Naval Air Station Patuxent River will host a memorial ceremony Friday, Nov. 3 at 9 a.m. at the USS Tulip Memorial in St. Inigoes to honor the 47 Sailors lost when USS Tulip exploded due to a faulty boiler in 1864.

Tulip was a Union gunboat assigned to the Potomac Flotilla. Its mission was to support Union communications, tow, transport and land Soldiers, and maintain the Union blockade of Confederate ports.

With a faulty starboard boiler, the vessel had been ordered to return to Washington for repairs. Not wanting to be a slow, easy target for enemy cannons during the voyage up the Potomac River, the ship’s captain ignored the faulty boiler and ordered Tulip to proceed full steam ahead.

His fateful decision that day resulted in an explosion heard for miles. Tulip sank near Piney Point, not far from what is now Webster Outlying Field; only 10 men survived from the crew of 57, with two dying shortly afterward.

The only human remains ever recovered were eight badly burned, unidentified bodies that washed ashore and are buried near St. Inigoes Creek, where the secluded USS Tulip Monument stands, marking the smallest federal cemetery in the nation.

Interested media should contact the NAS Patuxent River Public Affairs Office at 301-757-3343 or