Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

How many Navy ships were named Experiment?

In my entry for Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS) I claim you can answer the question “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships” with this resource. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the site and click on the letter E.
  2. Click on Excel-I through Exultant-II
  3. See that there were two ships named Experiment. Here’s the history for Experiment II:

 

Experiment

A trial made to test a theory or a piece of equipment.

II

(Sch: t. 209; l. 90′; b. 21’6″; dr. 6’1″)

The second Experiment, a schooner, was built in 1831 by the Washington Navy Yard; and sailed for tests in Chesapeake Bay in April 1832, Lieutenant W. Mervine in command.

Until the middle of 1833, Experiment cruised the Atlantic coast between Boston, Mass., and Charleston, S.C. After repairs at Norfolk, she sailed for the West Indies, returning to New York in June 1835. During the remaining 3 years of her cruising service, she was often used for surveying. From 1839 to 1848, when she was sold, she was in commission as a receiving ship at Philadelphia.

 

You can also use Google or another search engine to do a keyword search of DANFS if you add “inurl:danfs” to your search. For example, if we wanted to search for ships that had some sort of experimental purpose, we’d search [experimental inurl:danfs]. We get a number of results including:

  • George Eastman – 1950s era ship involved in nuclear testing
  • Somers II – 19th Century experimental schoolship for naval apprentices
  • Langley – First Navy aircraft carrier

To filter out references to DANFS from other websites, you might need to add site:www.history.navy.mil to your search. Most of the time this shouldn’t be necessary.

The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships is just one of many Navy related resources in Writer’s Guide to Government Information.

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