Swan-class ship-sloop

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Class overview
Name: Swan-class ship sloop
Operators:  Royal Navy
Built: 1766 - 1780
In service: 1767 - 1815
Completed: 25
General characteristics (design details)
Type: Ship sloop
Tons burthen: 300494 bm
Length:
  • 96 ft 7 in (29 m) (gundeck)
  • 78 ft 10 in (24 m) (keel)
Beam: 26 ft 9 in (8 m)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 125 (121 from 1794)
Armament:
  • As built:
  • Fourteen 6-pdr long guns
  • 1780 onwards:
  • Sixteen 6-pdr long guns

The Swan class were built as a 14-gun class of ship sloops for the Royal Navy, although an extra 2 guns were added soon after completion.

Design[edit]

The class was designed by the Surveyor of the Navy, John Williams, and two vessels to this design (Swan and Kingfisher) were ordered in January 1766. Twenty-three more were ordered to the same design between 1773 and 1779; they formed the 'standard' ship sloop design of the British Navy during the American Revolutionary War, during which eleven of them were lost. Surviving vessels went on to serve during the French Revolutionary War and Napoleonic War.

The design provided for 16 gunports (8 per side, excluding the bridle-ports) but one pair was initially left unoccupied, and the ships were always rated at 14 guns. However an eighth pair of guns was added from 1780 onwards to utilise the vacant ports, without any change in the nominal rating.

The Swan class sloops were unusually attractive for the type of vessel. Not only did they have sleek hull lines but they also carried an unusual amount of decoration for their size. They were built just before the Admiralty issued orders that all vessels (especially lesser rates and unrated vessels) should have minimal decoration and carvings to save on costs, due to the seemingly ever-continuing war with France and other nations.

Construction[edit]

Following the initial 1766 order for two ships, a second pair was ordered in 1773 (Cygnet and Atalanta) and a further five in 1775 (Pegasus in April, Fly in August, and Swift, Dispatch and Fortune in October); all these were built in the Royal Dockyards. Another five were contracted in November 1775 to be built by commercial shipbuilders (Hound, Hornet, Vulture, Spy and Cormorant), and a further pair during 1776 (Zebra and Cameleon). Another two were ordered from the Royal Dockyards in January 1777 (Fairy and Nymph) and a final seven from commercial constructors over the following 30 months (Savage, Fury, Delight and Thorn during 1777, Bonetta and Shark during 1778, and Alligator in 1779).

Ships[edit]

Name Ordered Builder Launched Notes
Swan 18 January 1766 Plymouth Dockyard 21 November 1767 Sold 1 September 1814
Kingfisher 18 January 1766 Chatham Dockyard 13 July 1770 Burnt to avoid capture 7 August 1778
Cygnet 15 April 1773 Portsmouth Dockyard 21 January 1776 Sold August 1802
Atalanta 1 December 1773 Sheerness Dockyard 12 August 1775 Sold August 1802
Pegasus 10 April 1775 Chatham Dockyard 27 December 1776 Lost, presumed foundered October 1777
Fly 1 August 1775 Sheerness Dockyard 14 September 1776 Lost, presumed foundered January 1802
Swift 16 October 1775 Portsmouth Dockyard 1 January 1777 Burnt to avoid capture 22 November 1778
Dispatch 16 October 1775 Deptford Dockyard 10 February 1777 Lost, foundered 8 December 1778
Fortune 16 October 1775 Woolwich Dockyard 28 July 1778 Captured by the French 26 April 1780
Hound 30 October 1775 Adams & Barnard, Deptford 8 March 1776 Taken to pieces at Woolwich in November 1784
Hornet 30 October 1775 John Perry and Co, Blackwall 19 March 1776 Laid up in October 1783, and sold in July 1793
Vulture 30 October 1775 John & William Wells, Deptford 18 March 1776 Sold in August 1802
Spy 30 October 1775 Edward Greaves, Limehouse 6 April 1776 Wrecked off Newfoundland on 16 June 1778
Cormorant 30 October 1775 John Barnard, Ipswich 21 May 1776 Taken by the French 24 August 1781
Zebra 24 May 1776 John Barnard, Ipswich 8 April 1777 Wrecked off New Jersey 18 October 1778
Cameleon 21 June 1776 John Randall, Gray & Brent, Rotherhithe 26 March 1777 Wrecked off St Lucia 12 October 1780
Fairy 8 January 1777 Sheerness Dockyard 24 October 1778 Taken to pieces at Plymouth in July 1811
Nymph 8 January 1777 Chatham Dockyard 27 May 1778 Burnt by accident at Tortola, Virgin Islands 28 June 1783
Savage 12 March 1777 John Barnard, Ipswich 28 April 1778 Sold at Woolwich 31 August 1815
Fury 16 July 1777 Sime & Mackenzie, Leith 18 March 1779 Taken to pieces at Woolwich in April 1787
Delight 30 September 1777 Edward Greaves, Limehouse 7 November 1778 Lost, presumed foundered in September 1781
Thorn 30 September 1777 James Betts, Mistleythorn 17 February 1779 Sold 28 August 1816
Bonetta 16 April 1778 Perry & Hankey, Blackwall 29 April 1779 Taken to pieces at Sheerness in October 1797
Shark 20 November 1778 Thomas & Nicholas Walton, Hull 26 November 1779 Foundered at Port Royal 13 January 1818
Alligator 22 June 1779 John Fisher, Liverpool 11 November 1780 Taken by the French 26 June 1782

References[edit]