On 18 May 1847, U.S. Navy Lieutenant William Lynch wrote to the Secretary of the Navy and proposed leading an expedition “to circumnavigate Lake Asphalties or the Dead Sea, and its entire coast.” Lynch assured the Secretary that “the expense will be trifling and the object easy of attainment.” Despite the region’s fearsome reputation, Secretary John Y. Mason approved the proposal, and Lynch spent the summer preparing for the adventure to come. His transport, recently back from her station in the Gulf supporting the U.S. blockade of Mexico, would be the store ship Supply.
Burning with Brimstone
In the mid-19th century, the U.S. Navy sent numerous exploring expeditions around the world. One of the most unusual headed for the heart of the Ottoman Empire and the Dead Sea. This series of excerpts is from a forthcoming book on the expedition by the Naval Institute Press, Sailors in the Holy Land.
By Andrew C. A. Jampoler