Five ships of the British
Royal Navy have been named HMS Essex, after the county of Essex.
The first Essex was a 60-gun ship launched in 1653 and captured
in the Four Days' Battle of 1666.
The second Essex was a 70-gun third-rate launched in 1679,
rebuilt 1700 and 1740, and wrecked at the battle of Quiberon Bay
in 1759, an 80-year-old ship by then.
The third Essex was a 64-gun third-rate launched 1760 and sold
The fourth Essex was the American sailing frigate USS Essex
captured in 1814, used as a prison ship in 1823, and sold 1837.
The fifth Essex was an armoured cruiser launched in 1901 and
The first USS Essex of the
United States Navy was a sailing frigate that participated in
the Quasi-War with France, the Barbary Wars, and in the War of
1812, during which she was captured by the British (1814).
The frigate was launched 30 September 1799 by Enos Briggs,
Salem, Massachusetts, at cost of $139,362 subscribed by the
people of Salem and Essex County. On 17 December 1799 she was
presented to the United States and accepted by Captain Edward
With the United States involved in naval action against France
on 6 January 1800, Essex, under Captain Preble, departed New
York in company with Congress to rendezvous with and convoy
merchant ships returning from Batavia, Dutch East Indies.
Shortly after commencement of her journey, Essex became the
first U. S. Naval Ship to cross the Equator. Congress was
dismasted only a few days out, and Essex was obliged to continue
her voyage alone, making her mark as the first U.S. man-of-war
to double the Cape of Good Hope, both in March and in August
1800 prior to successfully completing her convoy mission in
Captain William Bainbridge commanded Essex on her second cruise,
whereon she sailed to the Mediterranean with the squadron of
Commodore Richard Dale. Dispatched to protect American trade and
seamen against depredations by the Barbary Pirates, the squadron
arrived at Gibraltar on 1 July 1801 and spent the ensuing year
convoying American merchantmen and blockading Tripolitan ships
in their ports. Following repairs at the Washington Navy Yard in
1802, Essex resumed her duties in the Mediterranean under
Captain James Barron in August 1804. She participated in the
successful attack on the town of Derne on 27 April 1805 and
remained in those waters until the conclusion of peace terms in
Returning to the Washington Navy Yard in July, she was placed in
ordinary until February 1809 when she was recommissioned for
sporadic use in patrolling American waters and a single cruise