HMS Caledonia (1808)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

H.M.S. Caledonia, 120guns, lying in Plymouth Sound - RMG PY0771.jpg
HMS Caledonia, 120 guns, lying in Plymouth Sound
Royal Navy EnsignUK
Name: HMS Caledonia
Ordered: 19 January 1797
Builder: Plymouth Dockyard
Laid down: January 1805
Launched: 25 June 1808
Renamed: HMS Dreadnought, 1856
Honours and
Participated in bombardment of Algiers, 1816
Fate: Broken up, 1875
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Caledonia-class ship of the line
Tons burthen: 2616594 (bm)
Length: 205 ft (62 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 53 ft 6 in (16.31 m)
Depth of hold: 23 ft 2 in (7.06 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
  • 120 guns:
  • Gundeck: 32 × 32 pdrs
  • Middle gundeck: 34 × 24 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 34 × 18 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 6 × 12 pdrs, 10 × 32 pdr carronades
  • Forecastle: 2 × 12 pdrs, 2 × 32 pdr carronades
  • Poop deck: 2 × 18 pdr carronades

HMS Caledonia was a 120-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 25 June 1808 at Plymouth.[1] She was Admiral Pellew's flagship in the Mediterranean.


The Admiralty orders for Caledonia's construction were issued in November 1794, for a 100-gun vessel measuring approximately 2,600 tons burthen. There were considerable delays in obtaining dockyard facilities and in assembling a workforce, and actual building did not commence until 1805 when the keel was laid down at Plymouth Dockyard. By this time the designs had also been amended to stipulate construction of a 120-gun vessel of 2,616​594 tons. When completed to this new design in 1808, Caledonia entered Royal Navy service as the largest and most heavily armed vessel of the time.[2]

Active service[edit]

Caledonia proved to be a very successful ship, and it was said that 'This fine three-decker rides easy at her anchors, carries her lee ports well, rolls and pitches quite easy, generally carries her helm half a turn a-weather, steers, works and stays remarkably well, is a weatherly ship, and lies-to very close.' She was 'allowed by all hands to be faultless'. In later years she was to become the standard design for British three-deckers.[3]

On 12 February 1814 she took part with HMS Boyne in action against the French ship of the line Romulus off Toulon; the French vessel managed to escape to Toulon by sailing close to the coast to avoid being surrounded.

In 1831 she was part of the Experimental Squadron of the Channel Fleet under Sir Edward Codrington. On 12 September that year she took part in an experiment whereby she was towed by the frigate HMS Galatea by means of hand-worked paddles alone.[4]

In 1856 she was converted to a hospital ship,[1] renamed Dreadnought and became the second floating Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital at Greenwich, where she remained until 1870. In 1871 she was briefly returned to service to accommodate patients recovering from the smallpox epidemic of that year.[citation needed] She was broken up in 1875.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p. 182.
  2. ^ Winfield 2010, p.77
  3. ^ Lavery, Nelson's Navy, p. 44.
  4. ^ Major-General Edward Elers Napier, The Life and Correspondence of Admiral Sir Charles Napier K.C.B. (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1862), Volume I, p. 152.


  • Lavery, Brian (2003). The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0851772528.
  • Lavery, Brian (1989). Nelson's Navy: The Ships, Men and Organisation 1793-1815. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0851775217.
  • Lyon, David; Winfield, Rif (2004). The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1861760329.
  • Winfield, Rif (2010). First Rate: The Greatest Warships of the Age of Sail. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591142645.

External links[edit]