HMS Assistance (1850)

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HMS Assistance
HMS Assistance in the Ice, by Thomas Sewell Robins, 1853
Merchant Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: Baboo
Builder: Howrah, Calcutta
Launched: 1835
Fate: Sold to the Royal Navy in 1850
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Assistance
Acquired: March 1850
Fate: Abandoned in the ice on 25 August 1854
General characteristics
Type: Teak-built barque
Tons burthen: 423 BM
  • 117 ft 4 in (35.8 m) (o/a)
  • 98 ft 6 in (30.0 m) (keel)
Beam: 28 ft 5 in (8.7 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 7 in (4.14 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Barque rigged
Complement: 58
Armament: Two guns

HMS Assistance was an Arctic discovery barque of the Royal Navy, and the sixth vessel to carry the name. She began her life in 1835 as an Indian-built merchant vessel, was purchased in 1850 and participated in two Arctic expeditions before being abandoned in the ice in 1854.

Merchant Navy career[edit]

Assistance was built out of teak in 1835 at Howrah, Calcutta and was launched as the merchant vessel Baboo.[1]

Royal Navy career[edit]

In March 1850, the Royal Navy purchased her from a Mr Kincade. Wigrams of Blackwall fitted her for Arctic service at a cost of £8,520.[1]

Austin's Expedition[edit]

She joined Horatio Thomas Austin's 1850 attempt to find Sir John Franklin's lost expedition. Austin commanded Resolute, while Captain Erasmus Ommanney commanded Assistance. In the summer of 1850, Assistance anchored at Cape York and took on an Inuit guide by the name of Qalasirssuaq. Despite extensive search, the expedition failed to find conclusive evidence of the fate of Franklin and his men, and returned to Britain in 1851. They took their Inuit guide with them and he settled in England where he took the name Erasmus Augustine Kallihirua.

Belcher's Expedition[edit]

The Navy retained Assistance for future Arctic service, and in 1852 she sailed with Edward Belcher's expedition. She became trapped in ice off Bathurst Island and was eventually abandoned there together with her steam tender Pioneer on 25 August 1854.[2]


  1. ^ a b Winfield and Lyon (2004)
  2. ^ "HMS Assistance at William Loney website". Retrieved 2009-05-03.