HMS Hannibal (1786)

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
HMS Hannibal (left foreground) lies aground and dismasted at the Battle of Algeciras Bay.
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hannibal
Ordered: 19 June 1782
Builder: Perry, Blackwall Yard
Laid down: April 1783
Launched: 15 April 1786
Honours and

Participated in:

Captured: 5 July 1801 by the French at the Battle of Algeciras Bay
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Annibal
Acquired: 5 July 1801
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Culloden-class ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1619 tons (1645 tonnes)
Length: 170 ft (52 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 47 ft 2 in (14.38 m)
Depth of hold: 19 ft 11 in (6.07 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship

74 guns:

  • Gundeck: 28 × 32 pdrs
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18 pdrs
  • Quarterdeck: 14 × 9 pdrs
  • Forecastle: 4 × 9 pdrs

HMS Hannibal was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the British Royal Navy, launched on 15 April 1786,[1] named after the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca. She is well known for being run aground and captured during the first part of the Battle of Algeciras Bay on 5 July 1801.

Early service

In May 1790 Hannibal was recommissioned under Capt. John Colpoys. She was recommissioned in August 1791 for service as a guardship at Plymouth . Following the likelihood of war with France at the end of the year the guardships were ordered to rendezvous at Spithead and Hannibal sailed on 11 December, arriving the following day. She and Hector sailed on a cruise on 15 February 1793 and chased two French frigates. A French merchant ship from the West Indies was sent into Plymouth. They returned on 4 March to prepare for service in the West Indies and sailed with Rear Ad. Sir Alan Gardner's fleet on 24 March.[2] Hannibal returned to Britain in early 1794, and underwent fitting at Plymouth from March to December.

Captain John Markham took command of Hannibal in August 1794. On 10 April 1795 Rear-admiral Colpoys, while cruising with a squadron composed of five ships of the line and three frigates gave chase to three French frigates. Colossus, having got within gun-shot of one of them, opened fire, but the frigates took different courses. Robust and Hannibal pursued two; the 32-gun Fifth Rate frigate Astraea pursued and captured the 36-gun Gloire after an hour-long fight. The next day Hannibal captured the French 36-gun frigate Gentille, but the Fraternité escaped.[3] The Gentille lost eight men killed and fifteen wounded; Hannibal had four men wounded.

On 14 May Hannibal sailed for Jamaica. On 21 October, while on the West Indies station, Hannibal captured the 8-gun French privateer schooner Grand Voltigeur. Three days later she captured the 12-gun French privateer Convention. On 13 November she captured the French privateer Petit Tonnerre. Markham resigned Hannibal in December.[4]

Defeat and loss

Under Capt. Solomon Ferris she sailed from Spithead on 6 June 1801 and joined Rear Ad. Sir James Saumarez in Cawsand Bay on 12 June, ready to sail for the Mediterranean.

On the morning of 5 July Saumarez's squadron of six line-of-battle ships attacked French Admiral Linois's three line-of-battle ships and a frigate in Algeciras Bay. Hannibal anchored ahead of the Admiral where she kept up a good fire from one broadside for about an hour. At about 10 o'clock Capt. Ferris received an order from the Admiral to go and rake the French flagship so he made sail to the northward and tacked for the French Admiral's ship, the Formidable. Unfortunately the variable wind caused him to drift to windward and Hannibal grounded. Ferris opened fire on Formidable with as many of his foremost guns as could bear; he directed the rest with good effect, on the town, batteries and gunboats. Saumarez sent boats from his flagship, Ceasar, and Venerable to see if they could assist Hannibal. A shot sank Casesar's pinnace so Ferris sent back her crew in one of his own cutters. Soon after, the British ships drove out of the bay leaving Hannibal to face the fire of the whole French squadron, the batteries and the gunboats. After consulting with his officers, Ferris decided that to strike was the only way of preserving the lives of those that remained. Seeing that Hannibal's fire had now slackened to be almost useless he ordered his people to take shelter and hauled down his colours. Hannibal lost 75 men killed, 62 wounded and 14 missing.

Commander George Dundas, deceived by a signal from Hannibal, sent boats from HMS Calpe to save Hannibal's crew. The French detained the boats and their crews, including Calpé's lieutenant, T. Sykes; after firing several broadsides at the enemy's shipping and batteries, Calpé returned to Gibraltar.[5] The French and Spanish were unable to repair Hannibal quickly enough to take part in the eventual defeat of the Franco-Spanish squadron several days later.

Afterwards, Admiral James Saumarez arranged for the exchange of her crew for that of the St Antoine, which the British had captured in the second part of the Battle.[6] A court martial on Gladiator in Portsmouth on 1 September honorably acquitted Captain Ferris, his officers and crew.

French service

Renamed Annibal in French service, the ship sailed from Cadiz for Toulon on 9 February 1802 (along with Intrepide and Formidable). She underwent a refit a Toulon between March and June 1802, and then served in the French navy until 1821 (undergoing a further refit at Toulon during 1809). She was partly re-armed in 1806, with one pair of upper deck guns being removed, and sixteen 32-pounder carronbades replacing ten of her 9-pounder guns. In May 1807, the 38-gun frigate HMS Spartan engaged Annibal, two frigates (Pomone and Incorrupible), and the corvette Victorieuse off Cabrera in the Mediterranean. In January 1821 she became a hulk at Toulon, and was broken up in 1824.[7]

Citations and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Lavery, Ships of the Line vol.1, p180.
  2. Norie (1827), 145.
  3. Norie (1827), 151.
  4. Norie (1827), 481.
  5. James (1837), 118.
  6. Ross (2008), 7.
  7. Winfield (2008), 61


  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: the complete record of all fighting ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham. ISBN 9781861762818. OCLC 67375475. 
  • James, William (1837) Naval History of Great Britain 1793 - 1827. (London), Vol. 3.
  • Lavery, Brian (2003) The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.
  • Norie, John William (1827) The naval gazetteer, biographer, and chronologist: containing a history of the late wars, from their commencement in 1793 to their conclusion in 1801; and from their re-commencement in 1803 to their final conclusion in 1815; and continued, as to the biographical part, to the present time. (London).
  • Ross, John (2008) Memoirs and Correspondence of Admiral Lord de Saumarez, Vol 2. (BiblioLife). ISBN 978-0-55953-469-0.
  • Winfield, Rif (2008) British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth Publishing, 2nd edition. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4.
  • Beckford Bevan, A. and H.B. Wolryche (eds.), (19010 A Sailor of King George: The Journals of Captain Frederick Hoffman, R.N. 1793–1814. (London: John Murray).

es:HMS Hannibal (1786) ja:ハンニバル (戦列艦・2代)