U.S. Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite announced Dec. 2 that the U.S. Navy’s second Constellation class guided-missile frigate will be named USS Congress (FFG 63). Braithwaite made the announcement during a hearing on Navy and Marine Corps Readiness with the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support on Capitol Hill. The ship naming honors the rich history and legacy of the Navy. Congress was among the six original frigates authorized by Congress in the Naval Act of 1794, which established the U.S. Navy as an agile, lethal and ready force and cemented the enduring partnership between the sea service and our nation’s elected legislative officials.
Two naval vessels carried the name Congress during the American Revolution. The first was a row galley that served the Continental Navy during the war, and the second was a 28-gun frigate that was set afire while being outfitted to prevent her capture by the British. The third USS Congress was a 38-gun wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate launched in 1799. Her first duties with the newly formed United States Navy were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.
The fourth naval vessel to carry the name Congress was a 52-gun frigate launched in 1841. She served in the Mediterranean, South Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. She continued to operate as an American warship until the Civil War when she was sunk by the first ironclad CSS Virginia in battle of Newport News, Virginia. In 1868, the fifth USS Congress, a screw sloop was launched. The screw sloop moved the Navy toward the modern age, supporting POLARIS arctic mission and visiting the Philly centennial exposition in 1876.
The sixth USS Congress (ID-3698), was built as a private fishing vessel before she was commissioned as a patrol vessel during WWI. She was in commission from 1918 to 1919 carrying out miscellaneous patrol duties until she was stricken from the Navy List and sold. In October, Braithwaite announced USS Constellation as the name for the first ship in the new Constellation class of ships while aboard the museum ship Constellation in Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland. Constellation class frigates will be built at Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisconsin with the first ship scheduled for delivery in 2026.