Bligh

Depictions of the ships behind the SoG-miniatures

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HMS SUPERB 1798.




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The fourth ship to bear the name HMS Superb was a 74-gun third-rate launched on 17th March 1798 from Northfleet. In 1801 she captured the Nancy and the Audacieux (both with HMS Venerable and HMS Cambrian). In 1813 she captured the American schooner Young Holkar and brig the Starr as well as the schooner Viper and Magdalea.
She was broken up in 1826.
Superb is mostly associated with Captain Richard Goodwin Keats who commanded her from 1801 until 1806. He was promoted to Commodore in 1807.


1781-1793: Lieutenant Richard John Strachan.
1798-1798: Captain John Sutton.
1801- 1806: Captain Richard Goodwin Keats.
1806-1812: Vice-Admiral John Thomas Duckworth.
1812-1814: Captain Charles Paget.
1814- 1819: Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy




Attachment 18002

In July 1801 the Superb was stationed off Cadiz and took part in the second
Battle of Algeciras Bay. During the French and Spanish retreat Admiral Sir James Saumarez hailed the Superb and ordered Keats to catch the allied fleet's rear and engage. The Superb was a relatively new ship and had not been long on blockade duty. As a consequence she was the fastest sailing ship-of-the-line in the fleet. As night fell on July 12th, Keats sailed the Superb alongside the 112-gun Real Carlos on her starboard side. Another Spanish ship, the 112-gun San Hermenegildo, was sailing abreast, on the port side, of the Real Carlos. Keats fired into the Real Carlos and some shot passed her and struck the San Hermenegildo.


Attachment 18006



The Real Carlos caught fire and Keats disengaged her to continue up the line. In the darkness the two Spanish ships confused one another for British ships and began a furious duel. With the Real Carlos aflame the captain of the Hermenegildo determined to take advantage and crossed the Real Carlos’ stern in order to deal a fatal broadside that would run the length of the ship through the unprotected stern. A sudden gust of wind brought the two ships together and entangled their rigging. The Hermenegildo also caught fire and the two enormous three-deck ships exploded. The Superb continued on relatively unscathed and engaged the French 74-gun
St. Antoine under Commodore Julien le Roy. The St. Antoine struck after a brief exchange of broadsides.



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She was the flagship of Admiral
John Thomas Duckworth in the Battle of San Domingo fought on 6 February 1806 between squadrons of French and British ships of the line off the southern coast of the French-occupied Spanish colonial Captaincy General of Santo Domingo (San Domingo in contemporary British English) in the Caribbean Sea. The French squadron, under Vice-Admiral Corentin Urbain Leissègues in the 120-gun Impérial, had sailed from Brest in December 1805, one of two squadrons intending to raid British trade routes as part of the Atlantic campaign of 1806.


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Separating from the squadron under Contre-Admiral
Jean-Baptiste Willaumez in the mid-Atlantic, Leissègues sailed for the Caribbean. After winter storms near the Azores damaged and scattered his squadron, Leissègues regrouped and repaired his ships at the city of Santo Domingo, where a British squadron under Vice-Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth discovered them on 6 February 1806. Duckworth had abandoned his assigned station off Cadiz in pursuit of Willaumez during December and traveled so far across the Atlantic in pursuit that he was forced to resupply at St. Kitts in the Leeward Islands, where news had reached him of Leissègues' arrival.
By the time French lookouts at Santo Domingo had spotted Duckworth approaching from the southeast, it was too late for Leissègues to escape. Sailing with the wind westwards along the coast, Leissègues formed a
line of battle to meet the approaching British squadron, which had split into two divisions. Although his divisions separated during the approach, Duckworth's lead ships remained in a tight formation and successfully engaged the head of the French line, targeting the flagship Impérial.

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Under pressure, the French squadron broke apart with the British isolating and capturing three ships before concentrating on the main combat around the French flagship. Severely damaged and surrounded, Leissègues drove Impérial ashore to avoid capture. The remaining French ship of the line,
Diomède, followed him. Although most of the crew of these ships scrambled ashore, British boarding parties captured both vessels and set them on fire.


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The only Fre
nch ships to escape the battle were three smaller warships, which Duckworth's squadron had ignored; they eventually returned to France.
Willaumez's squadron remained at large in the Atlantic until July 1806, when a hurricane scattered the vessels along the American Seaboard where British patrols were waiting to intercept them. Of the 11 ships that set out in December 1805, just four eventually returned to France. The crews of the British squadron were decorated for the
ir success, with the exception of Duckworth, who shared in the general thanks but was otherwise unrewarded. By leaving his post off Cadiz he had provoked the anger of Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood, commander in the Mediterranean; only his victory enabled Duckworth to escape a court martial.
The battle of San Domingo was the last fleet engagement of the war between French and British capital ships in open water. The Royal Navy's dominance off every French port made the risks involved in putting to sea insurmountable. The only subsequent breakout attempt, by the Brest fleet in 1809, ended with the defeat of the French fleet close to its own anchorage at the
Battle of the Basque Roads.



Superb was re commissioned in December 1809 under the command of Captain Samuel Jackson. She went out to the Baltic as Keats' flagship, and was part of the squadron there under Admiral Sir James Saumarez. She returned to Portsmouth, and underwent repairs between September 1811 and November 1812, before commissioning in September 1812 under Captain
Charles Paget.


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Paget was appointed to command Superb as part of the Channel Fleet, and during a cruise in the
Bay of Biscay he took several prizes.




In 1814 she was employed on the coast of North America under the orders of Sir Alexander Cochrane and took part in an attack upon Wareham, Massachusetts during the War of 1812.


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The Old Superb.

The wind was rising Easterly, the mor
ning sky was blue,
The Straits before us opened wide and free.
We looked towards the Admiral, where the high Peter flew,
And all our hearts were dancing like the sea.
The French have gone to Martinique with four and twenty sail;
The Old Superb is old and foul and slow,
But the French are gone to Martinique, and Nelson's on the trail,
And where he goes, the Old Superb must go.

So Westward Ho! for Trinidad and Eastward Ho! for Spain,
And "Ship Ahoy !" a hundred times a day;
Round the world if need be, and ro
und the world again,
With lame duck lagging all the way.

The Old Superb was barnacled and green as grass below,
Her sticks were only fit for stirring grog.
The pride of all her Midshipmen was silent long ago,
And long ago they ceased to heave the log.
Four year out from home she was and ne'er a week in port,
And nothing save the guns aboard; her bright;
But Captain Keats, he knew the game, and swo
re to share the sport,
For he never came in too late to fight. S

So Westward Ho! for Trinidad and Eastward Ho! for Spain,
And "Ship Ahoy !" a hundred times a day;
Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
With lame duck lagging all the way.


"Now up, my lads" the Captain cried, "For sure the case was hard -
If longest out, were first to fall behind.
Aloft, aloft, with studding sails and lash them to the yard,
For night and day the Trades are driving blind".

So all day long and all day long, behind the Fleet we crept,
And how we fretted, none but Nelson guessed;
But every night the Old Superb she sailed when others slept,
Till we ran the French to earth with all the rest.

So Westward Ho! for Trinidad and Eastward Ho! for Spain,
And "Ship Ahoy !" a hundred times a day;
Round the world if need be, and round the world again,
With lame duck lagging all the way.

Sir Henry Newbolt 1862 - 1938

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