Credit: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Ships That May Join the Party

The vessels participating in Homecoming 250 celebrations ably represent every major conflict that the Navy has fought, and themselves are an unprecedented gathering of Navy history for the Navy’s 250th birthday.

We also hope they can be joined by other historic ships to add extra icing on the Navy's 250th birthday cake.

For the Revolutionary War, we hope the sea-going USS Providence will be joined by a replica of the USS Philadelphia, an oared sailing ship which fought on Lake Champlain. There, Philadelphia helped hold off the British flotilla at the Battle of Valcour Island, stopping the 1776 invasion of New York from Canada. Sunk in the battle, the Philadelphia was raised in the 1930s, and became a centerpiece of the new Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. A sailing replica, the Philadelphia II, was built in 1989-91 by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) in Vermont. See The LCMM is considering sending the Philadelphia II to Philadelphia to participate in the Navy’s 250th Anniversary celebration. Alternatively, the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia is considering constructing an operating replica of the Philadelphia, as Philadelphia was defended by similar ships during the Revolution.

USS Constitution
Credit: DVIDS
USS Constellation
Credit: Shutterstock

For the War of 1812, we hope the USS Niagara, victor on the Great Lakes, will be joined by the seagoing USS Constitution, the oldest Navy vessel still in commission, which also served in the Quasi War with France, the war with the Barbary Pirates, and during the Mexican-American War. The Constitution was designed in Philadelphia, was captained by several area residents including Decatur, Rodgers, Hull, Bainbridge, Stewart, and Porter, and was in Philadelphia during the Centennial celebrations. She could be towed to participate in the Navy 250th celebration in Philadelphia, on her way visiting other historic ports such as Fall River, Newport, Groton, and New York City, building excitement for the celebrations just like the traveling Olympic Torch. We have requested that the Navy bring the Constitution to Philadelphia for the Navy’s 250th.

For the Civil War, we hope the ironclad Monitor replica can be joined by an ocean-going ship representing the sailing Union Navy. The USS Constellation was the last sail-only warship built by the Navy, and is the only floating naval vessel from the Civil War. She was towed to Philadelphia to participate in the Semiquincentennial celebrations. She is now preserved by Historic Ships in Baltimore. She could be towed to Philadelphia through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal. We are exploring whether she could be readied to come to the Navy 250th celebrations.

Liberty Ship John W. Brown
Credit: Project Liberty Ship

World War II is well represented by the USS New Jersey and the USS Becuna, but we hope they can be joined by a ship that still sails, the SS John W. Brown. One of the historic Liberty Ships which supported the Navy and Marines in World War II and beyond, the John W. Brown is preserved by Project Liberty Ship and sails out of Baltimore. We are exploring whether she too could sail to Philadelphia for both the Navy and the Marine Corps 250th celebrations.

USS Philadelphia at Battle of Valcour Island in 1776, USS Constitution vs. HMS Java in 1812, USS Constellation Stops a Slave Ship in 1860, WWII Liberty Ship in Aleutians in 1942.

Credit: Naval History & Heritage Command