USS Vincennes

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The USS Vincennes was a US Navy warship which visited Japan several times in the 1840s-1850s.

The Vincennes was one of the first US Navy ships to go to Japan, being captained by Commodore James Biddle to arrive at Uraga in 1846 alongside the USS Columbus. After seven days in port, Biddle's request to have ports opened to American ships was rejected, and he left.[1]

The ship was used on an embassy to Japan again in 1854-1855, as part of a small fleet commanded by Commodore Matthew Perry. At least two members of the Vincennes crew died while on that embassy: John Williams and John Miller, both of whom died in 1854 and were buried in the Tomari International Cemetery in Naha, on the island of Okinawa.[2]

Commodore John Rodgers of the US North Pacific Surveying Expedition sailed to Japan once more aboard the Vincennes in 1855, arriving in Shimoda harbor on 3/27. On 3/29 and again on 4/11, Rodgers met with Tokugawa shogunate officials aboard the Vincennes.[3] Several days later, on 4/13, members of the crew went ashore at Shirahama (on the Izu peninsula) and surveyed the area before departing.[4] Rodgers then sailed the Vincennes (along with the John Hancock and Fenimore Cooper) to Hakodate, where he spent roughly three weeks (4/23 to 5/13) trying to convince Hakodate bugyô to allow several American passengers to come ashore and to take up lodgings, as provided for in the Convention of Kanagawa; ultimately, he retracted his request and sent the passengers home aboard the US merchant vessel Caroline Foote.[5]


  1. Marco Tinello, "The termination of the Ryukyuan embassies to Edo : an investigation of the bakumatsu period through the lens of a tripartite power relationship and its world," PhD thesis, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia (2014), 133-134n241.
  2. Graves and plaques on-site at Tomari International Cemetery.
  3. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 37-38, 45.
  4. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 47.
  5. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 53, 57, 61-63.