USS Enterprise (1779)

Enterprise (left) capturing the Tripolitan corsair Tripoli 1 August, 1801. Original drawn by William Hoff, in the collection of the US Navy.

Ship Class
Ship Type

Launched in 1799, USS Enterprise was a 14-gun schooner, displacing 165 tons. She quickly saw action in the Quasi War with France, departing for the Caribbean in December, 1799. Over the next year, Enterprise captured eight French privateers, and retook eleven American merchant ships from the French. She was considered for disposal in 1801, but her record during the Quasi-War made her retainment certain. Enterprise was dispatched to the Mediterranean that year, to help counter the Barbary pirates, and captured the corsair ship Tripoli on 1 August. During the Barbary Wars, Enterprise would prove to be a major thorn in the side of the Tripolitans, coming to a head in 1803 under the Command of Stephan Decatur. Enterprise assisted in the capture of a ketch, which was renamed USS Intrepid, and Decatur and crew from Enterprise used the new ship to sneak into Tripoli and burn the captured frigate Philadelphia. Enterprise remained in the Mediterranean until 1807, when she returned home. Re-rigged as a brig in 1812, she captured the brig HMS Boxer on 5 September, 1813, and hunted British shipping in the Caribbean. After the War of 1812 ended, Enterprise returned briefly to the Mediterranean, then spent most of her time back in the Caribbean, hunting pirates in the region. She was stranded on Little Curacao Island, on 9 July, 1823, and broke up in the surf.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: This was the third ship to bear the name USS Enterprise, out of a current total of nine.