HMS Seahorse (1748)

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Career (Great Britain) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Seahorse
Ordered: 4 February 1748
Builder: John Barnard, Harwich
Laid down: 23 February 1748
Launched: 13 September 1748
Commissioned: November 1748
Fate: Sold on 30 December 1784
General characteristics
Class & type: Sixth-rate frigate
Tons burthen: 519 (bm)
Length: 114 ft 0 in (34.75 m) (overall)
95 ft 4 in (29.06 m) (keel)
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 2 in (3.10 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: 160
Armament:

Upper deck: 22 × 9-pounder guns

QD: 2 x 3-pounder guns
For other ships of the same name, see HMS Seahorse.

HMS Seahorse was a 24-gun sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy, famous as the ship on which a young Horatio Nelson served as a midshipman.[1]

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Seahorse was ordered on 4 February 1748, with the contract being awarded to John Barnard, of Harwich, on 23 February 1748, with the keel being laid that very day. She was built to a design by the Surveyor of the Navy Jacob Acworth, named Seahorse on 23 August, launched on 13 September 1748 and commissioned in November 1748, being completed on 17 February 1749 at Sheerness Dockyard, having cost £4,063.10.0d to build, and with a further £1,264.14.8d spent on fitting her out.[2]

Career[edit]

Her first commander was Captain Samuel Barrington, who took over in November 1748, and sailed her to the Mediterranean in 1749.[2] Seahorse was back in the English Channel in 1752, with Barrington being succeeded by Hugh Palliser in April 1753.[2] Seahorse then served initially in Home waters, before sailing to North America in January 1755. She returned to Britain in July that year, carrying the flag of Admiral Augustus Keppel. Captain George Darby took command in 1756, and sailed from Britain bound for Newfoundland on 15 May 1756.[2] Darby was succeed by Captain Thomas Taylor in March 1757, under whom Seahorse was active in the North Sea, later fighting an engagement with the sloops HMS Raven and HMS Bonetta against two enemy frigates off Ostend.[2] Seahorse was then briefly under the command of acting Commander James Hackman from July 1758, before Captain James Smith took over command in October. The Seahorse then left for North America on 14 February 1759, and spent the rest of the year at Quebec.[2]

The Seahorse was surveyed on 24 January 1760 and declared in need of repairs. A large repair was carried out at Deptford between March and August that year, at a cost of £5,765.19.8d.[2] She fought an action with the 32-gun L’Aigrette on 10 January 1761, before passing under the command of Captain Charles Cathcart Grant later in the month.[2] She sailed for India on 4 February 1761 to observe the transit of Venus, and then moved to Manilla until October 1762. Captain Robert Jocelyn took command on 1763, after which the Seahorse returned to England and was paid off in June 1763. Further repairs were carried out in 1770, before she was recommissioned in January 1771 under Thomas Pasley.[2] She then sailed to the Leeward Islands in August that year. In 1773 Digby Dent took command, before Seahorse was paid off to undergo another refit. She was recommissioned in August 1773 under George Farmer.[2] A young Horatio Nelson was assigned to the ship as a midshipman through the influence of his uncle, Maurice Suckling.[3] Also a midshipman aboard the Seahorse at this time was Thomas Troubridge, another future admiral.[4]

Farmer sailed to the East Indies in November 1773. On 19 February 1775 Seahorse fought a battle with two of Hyder Ali's ketches off Anjengo.[2] Farmer was succeeded by John Panton in June 1777.

Early on the morning of 10 August 1778, Admiral Edward Vernon's squadron, consisting of Rippon (Vernon's flagship), Coventry, Seahorse, Cormorant, and the East India Company's ship Valentine, encountered a French squadron under Admiral François l'Ollivier de Tronjoly which consisted of the 64-gun ship of the line Le Brillant, the frigate La Pourvoyeuse and three smaller ships, Sartine, Lauriston, and Brisson. An inconclusive action followed for about two hours in mid-afternoon. The French broke off the action and the British vessels were too damaged to be able to catch them up again. In the action the British suffered 11 men killed and 53 wounded; Seahorse alone lost three men killed and five wounded.[5]

Seahorse captured Sartine on 25 August 1778. Sartine had been patrolling off Pondichery with Pourvoyeuse when they sighted two East Indiamen, which were sailing blithely along, unaware of the outbreak of war. The French vessels gave chase lazily. Sartine's captain, Count du Chaillar, first had to be roused from his bed ashore. The British merchant vessels escaped, but Sartine came too close to Vernon's squadron. He sent Coventry and Seahorse after her and she surrendered after a short action. A French account remarks acidly that she surrendered to a frigate of her own size without a fight.[6] All four Royal Navy vessels in Vernon's squadron shared in the prize money.[7] (Vernon had already sent Valentine off with dispatches.) The Royal Navy took Sartine into service as the fifth-rate frigate HMS Sartine.

By February 1779 Seahorse seems to have been under the command of Alexander M’Coy. Captain Robert Montagu took over command in March 1781, and under him Seahorse was present at the Battles of Sadras on 17 February 1782, Providien on 12 April, Negapatam on 6 July, Trincomalee on 3 September and Cuddalore on 20 June 1783.[2] Charles Hughes took command in 1783, followed by John Drew in 1784.

Decommissioning and sale[edit]

Seahorse was paid off for the final time in March 1784, and was sold on 30 December 1784 for the sum of £1,115, to Richard Buller. Seahorse was subsequently rebuilt by John Randall, of Rotherhithe, and entered mercantile service under the name Ravenscroft.[2]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Nelson, Horatio; Colin White (2005). Nelson, the New Letters. Boydell Press. ISBN 1-84383-130-9. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Winfield. British Warships of the Age of Sail. pp. p. 255. 
  3. ^ Sugden, p. 81.
  4. ^ Sugden, p. 84.
  5. ^ Anon. (1801), Section: Pon.
  6. ^ Barras (1895), Vol. 1, pp.371-2.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 12718. p. 22. 17 January 1786.

References[edit]

External links[edit]