Girish Mahajan

HMS Coventry (1757)

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Name  HMS Coventry
Ordered  13 April 1756
Laid down  31 May 1756
Launched  30 May 1757
Beam  10 m
Operator  Royal Navy
Awarded  28 April 1756
Construction started  31 May 1756
Length  36 m
Builder  HMNB Portsmouth
Completed  31 July 1757 at Portsmouth Dockyard

HMS Coventry was a 28-gun sixth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy, launched in 1757 and in active service as a privateer hunter during Seven Years' War, and as part of the British fleet in India during the Anglo-French War. After seventeen years' in British service she was captured by the French in 1783, off Ganjam in the Bay of Bengal. Thereafter she spent two years as part of the French Navy until January 1785 when she was removed from service at the port of Brest. She was broken up in 1786.

Contents

Design

Sir Thomas Slade designed Coventry "to the draught of the Tartar with such alterations withinboard as may be judged necessary", making her a further development of the Lyme. A further twelve ships were built to the draught of the Coventry between 1756 and 1763, as well as another five to a modified version of fir (pine) construction.

Career

Coventry saw active service shortly after launch. On 19 December 1757 she was chasing the 14-gun French privateer Diamond when that vessel caught fire and exploded, likely as a result of sparks flying from her guns back into the powder room. Five days later, in company with the 36-gun frigate HMS Brilliant, Coventry engaged and defeated a 24-gun privateer, Le Dragon. Six of Coventry's sailors were wounded in the brief exchange of fire with the French vessel, compared with four killed and either 10 or 12 wounded aboard the privateer. A total of 280 French sailors survived the battle and were taken prisoner aboard Coventry and Brilliant.

Early on the morning of 10 August 1778, Admiral Edward Vernon's squadron, consisting of Rippon (Vernon's flagship), Coventry, Seahorse, Cormorant, and the East India Company's ship Valentine, encountered a French squadron under Admiral Fran├žois l'Ollivier de Tronjoly which consisted of the 64-gun ship of the line Le Brillant, the frigate La Pourvoyeuse, and three smaller ships, Sartine, Lauriston, and Brisson. An inconclusive action followed for about two hours in mid-afternoon. The French broke off the action and the British vessels were too damaged to be able to catch them up again. In the action the British suffered 11 men killed and 53 wounded, including one man killed and 20 wounded aboard Coventry.

Seahorse captured Sartine on 25 August 1778. Sartine had been patrolling off Pondichery with Pourvoyeuse when they sighted two East Indiamen, which were sailing blithely along, unaware of the outbreak of war. The French vessels gave chase lazily. Sartine's captain, Count du Chaillar, first had to be roused from his bed ashore. The British merchant vessels escaped, but Sartine came too close to Vernon's squadron. Vernon sent Coventry and Seahorse after her and she surrendered after a short action. A French account remarks acidly that she surrendered to a frigate of her own size without a fight. All four Royal Navy vessels in Vernon's squadron shared in the prize money. (Vernon had already sent Valentine off with dispatches.) The Royal Navy took Sartine into service as the fifth-rate frigate HMS Sartine.

On 12 August 1782, Coventry, under the command of Captain Andrew Mitchell encountered the French frigate Bellone off Friars Hood, Ceylon. After two-and-a-half hours, Bellone sailed away. Coventry pursued until Bellone reached the protection of the French fleet at Batacaloa. Coventry suffered 15 men killed and 29 wounded in the engagement.

Capture

On 14 September 1782, Captain William Wolseley took command of Coventry. On the night of 12 January 1783, he sailed her towards four large vessels at Ganjam Roads, believing them to be some East Indiamen for which he was searching to convoy to Calcutta. He had no information that French vessels were in the area and so allowed the current to take him towards the vessels, the wind being weak. When he realized that they were French vessels, part of the fleet under Suffren, he was unable to escape. The French vessels opened fire and Wolseley had no choice but to surrender.

Fate

The French sailed Coventry to Brest, where they decommissioned her in January 1785. She was broken up in 1786.

References

HMS Coventry (1757) Wikipedia


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