Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Brig Niagara

This week they are celebrating Navy Week in the City of Detroit.  They are also celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.  Since the battles on the Great Lakes represented a huge victory for the fledgling US Navy, there are two US Naval vessels touring the Great Lakes this year.  This marks the first time this has happened in 12 years.

Obviously my first ship is not a current US Navy vessel but it did play an important role in the War of 1812.
 The ship in question is the Niagara which served as the flagship of Oliver Hazard Perry's fleet on the Great Lakes.  The Niagara was built in the sheltered bay formed by Presque Isle near Erie, Pennsylvania as part of the Great Lakes fleet (not the company though).  The bay offered some protection from the British while the fleet was being built.
 The Niagara was launched on July 4th, 1813 along with another ship.  There were a few other ships constructed before the Niagara.
 One of the reasons why Presque Isle was chosen was because there was a sandbar that denied British access to the bay.  However, the draft of the Niagara was too deep and it had to be kedged out of the port.
 I'm not sure how many cannons she carried during the war but looking at the stats for similar ships, I'm going to guess about 16.
 The Battle of Lake Erie occurred on September 10th, 1813 (I hear that there may be a celebration near Put In Bay for this....I really hope there is).  At the beginning of the battle, Perry was on another ship and later transferred command to the Niagara.  It was in this ship that he lead to the American fleet to cross the t and defeat the British fleet.  This battle pretty much secured the Great Lakes for the Americans.  I think it was one of the few decisive Naval victories of the war.  It is also where the famous phrase, "We have met the enemy and he is ours" was believed to be uttered.
 These are examples of the different cannon balls.
 The crew's storage bags.  Below deck was more cramped than the Constitution.  I think this was done on purpose so that the Niagara would be lighter and have a shallower draft.  I'm going to guess this served her well on the Lakes.
 Looking down one of the cannons.
 One thing about sailing ships is the amount of rope that is used.
 This would be the flag as it was during the War of 1812.
 The current version of the Niagara was pretty much rebuilt from scratch in 1990.   There are some original parts from the old ship but not quite enough to call it the original ship.  But based on what I've read about the Constitution, it is close enough.
 I will have to admit, there is something pretty cool about seeing a sailing ship.  I've always been a fan of the Navy but it's fairly recent that I've been interested in sailing ships.  Seeing this one makes me want to go back to Boston again to catch the Constitution.
 Another view of her stern.
 Looking up at the rigging.  Somewhere, I have a model of the 1799 version of the Enterprise waiting to be built.  Looking at all this rigging makes part of me think that will never happen.
 The bow of the ship.
 Another look up at the rigging.
 Looking at the front of the ship.
Another view of the front from further away.

Like I said, it was pretty cool to see this ship.  It was even cooler to see an example of a modern ship for comparison's sake.

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