HMS Ganges (1782)

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HMS Ganges (1782).jpg
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg UK
Name: HMS Ganges
Ordered: 14 July 1779
Builder: Randall, Rotherhithe
Laid down: April 1780
Launched: 30 March 1782
Fate: Broken up, 1816
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Ganges-class ship of the line
Tons burthen: 16785394 [2] or 1679 [3] bm
Length: 169 ft 6 in (51.7 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 47 ft 8 12 in (14.5 m)
Depth of hold: 20 ft 3 in (6.2 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: 590 officers and men
  • Gundeck: 28 × 32-pounder guns
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18-pounder guns
  • QD: 14 × 9-pounder guns
  • Fc: 4 × 9-pounder guns

HMS Ganges was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched in 1782 at Rotherhithe. She was the first ship of the Navy to bear the name, and was the name ship of her class. She saw active service from 1782 to 1811, in Europe and the West Indies.

Third-rate type of ship of the line

In the rating system of the British Royal Navy, a third rate was a ship of the line which from the 1720s mounted between 64 and 80 guns, typically built with two gun decks. Years of experience proved that the third rate ships embodied the best compromise between sailing ability, firepower, and cost. So, while first-rates and second-rates were both larger and more powerful, the third-rate ships were in a real sense the optimal configuration.

Ship of the line type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century

A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through to the mid-19th century. The ship of the line was designed for the naval tactic known as the line of battle, which depended on the two columns of opposing warships maneuvering to fire with the cannons along their broadsides. In conflicts where opposing ships were both able to fire from their broadsides, the side with more cannons—and therefore more firepower—typically had an advantage. Since these engagements were almost invariably won by the heaviest ships carrying the most powerful guns, the natural progression was to build sailing vessels that were the largest and most powerful of their time.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.



The British East India Company had Randall build a 74-gun ship under the name Bengal. They then presented (donated) her to the Royal Navy, which renamed her HMS Ganges. [3]

East India Company 16th through 19th-century British trading company

The East India Company (EIC), also known as the Honourable East India Company (HEIC), East India Trading Company (EITC), or the British East India Company, and informally known as John Company, Company Bahadur, or simply The Company, was an English and later British joint-stock company. It was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region, initially with Mughal India and the East Indies, and later with Qing China. The company ended up seizing control over large parts of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of Southeast Asia, and colonised Hong Kong after a war with Qing China.

The Royal Navy commissioned Ganges in February 1782 under the command of Captain Charles Fielding. She was paid-off in March, but immediately recommissioned under Captain J. Lutterell as a guardship at Portsmouth. Between 1784 and 1787, she was under the command of Captain Sir Roger Curtis. In October 1787 she became the flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Drake. She was recommissioned in December 1790 under Captain Anthony Molloy. [2]

Charles Fielding Royal navy officer

Charles Fielding was a British naval officer who gained brief notoriety for his role in the Affair of Fielding and Bylandt in the run-up to the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. He attained the "rank" of Commodore and died of gangrene after being wounded in action during the Battle of Cape Spartel, commanding HMS Ganges.

Francis William Drake Royal Navy officer

Francis William Drake was an officer of the Royal Navy. He served during the War of the Austrian Succession, the Seven Years' War and the American War of Independence, rising to the rank of vice-admiral of the red.

French Revolutionary Wars

In 1794, whilst under the command of Captain William Truscott, she and Montagu captured the French corvette Jacobine. Jacobin was armed with twenty-four 12-pounder guns, and had a crew of 220 men; she was nine days out of Brest and taken nothing. [4] The Royal Navy took Jacobin into service as HMS Matilda.

HMS Montague was a 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 28 August 1779 at Chatham Dockyard.

Corvette Small warship

A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper warship. The warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below was historically that of the sloop-of-war. The modern types of ship below a corvette are coastal patrol craft, missile boat and fast attack craft. In modern terms, a corvette is typically between 500 tons and 2,000 tons although recent designs may approach 3,000 tons, which might instead be considered a small frigate.

HMS Matilda was the French corvette Jacobine, which was launched in March 1794 and which the British captured in the West Indies seven months later. She served in the West Indies until 1799, capturing six small privateers. In 1799 she sailed to Woolwich where she became a hospital ship. Between 1805 and 1807 she was the flagship of Rear-Admiral Henry Stanhope. She was broken up in 1810.

Ganges was part of the squadron commanded by Admiral John Gell, which escorted a Spanish ship they had captured from the French back to Portsmouth. The ownership of the ship was a matter of some debate and was not settled until 4 February 1795, when the value of the cargo was put at £935,000. At this time all the crew, captains, officers and admirals received a share of the prize money, Admiral Hood taking away £50,000. Besides Ganges, the ships that conveyed the Spanish prize to Portsmouth were St George, Egmont, Edgar and Phaeton. [5]

Portsmouth City & unitary authority area in England

Portsmouth is a port city in Hampshire, England, with a total population of 205,400 residents. The city of Portsmouth is nicknamed Pompey and is mainly built on Portsea Island, a flat, low-lying island measuring 24 square kilometres in area, just off the south-east coast of Hampshire. Portsmouth is the only island city in the United Kingdom, and is the only city whose population density exceeds that of London.

Prize money has a distinct meaning in warfare, especially naval warfare, where it was a monetary reward paid out under prize law to the crew of a ship for capturing or sinking an enemy vessel. The claims for the bounty are usually heard in a Prize Court.

Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood British Admiral known particularly for his service in the American Revolutionary War and French Revolutionary Wars

Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he saw action during the War of the Austrian Succession. While in temporary command of Antelope, he drove a French ship ashore in Audierne Bay, and captured two privateers in 1757 during the Seven Years' War. He held senior command as Commander-in-Chief, North American Station and then as Commander-in-Chief, Leeward Islands Station, leading the British fleet to victory at Battle of the Mona Passage in April 1782 during the American Revolutionary War. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, then First Naval Lord and, after briefly returning to the Portsmouth command, became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Ganges shared in the prize money from the capture of the French supply ship Marsouin by Beaulieu on 11 March 1796. [6]

Marsouin was a gabarre, the name-ship of her three-vessel class, built to a design by Raymond-Antoine Haran, launched in 1787 or '88 at Bayonne. She carried troops, supplies, invalids, etc., across the Atlantic to the Caribbean or back until the British captured her in 1795. Though the Royal Navy nominally took her into service, she was never actually commissioned, and she disappears from the lists in 1799.

Ganges was one of the ships at Spithead in 1797 Ships at Spithead 1797.jpg
Ganges was one of the ships at Spithead in 1797

Ganges was under the command of Captain Thomas Fremantle at the Battle of Copenhagen. [2] She had on board a contingent of soldiers from the 49th Foot, commanded by Isaac Brock. Their mission was to storm the forts at Copenhagen, but the outcome of the naval battle made the assault unnecessary.[ citation needed ]

Napoleonic Wars

Ganges was one of six British warships that shared in the capture on 23 August 1807 of the Danish vessel Speculation. [7]

Ganges was also present at the Second Battle of Copenhagen. She bore the flag of Commodore Richard Goodwin Keats, and was commanded by Captain Peter Halkett. During the battle Keats placed a portrait of Admiral Nelson on the mizzen mast where it was said to have encouraged officers and men alike despite being covered in the blood and brains of an unfortunate seaman. [8]

In September 1810, two row-boat luggers, one from Ruby, under the command of Lieutenant Robert Streatfield, and one from Ganges, under the command Lieutenants Stackpole, captured two Danish armed vessels off Lessoe. There were no British casualties. [9]


She was commissioned as a prison ship on 12 December 1811 for holding prisoners of war. Then in 1814 she was transferred to the Transport Board. Ganges was broken up at Plymouth in 1816. [1]


  1. 1 2 Lavery, Ships of the Line, vol. 1, p. 180.
  2. 1 2 3 Winfield (2008), p.458.
  3. 1 2 Hackman (2001), p.224.
  4. "No. 13751". The London Gazette . 10 February 1795. p. 147.
  5. Annual Register (1795), Chronicle, p. 6.
  6. "No. 13968". The London Gazette . 3 January 1797. p. 13.
  7. "No. 1667". The London Gazette . 10 November 1812. p. 2275.
  8. Longman; Rees; Orme; Brown; Green; Longman (1837). The Annual Biography and Obituary 1835, Volume 29. Fisher, Son and Jackson. p. 49.
  9. "No. 16406". The London Gazette . 18 September 1810. p. 1446.

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Coordinates: 41°43′N25°00′W / 41.717°N 25.000°W / 41.717; -25.000