Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just Do It - Bring them home

Here Lies An American Sailor Who Gave His Life In the Explosion of the United States Ship INTREPID in Tripoli Harbor September 4, 1804 

Tripoli Soldiers Legislation to provide for the exhumation and transfer of remains of deceased members of the Armed Forces buried in Tripoli, Libya.

The Secretary of Defense shall take whatever actions necessary to exhume the remains of any deceased members of the Armed Forces of the US buried at the mass burial site containing the remains of five United States Sailors located in Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli, Libya and the mass burial site containing the remains of eight United States Sailors located near the walls of the Tripoli Castle in Tripoli, Libya.

The Secretary of Defense will transfer the remains to an appropriate forensics laboratory to be identified. In the case of any remains that are identified, transport the remains to a veterans cemetery located in proximity, as determined by the Secretary, to the closest living family member of the deceased individual or at another cemetery determined by the Secretary.

For any member of the Armed Forces whose remains are identified, provide a military funeral and burial. In the case that any remains not be identified, transport the remains to Arlington National Cemetery.


Friday, June 8, 2012

The Enterprise & Intrepid - Together Again

The Enterprise & Intrepid - Namesake Sister Ships at War 200 Years Ago - Together Again in NY

The Space Shuttle Enterprise is delivered to the USS Intrepid, both named after ships that fought together in the first Barbary War.

The Enterprise and the Intrepid - together again after two hundred years.

In the early 1800s the schooner USS Enterprsie and the ketch USS Intrepid sailed together in the first war against the Barbary Pirates. 

Now 200 years later, their namesakes have come together again, with the Space Shuttle Enterprise becoming part of the Intrepid museum at New York harbor.

While the TV Starship and the Space Shuttle Enterprise and the air craft carriers Enterprise and Intrepid may be more famous, they are all named after schooner USS Enterprise and the ketch USS Intrepid, - sailing ships that fought together during America’s first war with the Barbary pirates at the turn of the 18th century.

Since President George Washington began giving American warships inspirational names, few have had as glorious and entwined history as the Enterprise and the Intrepid.

In 1801 the schooner USS Enterprise, then commanded by Lt. Andrew Sterrett, was the first American ship to engage the Barbary Pirates in combat, taking on the corsair Tripoli in a fierce battle that left the pirate ship destroyed without any American casualties.

Lt. Sterrett of the schooner USS Enterprise oversees the destruction of the pirate corsair Tripoli.

Later, the same Enterprise, commanded by Lt. Stephen Decatur, assisted in the capture the pirate ship Mastico, which was rechristened the USS Intrepid.

In February, 1804, Commodore Edward Preble, aboard the flagship USS Constitution, ordered Lt. Stephen Decatur to sail the Intrepid into Tripoli harbor in the dark of night, posing as a merchant ship, recapture and sink the captured frigate USS Philadelphia.

“The destruction of the Philadelphia is an object of great importance,” Preble wrote to Decatur, adding “I rely with confidence on your Intrepidity & Enterprize to effect it.”  

Decatur successfully completed the mission to sink the Philadelphia, one of the first special operations conducted by the US Navy.

The following September, 1804, Preble turned the Intrepid over to Lt. Richard Somers, converted it into a fireship laden with explosives, and sailed into Tripoli harbor at night, with the intention of lighting a fuse, escaping in row boats, and have the Intrepid explode amidst the anchored pirate fleet. Something went terribly wrong however, and the ship exploded before it reached the enemy, killing Somers, two other officers – Lt. Henry Wadsworth (uncle of Longfellow) and Lt. Joseph Israel, along with ten other men.

The remains of the men of the Intrepid washed ashore and were buried outside the castle walls, where they remain today, despite the two century long efforts of the Somers and Wadsworth families to have them repatriated home. The Department of Defense is currently conducting a study to determine the feasibility of returning their remains.

We are trying to obtain the repatriation of all of the remains of the men of the Intrepid from Tripoli, and the Veterans who served on the USS Intrepid carrier have supported this effort in a big way, and have offered to hold the official repatriation ceremony for these men aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid when and if it ever occurs. 

USS Enterprise 1799

The third USS Enterprise, a schooner, was built by Henry Spencer at Baltimore, Maryland, in 1799, and placed under the command of Lieutenant John Shaw. This ship was overhauled and rebuilt several times, effectively changing from a twelve gun schooner to a fourteen gun topsail schooner and eventually to a brig rigged ship. 
On 17 December 1799Enterprise departed the Delaware Capes for the Caribbean to protect United States merchantmen from the depredations of French privateers during the Quasi-War with France. Within the following year, Enterprise captured eight privateers and liberated 11 American vessels from captivity, achievements which assured her inclusion in the 14 ships retained in the Navy after the Quasi-War. Placing her for sale was suggested in mid-March, 1801.

After Lieutenant Shaw, due to ill health, was relieved by Lieutenant Andrew Sterett, Enterprise sailed to the Mediterranean. Being delayed by getting new masts, she left Baltimore in early May 1801. Raising Gibraltar on 26 June 1801, where she was to join other U.S. warships in the First Barbary War. Enterprise's first action came on 1 August 1801 when, just west of Malta, she defeated the 14-gun Tripolitan corsair Tripoli, after a fierce but one-sided battle. Unscathed, Enterprise sent the battered pirate into port since the schooner's orders prohibited taking prizes. the 1st of August (1801), the schooner Enterprize , commanded by captain Sterrett, and carrying 12 six pounders and 90 men, bound to Malta for a supply of water, fell in with a Tripolitan cruiser, being a ship of 14 six pounders, manned by 80 men.

At this time the Enterprize bore British colours. Captain Sterrett interrogated the commander of the Tripolitan on the object of his cruise. He replied that he came out to cruise after the Americans, and that he lamented that he had not come alongside of some of them. Captain Sterrett, on this reply, hoisted American, in the room of British colours; and discharged a volley of musquetry; which the Tripolitan returned by a partial broadside. This was the commencement of a hard fought action, which commenced at 9 A.M. and continued for three hours.

Three times, during the action, the Tripolitan attempted to board the Enterprize, and was as often repulsed with great slaughter, which was greatly increased by the effective aid afforded by the Marines. Three times, also, the Tripolitan struck her colours, and as often treacherously renewed the action, with the hope of disabling the crew of captain Sterrett , which, as is usual, when the enemy struck her colours, came on deck, and exposed themselves, while they gave three cheers as a mark of victory.

When for the third time, this treacherous attack was made, captain Sterrett gave orders to sink the Tripolitan, on which a scene of furious combat ensued, until the enemy cried for mercy.

Captain Sterrett, listening to the voice of humanity even after such perfidious conduct, ordered the captain either to come himself, or to send some of his officers on board the Enterprize. He was informed that the boat of the Tripolitan was so shattered as to be unfit for use. When we compare this great slaughter, with the fact that not a single individual of the crew of the Enterprise was in the least degree injured, we are lost in surprise at the uncommon good fortune which accompanied our seamen, and at the superior management of Captain Sterrett .

Fighting Pirates - Yesterday and Today

The murders of four American yachtsmen by pirates and the continued attacks on merchant ships off Africa reflects the threat against American ships by the Barbary Pirates that lead to the creation of the United States Navy and continues today with the USS Sterrett and USS Bainbridge sailing anti-pirate patrols off Africa.

When the Barbary Pirates of North Africa began to attack American ships and hold crews as hostage for ransom and tribute, the Americans responded with the battle cry of "Millions for Defense but not once cent for tribute," and sent a fleet of ships to the Mediterranean to fight them.

As President John Adams said, "We ought not to fight them at all, unless we determine to fight them forever," and indeed, here we are, still fighting them.

The USS Sterrett, on pirate duty off Africa today is named after Lt. Andrew Sterrett, whose schooner USS Enterprise was the first American vessel to engage the Barbary pirates in 1801.

Among the warships outfitted for the US Navy to fight the pirates were the frigate Philadelphia, and a number of smaller schooners, including the schooner USS Enterprise and Nautilus.

Lt. Richard Somers, of Somers Point, New Jersey, who was named skipper of the schooner Nautilus, reported on Sterrett's first early action against the pirates in a letter he wrote to Lt. Stephen Decatur, who would later command the Enterprise himself.

"I was about to close my letter," Somers wrote, "when one of our officers got a letter from a friend on the ENTERPRISE, and as it shows how the Barbary corsairs fight, I will tell you part of it. While running for Malta, on the 1st of August, the ENTERPRISE, came across a polacca-rigged ship such as the Barbary Corsairs usually have, with an American brig in tow. It had evidently been captured and her people set adrift. Sterrett, who commands the ENTERPRSIE, as soon as he found the position of affairs, cleared for action, ran out his guns, and opened with a brisk fire on the Tripolitan. He got into a raking position, and his broadside had a terrific effect upon the pirate. But - mark the next- three times were the Tripolitan colors hauled down, and then hoisted again as soon as the fire of the ENTERPRISE ceased. After the third time, Sterrett played his broadside on the pirate with the determination to sink him for such treachery; but the Tripolitan rais, or captain, appeared in the waste of the ship, bending his body in token of submission, and actually threw his ensign overboard. Sterrett could not take the ship as a prize, because no formal declaration of war had reached him from the United States; but he sent Midshipmen Porter…aboard the pirate to dismantle her. He had all her guns thrown overboard, stripped her of everything except one old sale and a single spar, and let her go, with a message to the Bashaw of Tripoli that such was the way Americans treated pirates."

"I understand that when the rais (captain) got to Tripoli with his one old sail, he was ridden through town on a jackass, by order of the Bashaw, and received the bastinado; and that since then the Tripolitans are having great trouble in finding crews to man their corsair ships because of the dread of the 'Americanos'."

"...Now I must tell you a piece of news almost too good to be true. I hear the Government is building four beautiful small schooners, to carry sixteen guns, for use in the Tripolitan war, which is to be pushed actively; and that you, my dear Decatur, will command one of those vessels, and I another! I can write nothing more exhilarating after this; so, I am, as always, your faithful friend, Richard Somers."

While the USS Sterrett is now patrolling for pirates off Africa, it is not known what effect the killing of three pirates by American snipers from the USS Bainbridge last year had on these pirates today.

As with the USS Sterrett, the USS Bainbrige is an American warship named after a hero of the War against the Barbary Pirates. Bainbridge was the Captain of the frigate USS Philadelphia when it ran aground outside Tripoli harbor while chasing a pirate corsair. Bainbridge and his 300 man crew were taken prisoner and held in the dungeons of the Old Castle Fort, which is now a museum.

Lt. Decatur, aboard the captured pirate ship renamed the USS Intrepid, slipped into Tripoli Harbor on an early special ops mission and scuttled the Philadelphia and escaped without any casualties.

Lt. Somers then sailed the Intrepid, filled with explosives, back into Tripoli harbor on September 4, 1804 in what turned out to be a suicide mission. When the Intrepid exploded prematurely in the harbor, Somers, two officers and ten men were killed, their bodies washed ashore the next morning.

Captain Bainbridge convinced the Bey of Tripoli to allow the captured chief surgeon from the Philadelphia and a detail of prisoners to bury them, which they did east of the Old Castle Fort in what is now Martyrs Square, the epicenter of the Libyan revolution.

While the Navy kept the pirates bottled up at Tripoli Harbor, Marine Lt. Presley O'Bannon and a detachment of eight marines, American diplomat William Eaton, 200 Greek Christian mercenaries and 2,000 Arab tribesmen marched across the desert and attacked and captured the eastern port city of Derna, while the Enterprise and other American warships pounded the city from the sea.

They were about to march on Tripoli and fight to free the prisoners from the Philadelphia when a treaty was hatched and Bainbridge and his men were freed.

The Bey at the time was Yousef Karamandi, the same name of the Mayor of Tripoli in 1949 when a ceremony was held at the graves of five men of Somers' men from the USS Intrepid. After over a hundred and fifty years, the same family was still ruling Tripoli

USS Enterprise vs. Tripolitan Corsair Tripoli, 1 August 1801. Lieutenant Andrew Sterrett leaving USS Enterprise to board the Tripoli after the corsair’s surrender.

During the First Barbary War, the schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant Andrew Sterett, encountered the Barbary corsair Tripoli west of Malta and prepared for engagement. After a three-hour battle and false surrenders by Tripoli’s commander, Admiral Rais Mahomet Rous, Enterprise broadsided the vessel. Admitting defeat, Rous surrendered and threw the Tripolitan flag into water.

Dudley Knox‘s “A History of the United States Navy,”  Sterrett reported that, “The carnage on onboard the Tripolitan was dreadful, she having twenty men killed and thirty wounded…Her mizzen-mast went over the side…We had not a man wounded and sustained no material damage in our hull or rigging.”

Her next victories came in 1803 after months of carrying dispatches, convoying merchantmen, and patrolling the Mediterranean. On 17 January, she captured Paulina, a Tunisian ship under charter to the Bashaw (Pasha) of Tripoli, and on 22 May, she ran a 30-ton craft ashore on the coast of Tripoli. For the next month Enterprise and other ships of the squadron cruised inshore, bombarding the coast and sending landing parties to destroy enemy small craft.

On 23 December 1803, after a quiet interval of cruising, Enterprise joined with frigate Constitution capture the Tripolitan ketch Mastico. Refitted and renamed Intrepid, the ketch was given to Enterprise's commanding officer, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr., for use in a daring expedition to burn frigate Philadelphia, captured by the Tripolitans and anchored in the harbor of Tripoli. Decatur and his volunteer crew carried out their mission perfectly, destroying the frigate and depriving Tripoli of a powerful warship. Enterprise continued to patrol the Barbary Coast until July 1804 when she joined the other ships of the squadron in general attacks on the city of Tripoli over a period of several weeks.

Enterprise passed the winter in Venice, Italy, where she was practically rebuilt by May 1805. She rejoined her squadron in July and resumed patrol and convoy duty until August of 1807. During that period she fought 15 August 1806 a brief engagement off Gibraltar with a group of Spanish gunboats who attacked her but were driven off.       

Enterprise returned to the United States in late 1807, and sailed coastal waters until June 1809. After a brief tour in the Mediterranean, she sailed to New York where she was laid up for nearly a year.

Repaired at the Washington Navy Yard, Enterprise was recommissioned there in April 1811, then sailed for operations out of Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, South Carolina. She returned to Washington on 2 October and was hauled out of the water for extensive repairs and modifications: when she sailed on 20 May 1812, she had been rerigged as a brig.

At sea when war was declared on Britain, she cruised along the east coast during the first year of hostilities. On 5 September 1813Enterprise sighted and chased the brig HMS Boxer. The brigs opened fire on each other, and in a closely fought, fierce and gallant action which took the lives of both commanding officers, Enterprise captured Boxer and took her into nearby Portland, Maine, with Edward McCall in command. Here a common funeral was held for Lieutenant William Burrows, Enterprise, and Captain Samuel Blyth, Boxer, both well-known and highly respected in their services.

After repairing at Portland, Enterprise sailed in company with brig Rattlesnake, for the Caribbean. The two ships took three prizes before being forced to separate by a heavily armed ship on 25 February 1814Enterprise was compelled to jettison most of her guns in order to outsail her superior antagonist. The brig reached Wilmington, North Carolina, on 9 March 1814, then passed the remainder of the war as a guardship off Charleston, South Carolina.

Enterprise served one more short tour in the Mediterranean (July-November 1815), then cruised the northeastern seaboard until November 1817. From that time on she sailed the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, suppressing pirates, smugglers, and slaves; in this duty she took 13 prizes. An attack on Cape Antonio, Cuba in October 1821 resulted in the rescue of three vessels taken by pirates and the breaking up of an outlaw flotilla reputedly commanded by James D. Jeffers, aka Charles Gibbs. Her long career ended on 9 July 1823, when, without injury to her crew, she stranded and broke up on Little Curacao Island in the West Indies.

                      Sketch of the Intrepid as it sailed into Tripoli Harbor - September 4, 1805


NAME: Intrepid, ex-Mastico, ex-Gheretti 
TYPE: Ketch 4 (martingana)
COST: $1,800.00
CAPTURED: December 23, 1803 
COMMISSIONED: January 31, 1804
PRINCIPAL DIMENSIONS – (No known plans are known to have survived)

DIMENSIONS (found in Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships): L/Gun Deck: 60,000  Extreme Beam: 12,000 (Register of Officer Personnel and Ships Data 1801-1807, 1945, 60’ long, 12’ beacm and displacement of 64 tons. Listed as bomb ketch.

TONAGE: Congressional Measurement – 60 tons (DANFS) (40 & 2/95ths by calculation)

CHANGES: Mounted 4 guns when captured.

ACTION: 1) Believed to have participated in the Battle of the Nile as a French gunboat Gheretti.
                 2) Ex-Tripolitan ketch Mastico captured by schooner USS Enterprise (Decatur) and flagship USS Constitution on 23 December, 1804.
                 3) Lt. Stephen Decatur (of Enterprise) uses Intrepid to scuttle Philadelphia.
                 4) 1 June 1804 outfitted as a Hospital Ship
                 5) August 1804 Used as supply ships during attacks on Tripoli
                 6) 4 Sept. 1804 outfitted as fire ship, destroyed in Tripoli Harbor
DEACTIVATION/ DISPOSITION: Prematurely blew up on 4 September 1804, while entering the harbor of Tripoli as a fire-ship with the loss of all 13 hands.

                                               The Intrepid at Tripoli Harbor - 1804