HMS Hercule (1798)
|Ordered:||14 August 1793|
|Laid down:||June 1794|
|Launched:||5 December 1797|
|Captured:||21 April 1798|
|Acquired:||21 April 1798|
|Fate:||Broken up in December 1810|
|General characteristics |
|Class and type:||Téméraire-class ship of the line|
|Length:||55.87 metres (183.3 ft) (172 pied)|
|Beam:||14.90 metres (48 ft 11 in)|
|Draught:||7.26 metres (23.8 ft) (22 pied)|
|Propulsion:||Up to 2,485 m2 (26,750 sq ft) of sails|
HMS Hercule was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She was previously Hercule, a Téméraire class ship of the line of the French Navy, but was captured on her maiden voyage in 1798, and spent the rest of her career as a British ship. She was broken up in 1810.
French career and capture
During her maiden journey, on 21 April 1798, and just 24 hours out of port, she was captured by the British ship HMS Mars after a violent fight at the Battle of the Raz de Sein, off Île de Sein near Brest. Hercule attempted to escape through the Passage du Raz, but the tide was running in the wrong direction, and she was forced to anchor, giving the British the chance to attack at close quarters. The two ships were of equal force, both seventy-fours, but Hercule was newly commissioned; after more than an hour and a half of bloody fighting at close quarters she struck her colours at 10.30 pm, having lost — by her own officers' estimate — 290 men killed and wounded. On Mars 31 men were killed, including her captain, Alexander Hood, and 60 wounded. Captain Louis Lhéritier of Hercule was wounded by sabre and spike leading his boarding party.
The Hercule was recommissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Hercule.
In mid-1803, the squadron under Captain Henry William Bayntun, consisting of Cumberland, Hercule, Bellerophon, Elephant, and Vanguard captured Poisson Volant and Superieure. The Royal Navy took both into service.
In May 1803, HMS Hercule's captain Solomon Ferris died suddenly on board the ship.
On 28 June 1803, during the Blockade of Saint-Domingue, HMS Hercule encountered the French frigate Poursuivante and the corvette Mignonne. Hercule attempted to capture the Poursuivante, but the frigate outmaneuvered her and she received raking fire. The Hercule was under the command of first lieutenant John B Hills at the time, who was assigned acting captain because Captain Ferris had died the previous month. The incident was immortalised in a painting by Louis-Philippe Crépin. HMS Goliath then captured Mignonne.
Officers in 1803
In the book, 'The Naval History of Great Britain' by William James lists most of the officers on board.
- Captain: Solomon Ferris, Feb 1803 – 27 May 1803
- Acting Captain: Lieutenant J B Hills, June 1803
- Captain Richard Dunn, 1803 
- Lieutenant J B.Hills
- Lieutenant S. Perrot
- Lieutenant Nesbit Willoughby
- Lieutenant Edward Nicolls
- Lieutenant William Woolley 
The commissioning captain, Captain Solomon Ferris proved a strong judge of character. His personally chosen lieutenants achieved success in the navy with two of them being knighted.
- Lieutenant J B.Hills reached the rank of Acting Captain.
- Lieutenant S. Perrot reached the rank of Captain in 1806
- Lieutenant Nisbet Willoughby reached the rank of Rear Admiral and was Knighted
- Lieutenant Edward Nicolls reached the rank of Lt. Col and was Knighted
- Lieutenant William Woolley reached the rank of captain at 20 years of age, HMS Papillon. Woolsey's capture of a French sloop man-of-war in Jamaica in April 1805 was replicated in the film Master and Commander
Perrot was mentioned in dispatches after losing an arm to a Dutch cannonball shot moments after swapping seats with Lt. Willoughby during the siege of Curaçao.
- Clouet, Alain (2007). "La marine de Napoléon III : classe Téméraire - caractéristiques". dossiersmarine.free.fr (in French). Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. P. 161
- Quintin, Danielle et Bernard (2003). Dictionnaire des capitaines de Vaisseau de Napoléon. S.P.M. pp. 242–243. ISBN 2-901952-42-9.
- "No. 15620". The London Gazette. 13 September 1803. p. 1228.
- The European Magazine and London Review. p. 159.
- James, W.; Chamier, F. (1837). The naval history of Great Britain, from ... 1793, to ... 1820, with an account of the origin and increase of the British navy. Chamier. 3. p. 285. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
- Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.
- Benyon, P. (2011). "HMS Hercule". Index of 19th Century Naval Vessels.