Campus News

U.S. Navy to name ship after Bowdoin Graduate

Story posted December 15, 1997


BRUNSWICK, Maine -- The U.S. Navy is naming a 753-foot long combat support ship after Commodore Horatio Bridge, an Augusta native and member of the Bowdoin College Class of 1825.

Commodore Bridge was a longtime friend of classmate Nathaniel Hawthorne, a pioneer in the field of military supply strategy, and the Navy's first paymaster.

The latest USS Bridge is the second ship to bear his name. It is scheduled to be commissioned in August 1998 in San Diego. The ship weighs 19,700 tons and will have a crew of 667.

Bridge was born in Augusta in 1806 and matriculated at Bowdoin in 1821. He became close friends with Franklin Pierce and Nathaniel Hawthorne. With Hawthorne, he would often take long walks through the Bowdoin Pines, a practice which one year got Bridge fined by the College for "too much walking on the Sabbath."

After graduating from Bowdoin, Bridge practiced law in Augusta and Skowhegan until 1838, when he entered the U.S. Navy as a purser. In 1854, he was named Chief of the Bureau of Provisions and Clothing. He was a pioneer in the art of comprehensive fleet supply, a tactic which was used to considerable success, particularly in the Civil War.Based on Bridge's expertise, Congress increased the duties of the Supply Corps, whose methods have been copied for use by many other federal agencies.Bridge retired in 1868 as paymaster-general with the rank of commodore. He retired to Athens, Penn., where he lived until his death in 1898.

The first USS Bridge was launched in 1916 at the Boston Navy Yard and served in both world wars. In October 1945, while en route from Pearl Harbor to Japan, the Bridge struck a mine and suffered considerable damage but no casualties. She was decommissioned in June 1946 and later sold for scrap.

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