17th Congress.] 

No. 206.

[1st Session.



Navy Commissioner's' Office, February 2, 1822.


In reply to the call of the honorable Mr. Pleasants of the 31st ultimo, which you were pleased to refer to this Board, the Commissioners of the Navy beg leave respectfully to observe: 1st, That the number of vessels of war now belonging to the navy, under the force of a frigate, is two ships of 24 guns, four stoops of war, two small brigs, six schooners, and two gunboats. 2d, That, in the opinion of the Board, sloops of war would be the most useful small vessels that could at this time be added to the naval force; of these it will be perceived we have but very few: next to sloops of war, schooners of one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred tons would be the most desirable. 3d, That experience has abundantly taught us that it is always, in the end, far less expensive to build than to purchase vessels of war. Those which have hitherto been purchased have always necessarily undergone more or less alteration to suit them to the naval service, and, even after undergoing such alteration, have generally, if not always, been deficient in strength; and not being built altogether of the best materials, they have invariably, when taken into, the navy, been found to require extensive repairs in a short time, and ultimately, at no very distant period, to be unworthy of repairs.

The other points in Mr. Pleasants's letter will, it is presumed, be more satisfactorily answered by yourself; the commissioners have, therefore, said nothing upon them.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Smith Thompson, Secretary of the Navy.

Navy Department, February 2, 1822.


I have the honor to enclose to you a copy of a letter from the Board of Commissioners of the Navy, in reply to part of yours of the 31st of January, relative to the naval force; in addition to which I state, for the information of the naval committee of the Senate, that the vessels employed in actual service are deemed necessary to the protection of commerce at the different points to which they are ordered, viz:

The ship Franklin, of 74 guns, to the Pacific ocean, to protect an extensive whale trade and commerce in that quarter.

The frigate Constellation, to return to the United States upon the arrival of the Franklin.

The schooner Dolphin, of 12 guns, was considered necessary to accompany the Franklin in a cruise on so distant service.

The frigate Constitution, the sloop of war Ontario, and the schooner Nonesuch are cruising in the Mediterranean, to keep the Barbary Powers in check, and for the protection of our commerce in that sea. This force is smaller than has been maintained there at any time since it became necessary to have a naval force in that quarter.

The sloop of war Hornet, of 18 guns, the brigs Enterprise and Spark, of 13 guns each, and four schooners, of 12 guns each, are cruising in the West Indies and Gulf of Mexico, for the protection of trade generally, and to suppress the acts of piracy, with instructions as to the slave trade. Two gunboats are also cruising for the same purposes along the coasts of Georgia and Florida.

These vessels are occasionally in port for supplies or small repairs, and at sea again immediately.

All the foregoing are employed in the most useful manner, and none can, it is believed, be withdrawn consistently with public duty, and the protection of our citizens and property extended over those vast tracts of oceans.

The following vessels under the force of frigates are now in port:

The ship John Adams, of 24-guns, at Norfolk, receiving repairs, and may be equipped for sea at a short notice.

The ship Cyane, of 24 guns, at New York, wanting small repairs.

The ship Peacock, of 18 guns, at Washington, requiring repairs to a small extent, and might be fitted for sea in two months.

The ship Erie, of 18 guns, at New York, requires extensive repairs, which cannot be completed until the close of next autumn.

These vessels, with those before mentioned, comprise the whole naval force under frigates, as stated in the report of the Naval Board, herewith enclosed.

I am, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. James Pleasants, Jun., Chairman Naval Committee of Senate.

Navy Commissioners' Office, February 8, 1822,


The Commissioners of the Navy, in answer to your letter of the 7th instant, this moment received, have the honor to state:

That a sloop of war of six hundred tons, with her armament complete, would cost


That a brig of two hundred and fifty tons, with her armament complete, would cost


And that a schooner of one hundred and seventy-five to two hundred tons, with her armament complete, would cost $18,000 to


Supposing them to be built of the best materials, which, though a little more costly in the first instance, are ultimately the cheapest.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. James Pleasants, Jun., Chairman Naval Committee of Senate.