HMS Arrow (1796)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Arrow.
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Arrow
Builder: HOOBS at Redbridge
Commissioned: 1796
Decommissioned: 1805
Captured: 4 Feb 1805
Fate: captured and sunk
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 386 tons BM
Length: 128 ft 8 in (39.22 m)
Beam: 30 ft (9.1 m)
Depth of hold: 7 ft 11 in (2.41 m)
Complement: 121
Armament: 28 × 32 pounder carronade

HMS Arrow was a 28-gun sloop in the Royal Navy. She was purchased in 1796, but captured and sunk by the French on 4 February 1805.[1]


The Arrow and her sister ship Dart were "Two experimental vessels designed by Samuel Bentham, Esq., at that time inspector-general of his majesty's naval works. They were in shape much sharper than vessels of war in general, and projected or raked forward, at each end like a wherry. Their breadth increased from the water-line upwards ; whereby it was considered that they would be stiffer, and less liable to overset than ordinary vessels. The decks were straight fore and aft, and the frames or ribs of less curvature than usual. They were constructed to carry twenty-four 32-pounder carronades upon the main deck, and were afterwards fitted to receive two more carronades of the same nature on each of their two short decks, which we may call the quarterdeck and forecastle. All these carronades were fitted upon the non-recoil principle. It is believed that both the Arrow and Dart subsequently took on board, for their quarterdecks, two additional 32s. They proved to be stiff vessels and swift sailers, but it was found necessary to add some dead wood to their bottoms, in order to make them stay better. Not knowing exactly what characteristic designation to give the Arrow and Dart, we have merely named them: they must be considered, especially when their force is compared with that of the two or three classes next above them, as extraordinary vessels for sloops of war, but as such only they ranked."[2]

In 1799 Arrow was commanded by Nathaniel Portlock. On 9 September 1799 she captured the Dutch ship Draak, at anchor in the narrow passage between Vlie and Harlingen.[3] She was also involved in the wreck and attempted salvage of HMS Lutine, which sank on 9 October 1799 carrying a large cargo of gold.[4]

On 25 July 1800 Nemesis was part of a squadron that also included Terpsichore, Prévoyante, Arrow, and the hired armed lugger Nile, when it encountered the Danish frigate HDMS Freja, which was escorting a convoy of two ships, two brigs and two galliots.[5] Captain Baker of Nemesis hailed her and said that he would send a boat to board the convoy. The Danish captain refused, and said that if a boat approached he would fire on it. Baker sent a midshipman and four men in a boat, and the Danes fired several shots, which missed the boat, but one of which killed a man on Nemesis. Nemesis then opened fire with her broadside. After an engagement of about 25 minutes, Freja, much damaged, struck. She had suffered eight men killed and many wounded; both Nemesis and Arrow each suffered two men killed and several wounded.[6] The British brought Freya and her convoy into the Downs on 6 March.[5] They later released her, and presumably the rest of the convoy. This incident led to strained relations with Denmark, and, in order to anticipate any hostile move from Copenhagen, the British government despatched Earl Whitworth in August on a special mission to Copenhagen. The Danes not being ready for war, his mission staved off hostilities for about a year. In 1807, after the second battle of Copenhagen, the British captured Freja and took her into the Royal Navy as HMS Freya.

In 1801 she participated in the Battle of Copenhagen.[7]


The French frigates Incorruptible and Hortense captured and sank Arrow near Gibraltar on 4 February 1805, while she was escorting a convoy.[8]


  1. ^ Colledge
  2. ^ James, Vol 1, p 403
  3. ^ James, Vol ii p. 388.
  4. ^ Van Der Molen, p.37.
  5. ^ a b Naval Chronicle, Vol. 4, p.157.
  6. ^ London Chronicle, 26–29 July 1800, p.104.
  7. ^ James, Vol III, pp 66-80
  8. ^ James (1823), Vol. 3, pp.391-397.