HMS Saldanha (1809)

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Name: HMS Saldanha
Namesake: Capitulation of Saldanha Bay
Ordered: 1 October 1806
Builder: Temple shipbuilders, South Shields
Laid down: March 1807
Launched: 8 December 1809
Fate: Wrecked 4 December 1811
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Apollo-class fifth-rate Frigate
Tonnage: 951 2994 (bm)
  • 144 ft 8 in (44.1 m) (overall)
  • 121 ft 4 58 in (37.0 m) (keel)
Beam: 38 ft 4 34 in (11.7 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 2 12 in (4.0 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Complement: 264
  • Upper deck:
  • 26 × 18-pounder guns
  • QD:2 x 9-pounder guns + 10 x 32-pounder carronades
  • Fc:2 x 9-pounder guns + 4 x 32-pounder carronades
Plan of an Apollo-class frigate dated 1803

HMS Saldanha was a 36-gun Apollo-class frigate of the British Royal Navy, launched in 1809 and wrecked on the coast of Ireland in 1811. Before she was wrecked she participated in the capture of a noted French privateer.


Saldanha was first commissioned in April 1810 under Captain John Stuart, who died on 19 March 1811. Captain William Pakenham then was assigned to command her, though in the Spring, Saldanha was temporarily under the command of Captain Reuben Mangin.[1]

On 11 October 1811, Fortunee and Saldanha, under Pakenham, took the French privateer Vice-Amiral Martin. The privateer carried 18 guns and a crew of 140 men.[2] On this cruise Vice-Amiral Martin was four days out of Bayonne and had not taken anything. Captain H. Vansitart of Fortunee remarked that Vice-Amiral Martin had superior sailing abilities that in the past had helped her escape British cruisers, and that though this time each of the British vessels was doing 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph), she would have escaped if the British had not had two vessels.[2]


Saldanha and the sloop-of-war Talbot were based together in Lough Swilly, Donegal when on 30 November they set out on a cruise to the west. Saldanha shipwrecked in a gale on the night of 4 December 1811 in the Lough while possibly attempting to return to her anchorage.[3] There were no survivors out of the estimated 253 aboard, and some 200 bodies washed up on the shore at Ballymastocker Bay on the west side of the Lough.[4][Note 1] (Actually, one man did make it to the shore alive but he died almost immediately thereafter.) Initial reports suggested that Talbot too had been wrecked but as it turned out these reports were mistaken.[3] In August a servant at a house some 20 miles from the wreck site shot a bird that turned out to be a parrot with a collar engraved with "Captain Packenham of His Majesty's Ship Saldanha".[4]

Earlier, Pakenham had been captain of Greyhound when she wrecked off the coast of Luzon in the Philippines on 4 October 1808. In that wrecking only one seaman died and the survivors reached Manila.


On 4 December 2011 a special ceremony was held to mark the 200th anniversary of sinking in Lough Swilly of HMS Saldanha. It was the first commemorative event recalling what is one of Ireland’s worst ever marine disasters. Until then there had been no permanent memorial to their deaths.[5]

Notes, citations, and references[edit]


  1. ^ The ship's complement was 274 men, and 21 are known to have been off the ship at the time.


  1. ^ a b Winfield 2008, p. 167.
  2. ^ a b "No. 16534". The London Gazette. 22 October 1811. p. 2053.
  3. ^ a b Hepper (1994), p.138.
  4. ^ a b Grocott (1997), pp.326–328.
  5. ^ Derry Journal


  • Grocott, Terence (1997) Shipwrecks of the Revolutionary & Napoleonic Eras. (Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books), pp. 326–8. ISBN 978-0-8117-1533-1
  • Hepper, David J. (1994) British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650–1859. (Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot). ISBN 0-948864-30-3
  • Long, W.H. (1899) Naval yarns : letters and anecdotes, comprising accounts of sea fights and wrecks, actions with pirates and privateers from 1616 to 1831, pp. 257–63.
  • Rif Winfield (2008), British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. 2nd edition, Seaforth Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.