HMS Starr (1805)
The Bombardment of Fort McHenry, showing Royal Navy bomb vessels in action, including HMS Meteor (ex-Starr)
|Ordered:||27 November 1802|
|Builder:||Benjamin Tanner of Dartmouth|
|Laid down:||July 1804|
|Launched:||26 July 1805|
|Commissioned:||3 November 1805 at Plymouth|
|Renamed:||HMS Meteor in 1812|
|Fate:||Sold 16 October 1816|
|General characteristics |
|Class and type:||Merlin-class ship sloop|
|Tons burthen:||365 32⁄94 (bm)|
|Beam:||28 ft (8.5 m)|
|Depth of hold:||13 ft 9 in (4.2 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full-rigged ship|
HMS Starr was a 16-gun Merlin-class sloop of the Royal Navy. She was built by Tanner, of Dartmouth, to plans by Sir William Rule, and launched in July 1805. As a sloop she served on convoy duty, though she also participated in the invasion of Martinique in early 1809. She was rebuilt as a bomb vessel in May 1812 and renamed Meteor. As Meteor she served in the Baltic and then off the United States, participating in attacks on up the Potomac and on Baltimore and New Orleans. She was sold in October 1816.
She was commissioned in October 1805 under Commander John Simpson. On 3 January 1806 she recaptured the ships Argo and Adventure, and shared in the recapture of the Good Intent. Starr was off Villa de Conde, Portugal, when she intercepted the vessels, which had been taken from a convoy that Mercury had been escorting from Newfoundland to Portugal, and both of which had been carrying cargoes of fish. Starr sighted Good Intent and signaled Mercury, which recaptured her too. On 5 February, Curieux captured the Baltidore, which was the privateer that had captured Good Intent.
Starr escorted a convoy to Newfoundland in August 1807 and another to the Leeward Islands in 1808. While briefly under Commander Francis Augustus Collier, she participated in the capture of Martinique in February 1809 where she landed in command of a detachment of seamen and marines. In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the award of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Martinique" to all surviving claimants from the campaign.
Between November 1811 and May 1812, Starr was rebuilt as a bomb vessel. She was then recommissioned, possibly in February 1812, as Meteor under Commander Peter Fisher. Her predecessor under the name Meteor, had been a bomb vessel too and had been sold in November.
Fisher sailed Meteor to the Baltic. There, she participated in operations against Zuid-Beveland, at the siege of Danzic, and at the blockade of the Scheldt. At Danzig, Meteor joined Swedish and Russian gunboats in an attack on the French garrison. Meteor pressed the attack, coming in close under the shore batteries and the bombardment damaged many houses, both directly and through subsequent fires. The allies succeeded in capturing a point, which would enable them to close the city to resupply by sea even without maintaining a naval blockade. One Russian gunboat was sunk and in all, the allies lost about 200 men.
War of 1812
In 1814 command of Meteor passed to Samuel Roberts. Under Roberts, Meteor was one of the bomb vessels involved in actions off the American coast in the War of 1812. She participated in the bombardment of Fort Washington, Maryland on the Potomac River in August 1814 and the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore. Thus, "the bombs bursting in air" from The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key were, at least in part, Meteor's.
In January 1815 she also took part in the naval expedition that led to the Battle of New Orleans. On 8 December 1814, two US gunboats fired on Sophie, Armide and the sixth-rate frigate Seahorse while they were passing the chain of small islands that runs parallel to the shore between Mobile and Lake Borgne.
Between 12 and 15 December 1814, Captain Lockyer of Sophie led a flotilla of some 50 boats, barges, gigs and launches to attack the US gunboats. Lockyer drew his flotilla from the fleet that was massing against New Orleans, including the 74-gun Third Rate Tonnant, Armide, Seahorse, Manly and Meteor.
Lockyer deployed the boats in three divisions, of which he led one. Captain Montresor of the gun-brig Manly commanded the second, and Captain Roberts of Meteor commanded the third. After rowing for 36 hours, the British met the Americans at St. Joseph's Island. On 13 December 1814, the British attacked the one-gun schooner USS Sea Horse. On the morning of the 14th, the British engaged the Americans in a short, violent battle.
The British captured or destroyed almost the entire American force, including the tender, USS Alligator, and five gunboats. The British lost 17 men killed and 77 wounded; Meteor had three men wounded, including one severely. Anaconda then evacuated the wounded. In 1821 the survivors of the flotilla shared in the distribution of head-money arising from the capture of the American gun-boats and sundry bales of cotton. In 1847 the Admiralty issued a clasp (or bar) for the Naval General Service Medal marked "14 Dec. Boat Service 1814" to survivors of the battle that wanted to claim it.
The Aetna and the Meteor were dispatched up the Mississippi, along with Thistle, Herald, and Pigmy, to create a diversion. She and HMS Aetna (1803) were at the siege of Fort Bowyer in February 1815, the final engagement on the Gulf Coast. 
On 13 June Captain Samuel Roberts received a promotion to post-captain. That month command passed to Commander Daniel Roberts. On 16 October 1816 Meteor was sold at Deptford to Mr Mellish for ₤1,450.
Notes, citations, and references
- "no. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 247.
- "no. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 242.
- Winfield (2008), 259.
- "no. 15694". The London Gazette. 7 October 1806. p. 1340.
- "no. 15894". The London Gazette. 25 February 1806. p. 262.
- Naval Chronicle, Vol. 15, p.252.
- United service magazine (April 1850), 610.
- Naval Chronicle, Vol 30 (Jul-Dec 1813), p.431.
- "no. 17076". The London Gazette. 4 November 1815. p. 2210.
- "no. 16991". The London Gazette. 9 March 1815. pp. 446–449.
- "no. 17719". The London Gazette. 26 June 1821. pp. 1353–1354.
- "no. 16991". The London Gazette. 9 March 1815. pp. 449–451.
- Fraser, p. 294
- Clowes (1996-7), 150, fn.1.
- Clowes, W Laird, Sir, Clements R Markham, Sir, et al.. (1996-7) The Royal Navy : a history from the earliest times to the present. (London: Chatham).
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.
- Fraser, Edward, & L. G. Carr-Laughton (1930). The Royal Marine Artillery 1804-1923, Volume 1 [1804-1859]. London: The Royal United Services Institution. OCLC 4986867
- Winfield, Rif (2008) British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing, 2nd edition. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.