HMS Implacable (1805)

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File:Vsevolod v. Implacable 1808.jpeg
The Russian Ship Vsevolod burning, after the action with the Implacable and Centaur, destroyed in the presence of the Russian Fleet near Rogerwick bay on August 26, 1808.
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Duguay-Trouin
Laid down: 15 November 1794
Launched: Rochefort, 24 March 1800
Honours and

Participated in:

Captured: 3 November 1805, by Royal Navy
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Implacable
Acquired: 3 November 1805
Renamed: Foudroyant in 1943
Honours and

Naval General Service Medal clasps:

  • "IMPLACABLE 26 AUGT. 1808"
  • "7 JULY BOAT SERVICE 1809"
  • "SYRIA"
Fate: Scuttled 2 December 1949
General characteristics
Class and type: Téméraire-class ship of the line
Tonnage: 3,223 tons (as measured from 1882)
Tons burthen: 1,882 bm
Length: 181 ft ⅞ in (55.2 m)
Beam: 48 ft 9⅞ in (14.9 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 670 officers and men
  • French service
Gun deck: 4 x 36-pdr carronades
Gun deck: 16 x French 8-pdr
Lower gun deck: 28 x French 36-pdr
Upper gun deck: 38 x French 18-pdr
  • British service
Gun deck: 30 × 32 pdrs
Upper gun deck: 30 × 18 pdrs
Quarter deck: 12 × 32 pdr carronades
Forecastle: 2 × 12 pdrs

HMS Implacable was a 74-gun third rate of the Royal Navy. She was originally the French Navy's Téméraire-class ship of the line Duguay-Trouin, launched in 1800.

She survived the Battle of Trafalgar only for the British to capture her at the subsequent Battle of Cape Ortegal. In British service she participated in the capture of the Imperial Russian Navy 74-gun ship of the line Vsevolod (Russian: Всеволод) in the Baltic in 1808. Later, Implacable was used for training purposes. Eventually, she became the second oldest ship in the Royal Navy after HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar. When she was finally scuttled in 1949, she flew both the French and British flags side-by-side as she sank.


French career

File:HMS Implacable 3606949046 9af56ee142 o.jpg
The stern gallery of HMS Implacable, formerly the Duguay-Trouin, on display at the National Maritime Museum.

Originally named Duguay-Trouin after René Trouin, Sieur du Gué. Construction, to a plan by Rolland but update to a plan by Sané, began in 1794 but was interrupted in 1795. She was launched at Rochefort in 1800.[1]

On 22 November 1802, under Captain Claude Touffet, she departed Toulon as part of a squadron commanded by Commodore Pierre-Maurice-Julien Querangal, also comprising the frigate Guerrière and the flagship Duquesne, a sister Téméraire-class vessel armed en flûte. Bound for Santo Domingo, the squadron found itself blockaded in Port-au-Prince by HMS Elephant, Bellerophon, Theseus and Vanguard. After a successful sortie in the dark, the squadron split up. Guerrière and Duguay-Trouin managed to escape but Vanguard, with Tartar, captured Duquesne.[2]

Under Capitaine de Vaisseau Lhermite she participated in an action at Cap Français.

On 21 October 1805, the Duguay-Trouin took part in the Battle of Trafalgar, where she was part of the vanguard of the French fleet under Contre-amiral Pierre Dumanoir le Pelley, and was one of four French ships that escaped capture that day.


File:HMS Implacable 2887104801 cb3f578284 b.jpg
Figurehead of HMS Implacable in Neptune Court of the National Maritime Museum

On 3 November 1805, British Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, with Caesar, Hero, Courageux, Namur and four frigates, defeated and captured what remained of the Franco-Spanish fleet. In the battle, the captain of Duguay-Trouin, Claude Touffet, was killed, her masts were shot away, and she was eventually captured.

British service in the Napoleonic Wars

Tthe Royal Navy commissioned her as a third rate under the name HMS Implacable. Implacable served with the Royal Navy for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars.


In March 1808 Implacable was in the Baltic, under the command of Captain Thomas Byam Martin. There she assisted Centaur in the capture of the Vsevolod. Towards the end of the fight both Centaur and Vsevolod had grounded. Implacable then had to heave Centaur off. Their prize was so firmly aground that after taking out the prisoners and wounded men, Sir Samuel Hood, in Centaur, ordered Vsevolod to be burnt.

During the fight Implacable lost six men killed and twenty-six wounded, including two who did not recover and three who had limbs amputated. Centaur lost three killed and twenty-seven wounded. Vsevolod lost 303 killed, wounded and missing. In 1847 the Admiralty awarded the Naval General Service Medal with clasps "IMPLACABLE 26 AUGT. 1808" and "CENTAUR 26 AUGT. 1808" to all surviving claimants from the action.

Return to the Baltic

By the summer of 1809 Martin and Implacable were back in the Baltic. At the beginning of July 1809 she and Melpomene stood into the Gulf of Narva, some 110 miles east of Tallinn, where they captured nine vessels laden with timber, spars and cordage belonging to the Emperor of Russia. After searching all the creeks around the gulf the boats of Implacable, Melpomene and Prometheus captured a further three and discovered eight gunboats protecting some ships inshore under Percola Point.

At nine o'clock on the night of 7 July, 17 boats from the three ships and Bellerophon, assembled under the command of Lieutenant Joseph Hawkey of Implacable. The Russians had positioned their vessels between two rocks from which they could pour a destructive fire of grape on the boats, which did not fire a shot until they reached the enemy, when they boarded sword in hand. Of the eight gunboats, each mounting a 32- and a 24-pounder with 46 men, the British retrieved six, together with all twelve of the ships and vessels under their protection. These were laden with powder and provisions for the Russian army. British losses were heavy. Grapeshot killed Hawkey while he was boarding his second gunboat. In all, the British lost 17 men killed and 37 wounded. For this action, the Admiralty issued the clasp "7 JULY BOAT SERVICE 1809" to the Naval General Service Medal.

France and Spain

In January 1810 Captain George Cockburn took command of Implacable. She sailed to Quiberon Bay, where she landed the Baron de Kolli, who was attempting to arrange the escape of Ferdinand VII of Spain, whom the French had imprisoned at the Chateau of Valençay. The mission was a failure.

On 17 July Implacable arrived at Cadiz with Rear Admiral Sir Richard Keats to take charge of the British support of the Spanish in the Siege of Cádiz. Marshal Victor's French army had completely blockaded the Isla de León by land and they were busy building works along the coast to supplement the strong points they already held. Eleven or twelve British and Spanish line-of-battle ships lay as close inshore as the depth of water would permit. The allied troops defending Cadiz consisted of 16,500 Spaniards, 4,000 British and Germans, and 1,400 Portuguese.

In August the Allies launched against the French at Moguer, a town in the province of Huelva. Cockburn, sailing in the brig-sloop Jasper, directed the naval portion of the attack. Gen. Lacey's Spanish troops and horses landed from the transports on 23 August about 22 miles south of the town and they marched along the beach, accompanied by 11 flat boats under Lieut. Westphal of Implacable. The boats ferried the troops across a large branch of the river and they arrived at Moguer next morning. The Spanish drove out the French, said to be 1100 strong. However, most of them, being mainly cavalry, retreated safely to Seville.

Milford arrived in Cadiz on 2 September and Rear Admiral Keats shifted his flag to her. On 6 September Implacable sailed from Cadiz to Havana with two Spanish 3-deckers under her protection. She returned in a very sickly state on 18 February 1811 with 6,000,000 dollars on board. Her officers and crew were afterwards employed in the defence of the Isla de Leon. In August Captain I R Watson took command. By 1813 Implacable was back in Plymouth.

Post war

From August to November 1840 Implacable participated in the bombardment and capture of Acre, and operations on the coast of Syria. The Ottoman government awarded medals to the officers and men employed during the campaign. In 1847 the Admiralty issued the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "SYRIA" to the officers and men who had participated in the campaign and who claimed the medal.

From the Eastern Mediterranean Implacable sailed to Malta and then spent about a year in the Mediterranean, though she made one trip to Plymouth. She visited Syracuse, Corfu, Gibraltar and Tunis. By 15 February 1842, she was in Devonport, condemned as unfit for sea service. She was to be docked to extend her life.

Post active service

From 1844 she was out of commission at Devonport until she was converted to a training ship in the Hamoaze from June 1855 under the command of Captain Arthur Lowe. In January 1865, under Commander Edward Hay, she became a training ship for boys. Commander Henry Carr took command in October 1877, with Commander Thomas Jackson following him in 1880.

In 1908 King Edward VII intervened to save the ship. In 1912 she was handed over to philanthropist Geoffrey Wheatly Cobb for preservation,[3] and for use a boys' training ship. There were several appeals to help preserve Implacable over the years, especially in the 1920s. Funds were raised and she underwent several restorations, which continued in the 1930s. In conjunction with HMS Trincomalee, she served as an accommodation ship, a training ship, a holiday ship and a coal hulk, and the two ships were renamed Foudroyant in 1943.


Unlike the unfortunate Wellesley, Implacable survived the Second World War. Still, the Admiralty scuttled her by an explosive charge on 2 December 1949. A fireboat towed her to a spot east of the Isle of Wight and she sank into Saint Catherine's Deep, about five miles from Ventnor. A French man-of-war was in attendance to render honours. Implacable was by then the second oldest ship of the Navy, after Victory, and there were heavy protests against her disposal, but given the post-War austerity, the British decided the cost of her upkeep was too much. In 1947 they had offered her to the French, who too declined to spend the money to turn her into a museum. Still, her figurehead and stern galleries were saved and are on display in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, while her capstan is on display at the maritime museum at Rochefort.


  1. National Maritime Museum (January 25, 2007). "HMS Implacable". Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  2. "HMS Duquesne". Index of 19th Century Naval Vessels. 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  3. Colledge, p. 171.

External links

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