HMS St Lawrence (1814)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other ships with the same name, see HMS St Lawrence.
HMS St Lawrence 001.jpg
A painting of HMS St Lawrence
United Kingdom
Name: HMS St. Lawrence
Builder: Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard
Laid down: 12 April 1814
Launched: 10 September 1814
Decommissioned: 1815
Fate: Sold, 1832
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 2305 bm
Length: 191 ft 2 in (58.27 m) (gun deck length)
Beam: 52 ft 6 in (16.00 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Complement: 700 officers and men
  • 112 guns:
  • Gun deck: 28 × 32 pdrs, 4 × 24 pdrs, 2 × 68 pdr carronades
  • Middle gun deck: 36 × 24 pdrs
  • Upper gun deck: 32 × 32 pdrs, 2 × 68 pdr carronades

HMS St Lawrence was a 112-gun first-rate wooden warship of the Royal Navy that served on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. She was the only Royal Navy ship of the line ever to be launched and operated entirely in fresh water.[1]


St Lawrence had her keel laid on 12 April 1814, and was launched on 10 September 1814. British naval commodore Sir James Lucas Yeo commissioned her as his flagship, with Captain Frederick Hickey as Flag Captain, in the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard in Kingston, Upper Canada. The ship cost Britain £500,000 or over CA$120 million in today's dollars.[2]

At the time, Lake Ontario was effectively landlocked for any but the smallest vessels, due to shallow water and rapids on the St. Lawrence River downstream and Niagara Falls upstream. As a result, warships operating on Lake Ontario had to be built on site, either in Kingston or in the American naval dockyards at Sackets Harbor, or converted from merchant ships already operating in the lake.

Control of the lake, which was the most important supply route for the British for military operations to the west, had passed back and forth between the Americans and the British over the course of the war. The construction of a first rate ship of the line, in a campaign that had been dominated by sloops and frigates, gave the British uncontested control of the lake during the final months of the war. HMS St Lawrence never saw action, because her presence on the lake deterred the U.S. fleet from setting sail.

After the war ended in 1815, the ship was decommissioned. In January 1832, the hull was sold to Robert Drummond for £25. Between May and August, the hull was towed out of Navy Bay.[3] It later formed the end of a pier attached to Morton's Brewery in Kingston and was used as a storage facility by the brewery, for cordwood among other materials.[3] Later, it was sunk in 30 feet (9.1 m) of water close to shore at 44°13′14″N 76°30′18″W / 44.22056°N 76.50500°W / 44.22056; -76.50500Coordinates: 44°13′14″N 76°30′18″W / 44.22056°N 76.50500°W / 44.22056; -76.50500, and is now a popular diving attraction.

Design and statistics[edit]

Master shipbuilder John Dennis and nearly 200 shipwrights built St Lawrence in under 10 months, although several sources credit master shipwright William Bell as the designer and builder. Unlike sea-going ships of the line, Saint Lawrence was constructed without a quarterdeck, poop deck or forecastle. Nevertheless, St Lawrence's 112 guns on three flush decks qualified her as a first rate, larger than Horatio Nelson's flagship HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar nine years earlier.

St Lawrence measured 2,305 tons burthen. The gundeck's length was 191 feet 2 inches (58.27 m) and the beam was 52 feet 6 inches (16.00 m). The crew numbered 700. In way of armaments, she carried thirty-two 32-pounder carronades and two 68-pounder carronades on the upper deck, thirty-six 24-pounder long guns on the middle deck and twenty-eight 32-pounder long guns, four 24-pounder long guns and two 68-pounder carronades on the lower deck.[4]


Model of HMS St Lawrence at the Royal Military College of Canada Museum built by master modeller Louis Roosen

The Royal Military College of Canada Museum in Kingston, Ontario has a scale model of HMS St Lawrence, built by master modeller Louis Roosen.[5][6]


  1. ^ Malcolmson. "HMS St Lawrence". p. 419.
  2. ^ Hounsom 1970, p. 17.
  3. ^ a b Preston. "The Fate of Kingston's Warships". p. 290.
  4. ^ Lyon; Winfield. The Sail & Steam Navy List. p.100.
  5. ^ RMC club site.
  6. ^ another view of the model.


  • Hounsom, Eric Wilfrid (1970). Toronto in 1810. Toronto, Ontario: Ryerson Press. ISBN 0770003117. 
  • Lyon, David; Winfield, Rif (2004). The Sail & Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy, 1815-1889. London: Chatham. ISBN 1-86176-032-9. 
  • Malcolmson, Robert (1997). "HMS St Lawrence: The Freshwater First-Rate". The Mariner's Mirror. 83 (4): 419–33. doi:10.1080/00253359.1997.10656663. 
  • Preston, R. A. (1964) [Reprinted c. 1980]. "The Fate of Kingston's Warships". In Zazlow, Morris. The Defended Border (Paperback ed.). Toronto: Macmillan of Canada. ISBN 0-7705-1242-9. 
  • Jonathan Moore (2006). Archaeological and Historical Investigations of Three War of 1812 Wrecks at Kingston, Ontario : HMS St. Lawrence, HMS Kingston and HMS Burlington : Report for Province of Ontario Licence to Conduct Archaeological Exploration or Fieldwork 1999-096 at Sites BbGd-6, BbGc-45 and BbGc-46. Ottawa. ISBN 0-9781712-0-9.