Naval History of Vermont

While it holds at least 20 ships named after the noteworthy people, cities, and places, the state of Vermont has held significant a significant historic place in naval history. Three ships have been named in honor of the state’s name, the first being  a 74-gun warship authorized by Congress in 1816, a battleship (BB 20), and a Virginia-class attack submarine (SSN 792) set to be commissioned in 2019.

USS Montpelier (SSN 765), a Los Angeles-class attack submarine, was the first submarine to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She would go on to fire 20 missiles during the war earning her a “clean sweep” under the command of Commander William Frake.

Two of Vermont’s finest veterans, Admiral George Dewey and Lieutenant William Fitzgerald, have left their marks in naval history. At the Battle of Manila Bay, Dewey spoke his famous words, “you may fire when ready, Gridley.” Dewey defeated the Spanish in just six hours of fighting, with only one American life lost.  Dewey was the highest-ranking naval officer in history, at the rank of Admiral of the Navy. Lieutenant William Fitzgerald was killed in action during Vietnam while serving as an advisor to the Republic of Vietnam Navy. He received the Navy Cross posthumously for his role in fighting off a Viet Cong attack.