American Sloop of War Albany
By James Donahue
When the 11-year-old sloop-of-war Albany went missing with all hands somewhere in
the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic in the fall of 1854, a writer for the Albany Atlas quipped that “it’s a wonder
that she kept afloat this long.”
The ship appeared to have been so poorly designed it had a history of being unusually
slow and difficult to manage at sea. Her commander, Captain Samuel Breese, complained that the 22-gun fighting ship “rolls
and squats dreadfully and requires low sail.”
The problem was so severe that by 1849 the ship’s three masts were shortened
since the top sails could not be used.
In 1852 Breeze wrote “in consequence of the leanness of the Albany aft, she
sends so deep in a heavy sea that she often dips her stern boat full of water.”
The newspaper story noted that the sloop was troubled by too much armament on a “narrow
beam” which was presumed to make the ship top-heavy and difficult to manage in a heavy sea.
Nevertheless the 22-gun Albany was commissioned in 1846, just in time to participate
in the Mexican-American war. She took part in operations in Vera Cruz, Tuxpan and Tabasco.
The Albany disappeared without a trace in September, 1854 after sailing from Colon,
Panama, bound for New York. The ship and her crew were never seen again.