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Author Topic: HMS Cyane (1796 - 1809)  (Read 3446 times)

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Offline Bilgerat

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HMS Cyane (1796 - 1809)
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2014, 19:17:48 »
HMS Cyane was a Bittern Class, 6pdr armed, unrated, 18-gun ship-rigged sloop-of-war of the Royal Navy which was built under contract by Wilson & Co at their Frindsbury shipyard on the banks of the River Medway.

The Bittern Class was a group of five ship-sloops designed by Sir John Henslow, Surveyor of the Navy, of which two were built in Kent shipyards. The other Kent-built ship was HMS Termagent, built by Dudmans of Deptford.

The term 'Sloop' in this context was used to describe an ocean-going warship carrying less than the 20 guns required for her to be included in the Royal Navy's rating system. Because they were unrated, sloops were usually commanded by an officer with a substantive rank of Lieutenant, appointed to the post of Master and Commander in her. This position was abbreviated to 'Commander', although the rank of Commander did not yet exist as such. The position of Master and Commander combined the roles of Sailing Master and Commanding Officer and an officer in such a position in a sloop was paid substantially more than a Lieutenant's wages. If he was successful, a Commander would be 'Posted', or promoted to Captain and given command of a rated vessel, or, would be promoted to Captain while still in command of the sloop. If a war should end and he was laid off before he was posted, a Commander would revert to his substantive rank of Lieutenant and receive half-pay accordingly.

A ship-sloop was so called because she was ship-rigged, that is that she had three masts with square sails fitted on all three masts. Ship-sloops of the Bittern Class looked like miniature frigates with their gundecks partially enclosed aft by a quarterdeck and forward by a forecastle.

HMS Cyane was ordered by the Navy Board on 24th January 1795 and her first keel section was laid on the slipway at Frindsbury during the following May. The ship was launched, her hull fully complete on Saturday 9th April 1796. Immediately after her launch, the ship was towed the mile or so downstream to the great Chatham Royal Dockyard where she was fitted with her masts, sails, rigging, guns and stores.

On completion, HMS Cyane was a ship of 423 tons. She was 111ft 9in long on her gundeck, 90ft 10in long at her keel and 29ft 7in wide across her beams. Her hold between the orlop deck and her bottom was 8ft 6in deep and the ship drew 7ft 9in of water at her bow and 11ft 4in at her rudder. She was armed with 18 6pdr long guns on her gundeck with 6 12pdr carronades on her quarterdeck, 2 12pdr carronades on her forecastle and 12 half-pounder swivel guns attached to her upper-deck handrails and in her fighting tops. She was manned by a crew of 121 officers, men and boys. She commissioned in April 1796 with Mr Robert Manning appointed as her Master and Commander. Construction at Frindsbury had cost £5,454, while fitting her out at Chatham cost a further £5,141.

Plans of HMS Cyane

Fore and aft Hold Platforms

Lower or Berth Deck plan

Upper, or Gundeck Plan

Quarterdeck and Forecastle Plans

Inboard Profile and Plan

Sheer Plan and Lines

HMS Cyane sailed to the West Indies on 20th February 1797 and was to spend the rest of her active service career there.

On 3rd May 1797, Commander Manning and his ship and crew had their first success when they captured the French privateer schooner Le Bayonaise. More successes followed as HMS Cyane was engaged in protecting Britain's Caribbean trade from the threat posed by the many French and Spanish privateers operating in what were rich hunting grounds for them.

On 22nd March 1799, Commander Manning was replaced in command of HMS Cyane by Commander Henry Matson.

On 15th January 1801, HMS Cyane was laying at anchor in the Iles des Saintes in company with the 24 gun, sixth-rate post-ship HMS Daphne, the 18-gun ship-sloop HMS Hornet and the tender-schooner HMS Garland when they sighted in the distance, a convoy of French coasters escorted by an armed schooner, standing in towards Vieux Fort on the French-held island of Guadeloupe. At midnight, HMS Garland together with two boats from each of the ships was dispatched towards Guadeloupe in order to capture or destroy the convoy. On arrival,they found that all the vessels except one had anchored under the protection of the powerful shore batteries at Basseterre. The one vessel was boarded and taken out under heavy fire, but suffered no casualties or damage.

On the afternoon of the 17th, the armed schooner escorting the convoy, by now identified as L'Eclair of 4 four-pounder long guns and twenty one-and-a-half pounder swivel guns with 45 men was seen to put into the port of Trois Rivieres under the protection of the shore batteries. The officers who had commanded the previous raid, Lieutenants Kenneth MacKenzie and Francis Peachey, volunteered to lead another raid to cut the schooner out. Lieutenant MacKenzie took 25 seamen and marines with him aboard HMS Garland and at 5am the following day, HMS Garland, the boats and HMS Cyane set out for Trois Rivieres to carry out the raid. The raid was a complete success and L'Eclair was taken, with a cost to the British of one seaman and one Marine killed with a sergeant of marines and two seamen wounded. They discovered that L'Eclair was a vessel of 145 tons and although only carrying four guns, was pierced for 12. The vessel was taken into Royal Navy service and renamed to HMS Eclair.

See here for the story of HMS Daphne:

Matson was to remain in command until 15th December 1802 when he was replaced by Commander Murray Maxwell. Maxwell's previous appointment had been in command of the gun-brig HMS Ready of 12 guns.

On 21st June 1803, HMS Cyane was part of a fleet commanded by Commodore Samuel Hood, the nephew of the much more famous Samuel, Admiral Lord Hood, flying his command Broad Pendant in the 74 gun ship of the line HMS Centaur. At about 11am, the fleet arrived in Choc Bay, St Lucia and began to land troops under the command of Lt.General Grinfield. By 22nd June, the island had fallen and the force moved on to Tobago, departing on 25th and arriving on 31st. The enemy garrison holding Tobago surrendered the following day. By the end of September 1803, the Dutch colonies of Demerera, Essequibo and Berbice were also captured by Commodore Hood and his force, including the little HMS Cyane. In the meantime, on 4th August 1803, Commander Maxwell was promoted and appointed to command the flagship HMS Centaur. He was replaced in command of HMS Cyane by Commander Joseph Nourse, whose previous appointment had been in command of the six-gun armed schooner HMS Advice.

See here for the story of HMS Centaur:

On 24th January 1804, Commander Nourse and his ship and crew captured the French Privateer Le Bellone of 8 guns. This success was followed on 27th when the French privateer schooner L'Harmonie of 12 guns was captured by Commander Nourse and his crew. On 12th November 1804, the French privateer brig Le Buonaparte of 14 guns was taken.

In April 1805, Commander Nourse was posted and appointed to command the 9pdr armed 32 gun frigate HMS Barbadoes. This ship had previously been the French privateer frigate Le Brave, captured by another ex-French ship, the 18pdr armed 40 gun frigate HMS Loire on 16th March 1804. His place was taken by Commander the Honourable George Cadogan. She was Cadogan's first command. George Cadogan was the 8th son of Charles Cadogan, the 2nd Baron Cadogan. He had been a Midshipman aboard the famous razee frigate HMS Indefatigable when she had been commanded by the equally famous Sir Edward Pellew and came under his patronage.

In early May 1805, Cadogan had his first success in command when HMS Cyane and her crew captured the Spanish privateer schooner La Justica of 4 guns. This success proved to be short-lived however. On 12th May 1805, HMS Cyane was sighted and pursued by the 40 gun French frigates Hortense and Hermione off Martinique. Unable to escape and hugeley outgunned and outnumbered by the enemy, Cadogan took the only action really open to him and surrendered his ship to the enemy. The pair of French frigates were part of a combined French and Spanish fleet which had escaped from the Mediterranean and was being hotly pursued by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson.

After her capture, the French renamed the ship to Le Cerf and took her into French service. The news of her capture was reported by Captain Sir Francis Laforey to the Commander-in-Chief at Barbados, Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane.

Commander Cadogan and his crew were held prisoner on Martinique until they were released under a prisoner exchange deal. Cadogan and his officers faced the customary Court Martial. The Court Martial was held aboard the frigate HMS Unicorn on 11th July 1805. In view of the circumstances, that he was outsailed by two much larger and more powerful enemy ships and was unable to escape, Commander George Cadogan was honourably acquitted. This was the first of three Courts Martial Cadogan was to endure. The next was related to his having to put down a mutiny on his next command, HMS Ferret and a third was for 'Tyranny and Cruelty' relating to the death of a Midshipman on another of his subsequent commands, HMS Crocodile. Cadogan was acquitted by both Courts Martial and went on to become the 3rd Earl Cadogan, a full Admiral and aide-de-camp to both King William IV and Queen Victoria.

On 9th October 1805, while patrolling off Tobago with the brig-corvette Le Naiade, both vessels were sighted by the 18pdr armed 36 gun frigate HMS Princess Charlotte. Captain George Tobin guessed that if he set off in pursuit of the two French vessels, they would get away, so he had his men disguise the ship as a merchantman. This had the desired effect an Le Cerf and Le Naiade closed in, expecting an easy capture and did not realise their error until far too late. After a spirited defence in which her First Lieutenant and two seamen were killed, an ensigne de vaisseau and eight seamen injured and the ship much damaged, Lieutenant Charles Leonard Menard decided to surrender his ship to the British frigate.

After her recapture, the ship was renamed back to HMS Cyane and on 6th December 1805, once her repairs were complete, she was recommissioned into the Royal Navy with Mr Robert Nicholas as her Master and Commander. She was his first command. He wasn't in command for very long. After being recalled to the UK, Commander Nicholas paid off HMS Cyane at Deptford on 11th October 1806. The ship remained at Deptford until she was sold on 12th January 1809.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent


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