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Alligator recognized USN's first submarine

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Postby TMSmalley » Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:53 pm

I received these two emails in the last few days... one from noted artist, naval historian and retired submariner, Jim Christley and also from Chuck Veit - president of the NMLHA and I thought I would pass it on. Tim

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Navy has recognized the 'Submarine Propeller' a.k.a. the Naval Submarine Alligator as the first submarine in the United States Navy, dating from 13 June 1862. This in no way supplants the USS Holland as the first “commissioned” submarine in the US Navy. Nor does it supplant the H. L. Hunley as the first submarine built in this country to sink an enemy ship in combat. (See the Spring issue of Undersea Warfare.)

I received a kind phone call from Admiral Deloach and a package of Undersea Warfare from Mike Smith who wrote the article and did a fine job.

My thanks to Admiral Jay Cohen USN (ret) and Admiral Jay Deloach, and Mr. Dan Basta (NOAA Marine Sanctuaries head) for spearheading this effort. And a special thanks to those intrepid seamen who pitch and roll while looking for this elusive target. It is through the wonderful dedication of Michiko, Catherine, Alice, Mike, Tim, Chuck and all the Daves that this boat is a living part of our history and not a dead footnote.

Out submarine history just keeps getting richer and more interesting.

Jim Christley


It has been some time since our research in either the historical record or under the ocean has resulted in something newsworthy, but last week that dry spell ended in a big way. As per the email sent by Jim Christley referencing an article in the recent issue of Undersea Warfare, the US Navy now officially recognizes Alligator as their first submarine. In one way, we have succeeded in finding this long-lost vessel--just over three years ago, Alligator was virtually lost to history; now it is slowly regaining its place in the records and, as Jim says, helping to enrich our naval history and make us aware of aspects of the past that until recently we had little idea ever existed.

I hope soon to be able to distribute another update with information on Brutus de Villeroi's early work in France, dating back to 1832 and his first "boat-fish" . . . Also, over the next few weeks, the Navy & Marine LHA Alligator website will be totally redesigned to accommodate new information--including the deck logs from the gunboats Port Royal and Maratanza and the supply ship Brandywine, which we hope will shed some light on Alligator's June 1862 mission up Appomattox Creek near Petersburg.

Thank you for being patient while we were all turning over rocks and pestering archivists!

Chuck Veit
President, Navy & Marine Living History Association
Tim Smalley
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