Having a ship named USS Wasp has been a long standing and proud tradition in the U.S. Navy. USS Wasp is the name of the first Continental Navy ship to set sea for war, and it was named after the actual insect. From the Navy's inception to date, there have been 10 ships honored to bear the name.
WASP I (1775-1777)
The first Wasp was a merchant schooner originally named Scorpion and the Continental Navy in late 1775. Wasp set sail from Baltimore on Jan. 14, 1776, becoming the first ships from the Continental Fleet to set to sea. Wasp served the Continental Navy well, capturing many vessels. In the fall of 1777, Wasp was run aground, set on fire and destroyed when its gunpowder exploded.
WASP II (1806-1813)
The second Wasp was a sloop constructed in 1806 and commissioned sometime in 1807. Wasp operated along the coast of the U.S. during the War of 1812. Wasp's single action of war was in October 1812 when she engaged HMS Frolic in battle. Both ships sustained heavy damage, but Wasp prevailed. Later that same day Wasp, heavily damaged and unable to fight or run, surrendered to HMS Poictiers. Wasp served briefly in the Royal Navy as HMS Peacock and was lost off the Virginia Capes in 1813.
WASP III (1810-1814)
The third Wasp was a schooner built in 1810. Out into action in July 1812 for a privateering foray, Wasp III took two British merchant ships as prizes. Presumably, WASP III was sold.
WASP IV (1813-1814)
The fourth Wasp was a sloop chartered on Lake Champlain in the late summer of 1813. Of small size and poor sail, Wasp saw no combat.
WASP V (1813-1814)
The fifth Wasp was a ship-rigged sloop of war. Wasp was put to sea on May 1, 1814 for a war cruise to the western approach of the English Channel. Wasp V, the most successful Wasp to date, destroyed HMS Avon and captured 15 British ships including HMS Reindeer. Wasp was apparently lost in a storm at sea.
WASP VI (1865-1876)
The sixth Wasp, originally the captured confederate iron-hulled side-wheel steamer CSS Emma Hendry, was renamed Wasp while undergoing repairs in June 1865. Her primary duties were protecting American interests in South America and the eastern coast of Africa. Wasp continued those duties until she was surveyed, found unfit for further service and sold.
WASP VII (1898-1919)
The seventh Wasp, a steam yacht commissioned in New York on April 11, 1898, spent its first year of operation between Florida, Cuba and Puerto Rico in support of the blockade on Cuba. Wasp was used as a training ship and recruiting tool until she was sold Dec. 1, 1919.
WASP VIII (1936-1942)
The eighth Wasp was an aircraft carrier that saw action in World War II in the Atlantic and Pacific. Its most noted contribution was the resupply of the Malta Islands. After Wasp successfully launched aircraft on April 20, 1941 to assist Malta, Prime Minister Winston Churchill requested additional reinforcement. Wasp again launched aircraft on May 9. Churchill sent a message to the captain and the crew that said, "Many thanks to you all for the timely help. Who said a wasp couldn't sting twice?" Wasp continued to serve in World War II, earning two battle stars, until it was torpedoed and sunk on Sept. 15, 1942.
WASP IX (1942-1972)
The ninth Wasp served during World War II, operating in the Pacific theater, earning eight battle stars. Wasp was refitted for the jet age, re-commissioned and assigned to both the east and west coasts from 1951-1953. In October 1956, Wasp was re-classified as an anti-submarine warfare aircraft carrier (CVS 18). Wasp recovered the Gemini IV astronauts in June of 1965 and went on to recover Gemini VI and VII in December of the same year and Gemini IX and XII in 1966. Wasp was decommissioned on July 1, 1972 and sold.
WASP X continues a service legacy of honor, tradition and excellence. The 1,000 Sailors today serve with the same professionalism and pride of the many crew members that sailed yesterday.