Frigate Pennsylvania launches

The USS Pennsylvania, at left. (Artwork by Fred S. Cozzens, 1893)

The frigate Pennsylvania was launched on July 18, 1837, and was built at the Philadelphia Naval Yard when it was located at the foot of Federal Street.

Pennsylvania was the largest sailing ship ever constructed up to that date. She was also the largest wooden and sail warship ever built for the U.S. Navy. The keel of this Ship-of-the-Line was laid in September 1821, but tight military budgets slowed her construction and delayed her launch for many years, during which time she was a fixture on the Philadelphia waterfront.

The launch of Pennsylvania was a great event in the history of Philadelphia, with thousands attending to watch. She had four complete gun decks and her hull was pierced for 136 guns.

Ironically, the Pennsylvania never saw combat; her only cruise was a single trip from Delaware Bay to Chesapeake Bay. In 1842, she became a receiving ship for the Norfolk Navy Yard. She was burned at Norfolk in April 1861 to prevent her from falling into Confederate hands.