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Database: USS Randolph

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The USS Randolph is one of the first ships built for the Continental Navy. Congress ordered its construction in December 1776. It's a 32-gun frigate, with a somewhat spotty history. And no, I don't just mean that fact that it was captained by a known Templar - Nicholas Biddle.

The ship was finished in July of 1776, but Biddle didn't come aboard as a captain until October. Even then, the ship suffered from a lack of experienced crew - it was eventually staffed by British sailors who had been imprisoned in Philadelphia. The Randolph finally set sail in February of 1777, only to end up in Charlestown in March, with its masts broken and its crew decimated by fever. What a rubbish trip. What's more, there'd also been a mutiny, which you should probably expect when you try to press British sailors into service of an enemy navy. It sort of goes against what they stand for.

Repairs to the ship took longer than expected, since the masts were hit by lightning twice while construction was underway. After that lightning rods were installed on the masts. (You'd think they might have thought of that earlier, but to be fair lightning rods were a relatively new-fangled invention at the time.)

The Randolph didn't really begin its military career in earnest until it left Charlestown in August, 1777 - more than a year and a half after Congress ordered it built.

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