After nearly two years of highly successful cruising at the expense of the United States' commercial shipping, CSS Alabama returned to European waters in early June 1864. Badly in need of a refit, she put into Cherbourg, France, on 11 June. News of her presence soon reached the USS Kearsarge , which promptly steamed to Cherbourg, arriving on the 14th. Seeing that he was blockaded, with repairs delayed and with the probabability that his ship would not be able to resume her raiding activities, Alabama's Captain Raphael Semmes challenged Kearsarge's Captain John Winslow to a ship-to-ship duel. That suited Winslow very well, and he took station offshore and waited.