French frigate Aréthuse (1812)

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The battle between Aréthuse and Amelia on the shores of Guinea, 7 February 1813, by Louis-Philippe Crepin
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Aréthuse
Namesake: Arethusa
Builder: Nantes
Laid down: 1807
Launched: 15 May 1812
Out of service: 1861
Fate: Coal Depot in Brest
General characteristics
Class and type: Pallas class
Length: 46.93 metres
Beam: 11.91 metres
Draught: 5.9 metres
Propulsion: 1950 m² of Sail
Complement: 326

The French frigate Aréthuse was a 46-gun 18-pounder frigate of the French Navy. She served during the Napoleonic Wars, took part in the conquest of Algeria and ended her days as a coal depot in Brest.


Aréthuse was laid down at Nantes in 1807 and launched on 15 May 1812.


Cruise off West Africa, 1812-1813

On 25 November 1812 the frigates Aréthuse (Captain Pierre Bouvet) and Rubis sailed from Nantes to intercept British trade off West Africa. In January, having captured a Portuguese ship, La Serra, they reached Cap-Vert.[1]

The destruction of HMS Daring

On 27 January 1813, Aréthuse intercepted the brig HMS Daring (Lieutenant Pascoe) off Tamara (one of the Iles de Los off Guinea). Daring was run aground and was burnt to avoid capture, and part of her crew was taken prisoner. Pascoe and his men sailed to the Sierra Leone River, where they arrived the next day and reported the presence of the French frigates to the HMS Amelia (Captain Frederick Paul Irby). The prisoners of Daring were released in a boat on parole.

As Aréthuse and Rubis unloaded their prize, Rubis struck a rock and was disabled. Aréthuse anchored to the north of Rubis and prepared to intercept English trade.

The battle with HMS Amelia

File:Amelia vs Arethuse.jpg
HMS Amelia in action with the French Frigate Aréthuse, 1813, by John Christian Schetky, 1852

On 6 February, HMS Amelia, guided and reinforced by sailors from Daring, attacked Aréthuse. A furious, 4-hour night battle followed. Aréthuse disabled Amelia by shooting at her sails and rigging, and made two attempts to board her, without success. Eventually the ships parted, neither ship able to gain the upper hand, and both with heavy casualties: Amelia had 46 killed (including Lieutenants John Bates, John Pope and George Wills, Lieutenant William Pascoe, the commander of Daring, and 2nd Lieutenant R G Grainger[2]) and 51 wounded; Aréthuse suffered over 31 killed and 74 wounded, and 30 round shot had struck her hull on the starboard side below the quarter deck[1].

Aréthuse returned to the stranded Rubis in the hope of refloating her; the attempt proved futile, and Rubis was eventually burnt by her crew on 8 February. Soon afterwards Aréthuse captured the British privateer Cerberus, and arrived back in St Malo on 19 April having taken 15 prizes.[1]

Later life and disposal

She took part in the Invasion of Algiers in 1830 as a transport. In 1833, she was razeed into a corvette. She was decommissioned in 1861 and used as a coal depot in Brest.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 William James , The Naval History of Great Britain from the declaration of war by France in February 1793 to the accession of George IV in January 1820 : with an account of the origin and progressive increase of the British Navy (New edition in Six volumes), Volume VI, pp183-190, R Bentley, London, 1837.
  2. "HMS Amelia at the Age of Nelson website". Retrieved 2008-10-23.