FFG Philadelphia: action off Tripoli

The United States dispatched a squadron to the Mediterranean with two 44-gun frigates (President and Philadelphia). Philadelphia ran aground on an uncharted reef off Tripoli on November 1, 1803, while chasing a Tripolean ship. Unable to free itself, it was beset by gunboats from Tripoli. Believing Philadelphia to be wrecked, its captain, William Bainbridge, surrendered. Tripolean forces soon refloated Philadelphia, and refitted their prize in Tripoli.

The rest of the American squadron, commanded by its energetic commodore Edwin Preble, concentrated its efforts on recovering or destroying Philadelphia. After several attempts to cut the frigate out of harbor or burn it, a party commanded by Stephen Decatur, then a lieutenant, succeeded in burning Philadelphia on February 16, 1804.

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