I had kind of lost track of the replica Revolutionary War sloop Providence. In January 2015, she was blown off her jackstands by blizzard winds while on the hard in Newport, RI, incurring significant damage to her hull and rigging. In August 2016, there were reports that repairs were underway. There are now reports that the Providence may be moving to Alexandria, VA. Toward the end of September, Scott Shaw, principal of Alexandria Restaurant Partners, presented a plan to permanently dock the Providence at Waterfront Park in Alexandria.
The sloop Providence is a 1976 built fiberglass replica of a Continental Navy sloop of the same name. Originally built as the merchant sloop Katy in 1768 by the Brown family of Providence RI, the sloop was outfitted with guns in 1774 to cruise against the British in Narraganset Bay.
Under the command of Abraham Whipple, the Katy destroyed the armed sloop Diana, a tender to HMS ROSE. Captain Whipple had been one of the leaders of a raid which burned HMS Gaspee. Whipple was never charged but his role was not a well-kept secret. Captain Wallace of the ROSE sent Captain Whipple a message: “You Abraham Whipple on June 10, 1772, burned his majesty’s vessel the Gaspee and I will hang you at the yard-arm!” Whipple replied to Wallace: “Sir, always catch a man before you hang him.”
Not long thereafter the Katy was chartered to the Rhode Island Assembly and then sold into the Continental Navy. Renamed USS Providence, the sloop was John Paul Jones‘ first command.
I have a particular fondness for Abraham Whipple. He makes an appearance in my latest novel, Evening Gray Morning Red, which will be out in a few days.