A Naval Cover-Up: An Officer Lambastes the Scandalous Condition of the USS John Adams

 

F. Laurdale. Autograph Letter Signed, to A.A. Harwood. Rio de Janeiro, November 17, 1859. 12 pp.


 

The Scandalous Condition of the USS John Adams

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  • F. Laurdale writes another officer regarding a Navy cover-up of the leaky condition of the USS Adams, and the survey and inquiry surrounding the captain’s decision to come into port without orders, for repairs. “She is ... very uncomfortable—rolling deeply & from her flat bottom the bilge water … becomes so very heavy that her white paint below in is something beyond quadroon or even mullato, and even in many places, up to full negro….we are to have the long-expected survey…your letter gives a statement of the comparative neglect for the old and new batteries of the J.A…”

     

    “the report has dodged…the numerous defects…which are noticed in the reports of the Officers of the ship are unnoticed in the Report of the Survey, although they were found to exist….They are disgraceful to any service, as found in a ship just from the Dock Yard and reflect very severely upon the person in charge…”

     

    Laurdale is further disgusted by the inspection board’s politicking for having to decide between condemning the captain for putting into port without orders and finding enough defects in the ship to justify his coming in without actually saying anything was wrong with the ship. He continues: “the good of the service was at stake; the question of abuses at the Navy Yards was at issue. This the report has dodged. The numerous defects, unessential in character, (but many of them not unimportant) which are noticed in the reports of the Officers of the ship are unnoticed in the Report of the Survey, although they were found to exist in their examination…."

     

    "The report as it reads is a grudging admission that there really is something wrong about the Adams which had better be rectified before she goes to sea….. Our friend Goldsborough has not exhibited himself in an agreeable light, in connection with the affair. He assumed the duty bearing of a prosecuting attorney rather than a judge, from the beginning treating the opinion of other people with offensive disregard. He prejudged every question as it arose, went out of his way to develop evidence against the reports already made of the ship’s condition….”