Cruizer-class brig-sloop

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For other Cruizer class ships, see Cruizer class.
HMS Pelorus
The Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Pelorus aground at low water
Class overview
Name: Cruizer-class brig sloop
Operators:  Royal Navy
In service: 1797–1826
Completed: 110
General characteristics [1]
Type: Brig-sloop
Tons burthen: 3824194 (bm)
Length: 100 ft (30 m) (overall); 77 ft 3 12 in (23.559 m) (keel)
Beam: 30 ft 6 in (9.30 m)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 9 in (3.89 m)
Sail plan: Brig
Complement: 121
Armament: 2 × 6-pounder bow guns + 16 × 32-pounder carronades

The Cruizer class was an 18-gun class of brig-sloops of the Royal Navy. Brig-sloops were the same as ship-sloops except for their rigging. A ship-sloop was rigged with three masts whereas a brig-sloop was rigged as a brig with only a fore mast and a main mast.

The Cruizer class was the most numerous class of warships built by the British during the Napoleonic wars, with 110 vessels built to this design, and the second most numerous class of sailing warship built to a single design for any navy at any time, after the smaller 10-gun Cherokee-class brig-sloops.[1]

Of the vessels in the class, eight (8%) were lost to the enemy, either destroyed or taken. Another was taken, but retaken. Fourteen (13%) were wrecked while in British service. Lastly, four (4%) foundered while in British service. In all cases of foundering and in many cases of wrecking all the crew was lost. Many of the vessels in the class were sold, some into mercantile service. One at least was wrecked. The fate of the others is generally unknown.

Design[edit]

In December 1796, the Navy Board placed new orders for four flush-decked sloops, to differing designs by the two Surveyors of the Navy — Sir William Rule and Sir John Henslow. In order to compare the qualities of ship-rigged and brig-rigged vessels, one vessel to each design was to be completed as a ship-sloop and the other as a brig-sloop. While the Henslow-designed vessels (the brig-sloop Busy and the ship-sloop Echo) would see no further sisters built, the Rule-designed vessels (the brig-sloop Cruizer and the ship-sloop Snake would each have a single sister ordered in the following March, and Rule's Cruizer design would subsequently see 106 constructed during the Napoleonic War.[1] The hull design was exceeding fine (narrow as compared to length), a noted deadrise amidships, and a sharp sheer, giving away the design that had origins in the smaller cutter-type designs.[2]

The order placed in March 1797 for the first sister to the Cruizer was subsequently cancelled, but new orders were placed from 1802 up to 1813. A final order in 1815 (HMS Samarang) was cancelled in 1820.[1]

The Cruizer-class brig-sloops proved to be fast sailers and seaworthy, and the 32-pounder carronade armament gave them enormous short-range firepower, exceeding the nominal broadside of a standard 36-gun 18-pounder frigate. To a Royal Navy increasingly desperate for manpower, the great attraction of the design was that — thanks to the two-masted rig and the use of carronades with their small gun crews — this firepower could be delivered by a crew only a third the size of a frigate's. The Dutch built three 18 gun-brigs — Zwaluw, Mercuur and Kemphaan — to a similar design; in one case apparently a copy, though without the square tuck stern. The Russian brig Olymp was also built to the same lines.

The naval historian C.S. Forester commented in relation to the smaller gun-brigs (brig-rigged vessels of under 200 tons) that

The type was a necessary one but represented the inevitable unsatisfactory compromise when a vessel has to be designed to fight, to be seaworthy and to have a long endurance, all on a minimum displacement and at minimum expense. Few men in the Royal Navy had a good word to say for the gun-brigs, which rolled terribly and were greatly over-crowded, but they had to be employed.[3]

It should be noted that later in the same book he was more complementary as regards the larger brigs such as the Cruizer class HMS Penguin.

Perhaps the most salient aspect of his statement is that the Cruizer-class and its smaller sister class, the Cherokee class, highlight the huge expansion of the Royal Navy. Whatever else one may say of the class, the Cruizer-class brig-sloops were both fast and provided serious firepower for minimal crewing, characteristics that appealed to a Navy suffering serious and ever increasing staffing shortages.[2] The class proved to be ideal for many of the shallow water commitments in the Baltic and Ionian Seas, as well as around Danish waters.

Manning[edit]

Prior to 1808, the complement of officers, men, and boys for a Cruizer-class brig-sloop included 15 Royal Marines. After 1808, the vessels carried 20 marines comprising 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 18 privates (the marine contingent on unrated vessels did not include a commissioned officer).

Service in the War of 1812[edit]

During the Anglo-American War of 1812, several of the class fell victim to larger American ship-rigged sloops of war of nominally the same class. The American vessels enjoyed an advantage in weight of broadside and number of crew.[4] The ship-rigged sloops enjoyed the ability to back sail, and their rigging proved more resistant to damage; by contrast, a single hit to the brig-sloop's rig could render it unmanageable. In many cases, however, the American advantage was in the quality of their crews,[4] as the American sloops generally had hand-picked volunteer crews, while the brigs belonging to the overstretched Royal Navy had to make do with crews filled out with landsmen picked up by the press gang.[4]

The comparison was made in the London press unfavorably and was not entirely fair. The American ship-rigged sloops were bigger vessels, averaging just over 500 tons (bm); the Cruizer-class vessels were not quite 400 tons (bm). The crew sizes were disproportionate at 175 to 120, and at least some of the Cruizer-class in these combats were outfitted with 24-pounder carronades vice the normal 32-pounders.[4] The rigging was often the deciding factor as the USS Peacock vs. HMS Epervier combat would highlight. When HMS Epervier lost her main topmast and had her foremast damaged she was disabled.[5] USS Wasp, in another combat, would retain control despite the loss of her gaff, main topmast, and the mizzen topgallant. USS Wasp vs. HMS Avon provides another example. Despite being fought gallantly, Avon was crippled by loss of a gaff. She then lost her main mast, which loss rendered her immobile.[6] The Cyrus-class vessels, built in 1813-1814, were intended as an answer to the American ship-rigged sloops.[7]

Vessels[edit]

The following table lists the Cruizer-class brig-sloops (and the two Snake class ship sloops, which were identical apart from carrying a three-masted ship rig) according to the date on which the Admiralty ordered them.

Sketch of a brig-sloop, probably HMS Clio, by Cmdr. William Farrington, ca. 1812, Peabody Essex Museum
Name Ordered Builder Laid down Launched Fate
Snake (ship rig) 19 December 1796 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard January 1797 18 December 1797 Sold to be broken up on 18 April 1816
Cruizer (brig rig) 19 December 1796 Stephen Teague, Ipswich February 1797 20 December 1797 Broken up February 1819
Victor (ship rig) 11 March 1797 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, King's Lynn April 1797 19 March 1798 Sold to be broken up on 5 September 1808
unnamed (brig rig) 15 March 1797 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet never commenced order subsequently cancelled

All subsequent vessels were brig-rigged.

St Vincent's Board[edit]

HMS Surinam struck by lightning, 11 December 1806, by Nicholas Matthews Condy, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The Board ordered 19 in 1802 and 1803.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Scorpion 27 November 1802 John King, Dover 17 October 1803 Sold 1819
Dispatch 27 November 1802 Richard Symons, Falmouth 26 May 1804 Broken up 1811
Scout 27 November 1802 Peter Atkinson, Hull 7 August 1804 Sold 1827
Musquito 27 November 1802 John Preston, Great Yarmouth 4 September 1804 Sold 1822
Swallow 27 November 1802 Benjamin Tanner, Dartmouth 24 December 1805 Broken up 1815
Ferret 27 November 1802 Benjamin Tanner, Dartmouth 4 January 1806 Abandoned as a wreck 1813
Leveret 16 July 1803 John King, Dover 14 January 1806 Wrecked 1807
Belette 16 July 1803 John King, Dover 21 March 1806 Wrecked 1812
Amaranthe 15 October 1803 John Dudman, Deptford Wharf 20 November 1804 Sold 1815
Calypso 15 October 1803 John Dudman, Deptford Wharf 2 February 1805 Broken up 1821
Espoir 7 November 1803 John King, Dover 22 September 1804 Broken up 1821
Surinam 7 November 1803 Obadiah Ayles, Topsham January 1805 Sold for breaking up 1825
Wolverine 7 November 1803 Thomas Owen, Topsham 1 March 1805 Sold 1816
Moselle 7 November 1803 John King, Dover October 1804 Sold 1815
Weazle 7 November 1803 Thomas Owen, Topsham 2 March 1805 Sold 1815
Minorca 7 November 1803 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, King's Lynn 14 June 1805 Broken up 1814
Racehorse 7 November 1803 Hamilton & Breeds, Hastings 17 February 1806 Wrecked 1822
Avon 9 December 1803 Richard Symons & Co., Falmouth 31 January 1805 Foundered as a result of damage in fight with U.S. 22-gun sloop-of-war Wasp 1814
Rover 9 December 1803 Joseph Todd, Berwick 13 February 1808 Sold 1828

Melville's First Board[edit]

An earlier USS Wasp boards the Cruizer-class HMS Frolic, 1812

The Board ordered six vessels to this design during May 1804, all of fir. Building of fir (pine) made for speedier construction at the cost of reduced durability in service.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Beagle 22 May 1804 Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall Yard 8 August 1804 Sold 1814
Elk 22 May 1804 Frances Barnard, Sons & Co., Deptford Dockyard 22 August 1804 Broken up 1812
Raven 23 May 1804 Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall Yard 25 July 1804 Wrecked 1805
Saracen 23 May 1804 Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall Yard 25 July 1804 Broken up 1812
Reindeer 23 May 1804 Samuel & Daniel Brent, Rotherhithe 15 August 1804 Taken by USS Wasp and burnt 1814
Harrier 23 May 1804 Frances Barnard, Sons & Co., Deptford Dockyard 22 August 1804 Believed to have foundered near Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean in March 1809[8]

Barham's Board[edit]

The Cruizer-class HMS Recruit (foreground) harries the French 74-gun D'Hautpoult, 1809

The Board ordered 22 vessels to this design, seventeen of which were launched in 1806 and five in 1807.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Forester 16 July 1805 John King, Dover 3 August 1806 Sold 1819
Foxhound 16 July 1805 John King, Dover 30 November 1806 Foundered 1809
Mutine 22 July 1805 Henry Tucker, Bideford 15 August 1806 Sold 1819
Emulous 21 August 1805 William Row, Newcastle June 1806 Wrecked 1812; crew saved but Emulous was unsalvageable.[9]
Grasshopper 30 August & 31 October 1805 Richards (Brothers) & (John) Davidson, Hythe 29 September 1806 Stranded at Texel and surrendered to the Batavian Republic on 25 December 1811, with no loss of life among her crew,[10] though the pilot was killed.[11] She became the Dutch brig Irene; broken up at Flushing in 1822.
Columbine 12 November 1805 Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard 16 July 1806 Wrecked January 1824 in Port Longue Harbour, Sapientza Island, Greece; Captain and master were reprimanded for having only one anchor down.[12]
Pandora 12 November 1805 John Preston, Great Yarmouth 11 October 1806 Wrecked February 1811 on the Scaw Reef off the coast of Jutland. The ship's boats were frozen to the deck so it was only the next day that the Danes were able to rescue most of the crew; 29 of her crew of 121 died and the rest became prisoners.[13]
Alacrity 14 January 1806 William Row, Newcastle 13 November 1806 Taken by French brig Abeille 1811; in French Navy as Alacrity until broken up in 1822.
Raleigh 16 January 1806 Francis Hurry, Newcastle 24 December 1806 Sold 1841
Primrose 21 January 1806 Thomas Nickells, Fowey 5 August 1807 Wrecked 1809
Cephalus 22 January 1806 Custance & Stone, Great Yarmouth 10 January 1807 Broken up 1830
Procris 22 January 1806 Custance & Stone, Great Yarmouth 27 December 1806 Sold 1815
Redwing 24 January 1806 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea 30 August 1806 Foundered 1827 after leaving Sierra Leone; wreckage washed ashore in November near Mataceney suggested that lightning had started a fire that destroyed her.[14]
Ringdove 27 January 1806 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea 16 October 1806 Sold 1829
Peacock 27 January 1806 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 9 December 1806 Taken and sunk by U.S. brig Hornet 1813. Peacock sank with four of her crew and three Americans aboard.[15]
Sappho 27 January 1806 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 15 December 1806 Broken up 1830
Recruit 27 January 1806 Thomas Hills, Sandwich 31 August 1806 Sold 1822
Royalist 27 January 1806 Thomas Hills, Sandwich 10 January 1807 Sold 1819
Carnation 28 January 1806 William Taylor, Bideford 3 October 1807 Taken by French brig Palinure 1808 and burnt 1809
Clio 29 January 1806 James Betts, Mistleythorn 10 January 1807 Broken up 1845
Philomel 4 February 1806 (Nicholas) Bools & (William) Good, Bridport 11 September 1806 Sold 1817
Frolic 4 February 1806 (Nicholas) Bools & (William) Good, Bridport 9 December 1806 Taken by U.S. 22-gun sloop-of-war Wasp but retaken; broken up 1813

Grenville's Board[edit]

The Board ordered 10 vessels to this design - all on 1 October 1806, nine of which were launched in 1807 and one in 1808.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Derwent 1 October 1806 Isaac Blackburn, Turnchapel, Plymouth 23 May 1807 Sold 1817
Eclair 1 October 1806 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea, Essex 8 July 1807 Broken up 1831
Eclipse 1 October 1806 John King, Dover 4 August 1807 Sold for mercantile use 1815
Barracouta 1 October 1806 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 6 July 1807 Sold 1815
Nautilus 1 October 1806 James Betts, Mistleythorn 5 August 1807 Broken up 1823
Pilot 1 October 1806 Robert Guillaume, Northam, Southampton 6 August 1807 Sold 1828
Sparrowhawk 1 October 1806 Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea, Essex 20 August 1807 Sold 1841
Zenobia 1 October 1806 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, King's Lynn 7 October 1807 Sold 1835
Magnet 1 October 1806 Robert Guillaume, Northam, Southampton 19 October 1807 Wrecked 1809
Peruvian 1 October 1806 George Parsons, Warsash 26 April 1808 Broken up 1830

Mulgrave's Board[edit]

This Board ordered 14 vessels to this design during 1807 and 1808.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Pelorus 30 July 1807 (contract 7 October 1807) Robert Guillaume, Northam 25 June 1808 Sold for mercantile use at Singapore 1842 and wrecked 1844
Doterel 31 December 1807 (contract 9 January 1808) Richard Blake & John Scott, Bursledon 6 October 1808 Broken up c.1855
Arachne 4 August 1808 Thomas Hills, Sandwich 18 February 1809 Sold 1837
Persian 4 August 1808 Daniel List, Cowes 2 May 1809 Wrecked 1813
Castilian 4 August 1808 Thomas Hills, Sandwich 29 May 1809 Broken up 1829
Charybdis 5 September 1808 Mark Richards & John Davidson, Hythe 28 August 1809 Sold 1819
Scylla 5 September 1808 Robert Davy, Topsham 29 June 1809 Broken up 1846
Thracian 30 September 1808 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury 15 July 1809 Broken up 1829
Trinculo 5 November 1808 Richard Blake & John Tyson, Bursledon 15 July 1809 Broken up 1841
Hecate 5 November 1808 John King, Upnor 30 May 1809 Sold 1817 and resold to Chile 9 November 1818; served as Galvarino until broken up 1828.
Crane 5 November 1808 Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindbury 29 July 1809 Foundered 1814
Rifleman 5 November 1808 John King, Upnor 12 August 1809 Sold 1836
Echo 21 November 1808 John Pelham, Frindsbury 1 July 1809 Broken up 1817
Sophie 21 November 1808 John Pelham, Frindsbury 8 September 1809 Sold 1825

Charles Yorke's Board[edit]

The USS Wasp rakes the Cruizer-class HMS Avon, 1814

This Board ordered 15 of the design between January 1811 and January 1812.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Childers 19 January 1811 Portsmouth Dockyard (M/Shipwright Nicholas Diddams) 9 July 1812 Broken up 1822
Curlew 30 August 1811 (William) Good & Co., Bridport 27 May 1812 Sold at Bombay 1822; from 1823 as Jamesina served as an opium runner for Jardine & Matheson until at least the mid-1830s.
Wasp 30 August 1811 Robert Davy, Topsham 9 July 1812 Broken up 1847
Fairy 30 August 1811 William Taylor, Bideport 11 June 1812 Broken up 1821
Pelican 30 August 1811 Robert Davy, Topsham August 1812 Sold 1865
Bacchus 30 August 1811 Chatham Dockyard (M/Shipwright Robert Seppings) 17 April 1813 Breakwater at Harwich 1829
Pandora 30 August 1811 Deptford Dockyard (M/Shipwright Robert Nelson to July 1811; completed by William Stone) 12 August 1813 Sold 1831
Nimrod 26 September 1811 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 25 May 1812 Bilged after being run ashore in a storm. Salved with no loss of life, but sold as unrepairable in 1827.[16]
Saracen (2nd of name) 26 September 1811 (Nicholas) Bools & (William) Good, Bridport 25 July 1812 Sold 1819
Satellite 5 October 1811 Daniel List, Fishbourne 9 October 1812 Sold in East Indies 1824
Arab 24 October 1811 John Pellham, Frindsbury 22 August 1812 Wrecked, with the loss of all her crew, in Broad Haven near Belmullet on the coast of Mayo, Ireland, in 1823.[12]
Espiegle 2 November 1811 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 10 August 1812 Sold 1832
Heron (ex-Rattlesnake) 14 November 1811 John King, Upnor 22 October 1812 Broken up 1831
Dispatch (2nd of name) 14 November 1811 John King, Upnor 7 December 1812 Sold 1836
Grasshopper (2nd of name) 6 January 1812 Portsmouth Dockyard (M/Shipwright Nicholas Diddams) 17 May 1813 Sold 1832

Melville's Second Board[edit]

HMS Pelorus ca. 1830, after conversion to a three-masted ship-sloop.

The Board ordered 20, of which only eighteen were built; two were cancelled.

Name Ordered Builder Launched Fate
Fly 23 April 1812 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 16 February 1813 Sold at Bombay 1828
Epervier 6 May 1812 Mrs. Mary Ross, Rochester 21 December 1812 Taken by 22-gun sloop USS Peacock 1814
Jaseur 6 May 1812 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 2 February 1813 Sold 1845
Argus 8 June 1812 Thomas Hills, Sandwich 11 September 1813 Sold 1828
Halcyon 7 July 1812 Edward Larking & William Spong, King's Lynn 16 May 1813 Wrecked 1814
Challenger 29 July 1812 Hobbs & Hellyer, Redbridge 15 May 1813 Sold at Trincomalee 1824
Penguin 20 August 1812 William Bottomley, King's Lynn 29 June 1813 Taken by U.S. brig Hornet and scuttled 1815
Lynx (ex-Pandora; renamed 24 September 1812 7 September 1812 M/Shipwright Edward sison Cancelled
Victor 2 October 1812 East India Company, Bombay (M/Shipwright Jamsetjee Bomajee Wadia) 29 October 1814 Foundered in 1842 with all hands while en route from Vera Cruz, Mexico to Halifax.[17]
Zebra 2 October 1812 East India Company, Bombay (M/Shipwright Jamsetjee Bomajee Wadia) 18 December 1815 Wrecked 1840
Carnation (2nd of name) 8 October 1812 William & James Durkin, Norham (Southampton) 29 July 1813 Sold 1836
Elk (2nd of name) 2 November 1812 Hobbs & Hellyer, Redbridge (Southampton) 28 August 1813 Sold 1836
Confiance 2 November 1812 Mrs. Mary Ross, Rochester 30 August 1813 Wrecked, with the loss of all her crew, between Moyin Head and the Three Castles Head near Crookhaven, Ireland, in 1822.[12]
Alert 2 November 1812 Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet 13 July 1813 Sold 1832
Harlequin 2 November 1812 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 15 July 1813 Sold at Jamaica 1829
Harrier (2nd of name) 2 November 1812 Jabez Bailey, Ipswich 28 July 1813 Sold 1829
Ontario (ex-Mohawk; renamed 9 April 1813 2 November 1812 Richard Chapman, Bideford 26 October 1813 Sold 1832
Belette (2nd of name) 14 August 1813 Edward Larking & William Spong, King's Lynn 18 June 1814 Sold 1828
Gannet 14 August 1813 Edward Larking & William Spong, King's Lynn 13 November 1814 Sold 1838
Samarang 6 September 1815 Portsmouth Dockyard (M/Shipwright Nicholas Diddams) Cancelled 30 September 1820

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Winfield (2008), pp. 282 & 291.
  2. ^ a b The Naval War of 1812, p.88
  3. ^ Forester, p.79
  4. ^ a b c d The Naval War of 1812, p.90
  5. ^ The Naval War of 1812, p.91.
  6. ^ The Naval War of 1812, p.87.
  7. ^ The Naval War of 1812, p.85.
  8. ^ Gossett (1986), p.71.
  9. ^ Gossett (1986), p.84.
  10. ^ Gossett (1986), p.82.
  11. ^ Grocott (1997), p.335.
  12. ^ a b c Gossett (1986), p.100.
  13. ^ Gossett (1986), p.78.
  14. ^ Gossett (1986), p.102.
  15. ^ Gossett (1986), p.88.
  16. ^ Gossett (1986), p. 102.
  17. ^ Gossett (1986), p.108.

References[edit]

Reading[edit]

  • Petrejus, E W (1970). Modelling the brig-of-war Irene (A handbook for building a Cruizer-class model). De Esch. ASIN B0006C7NRA. [Note that there was no actual vessel that carried the name Irene.]

External links[edit]

External images
Model of HMS Cruizer
Another model of HMS Cruizer