HMS Galatea (1810)

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File:HMS Galatea 65396.JPG
H.M. Frigate Galatea, 38 Guns off the Needles, Isle Of Wight, by Thomas Whitcombe
Career (United Kingdom) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Galatea
Ordered: 12 May 1809
Builder: Deptford Dockyard
Laid down: August 1809
Launched: 31 August 1810
Commissioned: September 1810
Reclassified: Used as a coal hulk from August 1836
Fate: Broken up in 1849
General characteristics as built
Class and type: 36-gun Apollo-class frigate
Tons burthen: 947 bm
Length: 145 ft (44.2 m) (gundeck)
121 ft 8.75 in (37.1 m) (keel)
Beam: 38 ft 3 in (11.7 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 3.5 in (4.1 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Armament: 36 guns

HMS Galatea was an Apollo-class fifth rate of the Royal Navy. The frigate was built at Deptford Dockyard, London, England and launched on 31 August 1810. In 1811 she participated in the Battle of Tamatave, which battle confirmed British dominance of the seas east of the Cape of Good Hope for the rest of the Napoleonic Wars. She was hulked in 1836 and broken up in 1849.

Napoleonic Wars

On 6 May 1811, a French squadron of frigates under the command of Commodore François Roquebert in Renommée approached Grand Port, not realizing that Île de France had fallen to the British. The French squadron escaped an encounter with an equivalent British squadron under Captain Charles Marsh Schomberg of Astraea.

Between 7 and 9 May the frigates Galatea, under Captain Woodley Losack, and Phoebe, under James Hillyar, and the brig-sloop Racehorse, sighted the French 40-gun frigates Renommée, Clorinde and Néréide, off the Île de France, whilst Astraea was lying in Port Louis.

File:Battle of tamatave.jpg
Battle of Tamatave (Action of 20 May 1811)

On 14 May Astraea, Phoebe, Galatea, and Racehorse sailed from Port Louis for Tamatave, Madagascar and arrived on the 20th. The British squadron sighted the French squadron and made chase. A severe engagement, the Battle of Tamatave, ensued. During the battle, Renommée and Clorinde badly battered Galatea, with the result that she lost 16 men killed and 46 wounded - the largest number of casualties of any vessel in the squadron.

The British captured Renommée. Roquebert had sacrificed his flagship and ultimately his life to allow the frigates Clorinde and the badly damaged Néréide to escape. Five days later, Schomberg's squadron rediscovered Néréide at Tamatave. The British persuaded the town's commander to surrender the town and Néréide without any further fight.

The British took Néréide as Madagascar and Renommée as Java. The battle was the last action of the Mauritius campaign.

Thereafter Galatea served primarily as a convoy escort for the rest of war.


File:Admiral Sir Charles Napier.jpg
Sir Charles Napier (1854).

From 1825 to 1829 she was commanded by Captain Charles Sullivan, on the coasts of Portugal and South America. From 8 January 1829 to 28 January 1832 her commander was Captain Charles Napier who, in a letter written shortly after his appointment, described her as 'a ship that has the worst reputation in the Navy'.[1] Napier fitted her with an experimental system of his own design of paddles that the crew would work via winches on the main deck. The paddles proved useful for manoeuvering at speeds of up to 3 knots in windless conditions.[2] On 12 September 1831 Galatea towed the line-of-battle ship HMS Caledonia by means of paddles alone.[3]

Twice during this period she cruised to the Caribbean, calling at Jamaica, Havana, Cuba and Tampico, Mexico. Between August and October 1830 she was sent to Lisbon to demand the restitution of British merchantmen which had been seized by the government of the Portuguese usurper Dom Miguel, and in May-July 1831 she was engaged in guarding British interests in the Azores when the forces of Dom Pedro were engaged in recovering those islands for the rightful queen, Donna Maria II. Napier quit Galatea in 1832 after she was paid off and succeeded George Sartorius as commander of Dom Pedro's navy in February 1833.


Galatea was hulked in 1836, moved as a coal hulk to Jamaica in 1840, and broken up in 1849.


  1. Napier (1862), p. 132.
  2. Napier (1862), p. 131.
  3. Napier (1862), p. 152.