U.S.S. Abbot III?

Modern Destroyer

George S.K. Rider is spearheading an effort to name a future U.S. Navy destroyer after Commodore Joel Abbot. With the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, where Commodore Abbot first distinguished himself, the chances of again honoring our favorite national hero may be better than ever. We’re also approaching the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where U.S.S. Abbot successfully faced down a Soviet freighter off Guantanamo Bay.

Joel Abbot was part of a new generation of American fighting sailors born during the presidency of George Washington. He never knew the Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation or even the original 13 states (there were 15 when he was born in 1793). He only knew the United States as an independent, prosperous and expanding seafaring nation that needed a vigorous navy.

In late 2010 George wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy, who names American naval ships, and pointed out that Commodore Abbot was no ordinary sailor:

Commodore Abbot was presented with a sword and promoted by Congress during the War of 1812 for bravery prior to and during the naval engagement on Lake Champlain. Commodore Thomas MacDonough, then in command of the naval forces on Lake Champlain, sent for Midshipman Abbot and asked if he was willing to die for his country.

“Certainly, sir; that is what I came into the service for,” was the answer. Abbot entered the enemy’s lines, taking the risk of being hanged as a spy in case of capture, discovered a cache of masts and spars that were to be used to fit out the British fleet, set them on fire and thwarted the British naval buildup.

You can read the entire letter here and read a profile of the intrepid commodore. He was truly a remarkable man, and he gave his life for the United States in a faraway land.

We think that a genuine U.S. Navy hero and one of Rhode Island’s greatest naval officers should not be forgotten.

If we are to ever see a third destroyer named Abbot, we need your help. Write to your congressional delegation and the Secretary of the Navy:

Important Addresses
Hon. Ray Mabus
Secretary of the Navy
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20350-1000
Office of Senator (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
U.S. Representatives:
Find Address
Governor Lincoln D. Chafee
State House, Room 115
Providence, RI 02903
Governor Deval Patrick
Massachusetts State House
Room 280
Boston, MA 02133

Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents, in particular, should write their governors. You can mention that Abbot used Newport as its home port during much of the Cold War, and that the Federal-style house in Warren where Commodore Abbot’s wife lived is still a landmark. He was born in Westford, Massachusetts, and spent much of his career in Boston. Don’t be shy — postage is cheap.

In Washington, “Beltway trinkets” such as ship names are often doled out to constituencies that perhaps got short-changed in other projects. The names are always worthy, but we take the name Abbot especially seriously, and we think it past time to again honor a man who quelled pirates and mutineers and the Royal Navy.

Please help us by contacting your elected officials and the Secretary of the Navy; feel free to pilfer passages from George’s letter.