Grappler (HEIC)

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Grappler was a 14-gun brig that belonged to the East India Company's navy - the Bombay Marine. The Grappler appears to have been the 150-ton brig built at Kiddapore Dockyards, Calcutta, by A. Wadell and launched in 1804.

The French frigate Piémontaise captured Grappler on 31 August 1806 off the Malabar Coast near Quilon. The French granted Grappler's crew and passengers "paroles" as prisoners of war and placed them on an Arab-owned ship called the Allamany. The Allamany arrived at Madras on 15 September and then continued on to Calcutta.

The British eventually recaptured Grappler from the French in September 1809 in the daring Raid on Saint-Paul on the Île de Bourbon (now Réunion) from the nearby British-held island of Rodrigues. The British force consisted of a naval squadron under Commodore Josias Rowley and an Army force under Lieut. Colonel Henry Sheehy Keating. The Army contingent, which consisted of 368 soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the 56th Regiment of Foot under the command Keating, embarked on HMS Nereide under Captain Robert Corbett, Otter under Captain Nesbit Willoughby and the East India Company schooner Wasp under Lieut. Watkins. The rest of Rowley's squadron, the flagship Raisonnable and the frigates HMS Sirius under Captain Samuel Pym and HMS Boadicea under Captain John Hatley joined off St. Paul.[1] These ships contributed an additional 236 seaman volunteers and Royal Marines to the assault. The entire invasion force then embarked on Nereide, as Corbett had experience with coastline of the Île Bonaparte coastline.[2] On the early morning of 21 September the force seized the port of St. Paul.[3] There they destroyed its defences and recovered a number of British vessels. Nereide and the landing party captured the 44-gun French frigate Caroline, and recovered Grappler as well as the East Indiamen Streatham (850 tons and pierced for 30 guns) and Europa (820 tons pierced for 26 guns).[4] The expedition also captured three small merchant vessels (the Fanny of 150 tons and the Tres Amis Creole of 60 tons each), destroyed three others, and burnt one ship.[5] The British did not sustain any loss on board the squadron or to their vessels. The British completed the demolition of the different gun and mortar batteries and of the magazines by evening and the whole of the troops, marines, and seamen returned on board their ships.[6]

Details of the subsequent fate of Grappler are currently unknown. In 1835 Captain Lloyd of the Bombay Marine became the “River Surveyor” for the Hooghly River. He took over all functions and had a fleet of a brig, a schooner, an anchor vessel (the Grappler) and four rowboats.[7] Whether this is the same Grappler is an open question.


  1. James (2002/1827), p. 197.
  2. Woodman (2001), p. 283
  3. Cannon (1844),pp.30 and 33.
  4. Malleson (1884), p.123.
  5. Gentlemen's Magazine (1828), p.490.
  6. James (1837)
  7. Bhattacharya (2003), p.60.
  • Bhattacharya, Manoshi (2003) Charting The Deep: A History of the Indian Naval Hydrographic Department. New Delhi: Rupa & Co.)
  • Cannon, Richard (1844). Historical Record of the Fifty-Sixth, or the West Essex Regiment of Foot. London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker.  Digitised copy
  • James, William (2002 [1827]). The Naval History of Great Britain, Volume 5, 1808–1811. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-909-3. 
  • Malleson, Col. G. B. (1884) Final French struggles in India and on the Indian seas : including an account of the capture of the Isles of France and ... ; with an appendix containing an account of the expedition from India to Egypt in 1801. (London: W. H. Allen & Co.).
  • Woodman, Richard (2001). The Sea Warriors. Constable Publishers. ISBN 1-84119-183-3. 
  • Shipping and Ship Building in India 1736-1839: a checklist of ship names. (London: India Office Records), 1995 p.36.
  • Bombay Courier, 1806-1807.
  • Calcutta Gazette, 1806.