“The Five Shenandoahs”
Artist ~ Edward O. Ramstead

HERITAGE| The Shenandoahs

One Star for Each Ship ~ “Daughters of the Stars”

“The Five Shenandoahs” oil painting was commissioned by the ship’s sponsor, CMDR Frances Hammond Claytor, and her husband, CMDR and former Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense, W. Graham Claytor, Jr.

The painting was presented to the newly appointed Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO), Captain Thomas M. McNicholas, Jr. during (AD 44)’s Christening and Launching ceremony.

The painting was later mounted to a bulkhead within the Captain’s Cabin for proud display aboard ship. Upon SHENANDOAH’s decommissioning, the Naval History and Heritage Command preserved the painting and has made it available for public viewing at the Naval Art Collection gallery.

The Captain's Office
The Captain’s Office aboard (AD 44)

There have been five Navy ships named Shenandoah after the Shenandoah Valley. Two steamer sloops USS and CSS, the US Navy’s first airship (ZR 1), and two destroyer tenders (AD 26) and (AD 44).

Below are their stories…

USS Shenandoah

USS Shenandoah

The first USS Shenandoah was a sloop, launched at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 08 December 1862 and commissioned on 20 June 1863. Displacing 1,375 tons, and 225 feet long, she spent the next 18 months cruising off the East Coast searching and engaging Confederate raiders.

In December, she moved just off Fort Fisher, Wilmington, NC. She distinguished herself in the ensuing bombardment of the fort until it fell to the largest amphibious operation prior to those held in WW-II.

She later saw service with the Asiatic Squadron and surveyed several Japanese and Chinese ports. She also saw service with the European Squadron, the South American squadron, and once again in the Asiatic Squadron, until her decommissioning at Mare Island, California, on 23 October 1886.

CSS Shenandoah

CSS Shenandoah

During the Civil War, the Confederate Navy also had a ship named SHENANDOAH. She was sailed from a British port and outfitted at sea as a steam sloop under LT J. T. Waddell, CSN. CSS SHENANDOAH’s mission was to destroy Northern commerce.

She headed for the Cape of Good Hope to prey on merchantmen and whalers. She took six prizes in the area. Melbourne, Australia was among her ports of call and, after provisioning in January 1865, she took more prizes off the Kurile islands.

Sailing north into Bering Sea, the crew learned of Lee’s surrender from a prize, but continued hostilities near the Arctic Circle.

On 2 August, nearly six months after the war, a British barque confirmed the war’s end. LT Waddell surrendered SHENANDOAH in Liverpool, England, on 6 November, ending the ship’s extraordinary career.

USS Shenandoah (ZR 1)

USS Shenandoah (ZR 1) ~ Christening & Launching Ceremony

The airship SHENANDOAH (ZR 1), the first of four rigid, lighter-than-air craft to be designed and built by the U.S. Navy, was 680 feet long, and capable of attaining a speed of 60 knots.

Built at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, SHENANDOAH was christened on 10 October 1923. It developed the U.S. Navy’s experience with rigid airships and made the first crossing of North America by airship.

After being damaged by a storm in January 1924, she reported to the Atlantic Scouting Fleet in August and took part in highly successful tactical exercises.

On 2 September 1925, SHENANDOAH departed Lakehurst on her 57th flight to New Jersey, and in a heavy weather squall line over Ohio on 3 September, the airship was destroyed. More info…

SHENANDOAH (ZR-1) Documentaries

USS Shenandoah (AD 26)

USS Shenandoah (AD 26)

The fourth SHENANDOAH (AD 26) was an 11,755-ton destroyer tender. She was commissioned on 13 August 1945 and, like us, sailed to the East Coast for duty.

She tended her charges at various ports up and down the East Coast until deploying for duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

SHENANDOAH’s rescue of the crew of a sinking merchantman won her recognition in 1964.

Battle efficiency pennants and many departmental “E’s” were among her honors. She was decommissioned on 1 April 1980.

USS Shenandoah (AD 26) | More Information…

USS Shenandoah (AD 26)

Displacement: 11,755 t.

Length: 492’

Beam: 69’6”

Draft: 28’

Speed: 18 k.

Complement: 1,035

Armament: 2 5”; 8 40mm; 22 20mm


The third SHENANDOAH (AD-26) was laid down on 16 September 1944 by Todd Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Tacoma, Wash.; launched on 29 March 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Daniel Hunt, and commissioned on 13 August 1945, Capt. Albert C. Burrows in command.

SHENANDOAH completed her fitting out in December and sailed to the east coast, via the Panama Canal, where she reported for duty with Destroyer Force, United States Atlantic Fleet in January 1946. Until June 1947 she tended destroyers in various east coast ports; primarily at
Norfolk, her home port. The tender deployed on her first tour of duty with the 6th Fleet from June through August 1947. In the next 20 years she was assigned 13 more tours in the Mediterranean.

SHENANDOAH’s most publicized tour of duty was in 1964. She won international acclaim for her heroic rescue of the crew of the Dutch merchant ship DORIS. The freighter broke loose from her moorings during the height of a storm and became impaled upon the rocks of Molo San Vincenzo in Naples’ outer harbor. A line was run to the freighter by the crew of the SHENANDOAH, and all aboard were rescued minutes before DORIS rolled over and sank.

The destroyer tender also won recognition in 1965 for her repairs to the bow of the carrier SHANGRI-LA (CV-38)
which had collided with a destroyer during maneuvers.

SHENANDOAH was awarded the Battle Efficiency Pennant for her competence in destroyer tending in 1952 and 1956. She was awarded the Engineering “E” in 1958 and 1965, and the Supply “E” in 1962, 1963, and 1967. SHENANDOAH was again deployed with the 6th Fleet in 1968, 1970, and 1973. She returned to her home port on 15 December 1973 and into July 1974 is tending ships on the east coast.

[Decommissioned on 1 April 1980, SHENANDOAH was transferred to the Maritime Administration as part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet on 1 March 1982.]

Source: “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships”

USS Shenandoah (AD 44)