Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Short History of Ships Named Detroit

A Short History of Ships Named Detroit

Six ships of the US Navy have been named Detroit.        

The first USS Detroit, a 12-gun ship, was built by the British at Malden, Canada in 1813 and captured by the Americans during the Battle of Lake Erie 10 September 1813.  The old sailing ship actually carried 19 guns at the Battle of Lake Erie. The USN kept her in service till 1815, then scrapped her.

Another Detroit, a screw steamer, was laid down at the New York Navy Yard in 1865 but canceled in 1866 and broken up on the stocks.  The steamer Detroit never really began construction. She was cancelled as the Civil War was over and the USN was downsizing. Had the war continued, she would have been the second USS Detroit. 

The second USS Detroit was a sloop-of-war named so from 15 May to 10 August in 1869. Before and after these dates she was known as the first Canandaigua.  This ship was a mis-naming during a massive re-naming exercise by the Navy.

The third USS Detroit (C-10) was a cruiser in use from 1893 to 1904.  The first cruiser Detroit was part of the Montgomery class. That was probably the worst class of cruisers ever designed for the USN. The Detroit must have been poorly built since she went out of service so quickly in 1904 and scrapped while her sister ships lasted till 1919 and 1921.

The fourth USS Detroit (CL-8) was a light cruiser in service from 1923 to 1946.  The second cruiser Detroit was part of the Omaha class. When designed, the Omahas were state-of-the-art. When completed, they were behind the state-of-the-art and by WWII, were obsolescent. The entire class of ten ships spent most of the war on subsidiary duties as the more modern Brooklyn and.Cleveland class cruisers did the front line work.  She survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The fifth USS Detroit (AOE-4) was a fast combat support ship commissioned in 1970 and decommissioned in 2005.  I was commissioned an Ensign, US Naval Reserve on 4 June 1969.  Prior to my commissioning, while finishing my degree at Michigan State University, I began doing weekly "drills" or meetings with the Naval Reserve Public Affairs Company 9-6.  NARPAC 9-6, as she was known, was composed of a great group Naval officers, some who were WWII Naval Aviators.  One, Ms. Jean Pearson, an editorial writer for The Detroit News, was a "ferry" pilot during the war.  Other members were young Turks in their 20's, all Class A personalities with jobs in advertising, marketing and journalism.  Ken Beachler, then a direct commission Ensign, and I used to drive down to Detroit on Monday nights for a one hour meeting with the NARPAC buddies held in the Navy Recruiting offices in the old Lafayette Building.  One project we worked on was to assist in the commissioning of this ship.  Recently, I reconnected with my former skipper, LT Frank Beaumont, who was a newspaper publisher back in the 60's and 70's.  He has a photo of the CO of the USS Detroit and his wife inspecting the paper restaurant placemat we designed to promote the commissioning.  Once I have the photo, I will insert it into this blog.  The Detroit, a deep draft replenishment ship, was too large to enter the Great Lakes.  She was homeported on the West Coast, then the East Coast.  Her final homeport was in New Jersey.
This sixth USS Detroit (LCS 7) is a Littoral Combat Ship being built by Lockheed Martin’s Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wisconsin.  Her keel will be laid on 8 November 2012 and she will be commissioned in 2016.

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