U.S.S. Trenton (1876)

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U.S.S. Trenton (1876)
Builder: New York NYd[1]
Ordered: 10 February, 1873
Laid down: 28 October, 1873[2]
Launched: 1 January, 1876[3]
Commissioned: 14 February, 1877[4]
Lost: 16 March, 1889[5]
Fate: Wrecked at Apia, Samoa
U.S.S. Trenton was a screw frigate completed for the United States Navy in 1877.


Trenton was designed as an enlarged copy of the Lancaster with an increase in displacement of one-sixth. Her hull was designed by Isaiah Hanscom and built of live oak. Her engines were designed by the Bureau of Steam Engineering and contracted to Morgan Iron Works, New York City. Among her design details was an eight foot cast iron ram in her bow.[6][7]

One of the handful of major American warships laid down and completed between the end of the Civil War and the 1880s, the Trenton was laid down on 27 October, 1873 at the New York Navy Yard and launched on New Year's Day, 1876, sponsored by Miss Katherine M. Parker.


Trenton commissioned on 14 February 1877 with Captain John Lee Davis in command. Three weeks later on 8 March she departed New York for the Mediterranean, arriving at Villefranche on 18 April. The following day, Rear Admiral John L. Worden broke his flag in her, and she became flagship of the European Station.

A week after Trenton entered the Mediterranean, Russia declared war on Turkey. Consequently, Trenton and the other ships of the squadron alternated tours of duty in the eastern Mediterranean protecting United States citizens and other foreign nationals resident in or visiting Turkish possessions. On 9 May, she departed Villefranche for Smyrna and—but for a run to Salonika from 9 to 13 June with the screw sloop Marion—remained there until 25 August, when she returned to Villefranche. Next, Trenton visited Marseilles for two weeks in mid-September before steaming back to Villefranche on the 18 September, where she would remaine until Christmas Day, when she put to sea to return to the eastern Mediterranean. Reentering Smyrna on the 2 January, 1878, she showed the flag there until 16 March, when she sailed for Piraeus. On 2 April, she got underway again for Villefranche, touching at La Spezia and Leghorn in Italy en route.

On 17 July, she headed for Gibraltar and exited the Mediterranean on 24 July. She cruised north, visited Lisbon, Cherbourg, and Yarmouth before returning to the Mediterranean and reaching Villefranche in mid-October. Trenton resumed her cruises between Mediterranean ports, adding Genoa, Naples, and Tangiers to her itinerary in the spring of 1879. In June, she again headed out through the Straits of Gibraltar to visit Portsmouth, Terneuzen, Antwerp, and Copenhagen. She was back at Villefranche late in September. In mid-November, she sailed to Gibraltar and waited there until 7 December for Constellation to arrive with Trenton's replacement crew. The warship remained in the western Mediterranean until early April 1880.

On the 3d, she headed east once more. After stops at Naples and at Alexandria, Egypt, the warship began cruising the Aegean again. She visited Smyrna, Tenedos, and Chamak Kelessi in Turkey as well as Piraeus before returning to Villefranche on 25 May. After a visit to Marseilles on 7 June, the flagship left the Mediterranean for the third time during this deployment and made another cruise to English, Belgian, and Dutch ports.

Trenton returned to the western Mediterranean in August and operated there until 7 September, 1881 when she sailed for the United States. She arrived in Hampton Roads on 12 October and, three days later, moved up the York River for the Yorktown centennial celebration. On 22 October Trenton departed Yorktown and the following day arrived at the New York Navy Yard where she was decommissioned on 9 November.

Reactivated on 18 September 1883, Trenton departed New York in November for duty on the Asiatic Station. Steaming via the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, Ceylon, and Singapore, she arrived at Hong Kong on 1 May 1884 to begin two years of cruising in the Far East. She visited ports in China, Korea, and Japan, carrying out various displomatic missions. On occasion, Trenton sent landing parties ashore in China and Korea to protect American nationals and other foreigners during periods of internal unrest. She completed this tour of duty in the spring of 1886 and departed Yokohama on 9 May to retrace her voyage across the Indian Ocean, through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, and across the Atlantic to reach Hampton Roads on 2 September. She entered the Norfolk Navy Yard on 9 September and was decommissioned for repairs on 17 November.

On 16 May, 1887, she was placed in commission once again. On 25 July, she exited Hampton Roads and headed south for Brazil. En route, Trenton stopped at St. Vincent in the Windward Islands and entered Rio de Janeiro on 10 September for a fortnight visit. After touching at St. Thomas on the return voyage, she dropped anchor in New York harbor on 3 November.

Almost three months later, on 30 January 1888, Trenton sailed for the Pacific. The voyage took her more than a year to complete, for she had to steam around Cape Horn at the southern end of South America. After stops at Panama and Tahiti, the warship reached Apia, Samoa, on 10 March, 1889 and joined other units of the Pacific Squadron. Six days later, while still at anchor in Apia harbor, Trenton was wrecked by a hurricane. Before abandoning ship, however, her crew assisted in the rescue of the Vandalia's ship's company. Trenton was declared a total loss, and her name was struck from the Navy list on 13 April, 1891.


Dates of appointment are provided when known.



As Completed

  • eleven 8-inch muzzle-loading rifles
  • two 20-pounder breach-loading rifles


  • ten 8-inch muzzle-loading rifles
  • two 20-pounder breach-loading rifles


  • ten 8-inch muzzle-loading rifles

See Also


  1. Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. p. 71.
  2. Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. p. 71.
  3. Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. p. 71.
  4. Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. p. 71.
  5. Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. p. 71.
  6. Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. p. 71.
  7. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 126.
  8. Records of Living Officers (6th ed). p. 33.
  9. Records of Living Officers (6th ed). p. 33.
  10. Records of Living Officers (6th ed). p. 49.
  11. Records of Living Officers (6th ed). p. 49.
  12. Register of Officers, 1887. p. 6.
  13. DANFS - Farquahr
  14. Bauer and Roberts. Register of Ships. p. 71.


  • Chesneau, Robert; Kolesnik, Eugene (editors) (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). The U.S. Navy Warship Series: Civil War Navies, 1855-1883. New York: Routledge.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (2006). The U.S. Navy Warship Series: The New Navy 1883-1922. New York: Routledge.

Screw Frigate U.S.S. Trenton