HMS Alexander (1778)

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Launch of HMS Alexander at Deptford in 1778 (BHC1875), by John Cleveley the Younger (NMM) - HMS Alexander is the ship still on the slipway, centre background
Career (Great Britain) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Alexander
Ordered: 21 July 1773
Builder: Deptford Dockyard
Laid down: 6 April 1774
Launched: 8 October 1778
Captured: 6 November 1794, by French Navy
Career (France) French Navy Ensign
Name: Alexandre
Acquired: 6 November 1794
Captured: 22 June 1795, by Royal Navy
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Alexander
Acquired: 22 June 1795
Honours and

Participated in:

Fate: Broken up, 1819
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Alfred-class ship of the line
Type: Third rate
Tons burthen: 1621 tons (1647 tonnes)
Length: 169 ft (52 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 47 ft 2 in (14.38 m)
Depth of hold: 20 ft (6.1 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 Alexander was a Royal Navy 74-gun third-rate. This ship of the line was launched at Deptford on 8 October 1778.[1] During her career she was captured by the French, and later recaptured by the British. She fought at the Nile in 1798, and was broken up in 1819. She was named after Alexander the Great.

British service and capture

Whilst returning to England in the company of Canada after escorting a convoy to Spain, Alexander, under the command of Rear-admiral Richard Bligh, fell in with a French squadron of five 74-gun ships, and three frigates, led by Joseph-Marie Nielly.[2] In the Action of 6 November 1794 Alexander was overrun by the Droits de l'Homme, but escaped when she damaged the Droits de l'Homme's rigging. Alexander was then caught by Marat, which came behind her stern and raked her. Then, the 74 gun third-rate Jean Bart closed in and fired broadsides at close range, forcing Bligh to surrender Alexander. In the meantime, Canada escaped.[2] The subsequent court martial honourably acquitted Bligh of any blame for the loss of his ship.[2]

The French took her to Brest and then into their French Navy under the name Alexandre.[2] On 22 June 1795, she was with a French fleet off Belle Île when the Channel Fleet under Lord Bridport discovered them. The British ships chased the French fleet, and brought them to action in the Battle of Groix. During the battle Sans Pareil and Colossus recaptured Alexander.[2]

Return to British service

The Alexander took part in the Battle of the Nile in 1798, under the command of Captain Alexander Ball. She the second ship to fire upon the French fleet, engaging the flagship, L'Orient. The Alexander sank three French ships before she had to withdraw due to a small fire on board. The Alexander was one of the few ships not carrying a soldier detachment.[citation needed]


From 1803 she was out of commission in Plymouth, and was finally broken up in 1819.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lavery, Ships of the Line, vol. 1, p. 180.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Gossett (1986), p.6.


  • Michael Phillips. Alexander (74) (1778). Michael Phillips' Ships of the Old Navy. Retrieved 11 March 2007.

External links

ja:アレグザンダー (戦列艦・初代) ru:HMS Alexander (1778)