Next to the much-beloved frigate Constitution, the old ship of the line Granite State is the oldest vessel in the navy on the active list.
Quite singular and interesting are the facts in connection with the construction of this old craft. Like the Constitution, the Granite State is a New England product. The former was built at Boston and the latter at Portsmouth, N. H., by the government. Just after the Constitution made history by her famous engagement with the frigate Guerriehe in the war of 1812. congress decided in favor of a bigger navy, expecting a prolonged war with Great Britain. Plans inained in the stocks, but when she was launched on • Ian. 23, 18G4, she was of little use as a fighting ship.
Another notable circumstance connected with her was that on October 28, 1863, a few months before her launching her name was changed from Alabama to New Hampshire. This was due to the fact that the state of Alabama has seceded from the Union and had espoused the cause of the confederacy. Changing her name gave another New England state a proper representation in the navy.
A few months after the New Hampshire was launched were mado for the construction of a number of ships ready to meet the emergency. One of these was the Alabama, now the Granite State.
The war having ended in 1815, the rush was over. Plans for the contemplated ships were already made, however, and early in the year 1810 work was commenced on the Alabama. Just 45 years later the famous ship of the line was launched. This undoubtedly is a unique incident in the history of the United States navy.
Why was one-half of her career spent on dry land?
First, appropriations for the navy had become exhausted; second, there was no necessity for a big navy, the nation being at peace nearly 50 years, except for the Mexican- war.
Care was taken of the old Alabama, while she reshe was tted out for a year's cruise and went to sea on June 15, 1864, four days before the famous fight between the Kearsarge and the confederate shop Alabama. From the latter part of 1864 up to 1866 the New Hampshire was used as a storeship, attached to the South Atlantic blockading squadron at Port Royal. From 1867 to 1875 she was used as receiving ship at the Norfolk navy yard. In 1877 she was again assigned to duty as a storeship at Port Royal and remained there until 1881.
In 1882 she went to Newport, R. I., and for the next eight years was used as a, training and receiving ship for boys. For the next two years she was stationed at New London, Conn., as a receiving ship. Her final assignment was in 1803, when she was turned over to New York state for the use of the naval militia. There she remained until a few weeks ago, when se was succeeded by the cruiser Newark.
In 1903, when the 10,000-ton battleship New Hampshire was authorized by congress, naval officials deemed it unwise to have two ships in the navy bearing the same name. On Nov. 30, 1904, the name of the old New Hampshire was changed to Granite State, this being the third name given her.
The Granite State is 196 feet 3 inches in length, 53 feet in width, with a mean draft of 25 feet 6 inches. She was originally of 2Goo tons displacement and carried 15 guns.
Today she is a fine old hulk of a type famous at the time of the beginning of her construction. She is still sound for inshore cruising. Since she was loaned by the government to the New York naval militia certain enlistd men have been attached to her as caretakers. As she stands today, without any assignment, she is in danger of being discarded from the active list of vessels and sold for junk. Interest, however, will be taken in her by Admiral Dewey and other leading naval officers, who believe in the preservation of these old hulks as naval museums. No craft ever built for the navy, it is believed, has ever had as odd a career in the navy as the Granite State.