The USS Syren was built in Philadelphia by Nathaniel Hutton and launched on August, 6 1803. She was commissioned and Lieutenant Charles Stewart was put in command. The ship immediately departed to participate in the First Barbary War and reached Gibraltar in October. Her first task was to deliver presents and money to the Dey of Algiers.
The US was in a tight spot as they had just finished the costly Revolutionary War and was just building a Navy. The Deys were the leaders of the Muslim areas of Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis. The Muslims of the area were capturing and enslaving US merchant ships. They believed it to be just to do so under Muslim law because the crews were Christian. President Thomas Jefferson decided to pay tribute to the Deys to appease them to not capture US ships until he built an adequate Navy. The USS Syren was one of the ships commissioned for the purpose.
The Dey of Tripoli had captured the USS Philadelphia and the ship ran aground. As a strategy to make sure the Muslims did not turn the Philadelphia against the US, the Navy decided to destroy the ship. The Syren and a ketch, or smaller ship, the Intrepid were assigned the task. As they arrived a large gale drove the ships off for several days. Finally, the two ships were able to attack the Philadelphia and burn her.
The USS Syren then went on a run capturing a ship named Madona Catapolcana and an armed transfer ship putting them into US duty. The Syren participated in attacks on Tripoli which ended in the surrender of the Muslims. The ship remained in the Mediterranean for another year helping to establish peace with other Barbary states.
The Syren returned to Washington Navy Yard in 1806 and remained until 1807. From 1807 to 1809 the ship carried dispatches to France. In 1810, the ship was renamed Siren.
In the War of 1812, Siren, participated in searches for British ships in the Caribbean with little incident. In 1814, Syren captured three merchants ships off the coast of Africa. In July of 1814, the Syren encountered the British ship HMS Medway. The Medway had 74 guns and notably over powered the Syren. The Medway was also a third-rate ship, meaning it carried between 200 and 300 men. The Syren was outgunned and chose to run. An eleven-hour chase ended in Syren’s capture with the crew prisoned in Cape Town.
The Syren was put into British service as a lazaretto, or floating hospital for people with infectious diseases. The ultimate fate of the ship is unknow.
The USS Syren has a storied history for which the ship is popular in modeling. Micro-Mark sells the USS Syren as a wooden ship model and also provides all the tools and supplies necessary to build the model.
Micro-Mark sell Model Shipways USS Syren which is of the finest quality.
Main image via Stephen Barlow