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: Hobbs & Hellyer at Redbridge
Commissioned: 1796
Decommissioned: 1805
Honors and
Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Arrow 13 Sept 1799"[1]
Captured: 4 Feb 1805
Fate: Sank after capture
General characteristics [2]
Tons burthen: 386 1694 (bm)
Length: 128 ft 8 in (39.22 m) (overall); 80 ft 8 in (24.59 m) (keel)
Beam: 30 ft (9.1 m)
Depth of hold: 7 ft 11 in (2.41 m)
Sail plan: Sloop
Complement: 121 (later 140)
Armament: Initially:

Upper deck (UD): 24 x 32-pounder carronades
QD= 2 x 32-pounder carronades with two more being added later
Fc: 2 x 32-pounder carronades
UD: 18 x 32-pounder carronades
QD: nil
Fc: 2 x 6-pounder chase guns

Note: All the carronades were experimental 24cwt carronades

HMS Arrow was a 28-gun sloop in the Royal Navy. The Admiralty purchased her in 1796. The French captured her on 4 February 1805, and sank her.[3]


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."[4]

French Revolutionary Wars[edit]

Commander Nathaniel Portlock commissioned Arrow in 1796.[2][5] On 1 June 1797 Arrow captured two French merchant vessels, the Jeune Albe and the Sept Freres.[6] Then on 25 April 1798 Arrow captured the Jonge Ferdinand.[7]

Between April and July 1799 Arrow sailed in company with Wolverine and the hired armed cutter Kent. Together, these three vessels captured a number of prizes. On 23 April they captured Blenie Rosetta.[8] On 29 May they took Active and Providence. One month later, on 28 June, they captured five fishing boats. Then on 13 July they captured the Altona.[8] Three days later they captured the Antony Wilhelm.[8] Lastly, on 29 July, they captured the Nancy.[Note 1]

Next, Wolverine was among the many British vessels that shared in the surrender of the Dutch Fleet at the Vlieter Incident.[9]

On 9 September Vice-Admiral Mitchell detached Arrow and Wolverine to attack a ship and a brig belonging to the Batavian Republic and anchored under the Vlie at the entrance to the Texel. Arrow had to lighten ship and the following day they crossed over the Flack abreast of Wieringen and saw the enemy in the passage leading from Vlie Island towards Harlingen. On 12 September Wolverine anchored within 60 yards of the brig and only had to fire one gun before the brig hauled down her colours. She proved to be the Gier, armed with fourteen 12-pounders. Arrow exchanged broadsides with the ship, Draak, of 24 guns (six 50-pound brass howitzers, two 32-pounder guns, and sixteen long 18-pounder guns), which surrendered when Wolverine came up. Draak turned out to be a sheer hulk so Captain Bolton burnt her. The British also captured two schooners, each of four 8-pounder guns, and four schuyts, each of two 8-pounder guns. The Dutch prisoners numbered 380 men.[10] In 1847 the Admiralty awarded the Naval General Service Medal with clasps "Arrow 13 Sept 1799" and "Wolverine 13 Sept. 1799" to any survivors of the two crews that claimed them.

Arrow and Wolverine weighed on 15 September and Wolverine went to take possession of a Batavian ship, the 24-gun Dolphin (Dolfijn), near Vlie which hoisted Orange colours as soon as the English came up. Two hundred and thirty prisoners were put aboard her and the command given to Lieutenant M'Dougal of Wolverine. Command of the Gier, a brand new vessel, went to Lieutenant Gilmour, First lieutenant of Arrow.[10] Gilmour would receive promotion to the rank of Commander for his part in the action.

Arrow was also involved in the wreck and attempted salvage of HMS Lutine, which sank on 9 October 1799 carrying a large cargo of gold.[11]

In November 1799 W. Bolton replaced Portlock in command of Arrow.[5]

On 25 July 1800 Nemesis was part of a squadron that also included Terpsichore, Prévoyante, Arrow, and the hired armed lugger Nile. The squadron encountered the Danish frigate HDMS Freja, which was escorting a convoy of two ships, two brigs and two galliots.[12] Captain Baker of Nemesis hailed Freja 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.[13] The British brought Freya and her convoy into the Downs on 6 March.[12] They later released her, and presumably the rest of the convoy.[Note 2] 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 1801 Arrow came under the command of Commander Thomas-Charles Brodie.[5] IN February Arrow recaptured the Betsey, of Montrose, which had been sailing from riga to Shoreham when a French privateer had captured her.[14]

He was her captain at the Battle of Copenhagen. Arrow suffered no casualties, though her sister ship Dart had two men killed and one wounded.[15] [16] After the battle Arrow took the dispatches back to England.[17]

In 1802 Commander Richard Budd Vincent replace Brodie.[5] He had received his promotion to Commander on 29 April and his appointment to command Arrow in May. He proceeded to sail her in off the Devonshire coast on anti-smuggler patrol.[18]

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

Arrow '​s design made her too recognizable at a distance so in February 1803 Vincent paid-off her;[18] however, he recommissioned her. In mid-June, Arrow recaptured the lugger Louisa, which had been carrying spirits when a French privateer had captured her. Arrow sent Louisa into Portsmouth.[19] In July Vincent sailed Arrow for the Mediterranean.[5]


In late 1804 Vincent and Arrow received orders to escort the Malta convoy from Malta to Britain.[18] The convoy numbered some 25-30 vessels.[20]

The French frigates Hortense and Incorruptible were cruising off the coast of Algeria when on 4 February, they attacked a convoy, destroying seven ships. Three days later, they encountered another convoy, this one under the escort Arrow and the 8-gun bomb vessel HMS Acheron; the French frigates destroyed the two Royal Navy vessels and captured three ships of the convoy; the rest of the convoy escaped.[21]

In the battle Arrow lost 13 men killed and 27 wounded. The French removed the survivors and shortly after the much-damaged Arrow rolled over on her beam ends and sank.[18]

After the loss of their escorts, some of the surviving vessels of the convoy fell prey to privateers. The Fuerte, of Cadiz, captured the Alert, Langley, master, the '"Castle, Anderson, master, a ship, and a brig and sent them into Malaga. Reportedly, Fuerte had captured a fifth vessel that she sent into Algeciras.[22]

Vincent and his crew were held as prisoners in Cartagena, Spain, for almost three months until Admiral Lord Nelson was able to arrange a cartel brig to return them to England. The court martial of Vincent and his crew for the loss of Arrow convened at Portsmouth on 7 June. The court martial honourably acquitted Vincent; he received promotion to post captain immediately thereafter. Captain Farquahar of Acheron also received a promotion to post captain.[18]

Notes, Citations, and References[edit]

  1. ^ On 20 January 1803 prize money resulting from the capture of the Blenie Rosetta, Active, Providence, five fishing boats, Altona, Antony Wilhelm and Nancy was due for payment.[8]
  2. ^ In 1807, after the second battle of Copenhagen, the British again captured Freja. This time they took her into the Royal Navy as HMS Freya.
  1. ^ The London Gazette: no. 20939. p. 239. 26 January 1849.
  2. ^ a b Winfield (2008), p. 384.
  3. ^ Colledge
  4. ^ James (1837), Vol. 1, p. 403.
  5. ^ a b c d e "NMM, vessel ID 380211". Warship Histories, vol v. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 14036. p. 775. 12 August 1797.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15268. p. 698. 17 June 1800.
  8. ^ a b c d The London Gazette: no. 15547. p. 40. 4 January 1803.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15531. p. 1184. 9 November 1802.
  10. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 15187. pp. 982–984. 24 September 1799.
  11. ^ Van Der Molen, p.37.
  12. ^ a b Naval Chronicle, Vol. 4, p.157.
  13. ^ London Chronicle, 26–29 July 1800, p.104.
  14. ^ Lloyd's List, no. 4127,[1] - accessed 15 October 2014.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 15354. pp. 402–404. 15 April 1801.
  16. ^ James (1837), Vol. 3, pp. 66-80.
  17. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine (May 1811), Vol. 81, Part 1, p.492.
  18. ^ a b c d e '"Annual Obituary (1832), p. 474; Longman.
  19. ^ Lloyd's List, no.4359,[2] - accessed 15 October 2014.
  20. ^ Lloyd's List, no.4197,[3] - accessed 16 October 2014.
  21. ^ James (1837), Vol. 3, pp.391-397.
  22. ^ Lloyd's List, no.4205,[4] - accessed 16 October 2014.

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