Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Third USS Enterprise

I'm well underway with the new book (w/t The Blackstrap Station), which takes up immediately after HMS Prometheus and completes many of the stories begun in The Scent of Corruption. It is Christmas 1803, and some of the crew of Prometheus find themselves in in a position that is hardly festive... The tale continues through the spring of 1804, and a good many well known characters are encountered, including Stephen Decatur, then the young commander of the USS Enterprise. I was busy learning more about Decatur and his command when a model of the ship came to my attention. It was being offered for sale “for collection only” and, as the seller lived only a few miles from my home, I could not resist.

She is built to 1.50th scale, making the total length less than 30 inches, including bowsprit and, with a height of 27 inches, the model is hardly large. The detail remains fine, however and, although covered in a generous layer of dust on purchase, I could tell it had been built by a master. Some weeks later I am still cleaning, but she is coming up well, as I hope the attached photographs will show.
The detail extends to the tophamper

And includes deck fittings

Note the foremast pinrail (pins are perhaps a little large!)

Enterprise was built in Baltimore at the well known Spencer yard, and launched in 1799. Her first commander was John Shaw (1773 - 1823), a native Irishman who sailed her to the Caribbean in the midst of the the Quasi-war with France. There he took eight French privateers as well as freeing eleven American traders. Command then passed to Andrew Sterett (1778-1807) who used her to capture the privateer Amour de la Patrie on Christmas Eve 1800. In June 1801 Shaw sailed her to the Barbary Coast where he took the 14 gun Tripoli, a Tripolitan corsair. After further victories, command passed to Decatur in 1803.
Quarterdeck with tiller helm

Looking forward

Further actions under different commanders saw Enterprise take a number of other prizes, including the British brig Boxer while her rig changed from that of a twelve gun schooner to a fourteen gun topsail schooner and, finally, a brig. She was eventually lost on 9th July 1823 when she stranded off Little Curacao in the West Indies; there was no loss of life.

Manning the capstan could not have been easy

In 1800 Enterprise's statistics were as follows: 165 tons with a length of 83.3 feet (keel 60'), and a 22' 6” beam. She carried a complement of 70 officers and men.

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