HMS Chatham (1788)

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The Discovery on the rocks.jpg
The Chatham near Fife Sound in Queen Charlotte Strait (1792) [1]
Naval Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Great Britain
NameHMS Chatham
BuilderKing, Dover
Acquired12 February 1788
FateSold in 1830
General characteristics
Class and type4-gun survey brig
Tons burthen133 bm
Length80 ft (24.4 m)
Beam22 ft (6.7 m)
Sail plan Brig

HMS Chatham was a Royal Navy survey brig that accompanied HMS Discovery on George Vancouver's exploration of the West Coast of North America in his 1791–1795 expedition. [2] Chatham was built by King, of Dover and launched in early 1788. She was purchased for navy service on 12 February 1788.


The Vancouver Expedition

Chatham's first significant voyage was Vancouver's five-year mission to the South Seas and Pacific Northwest coast of America. Her commander was Lieutenant William Robert Broughton, with 2nd Lieutenant James Hanson. [3]

In November 1791, while exploring the South Pacific, Broughton's crew were the first Europeans to sight the Chatham Islands, which they named after their ship. Among the other achievements of Chatham's crew was the exploration of the Columbia River as far as the Columbia River Gorge, reaching present-day eastern Multnomah County east of Portland and north west of Mount Hood. A plaque erected by the State of Oregon along Interstate 84 commemorates the spot where Broughton landed in 1792.

In 1792, while near Fife Sound in Queen Charlotte Strait, the ship ran aground on rocks within a day, and about 2 miles (3.2 km) away, from where the HMS Discovery had done the same. [1]

In November 1792 Chatham's commander was sent back to England with dispatches; Peter Puget was her commander through her return to England on 17 October 1794.

Chatham was at Plymouth on 20 January 1795 and so shared in the proceeds of the detention of the Dutch naval vessels, East Indiamen, and other merchant vessels that were in port on the outbreak of war between Britain and the Netherlands. [4]

Chatham had suffered severe wear on her long voyage, and was repaired at Deptford in 1797.


Chatham continued in Royal Navy service until 1830, when she was sold in Jamaica.

The lost anchor

In 2008, a scuba fisherman found a 900-pound (410 kg) anchor off Whidbey Island in Washington that he and others believe was lost from HMS Chatham on 9 June 1792. Northwest historian Richard Blumenthal stated that, "They indeed found an anchor that fits the description of the anchor lost at that time". [5] In June 2014, the anchor was raised to be assessed to see if it is actually the sole remaining relic of Capt. George Vancouver’s famed 1792 voyage into Puget Sound. After conservation and testing at Texas A&M’s Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation, the weight of the anchor was put at 2,425 pounds (1,100 kg)—about 1,000 pounds (450 kg) heavier than anchors used in those years. An anchor weighing that much would have been used in the 1820s, not in 1792. [6] [7]


See also

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  1. 1 2 Stockdale, John (1801). Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and Round the World.
  2. Naish, John (1996). The Interwoven Lives of George Vancouver, Archibald Menzies, Joseph Whidbey and Peter Puget: The Vancouver Voyage of 1791–1795. The Edward Mellen Press, Ltd. ISBN   0-7734-8857-X.
  3. "Muster Table of His Majesties Sloop The Discovery". Admiralty Records in the Public Record Office, U.K. 1791. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  4. "No. 15407". The London Gazette . 15 September 1801. p. 1145.
  5. Welch, Craig (10 June 2014). "Anchor hauled up; is it 222-year-old relic from Vancouver's fleet?". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  6. Lacitis, Erik (6 July 2016). "Capt. George Vancouver's anchor? Salvagers hope so". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2 September 2022.
  7. Halverson, Matthew (1 May 2014). "Anchor hauled up; is it 222-year-old relic from Vancouver's fleet?". SagaCity Media. Retrieved 2 September 2022.