This day in Naval History: February 7th 1800, the Frigate Essex commanded by Capt. Edward Preble becomes the
“First U.S. Navy vessel to cross the Equator”.
With the United States involved in naval action against France on 6 January 1800, Essex, under the command of Captain Preble, departed Newport, Rhode Island, in company with USS Congress to rendezvous with a convoy of merchant ships returning from Batavia, Dutch East Indies. Shortly after commencement of her journey, Essex became the first US Naval Ship to cross the Equator. Congress was dismasted only a few days out, and Essex was obliged to continue her voyage alone, making her mark as the first US man-of-war to double the Cape of Good Hope, both in March and in August 1800 prior to successfully completing her convoy mission in November.
The “Shellback Ceremony” is part of a centuries old tradition that has been carried out by sailors and other maritime crew the world over commemorating a sailor’s first crossing of the equator.
Painting (L) The frigate USS Essex by Joseph Howard (1789 – 1857)
Poster Artwork (R) Trusty Shellback by – Squadron Posters!