Situated comfortably inside our Buildingways of Democracy: Portsmouth and Gosport, 1785-1840 exhibit is a meticulously crafted 3/8” = 1’ scale model of the 74 gun U.S. Ship-of-the-Line Delaware. The largest ship model displayed in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum.
The USS Delaware was one of the many ships built at Gosport Navy Yard (now the Norfolk Naval Shipyard). Considering the life of this ship, personified, it was born, lived (intermittently) and died at Gosport. Construction on the Delaware began in August 1817 and was completed and launched in October 1820. Instead of setting sail immediately the ship was put “in ordinary” meaning it was not commissioned, but had a very small crew to maintain it. Over the course of its life, the Delaware would be put in ordinary, primarily due to the complications involved with maintaining such a large ship.
In February 1828 Delaware was commissioned and sent to the Mediterranean Sea until it returned to Norfolk in 1830. The ship was placed in ordinary again upon its return and then re-commissioned in 1833 to serve until placed in ordinary again in 1836. In 1841 Delaware was re-commissioned for a tour of duty along the coasts of South America until 1843 and then another tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea. Delaware returned to the shipyard in 1844 and was placed in ordinary for a final time. On April 20, 1861 Delaware was one of the ships burned by United States forces in efforts to prevent it from seizure and use by the Virginia State (and later Confederate) Navy.
"View of the Delaware 74 in Dry Dock, U.S. Navy Yard, Gosport" by Joseph Goldsborough Bruff, c. 1833