arrived in Portsmouth in August 1781 and dedicated himself to completing the man-of-war. But all of his hard work seemed to come to naught in September 1782 when Congress made the decision to present the ship to King Louis XVI of France to replace Magnifique, which had run aground and subsequently destroyed attempting to enter Boston Harbor. The gift was a token of appreciation for France’s support and service to the American patriots.

Disappointment over losing the commission to command America did not deter Jones, and he stayed the course and saw America launched into the waters of the Piscataqua on November 5, 1782. Rigged and fitted out, the ship departed Portsmouth in June 1783 commanded by M. le Chevalier de Macarty Martinge, the former commander of the Magnifique.

America’s service under the French flag was brief. Three years after launch, an examination of her hull found damage from dry rot (likely from wartime construction from green timber) determined to be beyond repair. She was scrapped in 1786.
USS America (ID-3006)

USS America (ID-3006)

The USS America (ID-3006) enjoyed a long and industrious life. She was launched in 1905 as SS Amerika in Belfast, Germany and served as a German passenger liner for the Hamburg America Line until 1912. She was docked in Boston when WWI broke out, and rather than risk seizure by the British Royal Navy, she remained in port for the next three years.

When the United States entered the war, Amerika was seized, commissioned USS Amerika (quickly Anglicized to America) and used by the U. S. Navy for troop transport. She transported 40,000 troops to France and over 51,000 troops back home from Europe. She sank in 1918 in port in New York, with the loss of six lives, but was raised and reconditioned. In 1926, a tragic oil leak resulted in a fire that gutted almost all of the passenger cabins. But, despite $2,000,000 in damage, America was rebuilt and back in service the following year. The valiant USS America (ID-3006) ended her service to the United States in 1931, but her career didn’t end there.

She came out of retirement in 1940 and was renamed USAT Edmund B. Alexander and again served the US as a troopship during WWII. She then used her substantial strength to carry military dependents until 1949, when she was retired once again. Eventually, she was sold for scrap in January 1957—52 years after her initial launch. God bless her!
USS America (CV-66)

USS America (CV-66)

Since CFHS is a blog devoted solely to topics of a historical nature, I’m not going to give many details about the USS America (CV-66), other than to say that this ship was one of four Kitty Hawk-class super aircraft carriers built for the US Navy. She served in the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific Oceans, the Vietnam War, and operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She gave her life in 2005 in service for weapons testing and lies upright and intact at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean approximately 250 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras.

In addition, it’s important to note that when I read of the USS America’s (CV-66) many tours of duty, her service, and her valiant sacrifice in the end, I got a little teary-eyed. You see, I had the pleasure of touring this particular American beauty in the early 1970s when my brother was a Navy seaman on the ship. The flight deck was the length of three football fields. My brother said that they played football on deck and never lost a ball!

USS America (LHA-6)
USS America (LHA-6)

The USS America (LHA-6) is an America-class amphibious assault ship awarded for construction in June 2007. She launched June 2012 from Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, MS with an expected commissioning date in 2013 with Naval Base San Diego as her home port.

To read more about all four ships christened USS America, click here (Wikipedia).

In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold. With Slade ready to collect his father’s rightful claim and force Mariah and her family out on the streets, Mariah must turn to God for guidance. Though Mr. Fredrick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home.
Claiming Mariah for Kindle or Nook.

Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel. www.pamhillman.com


  1. Christian historical fiction is one of my favorite types of books to read. Funny that I used to hate history class in school but now I love to learn about history!

    Kim LitlePokie@aol.com

    1. Kim, for some reason I didn't care for history too much in school either. The problem was that I had to read/study whatever the flavor of the day was, but it was too easy to go off on rabbit trails on the little facts that caught my attention. Sigh.

      Back then, all I had was the history book, but can you imagine what it would have been like to have the internet at my fingertips? I would have failed history because instead of sticking with the topic to be tested, I would have been off somewhere else! lol

      As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side.

  2. Who would have thought there'd be four ships with the same name? That man-o-war is a beautiful ship. Interesting stuff, Pam.

    1. It surprised me too, Vickie. Granted, I've never researched much about ships, but some of our members (Laurie Alice, MaryLu, for example) would probably have known this. I just assumed there had been ONE USS America. Totally wrong!

      I have no doubt that this isn't the only name that's been reused...

      A quick search of Wiki revealed that there have been seven ships/submarines named USS Alabama. I toured the one in Mobile as a kid. Tight quarters!

  3. Thanks so much for the historical information. I have learned so much, reading this blog each day!

    1. Betz, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I find it so interesting to learn about the past...thanks for this cool insight - I know for a fact how researching can just draw you in till you get lost...so it's nice to read someone else's research! truckredford (at)gmail(dot)com

    1. lol Eliza. So true. I can spend hours just reading about the most obscure incident. I'm watching a movie about Jamestown now. It's good, but different in that there is very little dialogue, but a lot of voice over.

  5. Pam, Jim was on the third America -- CV 66. It was an aircraft carrier. I rode on it twice when I followed the ship in the Med. I remember the trip from Palma, Majorca to Barcelona. It was really large and really noisy!

    1. Such a small world, Cara! That's the same one my brother was on. So interesting.

      My brother was in the navy for 6 years, and he was a communications/telephone repairman. I'm not sure exactly what his job title was, but his job was to keep all the phones working.

  6. Loved this post! I love ships...all kinds, even starships. LOL
    I must admit, I love the first picture the most. Tall ships are so gorgeous.

    1. Debbie, the Hercules was gorgeous, wasn't it? Makes me think of Captain Jack and the Black Pearl...sorry, rabbit trail... lol

      But the ship that carried men in WWI and WWII has so much charm too. To have been such a huge asset to America for over 50 years. Wow.

      Then, of course the third one is special because I actually tread on its deck, walked the narrow hallways, even peeked into the head. :)

      I'd love to see the new one! Wow, state of the art. There is a certain time of the year that people can tour Ingalls Shipyard. I would LOVE to do that. I must check into it.

  7. Thanks for this interesting blog post!


    1. Bonnie, thank you so much for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

      And, for those who visited but didn't comment, this is me waving... \0/ ... :)

      Thank you for being part of CFHS. Come again and jump in and chat with us. We'd love to hear what little bits of history make YOUR eyes light up!

  8. I grew up on a dairy farm also! Loved every minute of it. I always wanted to rake, but my dad never let me. I had three brothers who did it instead. I was the one who followed behind the hay wagons with my hazards on so nobody would hit the wagon. :)
    Love the stories behind all the ships. I never knew there were 4 either!
    Thank you for a fun post.
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

  9. Susan, so good to "see" you. You know, driving behind the hay wagon with your hazard flashers on seems like it would be just as dangerous as being up FRONT! :)

    Seriously, I've driven down paved roads on tractors before and have 18-wheelers come up behind me and just fly around. It really is extremely dangerous.

    1. Oh yes, driving tractors anywhere is so dangerous in these days. They do not get the respect and road room that they need. So many people in a rush, never think twice about zooming past.