Franklin D Roosevelt Library
The President's Secretary's File (PSF), 1933-1945
Box 60
Folder: Navy Dept, Jan-July 1944

Navy Dept Folder



June 19, 1944

                              ADMIRAL BROWN

When do these new carriers get launched?


Memorandum for the Secretary of the Navy from Rear Admiral L.E. Denfeld, sent to the President by Admiral Brown. Carbon of the memorandum has been retained for our files.


June 13 1944.

                                          MISS TULLY.

The President probably will wish to consider this at his leisure.

Perhaps he will want to select an appropriate name from the battle of June 6th when we give it a names to the beaches.


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12 June 1944


To:                          The Secretary of the Navy

This memorandum makes certain recommendations concerning names for the three aircraft carriers, large, (CVB) scheduled to be launched in December 1944 and May and September 1945.

As you know, in accordance with the present policy, carriers are named for famous ships formerly on the Navy list and important battles of the present or past wars. Suitable names of the more important battles, with the exception of battles of the Civil War, have been exhausted and the remaining available names are, in my opinion, of lesser stature then LEXINGTON, VALLEY FORGE, BELLEAU WOOD, TARAWA, and other names of this caliber now assigned to carriers.

However, there remain, among others, these names of famous old ships which are recommended for assignment to the CVB's:


The name CONSTITUTION is now assigned to the original vessel which is technically in commission as IX-21 but is in reality a Naval relic. If the name is to be used for a CVB the name of the the relic may be changed to OLD CONSTITUTION. The name of this vessel was changed in this manner in 1917 when the name CONSTITUTION was assigned to a new battle cruiser. However, subsequent to 1923, when the contract for the construction of this cruiser was cancelled in accordance with the treaty on limitation of Naval armaments, the name CONSTITUTION reverted to the original vessel. In accordance with this precedent the the name OLD CONSTITUTION may again be assigned to the original vessel in the event you desire to use CONSTITUTION for a CVB.

It is suggested that you obtain the President's approval in view of his interest in the naming of ships.


1. Historical data concerning U.S.S. CONSTITUTION.
2. Historical data concerning U.S.S. UNITED STATES.
3. Historical data concerning U.S.S. CONGRESS.

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Copy rmd

Transcript of Service of the U.S.S. CONSTITUTION.


March 27

Law approved by the President of the United States authorizing the construction of six frigates.


Keel laid at Hart's shipyard in Boston. Designed by Naval Constructor Joshua Humpreys and built under the supervision of George Claghorne and Mr. Hartley of Boston. Captain Samuel Nicholson was detailed as inspector. Cost when complete was $302,718.84.


March 7

Commission as Captain and Commander of the Frigate CONSTITUTION transmitted to Samuel Nicholson.

Sept. 20

First attempt to launch her ended in failure.


Stars and Stripes first raised over her.

Sept. 22

Second attempt to launch her ended in failure.

Oct. 21

Third attempt to launch her ended successfully.


May 5

Captain Nicholson ordered to repair on board and fit her for sea.

July 22

At 8 P.M. took her departure from Boston, Captain Nicholson in command.

Sept. 9

Captured the privateer NIGER of 24 guns and 70 men and brought her into Norfolk, Va.

Dec. 5

Ordered to join the force under the command of Captain Barry in the West Indies.


Jan. 16

Recaptured a British ship, the SPENCER, from the French Frigate INSURGENTE.

May 11

Arrived at Boston from the San Domingo station.

May 28

Captain Nicholson detached and Captain Silas Talbot ordered to command.

July 23

Left Boston for the West India station as the flag-ship of Captain Talbot with Isaac Hull as 1st. Lieutenant and a crew of 400 officers and men.



Recaptured a Hamburg vessel, bound home from Calcutta, from the French, and sent her into New York.


May 11

Captured the ship SANDWICH, Lieut. Hull with a few men went into the harbor of Port Platte in the SALLY and cut her out.

Aug. 25

Arrived at Boston from the San Domingo station.

Nov. 18

Ordered back to San Domingo.


Mar. 3

Ordered to return to Boston and to hold herself in readiness for sea.

1801, July to
1803, June

Repairing at Boston.


Sept. 21

Resignation of Captain Talbot accepted. Lieut. Hull put in charge. Later he was succeeded by Nathaniel Haraden.


May 14

Captain Edward Preble ordered to command the CONSTITUTION and to fit her for sea.

Aug. 14

Sailed for the Mediterranean as flag-ship of Preble.

Sept. 7

Boarded the Moorish frigate MAIMONA bound to Lisbon.

Sept. 13

Arrived at Gibraltar 29 days from Boston.

Dec. 23

Captured a Turkish ketch MASTICO with 70 Tripolines on board.


Feb. 16

U.S.S. PHILADELPHIA destroyed in harbor of Tripoli.

July 14

Sailed for the siege of Tripoli with 2 bomb vessels, 6 gunboats, and the NAUTILUS and ENTERPRISE in company.

July 25

Anchored in sight of Tripoli.

Aug. 3

Attacked the town and harbor and captured 3 gunboats.

Aug 7.

Attacked the batteries.

Aug. 26

Bombarded Tripoli.

Sept. 3

Made a general attack on the town and harbor.

Sept. 10

Preble relinquished the command.

Sept. 12

Captured 2 Greek ships in sight of Tripoli for breach of blockade.

Sept. 14

Sailed for Malta where Preble left her to return to the United States.

Sept. 24

Captain Stephen Decatur ordered to command.

Nov. 6

Captain Decatur detached. Commodore John Rodgers took command.


May 22

Commodore Rodgers made her his flag-ship.

June 3

Peace with Tripoli signed on board.


May –

Commodore Rodgers relinquished command to return to the United States.

May 30

Captain Hugh G. Campbell took command.


Oct. –

Arrived at Boston from the Mediterranean.

Nov. 10

Left Boston for New York where she was dismantled and out of commission for 2 years.

Dec. 8

Captain Campbell detached from command.


Feb. 2

Commodore John Rodgers ordered to New York to prepare her for sea.

Feb. 20

Commodore Rodgers arrived on board.

Aug. 9

Became the flag-ship of Commodore Rodgers on the Home Station.

Oct. 24

Put to sea from New York.


Mar. 12

Back in New York harbor.

May 2

Sent into New York the GOLCONDA of New York and the ROSE of Philadelphia for violation of the non-intercourse law, both having British goods on board.

June 17

Commodore Rodgers transferred his broad pennant to the U.S.S. PRESIDENT.

June 17

Captain Isaac Hull took command and sailed for Boston.

July 14

Left Boston.


At New London, Connecticut.



At Annapolis, Md., waiting to set sail for France.

Aug. 5

Left Annapolis with Joel Barlow, new minister to France, and family on board. Also carried out money to pay the interest on our debt to Holland.


Feb. 19

Arrived at Hampton Roads, Va.

Apr. 6

Arrived at the Washington Navy Yard for overhauling.

June 20

Declaration of war read on board.

June 21

Left Washington to join squadron of Commodore Rodgers at New York.

July 17-20

Escaped from a British squadron of five ships off New York by good management and superior seamanship.

July 28

Arrived at Boston.

Aug. 2

Put to sea from Boston without orders.

Aug. 11

Captured and burned the British brig LADY WARREN in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Aug. 12

Captured and burned the brig ADEONA in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Aug. 16

Recaptured the brig ADELINE, a prize to the enemy, off Cape Race, and ordered her into Boston.

Aug. 19

Captured H.B.M.S. GUERRIERE of 49 guns and 280 men. She was too much cut up to send into port so Captain Hull ordered her burned.

Aug. 30

Arrived at Boston.

Sept. 15

Captain Hull gave up the command. Captain William Bainbridge took command.

Oct. 28

Sailed from Boston.

Nov. 9

Captured the brig SOUTH CAROLINA and sent her into Philadelphia.

Dec. 29

Captured H.B.M.S. JAVA off San Salvador with valuable mail and passengers on board. Burnt her.


Feb. 28

Arrived at Boston. Sent to the Navy Yard for overhauling.

July 18

Captain Charles Stewart ordered to her command.

Dec. 30

Put to sea.


Feb. 14

Captured ship LOVELY ANN laden with fish, flour, and lumber. Sent her into Barbadoes as a prize.

Feb. 15

Captured H.B.M.S. PICTOU on the coast of Guiana.

Feb. 18

Captured and sunk the schooner PHENIX laden with lumber.

Feb. 19

Captured and sunk brig CATHARINE on coast of Guiana.

Apr. 3

She was chased into Marblehead by the British frigates JUNON and TENEDOS. Went around to Boston where she was blockaded by the enemy for 8½ months.

Dec. 17

Left Boston on her fifth cruise during the War of 1812.

Dec. 24

Captured the British merchant ship LORD NELSON, laden with spirits, off Bermuda. Took out a part of her cargo and scuttled her.


Feb. 16

Captured ship SUSANNAH, laden with hides, etc., and valued at $73,000, off Lisbon. Sent her into New York.

Feb. 20

Captured H.B.M.Ships CYANE and LEVANT off Madeira.

May 15

Arrived at New York.

July 16

Captain Stewart detached.


Out of commission at New York.


April 1

Captain Jacob Jones took command.

May 13

Left New York as the flag-ship of Captain Jacob Jones who was to command the Mediterranean Squadron.


May 20

Arrived at New York, 39 days from Gibraltar.

May 31

Captain Jones Detached. Captain Thomas MacDonough ordered to command.

Oct. 30

Left New York for the Mediterranean.

Nov. 24

Arrived at Gibraltar. Flagship until arrival of Commo. John Rodgers April 29, 1825 in the NORTH CAROLINA.


Oct. 20

Captain MacDonough detached because of ill health.

Oct. 21

Captain Daniel T. Patterson assigned to command.

Nov. 30

Detached to BRANDYWINE. Again in command Feb. 20, 1826.


May 30

Left Gibraltar.

July 2

Arrived at Boston, 33 days from Gibraltar.

July 19

Placed out of commission.

July 26

Captain Patterson detached.

It was at this period in the life of the CONSTITUTION that it was recommended that she be broken up but she was saved by public sentiment aroused by the poem of Oliver Wendell Holmes.


June 24

Placed on dry dock at Boston.


Mar. 3

Commodore Jesse D. Elliot took command and sailed for New York soon after.

Mar. 16

Left New York for France to bring home the Minister and family.

June 23

Arrived at New York with Mr. Livingston and family.

Aug. 19

Left New York for the Mediterranean as the flag-ship of Commodore Elliott.

Nov. 8

Arrived at Athens, Greece. (Otto, King of Greece, and staff visited the ship while here.)


July 30

Arrived at Corfu. (Sir Howard Douglas, Lord High Commissioner, the President and Council of the Ionian Island, visited the ship at this place.)

Oct. 2

Arrived at Alexandria, Egypt. (Mahomet Ali, Viceroy of Egypt, and suite visited ship while here.)


Jan. 4

Arrived at Lisbon, Portugal. (English, French, Danish and Belgian ambassadors visited ship here.)

June 15

Arrived at Athens, Greece. (Their Majesties, the King and Queen of Greece, visited ship at this place.)

Aug. 11

Arrived at Beirout. (Here two ancient sarcophagi, or marble tombs, were brought on board. Supposed to be 1400 years old.)


July 31

Arrived at Hampton Roads, Va. Placed out of commission.

Aug. 18

Commodore Elliott detached from command.


Mar. 1

Recommissioned at Norfolk, Va.

Mar. 12

Commodore Alexander Claxton assumed command. To be flag-ship of the Pacific Squadron.

Mar. 12

Captain Daniel Turner reported on board as commander.

April 11

Left Norfolk for New York.

May 20

Left New York for a cruise in the Pacific.


Mar. 7

Commodore Claxton died on board and Captain Turner assumed command of the Squadron.

Oct. 31

Arrived at Hampton Roads, Va.


June 22

Special service with the Home Squadron, Captain Foxhall A. Parker in command. (Employed in the West Indies watching for pirates and slavers.)


Feb. 16

Arrived at Norfolk, Va., where she was laid up.

Oct. 13

Captain John Percival appointed to command.


Mar. 26

Recommissioned for special duty in the Orient.

Apr. 17

Left Norfolk.

May 30

Left New York. Carried Henry A. Wise, our Minister to Brazil, and family to Rio de Janeiro. On this cruise the CONSTITUTION visited Madeira, Rio de Janeiro, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sumatra, Singapore, Borneo, China, Manila, Hawaii, Monterey, Valparaiso, Chile, passed around Cape Horn and stopped at Rio de Janeiro again on her way to Boston. She sailed in all 52,279 miles and circumnavigated the globe.


Oct. 5

Placed out of commission and not in service again for nearly two years.


Aug. 31

Captain John Gwinn ordered to command.

Dec. 9

Left Boston for the Mediterranean where she became the flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron.


Aug. 2

Visited by His Holiness, the Pope, and the King of Naples at Gaeta, Italy.

Sept. 4

Captain Gwinn died.

Sept. 18

Captain Thomas A Conover succeeded to the command.


Jan 11.

Arrived at New York from the Mediterranean where she was employed in the protection of our commerce. Placed out of commision.


Oct. 26

Commander John Rudd ordered to command.


Mar. 2

Left New York as the flag-ship of the African Squadron Commodore Isaac Mayo on board. Carried Colonel Nicholson out as consul to Tunis.

Mar. 23

Arrived at Gibraltar, 21 days from New York. Visited Mediterranean ports and departed for the coast of Africa for the purpose of capturing vessels engaged in the slave trade.

Nov. 3

Captured and sent home an American schooner called the H.N. Gambrill at Kabenda.

While on the African coast Commodore Mayo was able to do much for the promotion of peace between the tribes and thus to further the welfare of the whites on that coast.


Apr. 1

To sail for Portsmouth, N.H.

Apr. 23

Changed his course for Havana, Cuba, upon hearing that the American forces were being mobilized there.

June 2

Arrived at Portsmouth, N.H.

June 14

Placed out of commission. (This cruise ended the active service of the CONSTITUTION for steam was fast replacing sails in the Navy.)


Aug. 1

Placed in commission under the command of Lieut.-Commander David D. Porter and transferred to the Naval Academy.


Apr. 26

Left Annapolis for Newport, R.I., with officers and midshipmen on board. Here she was used as a training ship for midshipmen during the Civil War.


Aug. –

Left Newport for Annapolis under command of Lieut.-Commander P.C. Johnson.


Training ship for midshipmen at Annapolis. Commanded by Lieut.-Commanders E.P. Lull, 1861-1863; P.C. Johnson, 1864-1866; T.H. Eastman, 1867; George Dewey, 1868, and H.L. Howison, 1871.


During this year she made her last cruise to a foreign shore. She sailed March 4th with the American exhibit to the Universal Exposition at Paris. She reached France in April and waiting nearly nine months to carry our exhibit back to the United States. Captain Oscar C. Badger was in command.


Jan. 16

Left Havre, France.

May 24

Back at New York


Again in use as a training ship cruising from the West Indies to Halifax, Nova Scotia.


In ordinary at New York.


At Portsmouth, N.H. During part of this period she was used as a training ship.


Oct. 21

Participated in the celebration of her one hundredth birthday anniversary at Boston, Mass. Placed in ordinary after the celebration.


Anchored in Boston Navy Yard and used as a Naval Museum.


Congress authorized her restoration and a campaign was launched to raise the money by private contributions. Much of the money was given by the school children of the country.


July 1

Recommissioned at Boston, Mass. in the presence of a distinguished company and to the accompaniment of a 21-gun salute.

July 2

Sailed from Boston under command of Commander Louis J. Gulliver. She visited 90 ports on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, going as far south as Balboa, Canal Zone in January 1933 and as far north on the Pacific Coast as Bellingham, Washington, in July 1933. She was visited by 4,614,762 people.


May 7

Returned to Boston, Mass. Where she is at present maintained as “in service, not commissioned” at a permanent mooring accessible to visitors. (Aug. 1936).

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The frigate United States, 44 guns, was built at Philadelphia. Launched May 10, 1797, being the first vessel launched under the new organization of the Navy.

In July, 1798, under command of Captain John Barry, and accompanied by the U.S.S. DELAWARE, Captain Decatur, and the U.S.S. HERALD, Captain Sever, sailed from Philadelphia for the West Indies where Barry's squadron was increased to ten vessels. In the autumn, the UNITED STATES and DELAWARE captured the SANS PAREIL and LE JALOUX, French privateers. In 1799 she captured privateers L'AMOUR DE LAPATRIE, LE TARTUFFE, and LE BONAPARTE. In November she carried American commissioners to France to negotiate for peace.

In 1810, Stephen Decatur, Jr., hoisted his broad pennant for the first time as commodore on the UNITED STATES. In June 1812, she joined the squadron of Commodore John Rodgers. On October 11, 1812, she captured the MANDARIN and on October 25, captured the British Frigate MACEDONIAN, after a sharp action off the Canary Islands.

September, 1815, Flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron which sailed to Algiers under Commodore Bainbridge for the purpose of making a treaty of peace. In 1818 she was in the Mediterranean; 1824-27, cruising in the Pacific under Captain Isaac Hull; 1832-34, in the Mediterranean under Commodore J.B. Nicholson; 1835-38, in the Mediterranean under J. Wilkinson; 1839-1840, Home Squadron, Captain Lawrence Kearney; 1842, Flagship of Pacific Squadron, Captain T. ap C. Jones. From 1846 to 1848 commanded by Captain John Smoot, was attached to the Mediterranean and African Squadron. Laid up at Norfolk Navy Yard in 1849 where she remained until 1862.

She was at the Norfolk Navy Yard when it was abandoned by the Union Forces April 20, 1861. She was taken possession of by the Confederates and provided with a battery for harbor defense.

When the Confederates evacuated Norfolk in May, 1862, she was sunk in the Channel, a very difficult task. It is stated that a whole box of axes was destroyed without cutting through her sides, and it was not until boring through from the inside was undertaken that she was finally sunk. She was raised when the Federals took possession of the Norfolk Yard and broken up in 1865.

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Ship, 28 guns. Built at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1776. Destroyed in North River in 1777, to prevent her falling into the hands of the British, when Gen. Clinton got possession of the Highlands.


Galley, 8 guns (6 to 8 pounders), 16 swivels, 80 men. Flagship of Gen. Benedict Arnold in the fleet action on Lake Champlain, 1776. Burnt at Crown Point to prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy, after a long running fight, October 13, 1776, following the fleet action.


Ship, 36 guns, 340 men, 1628 tons. Built at Portsmouth, N.H., 1799.

1804-1805, participated in operations against the Barbary States.

1812-1813, cruising in the Atlantic; captured 5 British merchant vessels. The entire crew of one of the prizes voluntarily entered the service of the United States.

1836, broken up at Norfolk.


U.S.S. CONGRESS, a 44-gun frigate of 1867 tons, built at Portsmouth, N.H. in 1839-1841. She served in the Mediterranean in 1842-43, and in the Brazil Squadron in 1844-45.

In the Mexican War under Captain Robert F. Stockton she arrived in California soon after the capture of Monterey. Stockton succeeded to the command of the Squadron and undertook a vigorous campaign to conquer California. In this the CONGRESS took a very active part. A large proportion of her crew served on shore in various campaigns, including the final one in which Los Angeles was captured. In this conquest of California, much the greater proportion of those serving on shore were naval personnel under command of Stockton, with the CONGRESS as his flagship. The CONGRESS remained in the Pacific, where her crew was employed ashore, until August 1848, when she was ordered to return to the U.S., under command of Captain E.A.F. Lavallette, arriving at Norfolk, January 29, 1849.

The CONGRESS arrived home from the Brazil Squadron in 1861. On September 9 proceeded to Hampton Roads, and was stationed off Newport News. On March 8, 1862 she was sunk at Hampton Roads in the engagement with the C.S.S. VIRGINIA (MERRIMACK). In September, 1865, she was raised, docked at Norfolk and subsequently sold.


This CONGRESS was a steam sloop-of-war of sixteen guns and tonnage of 2000. She was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1870.

She participated in the Polaris Expedition in 1871.

After her return to New York, Vice Admiral S.C. Rowan, who had been appointed to give the visiting Russian Squadron a proper reception hoisted his flag on board her. She was used by him from October 7th to Dec. 23rd.

In 1876 took part in opening the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia.

Sold in 1883.