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Lieutenant John Trippe, USN


Lieutenant John Trippe, U.S.N. in whose honor the U.S.S. TRIPPE is named was born in Dorchester County, Maryland in 1785. He entered the U.S. Navy as a midshipman in 1799.

Life in the Navy

          In the period when Trippe joined the Navy, the Barbary pirates were a real danger to merchant ships, not only on the Mediterranean, but on the Atlantic Ocean as well. Some nations paid tribute, thus buying off the pirates so that their ships would not be attacked. So incensed was our government at this form of blackmail that in 1801, a squadron was sent to the Mediterranean for observation. The bravery of the American officers and their men made this expedition a complete success and for the first time our country was recognized as a world power.

         The capture of the S.S. Philadelphia by the pirates, when she went aground on a reef, and the 315 members of the crew that were taken prisoners and held for ransom led to the famous Battle of Tripoli.

          The thrilling recapture and burning of the Philadelphia by Captain Stephen Decatur is familiar history. Of John Trippe’s part in the Battle of Tripoli, John Spears writes:


          “Of equal bravery were the men on the third American Gunboat. She was commanded by Sailing Master John Trippe and Midshipman John D. Henley. Hanging up beside the enemy, those two officers and nine men got on board of her, and then the two boats separated, leaving the eleven men to face the whole barbarian crew, with no chance of retreat and little hope of timely assistance.

            But Trippe and Henley were just the men to lead such a forlorn hope. Pikes and swords in hand, the eleven charged the enemy, Trippe and Henley singling out the Tripoliton Captain, knowing that victory was assured if they could cut him down. But he was a magnificent specimen of humanity, and it is said that he had sworn on the Koran to win victory or die.

          Fighting with the energy born of fanaticism, he wounded Trippe no less than eleven times, and at last Trippe went down with one knee on the deck, but while in this position he caught the Tripolitan with breast unguarded and thrust him through with a pike. And that ended one of the most remarkable fights recorded in the annals of our Navy. For Trippe and his ten men killed fourteen of the Tripolitans and made the remainder, twenty-two in number, prisoners. The number of the enemy wounded was only eleven. The Americans struck to kill in that fight. Besides Trippe, a boatswain’s mate and two marines were wounded, but none was killed among the Americans.”

          For John Trippe’s distinguished service at Tripoli he received the official thanks of Congress and was awarded the Congressional Medal as well as a sword. He died of yellow fever while on duty in Cuba in 1810.


           Since those days the name of Trippe has been closely associated with the Navy, and also since those days the Navy has carried on the tradition of protecting American citizens and American foreign trade in the four corners of the world.

          The first ship to be named after John Trippe was a sloop with one gun, which took part in the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812. The last to bear the name was a destroyer, which served in the World War and was credited with sinking a number of German submarines.

           With the completion of the U.S.S. TRIPPE the name is carried on by a destroyer which is the last work in construction, efficiency and speed, making striking contrast to the first U.S.S. TRIPPE, sloop with one gun, of the year 1812.


          John Trippe, born in Dorchester County in 1785 was the son of Capt. William Trippe and his wife Mary Noel. Capt. William Trippe was born in Dorchester County in 1746 and died in Talbot County in 1795/6. He was the son of John Trippe and his wife Elizabeth Noel. This John Trippe was born in Dorchester County in 1711 and died there in 1778. He was the son of William Trippe and his wife Francis Tate. This William Trippe was born in Dorchester County ca1689/90 and died in Dorchester County in 1770. He was the son of Henry Trippe the immigrant and his wife Elizabeth. Henry Trippe the immigrant was born in England in 1632 and died in Dorchester County 1698. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas Trippe who was born in 1584 in Canterbury, County Kent, England.

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