The First American Overseas Operation Was To Recapture A Stolen Ship

USS Philadelphia

The first major military mission was 212 years ago, and their goal was to recover or demolish a captured U.S. military ship. The group, led by Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, was mostly Marines who secretly went into the port of Tripoli and burned the USS Philadelphia.

Dealing With Pirates

Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli made up the Barbary states, and pirates from these states were known for taking merchant vessels and using their crews as slaves or for ransom. At the time, the Americans lost the British naval protection that they were so used to.

After ships kept getting hounded, the U.S. signed a treaty with Morocco and paid tributes to Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis, but it was becoming expensive. Since paying 10 percent of the national budget in tributes was not sustainable, Congress okayed the first six U.S. NU.S.ships to be built. Unfortunately, in 1801, the United States was late in paying Tripoli.

Their response was to U.S.fter U.S. ships. President Thomas Jefferson had just been elected president, and he sent a small group to create and maintain a blockade of Tripoli. After a few skirmishes, the navy was able to keep up the blockade, and the ships were left alone.

Ship Captured

However, in October of 1803, the newly built USS Philadelphia was patrolling and ran aground, and her crew and captain were taken and held for U.S.om.

The U.S. had just captured and rechristened a small ship from Tripoli, naming it the USS Intrepid. Decatur deciU.S.d they would make it look like a merchant ship and head into the harbor. From there, the U.S. Marines would try to get the Philadelphia back, and if not, they would burn it.

The USS Syren was nearby for fire support if needed. On February 16, 1804, Sicilian volunteers piloted the boar into the harbor calling out in Arabic to not arouse suspicion from the harbormasters with Decatur and his men wearing disguises.

The Tripolitan guards were caught off-guard as the men boarded the Philadelphia with swords and boarding spikes. Many were killed or sent overboard, and the landing party did not lose a single soul.

But. the Philadelphia was no longer seaworthy, so they went to plan B and set it on fire and jumped back into the Intrepid to escape out to sea. Eventually, the U.S. was able to pay the ransom on the crew in 1805.

Sources: 1, 2

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