Cherokee-class brig-sloop

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Longitudinal section of HMS Beagle as of 1842
Longitudinal section of HMS Beagle (Cherokee class) as of 1832, by then converted to a barque by addition of a mizzen-mast.
Class overview
Name: Cherokee-class brig-sloop
Operators:  Royal Navy
Planned: 115
Completed: 36 in first batch
34 in second batch (with another 1 being cancelled)
34 in third batch (with another 4 cancelled and 6 orders replaced by orders for equivalent steam-assisted paddle vessels)
Cancelled: 11
General characteristics
Type: Brig-sloop
Tons burthen: 237 bm in Cherokee
Length: 90 ft 0 in (27.43 m) (gundeck)
73 ft 7.625 in (22.44408 m) (keel)
Beam: 24 ft 6 in (7.47 m)
Draught: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
Depth of hold: 11 ft 0 in (3.35 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Complement: Sloop-of-war:75
Survey voyages: On Beagle's second voyage, 65 plus 9 supernumeraries
Armament: Sloop-of-war:2 × 6-pounder guns (bow) + 8 × 18-pounder carronades
Survey voyages:6 guns

The Cherokee class was a class of brig-sloops of the Royal Navy, mounting 10 guns. Brig-sloops are sloops-of-war with two masts (a fore mast and a taller main mast) rather than the three masts of ship sloops. Orders for 115 vessels were placed, including 5 which were cancelled and 6 for which the orders were replaced by ones for equivalent steam-powered paddle vessels.[1]

Many of these sailing vessels served as mail packet ships, and more than eight assisted with exploration and surveys. The best known of the class was HMS Beagle, converted in 1825 into a three-masted barque as an exploration and survey vessel before its first voyage, then considerably modified for the second survey voyage under Robert FitzRoy, with the gentleman naturalist Charles Darwin on board as a self-funded supernumerary.[2][3]

Design[edit]

The carronade, nicknamed the "smasher" or "devil gun", was significantly smaller and lighter than conventional cannon. It was also found to have a more destructive broadside at close range, so that a smaller (and cheaper) ship could be more effective in naval actions than a much larger man-of-war. Sir Henry Peake designed a small ship to operate in both shallow and deep waters, carrying eight 16-pounder or 18-pounder carronades plus two long 6-pounder cannon as forward-mounted chase guns.[4]

The design for the Cherokee class was completed in 1807 by Henry Peake and approved on 26 November 1807, with the first four vessels having been ordered in March 1807 but not laid down until December; by the end of 1808 another 30 vessels had been ordered to this design. After these 34, a further 2 were ordered in 1812 which were built of teak at Bombay. The design was revived after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, and another 78 were ordered in two batches between 1817 and 1827. The first batch of these later vessels consisted of 35 orders (of which one was cancelled) whilst the second amounted to 44 new vessels of which 4 were cancelled and 6 replaced by orders for paddle vessels.

The class was much criticised, being popularly known as 'coffin brigs', following the loss by wrecking or foundering of a number of them. There seems to have been no particular fault in their design, but they were considered to be somewhat too small for the global duties that were assigned to them.[5] Almost a quarter of them were lost, and they were also nicknamed "Half Tide Rock" as they had low freeboard so the deck was frequently awash with water, and solid bulwarks preventing the water from being shed quickly. William James, in his Naval History written before May 1827, dismissed the supposed design faults, and said that it would be "surprising indeed that the navy board would continue adding new individuals by dozens at a time" to "this worthless class". These open flush-decked ships lacked a forecastle to deflect heavy seas crashing over the bow: one was added to HMS Beagle in 1825 before its first voyage, together with a mizzen mast which improved the handling. Despite these modifications to the design, Captain Pringle Stokes protested that "our decks were constantly flooded".[6]

Further extensive modifications were made for the second voyage of HMS Beagle. Darwin noted in his journal in April 1833 that "It blew half a gale of wind; but it was fair & we scudded before it. — Our decks fully deserved their nickname of a "half tide rock"; so constantly did the water flow over them",[6][7] but John Lort Stokes who was on all three survey expeditions praised the Beagle: "The reader will be surprised to learn that she belongs to that much-abused class, the '10-gun brigs'—coffins, as they are not infrequently designated in the service; notwithstanding which, she has proved herself, under every possible variety of trial, in all kinds of weather, an excellent sea boat.[8]

Service[edit]

Few of the Cherokee class ships took part in sea battles of any importance. Large numbers of them served as passenger and mail carrying packet ships, running from the UK to the USA and Canada.[9]

Several assisted with exploration and survey expeditions, including HMS Barracouta which served with William Fitzwilliam Owen's survey of African and Arabian coasts between 1821 and 1826 before being converted to a barque-rigged packet in 1829 then sold seven years later.[9]

The first voyage of HMS Beagle set out in 1826 under Captain Pringle Stokes as part of Phillip Parker King's survey of South American coasts, which returned late in 1830 with Beagle by then commanded by Robert FitzRoy. Captain Henry Foster commanded HMS Chanticleer on his survey around the South Atlantic, known as his "pendulum expedition", from 1827 to 1831. Chanticleer was then intended to be used for FitzRoy's next survey expedition, but was found to be in poor condition. Instead, the Beagle was repaired and modified for its famed second survey voyage from 1831 to 1836, which took along the naturalist Charles Darwin as a self-funded supernumerary. The Beagle subsequently carried out a survey of coasts of Australia from 1837 to 1843 under John Clements Wickham and John Lort Stokes.[10]

From 1838 to around 1841 HMS Britomart commanded by Owen Stanley carried out survey work and other duties around Australia and New Zealand.[11] Other survey ships of this class included HMS Fairy from about 1832 to 1840, Scorpion from 1848 to 1858 and Saracen from 1854 to 1860.[9]

1808-1816 vessels[edit]

The first four vessels listed below were ordered on 30 March 1807, two more on 26 November 1807 and the next twenty vessels on 31 December 1807. Eight more orders were placed during 1808.

Name Built by
contract by
Ordered Laid down Launched
Rolla Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 30 March 1807 December 1807 13 February 1808
Cherokee Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall 30 March 1807 December 1807 24 February 1808
Leveret Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall 30 March 1807 December 1807 24 February 1808
Cadmus John Dudman & Co., Deptford 30 March 1807 December 1807 26 February 1808
Achates Samuel & Daniel Brent, Rotherhithe 26 November 1807 December 1807 1 February 1808
Parthian William Barnard, Deptford 26 November 1807 December 1807 13 February 1808
Briseis 31 December 1807 19 May 1808
Jasper 31 December 1807 27 May 1808
Ephira 31 December 1807 28 May 1808
Onyx 31 December 1807 8 July 1808
Badger 31 December 1807 23 July 1808
Opossum 31 December 1807 9 July 1808
Wild Boar 31 December 1807 9 July 1808
Rinaldo 31 December 1807 13 July 1808
Chanticleer 31 December 1807 26 July 1808
Goldfinch 31 December 1807 8 August 1808
Woodlark 31 December 1807 17 November 1808
Shearwater 31 December 1807 21 November 1808
Calliope 31 December 1807 8 July 1808
Hope 31 December 1807 22 July 1808
Britomart 31 December 1807 28 July 1808
Prince Arthur 31 December 1807 28 July 1808
Cordelia 31 December 1807 26 July 1808
Redpole 31 December 1807 29 July 1808
Helicon 31 December 1807 8 August 1808
Lyra 31 December 1807 22 August 1808
Beaver April 1808 16 February 1809
Drake 27 June 1808 3 November 1808
Rosario 27 June 1808 7 December 1808
Renard 9 July 1808 5 December 1808
Tyrian 18 July 1808 16 December 1808
Bermuda 18 July 1808 20 December 1808
Rhodian 18 July 1808 3 January 1809
Sarpedon 30 September 1808 1 February 1809

Two vessels were ordered 2 October 1812. These were built at Bombay, using teak construction, but were otherwise identical to the earlier 34.

Name Built by
contract by
Ordered Laid down Launched
Sphinx East India Company, Bombay 2 October 1812 May 1814 25 January 1815
Cameleon East India Company, Bombay 2 October 1812 March 1815 15 January 1816

1818-1821 orders[edit]

Unlike the wartime batch, all the post-war batches were built in the Royal Dockyards rather than by contractors. Note that several names of vessels from the 1808-1816 batch were re-used for vessels in the second or third batches (as indicated below).

Thirty-five vessels were ordered in 1817-1821 - twelve on 13 June 1817, twelve on 2 November 1818, two on 8 December 1818, six on 23 May 1820, one on 6 January 1821 and two on 19 April 1821.

Name Built by
HM Dockyard
Ordered Laid down Launched
Alacrity Deptford 13 June 1817 October 1817 29 December 1818
Ariel Deptford 13 June 1817 February 1819 28 July 1820
Barracouta Woolwich 13 June 1817 June 1818 13 May 1820
Beagle
("Darwin's Beagle")
Woolwich 13 June 1817 June 1818 11 May 1820
Bustard Chatham 13 June 1817 November 1817 12 December 1818
Brisk Chatham 13 June 1817 November 1817 10 February 1819
Delight Portsmouth 13 June 1817 November 1817 10 May 1819
Cygnet Portsmouth 13 June 1817 November 1817 11 May 1819
Eclipse Plymouth 13 June 1817 March 1818 23 July 1819
Emulous (2nd of name) Plymouth 13 June 1817 June 1818 16 December 1819
Falcon Pembroke 13 June 1817 May 1818 10 June 1820
Frolic Pembroke 13 June 1817 August 1818 10 June 1820
Lyra (2nd of name) Plymouth 2 November 1818 March 1819 1 June 1821
Jasper (2nd of name) Portsmouth 2 November 1818 May 1819 26 July 1820
Britomart (2nd of name) Portsmouth 2 November 1818 June 1819 24 August 1820
Partridge Plymouth 2 November 1818 December 1819 22 March 1822
Reynard (2nd of name) Pembroke 2 November 1818 May 1820 26 October 1821
Weazle Chatham 2 November 1818 May 1820 26 March 1822
Kingfisher Woolwich 2 November 1818 December 1820 11 March 1823
Procris Chatham 2 November 1818 March 1821 21 June 1822
Algerine Deptford 2 November 1818 April 1821 10 June 1823
Magnet Woolwich 2 November 1818 June 1821 13 March 1823
Halcyon Woolwich 2 November 1818 unknown Cancelled
21 February 1831
Zephyr Pembroke 2 November 1818 November 1821 1 November 1823
Opossum (2nd of name) Sheerness 2 November 1818 November 1819 11 December 1821
Onyx (2nd of name) Sheerness 2 November 1818 November 1819 24 January 1822
Plover Portsmouth 23 May 1820 August 1820 30 June 1821
Ferret Portsmouth 23 May 1820 August 1820 12 October 1821
Hope (2nd of name) Plymouth 23 May 1820 March 1822 8 December 1824
Mutine Plymouth 23 May 1820 April 1822 19 May 1825
Forester Deptford 23 May 1820 unknown Re-ordered at Chatham
23 May 1826
Griffon Deptford 23 May 1820 unknown Re-ordered at Chatham
23 May 1826
Tyrian (2nd of name) Woolwich 6 January 1821 April 1823 16 September 1826
Philomel Portsmouth 19 April 1821 June 1821 28 April 1823
Royalist Portsmouth 19 April 1821 August 1821 12 May 1823

1823-1826 Orders[edit]

Forty-four vessels were ordered in 1823-1826, thirty on 25 March 1823, two on 23 November 1824, two on 7 December 1824, four on 23 May 1826 and six on 28 October 1826. Of these only thirty-four were built as sailing brigs; four were cancelled outright, and the orders for six more were replaced (before any work had commenced) by orders for paddle vessels, using the same names.

Name Built by
HM Dockyard
Ordered Laid down Launched
Leveret (2nd of name) Portsmouth 25 March 1823 May 1823 19 February 1825
Musquito Portsmouth 25 March 1823 May 1823 19 February 1825
Hearty Chatham 25 March 1823 July 1823 22 October 1824
Myrtle Portsmouth 25 March 1823 July 1823 14 September 1825
Lapwing Chatham 25 March 1823 September 1823 20 February 1825
Sheldrake Pembroke 25 March 1823 November 1823 19 May 1825
Harpy Chatham 25 March 1823 March 1824 16 July 1825
Fairy Chatham 25 March 1823 July 1824 25 April 1826
Skylark Pembroke 25 March 1823 May 1825 6 May 1826
Espoir Chatham 25 March 1823 January 1825 9 May 1826
Calypso (2nd of name)
(ex Hyaena)
Chatham 25 March 1823 March 1825 19 August 1826
Spey Pembroke 25 March 1823 July 1825 6 October 1827
Variable Pembroke 25 March 1823 May 1826 6 October 1827
Briseis (2nd of name) Deptford 25 March 1823 August 1827 3 July 1829
Rapid Portsmouth 25 March 1823 January 1824 17 August 1829
Recruit Portsmouth 25 March 1823 February 1825 17 August 1829
Reindeer Plymouth 25 March 1823 December 1824 29 September 1829
Thais Pembroke 25 March 1823 July 1828 12 October 1829
Rolla (2nd of name) Plymouth 25 March 1823 June 1825 10 December 1829
Savage Plymouth 25 March 1823 October 1829 29 December 1830
Saracen Plymouth 25 March 1823 December 1829 30 January 1831
Scorpion Plymouth 25 March 1823 June 1830 28 July 1832
Sealark Plymouth 25 March 1823 November 1830 Cancelled
10 January 1831
Hyaena
(ex Calypso)
Deptford 25 March 1823 unknown Cancelled
21 February 1831
Termagent Portsmouth 23 November 1824 October 1829 26 March 1838
Lynx Portsmouth 23 November 1824 February 1830 2 September 1833
Nautilus Woolwich 7 December 1824 April 1829 11 March 1830
Curlew Woolwich 7 December 1824 November 1829 25 February 1830
Delight (2nd of name) Chatham 23 May 1826 August 1827 27 November 1829
Algerine (2nd of name) Chatham 23 May 1826 October 1827 1 August 1829
Griffon (2nd of name) Chatham 23 May 1826 July 1830 11 September 1832
Forester (2nd of name) Chatham 23 May 1826 September 1830 28 August 1832
Partridge (2nd of name) Pembroke 28 October 1826 August 1828 12 October 1829
Wizard Pembroke 28 October 1826 October 1829 24 May 1830
Charybdis Portsmouth 28 October 1826 December 1829 27 February 1831
Buzzard Portsmouth 28 October 1826 December 1829 23 March 1834
Foxhound Plymouth 28 October 1826 unknown Cancelled
21 February 1831
Helena Plymouth 28 October 1826 unknown Cancelled
21 February 1831

Six of the vessels originally ordered 25 March 1823 were swiftly re-ordered as paddle steamers in May 1824 - Alban and Carron (both at Deptford), Columbia, Confiance, Dee and Echo (all four at Woolwich).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "HMS Beagle - Port of science and discovery - Port Cities". Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  2. ^ Taylor 2008, pp. 36–38
  3. ^ FitzRoy 1839, pp. 17–22
  4. ^ Taylor 2008, pp. 36–38
  5. ^ Gardiner, Robert (Ed.) (1998) The Naval War of 1812, Chatham Publishing, London, p. 90.
  6. ^ a b Taylor 2008, pp. 33–35
  7. ^ Keynes, Richard (2001), Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary, Cambridge University Press, p. 152 
  8. ^ Stokes 1846, Volume 1, Chapter 1
  9. ^ a b c Taylor 2008, p. 37
  10. ^ Taylor 2008, pp. 36–37, 183–185
  11. ^ Francis West (1967). "Biography - Owen Stanley". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 2014-12-01.