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This Month in Naval History
Sea Gull I SwGbt

Sea Gull I
(SwGbt: t. 150; a. 5 guns)

Sea Gull, built as the river steamer Enterprise by the Connecticut Steam Boat Company, Hartford, Conn., was launched in November 1818 and made her first trial run in July 1819. She was purchased by the Navy in December 1822 for use as a shallow water vessel operating against pirates along the coast of Cuba. Renamed Sea Gull, she was the second steamship of the United States Navy and the first to serve actively as a warship.

After the gunboat had been outfitted with sails, Lt. John C. Newton commanded her during her passage to Norfolk where, on 14 February 1823, Lt. William H. Watson assumed command. She then proceeded to Santo Domingo to join Commodore David Porter's West Indies Squadron. During May 1823 she served as guard vessel at Thompson's Island. On 13 September 1823, at Key West, Lt. Watson died, and Lt. Ralph Voorhees took command.

In September 1823, Porter returned to Washington in the Sea Gull, arriving in 43 days. She underwent repairs at the Washington Navy Yard from 25 October to 30 December 1823.

She returned to the West Indies in February 1824 where, on 30 March, Lt. Voorhees reported the recapture of the schooner Pacification by Sea Gull. During April and May, with Lt. Jesse Wilkinson in command, she participated in an expedition along the coast of Cuba in search of pirates.

In June, Commodore Porter returned to Washington in Sea Gull, making the trip in nine days. In July 1824 Lt. Isaac McKeever assumed command and returned to the West Indies whence Sea Gull patrolled until March 1825. At this time, with the barge Gallinipper she joined the British frigate Dartmouth and two armed British schooners in a raid on a pirate vessel. The operation resulted in the death of eight pirates and the capture of 19.

Sea Gull continued to operate with the squadron until July 1825, when she was ordered to return to the east coast. She was subsequently surveyed, found unfit for further sea duty, and fitted out as a receiving ship at Philadelphia. There she served until she was sold in 1840.


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