Granite State Stories: First American warship built in Portsmouth

  • Print of the USS Raleigh from a painting by John F. Rowe, circa 1970. N.H. Historical Society

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Preparing for war with England, the Continental Congress authorized the construction of 13 new warships in December 1775, the first ships authorized for the Continental Navy.

Portsmouth shipbuilders, already renowned, received the commission for one of those ships, the USS Raleigh.

The Raleigh was the first warship built at the shipyard of Portsmouth merchant and statesman John Langdon. Facing down the most powerful navy in the world, the Raleigh helped to disrupt British merchant shipping and captured three British ships as prizes.

In 1778, the Raleigh transported military supplies from France to New England that were desperately needed in the American fight for independence.

The Raleigh was later captured in battle by the Royal Navy and recommissioned as the HBMS Raleigh.

It is the ship depicted on New Hampshire’s state seal today.

N.H. Historical Society