Thursday, March 16, 2017

USS America, United States Navy

Battle of Trafalgar (Ships Similar to the USS 1782)

by 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?

To which he replied, "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.

Note: This post first appeared on the Christian Fiction Historical Society blog April 16, 2013. I hope you enjoy revisiting the fascinating history of naming ships in the US Navy.

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

The Promise of Breeze Hill, available for pre-order from your favorite retailer.

CBA Bestselling author 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 an 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.


  1. Wow, fascinating stuff, Pam! I knew a little bit about the 1st USS America, but not what her ultimate fate was. Very interesting about the other 3 as well. Thank you for an inspiring and informative post!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. I can see why captains become so attached to their ships.

  2. I second J. M. with the wow! I loved reading this as I'm really partial to the U.S.Navy. Never realized there had been so many named USS America. Thanks for doing the research.

    1. Me either, Martha. I just always assumed once a ship (esp. in the Navy) was given a name, that name wouldn't be used again. Definitely not the case.