HMS Eagle (1774)

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'Eagle' (1774); 'Vigilant' (1774); 'America' (1777); 'Ruby' (1776); 'Standard' (1782) RMG J3243.png
Eagle
History
Naval Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Great BritainUK
NameHMS Eagle
Ordered14 January 1771
BuilderWells, Rotherhithe
Laid downApril 1771
Launched2 May 1774
Honours and
awards
FateBroken up, Chatham UK, October 1812
General characteristics [1]
Class and type Intrepid-class ship of the line
Tons burthen1372 bm
Length159 ft 6 in (48.62 m) (gun deck)
Beam44 ft 4 in (13.51 m)
Draught10 ft 8 in (3.25 m)
Depth of hold19 ft (5.8 m)
PropulsionSails
Sail plan Full-rigged ship
Armament
  • 64 guns:
  • Gundeck: 26 × 24 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 26 × 18 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 10 × 4 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 2 × 9 pdrs

HMS Eagle was a British 64-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 2 May 1774 at Rotherhithe. [1]

Contents

History

A diagram of American Turtle Turtle submarine 1776.jpg
A diagram of American Turtle
A cartoon showing Eagle in dry dock at Philadelphia, 1778. Admiral Howe is sitting at a table in the town, out of sight of his flagship, with his brother General Howe A Picturesque View of the State of the Nation for February 1778 (caricature) RMG PU4786.jpg
A cartoon showing Eagle in dry dock at Philadelphia, 1778. Admiral Howe is sitting at a table in the town, out of sight of his flagship, with his brother General Howe

On 7 September 1776, the experimental American submarine Turtle, under the guidance of army volunteer Sergeant Ezra Lee, was alleged to have attacked HMS Eagle, which was moored off what is today called Liberty Island, but was unable to bore through the hull. When Lee attempted another spot in the hull, he lost the ship, and eventually abandoned the attempt.

British naval historian Richard Compton-Hall stated that the problems of achieving neutral buoyancy would have rendered the vertical propeller useless. The route Turtle would have had to take to attack HMS Eagle was slightly across the tidal stream which would, in all probability, have resulted in Ezra Lee becoming exhausted having only 20 minutes of air. There is no record of the Royal Navy recording an attack. [2] In the face of these and other problems Compton-Hall suggests that the Turtle got nowhere near HMS Eagle and the entire story was fabricated as disinformation and morale-boosting propaganda, and that if Ezra Lee did carry out an attack it was in a covered rowing boat rather than Turtle. [2]

Eagle went on to take part in the Battle of Cuddalore in 1783. [3]

Eagle was on harbour service from 1790, and was broken up in 1812. [1]

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p181.
  2. 1 2 Compton-Hall, pp. 32–40
  3. Winfield 2007, p. 105

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References