The History of Ships Named Louisiana

By: Leslie Adams

The military submarine USS LOUISIANA (SSBN 743) is the 4th United States Naval vessel to be named in honor of the 18th state admitted to the union, and is the 18th and last of the Trident Submarines to be commissioned into the United States Navy.

The first ship named LOUISIANA, a sloop built in the shipyards of New Orleans in 1812, played a key role in the defense of the city of New Orleans during the War of 1812. From Dec. 23, 1814 to Jan. 8, 1815, the sloop ship LOUISIANA pounded the advancing redcoats, providing essential naval gunfire for General Jackson's troops. When the British troops advanced far up river and beyond the range of the very effective cannon fire of the sloop LOUISIANA, the ship's crew did not let the reduction of wind slow down their support of their fellow countrymen. Crew members went ashore with long mooring lines and pulled their sloop up the river against the currents of the raging Mississippi to re-engage the enemy. The LOUISIANA was credited with playing a key role in the victory over the British and keeping the valuable seaport of New Orleans in American control.

The second ship named LOUISIANA, a side wheel steamship, was commissioned in August of 1861. It was originally posted to the Union's North Atlantic Blockading Squadron, and the LOUISIANA operated along the Coast of Virginia against Confederate blockades. The steamship LOUISIANA was integral in the defense of Washington, D.C. in Dec. of 1862, where Maj. Gen. John J. Foster noted in his cruise journal that LOUISIANA "had rendered most efficient aid, throwing their shells with great precision, and clearing the streets, through which her guns had range." The ship was later was involved in many engagements off the coast and in the rivers of the State of North Carolina. The second LOUISIANA was sacrificed to the sea on Christmas Eve, 1864, when she was towed, stripped of essentials, and packed with explosives, to the base of Ft. Fisher in Wilmington, North Carolina, and detonated in an effort to completely destroy the fort without much loss of life. The huge explosion had little effect, and it required Union forces many more weeks to capture this essential Confederate stronghold.

The US Navy battleship LOUISIANA (BB- 19) was the t3rd ship to carry the name. She was commissioned on June 2, of 1906, and the LOUISIANA was soon called on to serve, and was sent to Havana on a Peace Commission at the request of the National Cuban president for help in putting down an insurrection. In Nov. of 1906, the LOUISIANA carried President Theodore Roosevelt for a cruise to inspect the ongoing construction and progress of the great Panama Canal. On December 16, 1907, LOUISIANA left Hampton Roads along with 15 other Battleships as the "Great White Fleet", and embarked on an around the world cruise by then President Teddy Roosevelt as a means of warning against hostile action toward the United States of American and positioning America to the world as a global naval power to be reckoned with. This cruise served a duration of a little more than a year, and the fleet returned to Hampton Roads in Feb of 1909. The LOUISIANA later saw duty in World War One as a training ship and later as a convoy escort. A collection of the silver service from the battleship is on display, proudly, on board the submarine LOUISIANA.

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