In 1795, the forces of Britain and Revolutionary France had been at war for over two years and the Royal Navy was engaged in a blockade of the main French ports. For their part, the French sent some of their faster ships out in an attempt to bypass the blockade and engage in guerre de course or commerce raiding against British ships along the east coast of England.
At 1000hrs on the morning of April 10th 1795, a British flotilla under the command of Rear-Admiral John Colpoys spotted three French vessels attempting to break out through the Bay of Biscay. The French vessels were led by the 32-gun Gloire and when they realised the British had spotted them, the French commander ordered his force to scatter in the face of the superior British force after the 74-gun HMS Colossus had started firing on them.
Gloire swung north-west while its two compatriots – Gentile and Fraternité – turned west with HMS Hannibal and HMS Robust in hot pursuit of them. Gloire had managed to evade much of the British force except for the frigate HMS Astraea under Captain Lord Henry Paulet, also of 32-guns, which managed to stay in sight of the French warship throughout the afternoon. Finally, at 1800hrs Astrea succeeded in bringing Gloire within range of its quarterdeck cannon and fired several shots which saw Gloire respond with its sternchaser guns.
For over four and a half hours the two warships exchanged cannon fire shot for shot until 2230hrs, when the Astraea finally managed to come alongside the Gloire allowing both to unleash the full fury of their armament on one another. Gloire’s gunners aimed specifically for Astraea’s masts and rigging in an effort to disable the British warship and indeed succeeded in inflicting enough damage on Astraea’s topmast that it eventually collapsed. The British gunners however, concentrated their firepower on the French ship’s hull to silence the opposing gunners or sink the French ship altogether. Among the wounded aboard the Gloire was its captain and at 2328hrs, after sighting two more British warships sailing toward him he ordered the French colours to be lowered signalling the ship’s surrender.
Both vessels were heavily damaged in the engagement with Astraea needing to return to port for repairs to the mast but incredibly had not lost a single man in the engagement even as the topmast collapsed. This was thanks in no small part to the Gloire’s captain ordering his men to try to disable the British ship. By contrast, the Gloire lost 40 men killed or wounded. Sufficient repairs were made to both ships to enable them to sail to Portsmouth for more permanent repairwork with Gloire being sailed by a British prize crew under the command of Astraea’s Lieutenant John Talbot.
More success for the British would come the next morning on April 11th. HMS Hannibal and HMS Robust had continued their pursuit of the Gentile and Fraternité through the night until they managed to surround the Gentile and force its captain to surrender without having to engage in battle. The captain of the Fraternité decided to turn back towards Brest and had his men throw their armaments overboard to lighten the vessel and increase its speed. After several days evading pursuing British ships the Fraternité succeeded in reaching its home port.
Both Gloire and Gentile were pressed in to Royal Navy service with HMS Gloire being kept on charge until 1802.
A collection of personal photos aboard the Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring. Daring was the first of the Type 45s and was commissioned in 2009. With a crew of 190 she has had a very busy life since then including a circumnavigation of the globe from May 2013 to February 2014 during which the vessel helped relieve the stricken islands of the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan struck in late 2013.
The sailor who has donated these images (including one or two taken by family) had served aboard Daring before leaving the Royal Navy quite recently but wishes to remain anonymous.
On Deck incl. Phalanx CIWS and Seagnat Decoy System
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The Ministry of Defence has awarded BAE Systems a £3.7bn contract to manufacture the first three Type 26 warships for the Royal Navy. Developed under the title “Global Combat Ship”, the Type 26 along with a newer, smaller class of frigate will go on to replace the current Type 23 frigates (Duke-class).
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:
The Type 26 Frigate is a cutting-edge warship, combining the expertise of the British shipbuilding industry with the excellence of the Royal Navy. We will cut steel on the first ship later this month – a hugely significant milestone that delivers on our commitment to maintain our global naval power. These ships will be a force to be reckoned with, there to protect our powerful new carriers and helping keep British interests safe across the world.
Backed by a rising defence budget and a £178bn Equipment Plan, the Type 26 programme will bring vast economic benefits to Scotland and the wider UK. The contract is structured to ensure value for taxpayers’ money and, importantly, now designed to protect them from extra bills from project overrun. The investment will secure hundreds of skilled jobs at BAE Systems on the Clyde for the next twenty years, and thousands of jobs in the supply chain across Britain.
While the Type 26 will be primarily concerned with escorting the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, the ships will also be expected to deal with numerous missions across the spectrum of Royal Navy operations. As well as the traditional combat role they will also be capable of undertaking anti-piracy, national security and humanitarian/disaster relief operations.
Armament will consist of a NATO-standard BAE 5 inch, 62-calibre Mark 45 naval gun, Phalanx close-in weapon systems, Sea Ceptor surface-to-air missiles (currently being fitted to the Type 23) and Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles in various mixes. They will also be armed with an as yet unspecified new generation anti-ship missile. A rather large flight deck will allow the vessel to accommodate a wide array of British and NATO helicopter types.
Originally it was planned to acquire thirteen Type 26s but in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review the decision was taken to reduce the order to eight and to make up the shortfall in hulls with a smaller frigate type currently under development.
After months of familiarisation and training, the ships company of HMS Queen Elizabeth can finally call the ambitious aircraft carrier home. 700 of the ship’s crew have taken up residence aboard the vessel which will become the Royal Navy’s future flagship and the epitome of Britain’s continued commitment to influencing world events.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is now in the advanced stages of her test and commissioning phase which will include her maiden sea trials scheduled to take place this summer. During this period the 65,000 ton aircraft carrier is expected to undertake “simple” air operations involving helicopters such as the Wildcat and Merlin.
The first operations involving the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II will not take place until the summer of 2018. Even then it will likely consist of a number of United States Marine Corps aircraft and crews until the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force comes up to strength on the type. Given the present acquisition rate, the UK will be able to deploy 24 of the maximum number of 40 F-35Bs onboard the ship some time in 2023 according to the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Jerry Kyd.
However, the whole carrier project continues to draw worried glances from observers regarding manpower shortages within the Royal Navy. This emerged in the wake of a savage cutting of over 4,000 personnel in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. The Royal Navy has engaged in a recruitment drive in recent months to address the problem with some success but the concern is that putting the aircraft carrier to sea will result in other ships being confined to port. In 2015, there were rumours that the navy was even considering advertising for personnel in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
According to the Admiralty, the vessel is planned to sail to her future home base of Portsmouth by the end of the year.
The Admiralty is now enforcing a ban on pornographic imagery aboard warships. Regulations have been in place since 2013 regarding the ban but after an amnesty period of adjustment is now being fully enforced. The new regulations prohibit pornographic images to be displayed anywhere on ship including above sailors bunks and they will also be prohibited from viewing pornography online.
The new regulations are coming in to force in respect of the increase in the number of women serving aboard Royal Navy ships. 1990 saw the first woman to serve on an operational warship namely HMS Brilliant F90. Since then the barrier of gender has been continually broken down with Commander Sarah West becoming the first female captain of a warship when she assumed command of HMS Portland in May 2012 and female crew serving on submarines from 2014.
However, there have been complaints made that female crewmembers have been intimidated by male attitudes towards pornography aboard ship. The matter has not been helped by a series of scandals that have shook the service to the point where it has been forced to act such as the recent case of Colin Fennell, an RN officer based at Portsmouth accused of raping a drunk girl and is currently standing trial at Plymouth Crown Court.
Commenting on the ban, a Royal Navy spokesman told the Metro news agency;
The Royal Navy makes sure that the work environment, whether ashore or at sea, is inclusive and appropriate and we’re proud to be recognised as a top 100 employer in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2017.
Five new Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) to be built for the Royal Navy by BAE Systems’ Glasgow shipyards will be fitted with Servowatch’s Integrated Platform Management Systems (IPMS). Servowatch made the announcement that it had been awarded the contract by the MoD this week. The IPMS provides propulsion, electrical and auxiliary systems management from multi-function workstations with a high degree of automation to reduce demands on the crew.
Andrew Burns, Sales and Marketing Director at Servowatch said in a press release;
With military vessels increasing in complexity, systems integration is key to ensuring the functionality of critical components. Servowatch has introduced its most powerful IPMS solution allowing more commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product integration. It reduces platform cost, integration time and commissioning, whilst retaining the survivability and power of the original Servowatch product.
The new Batch 2 River-class vessels will be modified versions of a similar class built for the Brazilian and Royal Thai navies. They will feature greater storage space, improved accommodation facilities and a flight deck capable of operating the Merlin naval helicopter. The first four ships of the class are already under construction with the fifth due to start this year.
Originally there were to be three ships in the class but in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review it was announced that another six vessels would be built. However, in 2016 it was confirmed that the order would be five.