A Race for Naval Superiority
— Maritime Heritage —
During the War of 1812 Sackets Harbor was the most active naval station in the United States. The U.S. and British navies were engaged in a shipbuilding competition for control of lake Ontario. Tremendous effort and money was spent, but in the end the two navies never met in a major battle on this lake.
Henry Eckford was a shipbuilding genius. Under Eckford's leadership craftsmen built at a feverish pace. He designed the ships, organized the labor force, procured the materials and supervised the work required to launch a major warship in about 35 days. Eckford completed eight warships at Sackets harbor, the most at any location during the War of 1812, and had them ready for the decisive battle that never came.
The Frigate Superior
Launched: May 1, 1814
Length: 195 feet
Sides Pierced for 64 Guns
Construction Time: 80 Days
Crew: 500 Officers, Seamen and Marines
The largest U.S. Navy warship in service during the War of 1812.
A Frantic Shipbuilding Schedule
- Oneida (pre-existing)
- Nine Schooners Purchased
- Asp, Lady of the Lake
- Sylph, General Pike
- Julia, Growler
- Jefferson, Jones
- Superior, Mohawk
- New Orleans, Chippewa, Plattsburg (under construction)
Shipyard to Boneyard
At war's end the great shipbuilding effort ceased. The incomplete 106 gun Ship-of-the-Line New Orleans
sat on the stocks until 1883 and most of the other warships were covered with a board roof to try and preserve them. By 1825 only the New Orleans
remained intact, the others had decayed and sank. Some, including the Superior,
were later demolished, some were refitted for commercial use, while the Jefferson's
remains are still buried in the mud beneath the marina to this day.