Sunday, December 18, 2011

Previous Studies & Reports on Tripoli

STUDIES AND REPORTS on the Tripoli Graves of US Navy Intrepid Sailors


The recently commissioned evaluation by the Senate-House Armed Services Committee Conference Report on the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, should not start at the beginning and end up where we are now, and just bring everybody up to speed and on the same page. It must begin where we are now and move forward and discover new things that we don’t know today. For that to happen there must be a compilation of all of what we know and combine that in one place as a foundation for what the new report can be built on.

There have been previous studies and reports, by the military in particular, an an FOIA request should obtain all the records the military has on this subject, but from open source records we know of over a dozen official and private inquiries and their subsequent reports on the Tripoli graves of the men of the Intrepid.

1) At the time contemporary reports were written by
a: Capt. Edward Preble Log Sept. 1804; “September 4th – Sent in the Intrepid Fire Ship; lost captain Somes, Lt. Wadsworth and Israel.”
b: Capt. Bainbridge Log Sept. 1804
c: Dr. Cowdery;American captives in Tripoli:Narratives of Barbary captivity: recollections James Leander Cathcart, Jonathan Cowdery, and William Ray
d: Lt. David Porter Title: David Porter and David Dixon Porter papers Creator: William L. Clements Library Manuscripts Division William L. Clements Library University of Michigan Finding aid for David Porter and David Dixon Porter Papers, 1803-1889vInclusive dates: 1803-1889 Extent: 4 linear feet

2) In addition there are historical reports from later years, specifically by J. F. Cooper and Dr. J.B. Somers. Cooper, James Finimore. History. The History of the Navy of the United States of America: Abridged in One Volume (Phila. Thomas, Cowperthwaite, 1841) Cooper, James Fenimore, History of the Navy of the United States. New York: Stinger and Townsend, 1856. 2 Volumes. Cooper, James Fenimore, Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers. Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1846. 2 Volumes; Also: Somers, J.B., M.D., Biography. Life of Richard Somers – A Master Commandant In The U.S. Navy (Collins, Phila. 1886, Reprinted by Atlantic County Historical Society, 2004).

3) There’s also the Naval Institute accounts of Mustapha Burchis –w/ Miller, Lt. (j.g.) Arthur P. Jr. “Tripoli Graves Discovered. *U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, April 1950. 1938-1948-1949 Ceremony – Naval Institute – Martin/J. Burchis, Mustapha, and Johnson, Arthur M., Resting Place of Heroes of the BarbaryWars (Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Sept. 1956, 969-973). Johnson, Arthur M.; w/ Burchis, M. – Lost But Not Forgotten – The Final Resting Place of Heroes of the Barbary Wars – U.S. Naval Institute Proceeding, p. 969-73 Sept. 1956. Martin, Tyrone G., A Most Fortunate Ship (Annapolis Naval Institute Press, 1997) [Former Capt. USS Somers]
The NIP mentions Burchis' 1938 report and two reports from the US Embassy in Rome to State Dept.

4) American tourist Edmunds, Melba, American Legion Magazine Report (May, 1977)

5) New Jersey Historian Frank Kemp – Franklyn, in the 1970s, corresponded with Italian soldier who moved remains. Kemp left letter with Mrs. Ray Steelman of Margate, NJ.

6) The Libyan Arab Amer Al-Tawil wrote The Secret History of Old Protestant Cemetery, Book – Amer Al-Tawil, Abdu Hakim, (Tripoli: Libya; Libyan Center for Historical Studies, 2008)P.O. Box:15038 Hadba Tripoli, Libya.

7) Congressional Research obtain news clips on the cemetery at the request of a Congressman.

8) Col. Olga Kripmer – of the DOD POWMP office – ( went to the scene and wrote report on cemetery site)

9) Miller, Capt. Gregory USNR – Capt. Gregory Miller, USNR CNE-C6F – was at the scene, met Dr. Anag, obtained copy of The Secret History of OPC and reported to Navy Reserves.

10) Somers family and Somers Point civic leaders, w/Michael Caputo initiate private effort.

11) Dickon, Chris, wrote The Foreign Burial of American War Dead – A History (MacFarland Pub. NC, 2011)

12) Douglas Chipp Reid – writing book.

13) Dept. of State Reports: Joan Polaschik (2010) Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, and Ambassador Cretz regarding the Libyan government’s ongoing efforts to renovate and restore this historic property...the Libyan government undertook this effort in June, as part of an overall plan to redevelop the seaside area immediately surrounding the cemetery. At our request, the Libyan government limited its work to the cemetery’s exterior walls, and commissioned a detailed study of the interior. Based on this study, the Libyan government has developed plans to restore the grave markers. Based on our review of the plans and discussion with the Libyan Department of Archeology and Antiquities, we are confident that the Libyan government will undertake this restoration in way that is historically and culturally appropriate, and in accordance with the respect due to U.S. service members. Any interior elements of the graves will not be touched. The Libyan government should begin the restoration of the grave markers very soon. It appears that the Libyan government is prepared to pay for all of the restoration work. However, it’s unclear to what extent the Libyan government plans to pay for future maintenance, or whether it would be willing to create and/or pay for any signage or plaques explaining the significance of the site. We hope to meet with Libyan officials over the next few weeks to clarify these issues. It’s also unclear to what extent the U.S. government will be able to pay for or support any future maintenance. After the embassy confirmed that cemetery is indeed U.S. diplomatic property, we launched an intensive effort to find a U.S. government agency that will be responsible for the cemetery’s continued care. Unfortunately, no one has stepped up to the plate yet, and the embassy has been instructed to do the best it can. We plan to nominate the cemetery for inclusion in the Secretary of State’s Register of Culturally Significant Properties, which is very similar to the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the Secretary of Interior, and hopefully could provide a source of funding and oversight for this very special site....

14) In 2007, the American Cemetery at Wheelus AFB in Tripoli relocated the remains of 70 Americans, mainly children, to Dover AFB, Delaware. See: Air Force searches for kin of Americans buried at former base in Libya by Scott Schonauer Stars and Stripes, European Edition, May 19th, 2007

15) US Embassy Triopli Reports -US Military Also see US-Libya Relations Report: 2001

16) CRS Report for Congress Libya: Background and U.S. Relations Updated August 6, 2008 Christopher M. Blanchard Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Congressional Research Service. Libya: Background and U.S. Relations.

CRS-39 Appendix A: Libya’s Pre-Qadhafi History Libya’s Colonial Experience
The Ottoman Empire and Qaramanli Dynasty. Ottoman forces first occupied the coatal regions of the territory that now constitutes Libya in the mid-16th century. However, ottoman administrators faced stiff and near constant resistance from trial confederatiohns and a rival independent state in the Fezzan region, all of which limited the Ottomans’ political influence. Beginning in 1711, a semi-independent sate under Turkish official Ahmed Qaramanli emerged in Tripoli and established control over the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, with Fezzan remaining contested. The Qaramanli family maintained its power and independent rule until the early 19th century through naval privateers and pirates under its control who were used to collect tribute and ransom from merchant vessels seized in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The Shores of Tripoli”. The Qaramanli naval forces of Tripoli formed one component of a regional grouping commonly referred to as “the Barbary pirates,” which played a pivotal role in shaping the foreign and military policies of the young United States. Beginning in the late 1780s, a series of confrontations between U.S. merchant ships and naval raiding parties from Triopli and other neighboring city-states as Algiers and Tunis led to the destruction of U.S. maritime cargo and the seizure of U.S. hostages. Subsequent negotiations between the United States and the governments of the Barbary states concluded with the signing of some of the first bilateral treaties in the U.S. history, including U.S. agreements to pay tribute to Tripoli in exchange for the safe passage of U.S. vessels off what is now the Libyan coast.

Disputes over the terms of this bilateral agreement and continuing attacks on U.S. merchant ships impressed upon the U.S. government the need for a naval protection force to safeguard U.S. commercial activity in the Mediterranean. This need eventually was satisfied by the creation of the United States Navy by Congress in April 1798.

An attack on the U.S. consulate in Tripoli in 1801 and further attacks on U.S. ships sparked open hostilities between the newly commissioned light naval forces of the United States and the privateers of Tripoli. Frequent naval engagements from 1801 to 1805 were often won by U.S. forces, but one skirmish in 1804 ended with the grounding of the U.S.S. Philadelphia and the capture of her crew. The conflict culminated in the overland seizure of the eastern Libyan city of Darnah by U.S. Marines and a team of recruited indigenous forces in 1805 – the basis for the reference to “the shores of Triopli” in the Marine Corps hymn. The fall of Darnah compelled the Qaramanli leadership in Tripoli to relent to demands to ransom the U.S. prisoners and sign a “treaty of peace and friendship.” Efforts to repatriate the remains of U.S. personnel killed in these early 19th century military engagements with Tripoli are ongoing. 114. - 114. See Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine, “Return Oldest U.S. MIAs,” Volume 94, Issue 1, September 1, 2006; and the Somers Point Historical Society, information available at [].

17) Conference Report on the National Defense Authorization Act. Section 598. Evaluation of Issues Affecting Disposition of remains of American Sailors Killed in the Explosion of the Ketch USS INTREPID in Tripoli Harbor on September 4, 1804.

(a) Evaluation required – Not later than 270 days after the date of the enactment of this act, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy shall conduct an evaluation of the following issues with respect to the disposition of the remains of American sailors killed in the explosion of the Ketch USS INTREPID in Tripoli Harbor on September 4, 1804:

i. The feasibility of recovery of remains based on historical information, factual consideration, costs, and precedential effect.

ii. The ability to make identifications of the remains within a two-year period based on conditions and facts that would have to exist for positive scientific identification of the remains.

iii. The diplomatic and inter-governmental issues that would have to be addressed in order to provide for exhuming and removing the remains consistent with the sovereignty of the Libyan Government.

(b) Participation and consultation. – The Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Navy shall conduct the evaluation as required by subsection (a) with participation of the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting command and in consultation with the Secretary of State.

(c) Submission of Recommendation. Upon completion of the evaluation as required by subsection (a), the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State Shall submit to the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives their recommendation regarding the proposal to exhume, identify, and relocate the remains of the American sailors referred to in such subsection and the reasons supporting their recommendation.

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