USS San Jacinto (1850)

Trent and San Jacinto.jpg
The San Jacinto (right) stops the RMS Trent
Union Navy Jack
Name:USS San Jacinto
Builder:New York Navy Yard
Laid down:August 1847
Launched:16 April 1850
Commissioned:late 1851/early 1852
Fate:Ran aground, 1 January 1865
General characteristics
Type:Screw frigate[1]
Length:234 ft (71 m)
Beam:37 ft 9 in (11.51 m)
Draft:16 ft 6 in (5.03 m)
Depth of hold:23 ft 3 in (7.09 m)
Propulsion:Steam engine, screw propeller
Speed:8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
Complement:235 officers and enlisted[1]
Armament:6 × 8 in (200 mm) Smoothbore guns[1]
General characteristics 1862
  • 1 × 11 in (280 mm) Smoothbore gun
  • 10 × 9 in (230 mm) Smoothbore guns
  • 1 × 12 pdr Rifle[1]
General characteristics Dec 1863
  • 1 × 100 pdr Rifle
    • 10 × 9 in (230 mm) Smoothbore guns
  • 1 × 20 pdr Rifle[1]

The first USS San Jacinto was an early screw frigate in the United States Navy during the mid-19th century. She was named for the San Jacinto River, site of the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution. She is perhaps best known for her role in the Trent Affair of 1861.

San Jacinto was laid down by the New York Navy Yard in August 1847, and launched on 16 April 1850. She was sponsored by Commander Charles H. Bell, Executive Officer of the New York Navy Yard.

European service, 1852–1854

No record of San Jacinto's commissioning ceremony has been found, but her first commanding officer, Captain Thomas Crabbe, reported aboard on 18 November 1851. The earliest page of the ship's log which has survived is dated 26 February 1852, but San Jacinto's service began earlier. Some evidence suggests that the frigate got under way for test runs late in 1851.

Built as an experimental ship to test new propulsion concepts, the screw frigate was plagued by balky engines and unreliable machinery throughout her career. Yet, San Jacinto crowded her record with interesting and valuable service.

The steamer sailed from New York on New Year's Day, 1852, and headed for Norfolk, Virginia on a trial voyage to test her seaworthiness and machinery before heading across the Atlantic for service in the Mediterranean. She encountered heavy weather during the passage to Hampton Roads, and one of her engines was disabled. After repairs at the Norfolk Navy Yard, the frigate finally passed between the Virginia Capes on 3 March and headed for Cadiz, Spain. However, chronic engine problems hampered the ship during her operations in European waters; and she returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 5 July 1853. She was decommissioned there on the 13th for installation of new machinery.

Four days after recommissioning on 5 August 1854, San Jacinto sailed eastward to try her new engines. Following repairs at Southampton, England, she resumed her cruise in European waters.

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