HMS Friday

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HMS Friday is an urban myth concerning a disastrous attempt by the Royal Navy to dispel the superstition against sailing on a Friday. While widely circulated, the story is in fact untrue;[1] moreover, there was never even a ship named HMS Friday.[2]

The details of the story vary, but it usually follows this form:

Sometime in the 19th century, the Royal Navy attempted to finally dispel the old superstition among sailors that beginning a voyage on a Friday was certain to bring bad luck. To demonstrate the falseness of this belief, they decided to commission a ship named HMS Friday. Her keel was laid on a Friday, she was launched on a Friday, and she set sail on her maiden voyage on Friday the 13th, under the command of a Captain James Friday. She was never seen or heard from again.

This story, in numerous variations, is frequently recounted, often as fact.[3][4][5][6][7] It also appeared as a small "filler" item in the magazine "Reader's Digest", its format giving the impression of having been historically researched.[citation needed]

In fact, there has never been any Royal Navy ship of that name.[7][8][9] It is unclear where the story originated; however, it seems to have gained in popularity after its recounting by comedian Dave Allen on his BBC television show Dave Allen at Large, Series 1, Episode 2, first broadcast 4 February 1971.[10]


  1. ^ "The Top 10 Superstitions About Boating". Retrieved 2014-08-14.
  2. ^ Eyers, Jonathan (2011). Don't Shoot the Albatross!: Nautical Myths and Superstitions. A&C Black, London, UK. ISBN 978-1-4081-3131-2.
  3. ^ "Nautical Folklore: Superstition of Friday". Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  4. ^ Lennox, Doug (2003). Now You Know: The Book of Answers. Dundurn Press Ltd. p. 110. ISBN 1-55002-461-2.
  5. ^ "Why Friday the 13th Is Unlucky". Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  6. ^ "Friday the 13th". Infoplease. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  7. ^ a b Vigor, John (2004). The Practical Encyclopedia of Boating. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0-07-137885-5.
  8. ^ "RNM News, 13th July 2007: No truth in 'HMS Friday' story". Royal Naval Museum. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  9. ^ "Naval Friday 13th myth unfounded". BBC News Online. 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2008-09-29.
  10. ^ "Myth of the Day 01 - HMS Friday". Trancefixed. Retrieved 2008-09-29.