French ship Hercule (1798)

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File:Fight of the Poursuivante mp3h9426.jpg
Fight of the Poursuivante - 28th of June 1803, by Louis-Philippe Crépin (detail)
The Hercule, serving in the Royal Navy, receives raking fire
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Hercule
Namesake: Hercules
Ordered: 14 August 1793
Builder: Lorient shipyard
Launched: 5 December 1797
Captured: 21 April 1798
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hercule
Namesake: Hercules
Acquired: 21 March 1798
Struck: 1810
Fate: Broken up
General characteristics
Class and type: Téméraire class ship of the line
Displacement: 2900 tonnes
Length: 55.87 metres (172 French feet)
Beam: 14.90 metres (44' 6)
Draught: 7,26 metres (22 French feet)
Propulsion: Up to 2485 m² of sails
Complement: 3 officers + 690 men

74 guns:

  • 28 x 36 pdr (16 kg)
  • 30 x 24 pdr (11 kg)
  • 16 x 8 pdr (3.6 kg)
  • 4 x 36 pdr (16 kg) carronades
Armour: Timber

The Hercule was a 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.

During her maiden journey, on 21 April 1798, and just 24 hours out of port, she was captured by the British ship HMS Mars after a violent fight, off Île de Sein near Brest. Hercule attempted to escape through the Passage du Raz, but the tide was running in the wrong direction, and she was forced to anchor, giving the British the chance to attack at close quarters. The two ships were of equal force, both seventy-fours, but Hercule was newly commissioned; after more than an hour and a half of bloody fighting at close quarters she struck her colours at 10.30 pm, having lost - by her own officers' estimate - 290 men killed and wounded. On Mars 31 men were killed and 60 wounded. Both captains, Alexander Hood and Louis L’Héritier, died in the fight.

The Hercule was recommissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Hercule.

On 28 June 1803, HMS Hercule encountered the French frigates Poursuivante and Mignonne. The Hercule attempted to capture the Poursuivante, but the frigate out-manoeuvred her and she received raking fire. The incident was immortalised in a painting by Louis-Philippe Crépin.

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