Northwest Territorial Mint

USN USS Alligator Coin

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U.S. Navy-USS Alligator-Bronze Antique

The Navy's first submarine, the USS Alligator was lost at sea off Cape Hatteras, N.C. in 1863 at the height of the Civil War.

Measuring 47-feet in length and designed to hold a crew of 20, the Alligator was the most technologically advanced vessel of its day, containing revolutionary devices still found on modern-day submarines. Based on the design of a French-born American engineer named Brutus De Villeroi, the innovative craft was constructed in secret at the Washington Navy Yard. On April 2, 1863, stormy seas forced the crew of the steamship USS Sumpter - which had been assigned to tow the Alligator to the site of its first major mission - to cut the boat adrift. A century and a half later, its whereabouts still remain a mystery.

This coin is dedicated to the ongoing search for the famed USS Alligator and salutes all those who are leading the effort to raise her from the depths. The obverse features a caricature of an alligator in full Navy dress clutching the Navy trident and bears a rendering of the USS Alligator. The reverse contains an excerpt from a letter written by the boat's chief designer, Brutus De Villeroi, to President Abraham Lincoln, which begins: "I propose to you a new arm of war..."

Minted in a brass alloy and finished in bronze, the coin's obverse contains blue and green enamel accents. Each coin comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity.