The Ships of Alabama

ed.- bumped from the fanposts, 'cause...i don't know, it's 4th of july-ish and it's cool.

By my count, there have been seven ships called USS ALABAMA (or that came really really close), and one called CSS ALABAMA.

The first USS ALABAMA never was.


USS New Hampshire (1864) was a heavy (2,633 long tons (2,675 t)) ship originally designed to be the 74-gun ship of the line Alabama, but she remained on the stocks for nearly 40 years, well into the age of steam, before being renamed and launched as a storeship and depot ship during the American Civil War. She was later renamed to USS Granite State.

As Alabama, she was one of "nine ships to rate not less than 74 guns each" authorized by Congress on 29 April 1816, and was laid down by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Maine, in June 1819, the year the State of Alabama was admitted to the Union. Though ready for launch by 1825, she remained on the stocks for preservation; an economical measure that avoided the expense of manning and maintaining a ship of the line.

Renamed New Hampshire on 28 October 1863, she was launched on 23 April 1864, fitted out as a storeship and depot ship of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and commissioned on 13 May 1864, Commodore Henry K. Thatcher in command.

The second USS Alabama was a wooden-hull sidewheel steamship briefly in the United States Navy.

Alabama was built in 1838 at Baltimore, Maryland. She apparently operated under the aegis of the War Department during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), carrying troops that participated in the capture of Veracruz, Mexico. After the close of hostilities, the War Department transferred Alabama to the Navy Department pursuant to the Act of Congress of 3 March 1849. The latter, however, found the ship "unsuitable for naval purposes" and sold her at public auction, at New Orleans, Louisiana, in October 1849. Records of her naval service (if any) have not been found.

It does not appear that she did in fact serve in the United States Navy, since her name does not appear in any contemporary listings of naval vessels, nor do any deck logs exist. She ultimately foundered, stranding on Gun Key, in the Bahamas, on 12 July 1852. Fortunately, no lives were lost in the grounding.

During the Civil War / War Between the States, both sides had a warship named "Alabama."

The USS Alabama was a 1,261 long tons (1,281 t) wooden side-wheel steamer, built at New York City in 1850 and operated thereafter in commercial service in the western Atlantic.

The U.S. Army used her as a transport during the spring and early summer of 1861, and she was purchased by the Navy at the beginning of August of that year for conversion to a warship. Commissioned as USS Alabama at the end of September 1861...

She was primarily a blockade vessel, patrolling the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, before patrolling the West Indies, later returning to blockade duty off North Carolina, supporting the attack that captured Fort Fisher, North Carolina, then operating near Hampton Roads and on the James River, Virginia, and ended the war cruising the mid-Atlantic coast.

Alabama was decommissioned at Philadelphia in mid-June 1865 and sold less than a month later. She soon resumed civilian employment, with no change in name, and remained in merchant service until destroyed by fire in 1878.

CSS Alabama was a screw sloop-of-war built for the Confederate States Navy at Birkenhead, United Kingdom, in 1862 by John Laird Sons and Company. Alabama served as a commerce raider, attacking Union merchant and naval ships over the course of her two-year career, during which she never laid anchor in a Southern port. She was sunk by the USS Kearsarge in 1864.



Initially known as hull number 290, the ship was launched without fanfare on 29 July 1862 as Enrica. Agent Bulloch arranged for a civilian crew and captain to sail Enrica to Terceira Island in the Azores. With Bulloch staying aboard to witness her recommissioning, the new ship's captain, Raphael Semmes, left Liverpool on 5 August 1862 aboard the steamer Bahama to take command of the new cruiser. Semmes arrived at Terceira Island on 20 August 1862 and began overseeing the refitting of the new vessel with various provisions, including armaments, and 350 tons of coal, brought there by Agrippina, his new ship's supply vessel. After three days of back-breaking work by the three ship's crews, the new ship was transformed into a naval cruiser, designated a commerce raider, for the Confederate States of America.
All together, Alabama conducted a total of seven expeditionary raids, spanning the globe, before heading back to France for refit and repairs and a date with destiny:
  • The CSS Alabama's Eastern Atlantic Expeditionary Raid (August–September, 1862) commenced immediately after she was commissioned. She immediately set sail for the shipping lanes southwest and then east of the Azores, where she captured and burned ten prizes, mostly whalers.
  • The CSS Alabama's New England Expeditionary Raid (October–November, 1862) began after Captain Semmes and his crew departed for the northeastern seaboard of North America, along Newfoundland and New England, where she ranged as far south as Bermuda and the coast of Virginia, burning ten prizes while capturing and releasing three others.
  • The CSS Alabama's Gulf of Mexico Expeditionary Raid (December, 1862 – January, 1863) was centered around a needed rendezvous with her supply vessel, CSS Agrippina. After that, she rendered aid to Texas during Major General Banks' invasion near Galveston, Texas. There, she quickly sank the Union side-wheeler USS Hatteras.
  • The CSS Alabama's South Atlantic Expeditionary Raid (February–July, 1863) was her most successful raiding venture, taking 29 prizes while raiding off the coast of Brazil. Here she recommissioned the bark Conrad as the CSS Tuscaloosa.
  • The CSS Alabama's South African Expeditionary Raid (August–September, 1863) occurred primarily while ranging off the coast of South Africa, as she worked together with the CSS Tuscaloosa.
  • The CSS Alabama's Indian Ocean Expeditionary Raid (September–November, 1863) was composed of a long trek across the Indian Ocean. The few prizes she gathered were in the East Indies.
  • The CSS Alabama's South Pacific Expeditionary Raid (December, 1863) was her final raiding venture. She took a few prizes in the Strait of Malacca before finally turning back toward France for a much needed refit and long overdue repairs.

Upon the completion of her seven expeditionary raids, Alabama had been at sea for 534 days out of 657, never visiting a single Confederate port. She boarded nearly 450 vessels, captured or burned 65 Union merchant ships, and took more than 2,000 prisoners without a single loss of life from either prisoners or her own crew.

After being trapped by USS KEARSARGE in Cherbourg, France

Semmes issued, through diplomatic channels, a bold challenge to the Kearsarge's commander, "my intention is to fight the Kearsarge as soon as I can make the necessary arrangements. I hope these will not detain me more than until to-morrow or the morrow morning at farthest. I beg she will not depart until I am ready to go out. I have the honor to be Your obedient servant, R. Semmes, Captain.
A little more than an hour after the first shot was fired, Alabama was reduced to a sinking wreck by Kearsarge's powerful 11-inch (280 mm) Dahlgrens, forcing Captain Semmes to strike his colors and to send one of his two surviving boats to Kearsarge to ask for assistance.


Kearsarge rescued the majority of the survivors, but 41 of Alabama's officers and crew, including Semmes, were rescued by the Deerhound, a private yacht, while the Kearsarge stood off to recover her rescue boats while waiting for Alabama to sink. Captain Winslow was forced to stand by helplessly and watch Deerhound spirit away to England his much sought after adversary, Captain Semmes and his surviving shipmates.
Perhaps the most courageous and selfless act during the Alabama's last moments involved the ship's assistant surgeon, Dr. David Herbert Llewellyn. Dr. Llewellyn, a Briton, was much loved and respected by the entire crew. During the battle, he steadfastly remained at his post in the wardroom tending the wounded until the order to abandon ship was finally given. As he helped wounded men into the Alabama's only two functional lifeboats, an able bodied sailor attempted to enter one, which was already full. Llewellyn, understanding that the man risked capsizing the craft, grabbed and pulled him back, saying "See, I want to save my life as much as you do; but let the wounded men be saved first." An officer in the boat, seeing that Llewellyn was about to be left aboard the stricken Alabama, shouted "Doctor, we can make room for you." Llewellyn shook his head and replied, "I will not peril the wounded." Unknown to the crew, Llewellyn had never learned to swim, and he drowned when the ship went down.

His sacrifice did not go unrecognized. The Confederacy awarded him posthumously the Southern Cross of Honor. In his native Wiltshire, a memorial window and tablet were placed at Easton Royal Church. Another tablet was placed in Charing Cross Hospital, where he attended medical school.

During her two-year career as a commerce raider, Alabama caused disorder and devastation across the globe for Union merchant shipping. The Confederate cruiser claimed 65 prizes valued at nearly $6,000,000 (approximately $123,000,000 in today's dollars). In an important development in international law, the U. S. Government pursued the "Alabama Claims" against the British Government for the devastation caused, and following a court of arbitration, won heavy damages.

Ironically, a decade before the beginning of the Civil War, Captain Semmes had observed:

"(Commerce raiders) are little better than licensed pirates; and it behooves all civilized nations [...] to suppress the practice altogether." --Raphael Semmes, 1851

The Alabama is the subject of a sea shanty, '"Roll Alabama, roll'":

 "When the Alabama's Keel was Laid, (Roll Alabama, roll!), 'Twas laid in the yard of Jonathan Laird (Roll, roll Alabama, roll!)

'Twas Laid in the yard of Jonathan Laird, 'twas laid in the town of Birkenhead.

Down the Mersey way she rolled then, and Liverpool fitted her with guns and men.

From the western isle she sailed forth, to destroy the commerce of the north.

To Cherbourg port she sailed one day, for to take her count of prize money.

Many a sailor laddie saw his doom, when the Kearsarge it hove in view.

When a ball from the forward pivot that day, shot the Alabama's stern away.

Off the three-mile limit in '64, the Alabama was seen no more.

USS Alabama (BB-8) was an Illinois-class pre-dreadnought style battleship in the United States Navy. She was the second ship to carry her name.


Alabama was laid down on 1 December 1896 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by the William Cramp and Sons Ship and Engine Building Company. She was launched on 18 May 1898 sponsored by Miss Mary Morgan, daughter of the Honorable John T. Morgan, United States Senator from Alabama and commissioned on 16 October 1900, Captain Willard H. Brownson in command.

 Although part of the Great White Fleet, necessary repairs prevented her from participating in the famous visit in Japan.  Never seeing battle, she served in World War I as a training vessel.

[T]he battleship was finally decommissioned on 7 May 1920. On 15 September 1921, Alabama was transferred to the War Department to be used as a target, and her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register. Subjected to aerial bombing tests in Chesapeake Bay by planes of the Army Air Service, the former warship sank in shallow water on 27 September. On 19 March 1924, her sunken hulk was sold for scrap.



The fifth USS Alabama was a patrol boat in the United States Navy, but probably never saw active naval service.


Alabama was a 69-foot motor boat built in 1906 at South Boston, Massachusetts, by George Lawley and Sons. She was inspected by the Navy in the summer of 1917. Records indicate that on 25 July 1917 the Navy concluded an agreement with her owners, the American and British Manufacturing Co., Bridgeport, Connecticut, for possible future acquisition of the boat. By the terms of that agreement, Alabama — assigned the designation SP-1052 —- was "enrolled in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve." All indications are, however, that Alabama never saw actual naval service, possibly remaining "enrolled" in a reserve capacity, since she does not appear on contemporary lists of commandeered, chartered, or leased small craft actually used by the Navy during World War I.

USS Alabama (BB-60), a South Dakota-class battleship, was the sixth completed ship of the United States Navy named for the U.S. state of Alabama, however she was only the third commissioned ship with that name.

Alabama was commissioned in 1942 and served in World War II in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. She was decommissioned in 1947 and assigned to the reserve duty. She was retired in 1962. In 1964, Alabama was taken to Mobile Bay and opened as a museum ship the following year. The ship was added to the National Historic Landmark registry in 1986.



Alabama was laid down on 1 February 1940 by the Norfolk Navy Yard, launched on 16 February 1942, and sponsored by Henrietta McCormick Hill, wife of J. Lister Hill, the senior Senator from Alabama. Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, spoke at the launching ceremony: "As Alabama slides down the ways today, she carries with her a great name and a great tradition. We cannot doubt that before many months have passed she will have had her first taste of battle. The Navy welcomes her as a new queen among her peers. In the future, as in the past, may the name Alabama ever stand for fighting spirit and devotion to a cause." Alabama was commissioned on 16 August 1942, with Captain George B. Wilson in command.

USS ALABAMA (BB-60) saw service in both the Atlantic as part of the British Home Fleet, and more famously in the Pacific, including participating in the bombardment of Saipan and the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

According to data found at the USS Alabama Monument in Mobile, Alabama, this battleship fired over 1,250 16 in (410 mm) shells on the enemy during supporting bombardments, shot down 22 enemy aircraft and never incurred any damage due to enemy action. The Alabama suffered only five casualties during the war, the result of one of the ship's guns accidentally firing on one of the ship's other guns. She did not lose a single man due to enemy action, thus earning it the nickname the "Lucky A".

USS Alabama (SSBN-731) is the sixth Ohio-class nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarine, and the sixth United States ship to be named after the state of Alabama.

The ship's motto mimics the state's motto, Audemus Jura Nostra Defendere ("We dare to defend our rights").



The contract for Alabama's construction was awarded on 27 February 1978 and her keel was laid down on 14 October 1980 at Groton, Connecticut, by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics. She was launched on 19 May 1984, sponsored by Mrs. Barbara E. Dickinson, wife of William Louis Dickinson, Representative from Alabama, and commissioned at Naval Submarine Base New London at New London, Connecticut, on 25 May 1985.
Alabama is currently part of Submarine Group 9 [Darth Saban’s Note:  USS ALABAMA (SSBN-731) is part of Submarine Squadron 17, which is part of Submarine Group 9] and her home port is at Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor.


USS Alabama wishes good luck to the Crimson Tide (via University of Alabama)

FanPosts are just that; posts created by the fans. They are in no way indicative of the opinions of SBN and the authors of Roll Bama Roll.

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