HMS Theseus (1786)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other ships of the same name, see HMS Theseus.
H.M.S. Theseus Vice Admiral Dacres, in the Hurricane Plate 1.jpg
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Theseus
Namesake: Theseus
Ordered: 11 July 1780
Builder: Perry, Blackwall Yard
Laid down: 3 September 1783
Launched: 25 September 1786
Honours and
awards:

Participated in:

Fate: Broken up, 1814
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Culloden-class ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1660 tons (1686.6 tonnes)
Length: 170 ft (52 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 47 ft 2 in (14.38 m)
Depth of hold: 19 ft 11 in (6.07 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Armament:

74 guns:

  • Gundeck: 28 × 32 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 14 × 9 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 4 × 9 pdrs

HMS Theseus was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy.

One of the eight Culloden class ships designed by Thomas Slade, she was built at Perry, Blackwall Yard, London and launched on 25 September 1786.[1]

Service[edit]

Commanded by Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson, she participated in the unsuccessful expedition of 1797 against Santa Cruz de Tenerife. In the engagement, Nelson was wounded by a musket ball while aboard the Theseus, precipitating the amputation of his right arm.[2]

In 1798, Theseus took part in the decisive Battle of the Nile, under the command of Captain Ralph Willett Miller. The Royal Navy fleet was outnumbered, at least in firepower, by the French fleet, which boasted the 118-gun ship-of-the-line L'Orient, three 80-gun warships and nine of the popular 74-gun ships. The Royal Navy fleet in comparison had just thirteen 74-gun ships and one 50-gun fourth-rate.[3]

During the battle Theseus, along with Goliath, assisted Alexander and Majestic, who were being attacked by a number of French warships. The French frigate Artemise surrendered to the British, with the crew setting fire to their ship to prevent it falling into the hands of the British. Two other French ships Heureux and Mercure ran aground and soon surrendered after a brief encounter with three British warships, one of which was Theseus.[4]

The battle was a complete success for the Royal Navy, as well as an important success for the career of Admiral Nelson. It was an utter rout for the French Navy and cut supply lines to the French army in Egypt, whose wider objective was to threaten British India. The casualties were heavy; the French suffered over 1,700 killed, over 600 wounded and 3,000 captured. The British suffered 218 dead and 677 wounded. Nine French warships were captured and two destroyed. Two other French warships managed to escape. Theseus had five sailors killed and thirty wounded, included one officer and five Royal Marines.[5]

Theseus also took part in the Siege of Acre, in 1799 and the Blockade of Saint-Domingue in 1803, the latter under Captain John Bligh.

She took part in the Battle of the Basque Roads in 1809. Lord Cochrane initiated a daring attack, led by fire ships and other explosive vessels, in an attempt to cause chaos among their target, an anchored French squadron. Many of the French ships were subsequently run aground due to the havoc that this attack caused. The enemy squadron would probably have been wiped out completely had the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Lord Gambier, not hesitated over necessary decisions, such as to deploy the main fleet which instead lay in wait for their orders. Thus the remnants of the French escaped destruction.[citation needed]

After a long and eventful career that included participation in many of the Royal Navy's most famous victories Theseus was broken up at Chatham in 1814.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p180.
  2. ^ Mostert, TLUAW p221
  3. ^ Mostert, TLUAW p266
  4. ^ Mostert, TLUAW p267
  5. ^ Mostert, TLUAW p268

References[edit]

  • Lavery, Brian (2003). The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8. 
  • Mostert, Noel (2007). The Line Upon A Wind. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-393-06653-1.