HMS Royal Sovereign (1786)

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The day after Trafalgar; the 'Victory' trying to clear the land with the 'Royal Soveriegn' in tow to the 'Euryalus'.jpg
The day after Trafalgar, the Victory under canvas endeavouring to clear the land, the Royal Sovereign disabled and in tow by the Euryalus, in the collection of the National Maritime Museum; Nicholas Pocock; 19th century.
History
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg UK
Name: HMS Royal Sovereign
Ordered: 3 February 1786
Builder: Plymouth Dockyard
Laid down: 7 January 1774
Launched: 11 September 1786
Renamed: HMS Captain, 17 August 1825
Honours and
awards:

Participated in:

Fate: Broken up, 1841
Notes: Harbour service from 1826
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: 100-gun first rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 2175 (bm)
Length: 183 ft 10 12 in (56.0 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 52 ft 1 in (15.88 m)
Depth of hold: 22 ft 2 12 in (6.8 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Armament:
  • Gundeck: 28 × 32-pounder guns
  • Middle gundeck: 28 × 24-pounder guns
  • Upper gundeck: 30 × 12-pounder guns
  • QD: 10 × 12-pounder guns
  • Fc: 4 × 12-pounder guns

HMS Royal Sovereign was a 100-gun first rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, [1] which served as the flagship of Admiral Collingwood at the Battle of Trafalgar. She was the third of seven Royal Navy ships to bear the name. Designed by Sir Edward Hunt, she was launched at Plymouth Dockyard on 11 September 1786, [1] at a cost of £67,458, and was the only ship built to her draught. She was known by her crew as the "West Country Wagon" due to her poor manoeuvrability and speed.[ citation needed ]

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 to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside firepower to bear. 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.

Flagship vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships

A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, characteristically a flag officer entitled by custom to fly a distinguishing flag. Used more loosely, it is the lead ship in a fleet of vessels, typically the first, largest, fastest, most heavily armed, or best known.

Contents

In service

Royal Sovereign was part of Admiral Howe's fleet at the Glorious First of June, where she suffered 14 killed and 41 wounded. [2]

Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe Royal Navy Admiral of the Fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe, was a British naval officer. After serving throughout the War of the Austrian Succession, he gained a reputation for his role in amphibious operations against the French coast as part of Britain's policy of naval descents during the Seven Years' War. He also took part, as a naval captain, in the decisive British naval victory at the Battle of Quiberon Bay in November 1759.

Glorious First of June naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars


The Glorious First of June[Note A] of 1794 was the first and largest fleet action of the naval conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars.

On 16 June 1795, as the flagship of Vice-Admiral William Cornwallis, she was involved in the celebrated episode known as 'Cornwallis' Retreat'. [2]

William Cornwallis Royal Navy admiral

Admiral Sir William Cornwallis, was a Royal Navy officer. He was the brother of Charles Cornwallis, the 1st Marquess Cornwallis, British commander at the siege of Yorktown. Cornwallis took part in a number of decisive battles including the Siege of Louisbourg in 1758 and the Battle of the Saintes but is best known as a friend of Lord Nelson and as the commander-in-chief of the Channel Fleet during the Napoleonic Wars. He is depicted in the Horatio Hornblower novel, Hornblower and the Hotspur.

Trafalgar

The first ship of the fleet in action at Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, she led one column of warships; Nelson's Victory led the other. Due to the re-coppering of her hull prior to her arrival off Cádiz, Royal Sovereign was a considerably better sailer in the light winds present that day than other vessels, and pulled well ahead of the rest of the fleet. As she cut the enemy line alone and engaged the Spanish three decker Santa Ana, Nelson pointed to her and said, 'See how that noble fellow Collingwood carries his ship into action!' At approximately the same moment, Collingwood remarked to his captain, Edward Rotheram, 'What would Nelson give to be here?' [3]

Warship ship that is built and primarily intended for combat

A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more manoeuvrable than merchant ships. Unlike a merchant ship, which carries cargo, a warship typically carries only weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.

HMS <i>Victory</i> First-rate 1765 ship of the line of the Royal Navy

HMS Victory is a 104-gun first-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, ordered in 1758, laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765. She is best known for her role as Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.

Cádiz Municipality in Andalusia, Spain

Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Royal Sovereign and Santa Ana duelled for much of the battle, with Santa Ana taking fire from fresh British ships passing through the line, including HMS Mars and HMS Tonnant, while nearby French and Spanish vessels fired on Royal Sovereign. Santa Ana struck at 14:15, having suffered casualties numbering 238 dead and wounded after battling Royal Sovereign and HMS Belleisle. Royal Sovereign lost her mizzen and mainmasts, her foremast was badly damaged and much of her rigging was shot away. [4] At 2.20 pm Santa Ana finally struck to Royal Sovereign. [5] Shortly afterwards a boat came from Victory carrying Lieutenant Hill, who reported that Nelson had been wounded. Realising that he might have to take command of the rest of the fleet and with his ship according to his report being "perfectly unmanageable", [6] by 3 pm he signalled for the frigate Euryalus to take Royal Sovereign in tow. [5] Euryalus towed her round to support the rest of the British ships with her port-side guns, and became engaged with combined fleet's van under Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, as it came about to support the collapsing centre. [7] Fire from the lead ships shot away the cable between Royal Sovereign and Euryalus, and the latter ship made off towards Victory. [8] Royal Sovereign exchanged fire with the arriving ships, until Collingwood rallied several relatively undamaged British ships around Royal Sovereign, and Dumanoir gave up any attempt to recover some of the prizes, and made his escape at 4.30pm. [9]

HMS <i>Mars</i> (1794) ship of the British Royal Navy, launched on 25 October 1794

HMS Mars was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 25 October 1794 at Deptford Dockyard.

HMS <i>Belleisle</i> (1795)

Lion was a Téméraire class 74-gun third rate ship of the line of the French Navy, which later served in the Royal Navy. She was named Lion on 23 April 1790 and built at Rochefort from August 1791 until June 1794. She was renamed Marat on 28 September 1793 and then Formidable on 25 May 1795, with the changing fortunes of the French Revolution.

At 4.40 pm one of Victory's boats, carrying Captain Henry Blackwood and Lieutenant Hill, came alongside and Blackwood reported Nelson's death to Collingwood. [10] This left Collingwood in command of the fleet, and with a storm rising, and disregarding Nelson's final order to bring the fleet to anchor, Collingwood ordered Blackwood to hoist the signal to all ships to come to the wind on the starboard tack, and to take disabled and captured ships in tow. [11] Royal Sovereign was by now almost or totally unmanageable and virtually uninhabitable. [12] As she had most of her masts shot away she could not make signals. [11] Having his ship too much disabled by enemy fire [13] at just before of 6 pm Collingwood, who had succeeded Nelson in command of the fleet had to transfer himself and his flag to the frigate Euryalus, [13] while Euryalus sent a cable across and took Royal Sovereign in tow for second time. [11] At the end of the action Collingwood signalled from the frigate to the rest of the fleet to prepare to anchor. HMS Neptune took over the tow on 22 October, and was replaced by HMS Mars on 23 October. [4] [14] Royal Sovereign had lost one lieutenant, her master, one lieutenant of marines, two midshipman, 29 seamen, and 13 marines killed, and two lieutenants, one lieutenant of marines, one master's mate, four midshipman, her boatswain, 69 seamen, and 16 marines wounded. [15]

Henry Blackwood Royal Navy officer

Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet, GCH, KCB, whose memorial is in Killyleagh Parish Church, was a British sailor.

Frigate Type of warship

A frigate is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.

HMS <i>Neptune</i> (1797) 1797 ship of the line

HMS Neptune was a 98-gun second rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She served on a number of stations during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and was present at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

After Trafalgar

Royal Sovereign returned to duty in the Mediterranean the next year and remained on the blockade of Toulon until November 1811, when she was ordered to return home to the Channel Fleet. In 1812 and 1813 she was under the command of Rear Admiral James Bissett serving under Admiral Keith. [16]

She was credited with the capture on 5 August 1812 of the American ship Asia, of 251 tons, which had been sailing from St. Mary's to Plymouth with a cargo of timber. [17] Royal Sovereign shared the proceeds of the capture with all the vessels in Keith's squadron, suggesting that what happened was that Asia sailed into Plymouth unaware that the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States had broken out and was seized as she arrived, the formal credit going to the flagship. [Note 1]

After her useful active life she was converted to harbour service as a receiving ship at Plymouth before being renamed HMS Captain [19] on 17 August 1825. Hulked in June 1826, Captain was finally broken up at Plymouth, [1] with work being completed on 28 August 1841. Four of her guns were saved and are incorporated in the Collingwood Memorial in Tynemouth.[ citation needed ]

Notes, citations, and references

Notes
  1. A first-class share was worth £9 10s 10d; a sixth-class share, that of an ordinary seaman, was worth 2s 6d. [18]
Citations
  1. 1 2 3 4 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p178.
  2. 1 2 Ships of the Old Navy, Royal Sovereign (1).
  3. Heathcote. Nelson's Trafalgar Captains. p. 41.
  4. 1 2 Adkin. The Trafalgar Companion. p. 323.
  5. 1 2 Clayton. Trafalgar. p. 214.
  6. Newbolt. p.124
  7. Clayton. Trafalgar. p. 243.
  8. Clayton. Trafalgar. p. 249.
  9. Clayton. Trafalgar. pp. 242–5.
  10. Goodwin. The Ships of Trafalgar. p. 19.
  11. 1 2 3 Clayton. Trafalgar. p. 257.
  12. Pocock p.141
  13. 1 2 Duke Younge p.334
  14. Clayton. Trafalgar. p. 301.
  15. William p.45
  16. Commissioned Sea Officers of the Royal Navy, David Bonner Smith
  17. "No. 16715". The London Gazette . 27 March 1813. p. 627.
  18. Keith's share was worth £85 17s 6½d. "No. 17229". The London Gazette . 11 March 1817. p. 614.
  19. Ships of the Old Navy, Royal Sovereign (2).
References

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