Supriya Ghosh

HMS Saint Fermin (1780)

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Name  San Fermín
Acquired  16 January 1780
Launched  1750
Name  HMS Saint Firmin
Name  San Fermín
Draft  7.77 m
Captured  On 8 January 1780, by the Royal Navy
Captured  On 4 April 1781, by Spanish Navy

San Fermín was a 16-gun private ship of war corvette of the Gipuzkoan Trading Company of Caracas. She was launched in 1779 but the British Royal Navy captured her at the Action of 8 January 1780. The Spanish recaptured her in 1781.

Contents

British service

At the time of her capture she was under the command of Captain J. Vin. Eloy Sanchez. Admiral Rodney sent to Britain under the escort of the captured 64-gun ship Guipuzcoano the vessels of the convoy that he had captured on 8 June that were carrying commercial goods. He took with him for the relief of Gibraltar those vessels that carried naval supplies, together with the two smaller captured escorts, Saint Fermin and 72'San Vicente. The British commissioned Saint Fermin in Gibraltar as the 16-gun sloop of war HMS Saint Fermin, under Commander Jonathan Faulknor.

Despite Rodney's delivery of supplies and reinforcements, Spain's siege of Gibraltar continued. At 1am on 7 June the Spanish launched an attack on Gibraltar by seven fireships. Boats from Saint Fermin helped tow some of these to where they could do no harm. By the firelight the British observed that some Spanish warships were waiting outside to intercept any British vessels that might try to escape. None did and the attack failed completely.

On 19 October Saint Fermin exchanged shots with some Spanish gunboats. Saint Fermin was not harmed.

Fate

On 3 April 1781 Saint Fermin sailed for Minorca with dispatches, together with the tender to Brilliant, and a settee. At the time, the British maintained contact with the British forces there, at least until 1782 when that island fell, by sending small, fast-sailing ships to run the blockade.

When Saint Fermin left, two Spanish xebecs immediately set out in pursuit. That evening Faulknor saw two vessels approaching and made every effort to escape. Moonlight revealed them to be two xebecs, and that they were gaining. Even after the moon set the chase continued with the Spaniards sporadically firing their chase guns and Saint Fermin replying with her stern guns. Just before dawn the two xebecs came within gunshot range, stationed themselves on their quarry's quarters, and one prepared to fire a broadside.

Out numbered and outgunned, Faulknor surrendered off Gibraltar. The two xebecs were the San Antonio, of 26 guns, and the San Luis, of 22 guns. They then took her into Cartagena, Spain. From there the Spanish brought her into their naval service as the 16-gun San Fermín.

References

HMS Saint Fermin (1780) Wikipedia


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