USS Ontario (1813)

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Name: USS Ontario
Builder: Thomas Kemp, Baltimore, Maryland
Laid down: 1813
Fate: Sold 15 July 1856
General characteristics
Type: Sloop-of-war
Displacement: 509 long tons (517 t)
Length: 117 ft 11 in (35.94 m)
Beam: 31 ft 6 in (9.60 m)
Draft: 16 ft (4.9 m)
Propulsion: Sail
Complement: 150
Armament: • 18 × 32-pounder carronades
• 2 × 18-pounder guns

The second USS Ontario was a 16-gun rated sloop of war in the United States Navy during the years following War of 1812.

Ontario was built by Thomas Kemp, Baltimore, Maryland, in 1813; blockaded in Chesapeake Bay through the War of 1812; and sailed from New York for the Mediterranean on 20 May 1815, Master Commandant Jesse D. Elliott in command.

Service history

Second Barbary War

Part of Commodore Stephen Decatur's ten ship squadron sent to put a stop to the piracy of the Barbary states of Tripoli and Algiers, Ontario arrived at Gibraltar on 15 June 1815 and two days later, in company with frigates Constellation and Guerriere and sloop Epervier, captured the Algerian frigate Mashouda off the coast of Spain after a chase and short battle. She then commenced blockade off Algiers, continuing until the end of June when the Dey of Algiers agreed to sign a peace with Decatur. The sloop visited Tripoli and Tunis with the squadron to demand indemnities for pirated prizes and operated in protection of American Mediterranean commerce until sailing for home, arriving New York in early 1817.


Ontario next stood out on 4 October under Captain James Biddle on a pioneer mission to the Pacific. Touching at Rio de Janeiro, to deliver dispatches, the sloop rounded Cape Horn and proceeded to Valparaíso, Chile, in early 1818. The Chilean War of Independence was raging and a Spanish blockade of Valparaíso had been declared, American merchantmen being seized. By means of diplomatic negotiations with authorities at that port, Captain Biddle succeeded in achieving the release of captured U.S. ships, and then stood north, arriving off Cape Disappointment on the Columbia River on 19 August. There the ship claimed both sides of the river for the United States and next sailed south, touching at Monterey, California, for supplies, becoming the first American naval vessel to visit the three future Pacific coast states. Ontario sailed for home that fall, stopping at Valparaíso en route in time to witness the start of Lord Thomas Cochrane's campaign at sea against Spain, and stood into Chesapeake Bay finally on 23 April 1819.

Mediterranean Squadron

The sloop of war put out from New York on 18 January 1821 on her next voyage, sailing for the Mediterranean via the West Indies. She arrived Gibraltar, joining Commodore William Bainbridge's squadron on 27 April and stayed in those waters for over two and one-half years. The ship returned to New York on 25 January 1824, and following a six months refit sailed for a second extended deployment with the Mediterranean Squadron on 24 July. Ontario returned home on 20 February 1828 and then made two more trips to the Mediterranean from August 1829 to May 1832 and November 1833 to June 1836.

Gulf of Mexico

She next sailed for the West Indies on 19 August 1837 and operated on station there through the spring of 1840. The warship spent most of her time protecting U.S. commerce from pirate attacks, showing the flag in Caribbean ports, and operating out of Havana and Pensacola protecting American neutrality during French intervention in Mexico until returning to New York on 2 June.

The sloop of war began her last distant station cruise on 22 February 1842, operating out of New Orleans and in the Gulf of Mexico, protecting American interests until proceeding to Norfolk and finally Baltimore on 30 July 1843. At that port, Ontario began duty as a Navy Yard receiving ship and remained there in service until June 1856. The veteran warship that had served the nation so well and long showing the flag abroad was sold at public auction on 15 July.


This article includes text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.