Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean is an American patriotic song which was popular in the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Composed about 1843, it was long used as an unofficial national anthem of the United States, in competition with other songs. Under the title "Three Cheers for the Red, White, and Blue," the song is mentioned in Chapter IX of MacKinlay Kantor's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "Andersonville" (1955). It was also featured in the 1957 musical The Music Man. In 1969, "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" was the music performed by a U.S. Navy Band embarked aboard USS Hornet as one of the ship's helicopters recovered the Apollo 11 astronauts from their capsule named Columbia after a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.
The melody of "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean" is identical to that of the British patriotic song "Britannia, the Pride of the Ocean" and there is disagreement as to which song was adapted from the other.