HMS Ambuscade (1773)

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Ambuscade vs Bayonnaise-Hue.png
Ambuscade fighting Bayonnaise, by Pierre Ozanne
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Ambuscade
Ordered: 25 December 1770
Builder: Adams & Barnard, Deptford
Laid down: April 1771
Launched: 17 September 1773
Commissioned: January 1776
Captured: 14 December 1798
French Navy EnsignFrance
Name: Embuscade
Acquired: 14 December 1798
Captured: 28 May 1803
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Ambuscade
Acquired: 28 May 1803
Fate: Broken up in 1810
General characteristics as built
Class and type: 32-gun fifth-rate frigate
  • 126 ft 3 in (38.48 m) (gundeck)
  • 104 ft 1 in (31.72 m) (keel)
Beam: 35 ft 1.75 in (10.7125 m)
  • 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m) (forwards)
  • 13 ft 0 in (3.96 m) (aft)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 220
  • Upper deck: 26 × 12-pounder guns
  • QD: 4 x 6-pounder guns + 4 x 18-pounder carronades
  • Fc: 2 x 6-pounder guns + 2 × 18-pounder carronades

HMS Ambuscade was a 32-gun fifth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy, built in the Grove Street shipyard of Adams & Barnard at Depford in 1773. The French captured her in 1798 but the British recaptured her in 1803. She was broken up in 1810.

American Revolution[edit]

HMS Prudente captured the "private man of war" Américaine on 26 January 1781. She was armed with 32 guns and carried a crew of 245. HMS Ambuscade shared in the proceeds of the capture.[Note 1]

On 22 June 1779, after a short action, Ambuscade captured the French brig Hélene, which was the former Royal Navy 14-gun sloop HMS Helena. The Royal Navy took her back into service under her original name.[2][3] Six days later Ambuscade captured the French privateer Prince de Montbray.[3] The privateer was possibly out of Granville and under the command of Captain Boisnard-Maisonneuve.[4]

French Revolutionary Wars[edit]

In August 1798 Ambuscade, commanded by Captain Henry Jenkins,[5] with Stag and the hired armed cutter Nimrod captured the chasse maree Francine .[6] Then Ambuscade shared with Phaeton and Stag, in the capture on 20 November of the Hirondelle.[7]

Combat de la Bayonnaise contre l'Ambuscade, 1798, by Louis-Philippe Crépin

On 13 December 1798, Ambuscade captured a French merchantman, Faucon, with a cargo of sugar and coffee bound for Bordeaux.[8]

Disaster struck the following day. Ambuscade was blockading Rochefort, when the smaller French corvette Bayonnaise captured her at the Action of 14 December 1798. The court martial exonerated Captain Henry Jenkins of Ambuscade, though a good case could be made that he exhibited poor leadership and ship handling.[9] The French brought her into service as Embuscade.

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

On 28 May 1803, HMS Victory recaptured her. She had a crew of 187 men under the command of capitaine de vaisseau Fradin, and was 30 days out of Cap Francais, bound for Rochefort.[10] The Royal Navy took her back into service as Ambuscade.

In March 1805, she was attached to Sir James Craig's military expedition to Italy. Along with Dragon, Craig's flagship, and Lively, Ambuscade escorted a fleet of transports to Malta.[11]

On 4 March 1807, Ambuscade captured the ship Istria. Unité, Melpomene, Bittern and Weazel (or Weazle) were in company and shared in the prize money.[12]


Ambuscade was broken up in 1810.

Pierre Ozanne's depiction of the captured Ambuscade towing the much-damaged Bayonnaise back to harbour; the difference in size between the ships is exaggerated

Notes, citations, and references[edit]


  1. ^ The prize money notice in the London Gazette gives a capture year of 1780, but this is a typographical error.[1]


  1. ^ "No. 12203". The London Gazette. 30 June 1781. p. 2. 
  2. ^ Demerliac (1996), p.71, #448.
  3. ^ a b "No. 12044". The London Gazette. 28 December 1779. p. 2. 
  4. ^ Demerliac (1996), p.184, #1810.
  5. ^ Wareham (2001), p. 137.
  6. ^ "No. 15113". The London Gazette. 5 March 1799. p. 220. 
  7. ^ "No. 15149". The London Gazette. 18 June 1799. p. 617. 
  8. ^ Correspondence, Lord Bridport to Evan Nepean, 22 December 1798. Cited in Naval Chronicle Vol. 1, 1799, p.77
  9. ^ Hepper (1994), p. 89.
  10. ^ "No. 15608". The London Gazette. 6 August 1803. p. 986. 
  11. ^ von Pivka, Navies.
  12. ^ "No. 16529". The London Gazette. 8 October 1811. p. 1976.