Intrepid – The Beginning


The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) was authorized by the Congressional Act of 14 June 1940. She was the fourth ship in the U.S. Navy to bear the name INTREPID and was built by the Newport News Ship-building & Dry Dock Company of Newport News, VA. Constructed in No. 10 Graving Dock, she was launched on 26 April 1943. On 16 August she was commissioned with Captain thomas L. Sprague in command.

The “Fighting I” served the Navy during three wars and was finally decommissioned on 30 March 1974 at Philadelphia and placed in the reserve fleet. She was acquired by the Intrepid Museum Foundation on 23 February 1982 and is now berthed in the Hudson River in Manhattan where she is currently serving as the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum.

The Beginning

The first INTREPID was a bomb ketch armed with four guns of unknown size. She had a length of 60′, a beam of 12′ and displaced 64 tons. Built in France in 1798 for Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition, she was subsequently sold to Tripoli and renamed MASTICO.

The MASTICO was one of several Tripolitan vessels which captured the frigate PHILADELPHIA on 31 October 1803 after running fast aground on the uncharted Kaliusa reef about five miles east of Tripoli. On 23 December 1803k while enroute from Tripoli to Constantinople, the MASTICO was taken as a prize by the schooner ENTERPRISE and frigate CONSTITUTION and renamed INTREPID.

In February 1804 the INTREPID, in company with the brig SIREN, set out to destroy the PHILADELPHIA before the Tripolitans could fit her out for use against the U.S. squadron in the Mediterranean. At 1900 hours on the evening of 16 February the INTREPID entered the harbor at Tripoli while the SIREN took up station outside the harbor to stand by for rescue or assistance.

Since the INTREPID could pass as a North African vessel, she was able to enter the4 haror unnoticed and two and a half hours later she was alongside the frigate PHILADELPHIA. The Americans, under the command of Stephen Decatur, boarded and, after a brief struggle with cutlasses and scimitars ( a backsword or sabre with a curved blade ), gained control of the frigate. The PHILADELPHIA was set ablaze and the INTREPID managed to escape during the confusion.

Because the INTREPID was able to enter the harbor at Tripoli with relative ease, the commander of the American squadron, Edward prele, decided to outfit her as a fire ship. The plan was to send the INTREPID into the harbor in the midst of the corsair fleet. The men were to set fuses and evacuate the ship where she would be blown up close under the walls of Tripoli. Conversion work was completed on 1 September and on the evening of 4 September the INTREPID, with a volunteer crew of three officers and ten men under the command of Lt. Richard Somers, entered the harbor at Tripoli. At 2130 hours, sometime before expeced, there waa a violent explosion which destroyed the INTREPID.

Commodore Preble reasoned that the Tripolitans must have suspected and boarded the INTREPID prompting the crew to blow her up to prevent the Tripolitans from seizing the valuable powder and explosives. All on board were lost.

The second INTREPID was an experimental, torpedo ram built by the Boston Navy Yard and launched on 5 March 1874. She was an iron hulled, screw steamer 170′ long, with a beam of 35′, displaced 438 tons and was armed with four 24-pound howitzers.

In August 1882, work began to convert her to a light-draft gunboat. Still unfinished, work on the conversion was suspended in 1889. A survey in 1892 found the INTREPID unserviceable and she was stricken from the Navy List and sold on 9 May 1892.

The third INTREPID, built by the Mare Island Navy Yard was launched on 8 October 1904. She was a bark-rigged sail training ship with a length of 211′, a beam of 45′ and a displacement of 1,800 tons.

After her commissioning on 16 August 1907, the steel hill bark was assigned to the Yerba Buena Training Station at San Francisco until 1912 and then became a receiving ship for that station. In 1914, the INTREPID was moved back to her birthplace a Mare Island to serve as that station’s receiving ship for about a year and a half. She then became the barracks ship for submarines F-1 through F-4 of the Pacific Fleet. In 1920, she again became the receiving ship for Mare Island until her decomissioning on 30 August 1921. The INTREPID was sold to M. Parker of San Francisco on 20 December 1921.

On 23 August 1941, the Navy acquired the hull of the ex-INTREPID from her owner at that time, the Hawaiian Dredging Company. She was placed in service as the unnamed YF 331, a non-self-propelled lighter and assigned to the 14th Naval District at Pearl Harbor. Her designation was changed to YR 42 on 7 August 1945 and she served as a sludge removal barge until placed out of service on 20 November 1945. The YSR 42, ex-INTREPID, was finally struck from the Navy List on 8 May 1946.

The fourth INTREPID (CV-11), was commissioned in August 1943, and was also known as The FightingI”. She was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy.

Source: Warship’s Data – Pictorial Histories Publishing Company



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