HMS Racoon (1808)

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Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Racoon
Ordered: 19 October 1805
Builder: John Preston, Great Yarmouth
Laid down: March 1806
Launched: 30 March 1808
Commissioned: June 1808
Reclassified: Convict prison ship in 1819
Fate: Sold on 16 August 1838
General characteristics
Class and type: Cormorant class sloop
Tons burthen: 425 88/94 bm
Length: 108 ft 4 in (33.02 m) overall
90 ft 8.75 in (27.6543 m) keel
Beam: 29 ft 8.5 in (9.055 m)
Draught: 9 ft (2.7 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Complement: 121
    • Upper deck: 16 x 32pdr carronades
    • Quarter deck: 6 x 18pdr carronades
    • Forecastle: 2 x 6pdr and 2 x 18pdr carronades

HMS Racoon, sometimes spelled HMS Raccoon, was an 18-gun ship sloop of the Cormorant Class of the Royal Navy. She was built by John Preston, of Great Yarmouth, and launched on 30 March 1808.


Her first commander was James Welsh, under whom she was sent to operate off the African coast. In 1811 William Black took command and sailed her to Jamaica, before returning to Portsmouth in 1812. She was in South America the following year and sailed from Rio de Janeiro on 6 July 1812 in company with HMS Phoebe and HMS Cherub, sailing around Cape Horn to the Juan Fernández Islands.

The Royal Navy had been under pressure from the Montreal based North West Company, who were agitating for them to capture the base of their rival, the Pacific Fur Company. At this point Phoebe and Cherub were detached to search for the USS Essex, with Racoon continuing on. While sailing to the Columbia River an accident during gunnery exercises killed eight and wounded 20.

Before the Racoon arrived at their proposed destination of the fur trading outpost of Fort Astoria, the North West Company had completed a deal with the Pacific Fur Company that since British ships would be imminently arriving to "take and destroy everything American on the Northwest coast," that they would purchase the assets, for a third of their value. Black arrived to find the matter already settled, though he went through a ceremony of possession and renamed the facility Fort George.

On board the Racoon upon arrival at Fort Astoria was Naukane (also known as John Coxe), a Native Hawaiian. The North West Company had hired him as a laborer and to serve as an interpreter for future visits to the Hawaiian Islands.

Black continued in command of Racoon, sailing to Lima in 1814, before being replaced by Captain Alexander Montgomerie in 1815. Captain John Cook Carpenter took command in 1816, followed by Captain Robert Worgan Festing in 1817.


Racoon was re-rated as a 26-gun sloop in February 1817, and by 1819 was being used as a convict hospital ship at Portsmouth. She remained in service until being sold on 16 August 1838.

See also