HMS Providence (1791)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Providence.
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Providence
Builder: Perry & Co, Blackwall Yard
Launched: 23 April 1791
Acquired: February 1791
Commissioned: April 1791
Fate: Wrecked on 16 May 1797
General characteristics
Class & type: Sloop-of-war
Tons burthen: 406 bm
Length: 107 ft 10 in (32.87 m) (overall)
89 ft 6 in (27.28 m) (keel)
Beam: 29 ft 1 in (8.86 m)
Draught: 7 ft 8 in (2.34 m) (standard)
10 ft (3.0 m) (deep)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 3 in (3.73 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 100
Armament: 10-guns: (later 12)
  • 10 × 4 pdrs (altered to 18 × 4pdrs in 1797)
  • 14 × ½pdr swivels

HMS Providence was a sloop of the Royal Navy, famous for being commanded by William Bligh on his second breadfruit voyage between 1791 and 1794.

The Providence was purchased on the stocks from Perry & Co, Blackwall Yard in February 1791. She was launched on 23 April 1791 and commissioned under Bligh that month. She was coppered at Woolwich for the sum of £1,267, and then again at Deptford for £3,981.

Rated as a sixth rate, she sailed for the Pacific on 2 August 1791. Bligh completed a mission to collect breadfruit trees and other botanical specimens from the Pacific, which he transported to the West Indies. Specimens were given to the Royal Botanic Gardens in St. Vincent. Providence returned to Britain in August 1793, having been re-rated as a sloop on 30 September 1793.

She underwent another refit at Woolwich and was recommissioned in October 1793 under the command of Commander William Robert Broughton. Broughton was ordered to rejoin the Vancouver Expedition and departed Britain on 15 February 1795. Reaching Monterrey long after the expedition made its final departure, Broughton decided (correctly) that Vancouver would not have left his surveying task unfinished and departed to chart the coast of east Asia.[1]

In the course of his explorations, he named Caroline Island Carolina (which later became "Caroline") "in compliment to the daughter of Sir Philip Stephens of the Admiralty.".[2] This name superseded that given by Pedro Fernández de Quirós, a Portuguese explorer sailing on behalf of Spain; his account names the island "San Bernardo."[2]

Providence voyaged to Asia as the crew surveyed the coast of Hokkaidō before wintering at Macau. There Broughton purchased a small schooner which proved providential when, on 16 May 1797 Providence was wrecked at Miyako-jima, south of Okinawa. Broughton and his crew continued the mission in the schooner, exploring northeast Asia, and returned home in February 1799.

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