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HMS Hyaena (1778)
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hyaena
Ordered: 9 October 1776
Builder: John Fisher, Liverpool[1]
Laid down: May 1777
Launched: 2 March 1778
Completed: By January 1779 at Portsmouth
Commissioned: January 1779
Fate: Sold out of service, Deptford 1802
General characteristics
Class & type: 24-gun Porcupine-class post-ship
Tons burthen: 521 39/94 bm
Length: 114 ft 4 in (34.8 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 32 ft 3 in (9.83 m)
Depth of hold: 10 ft 3.25 in (3.1 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: ship-rigged
Complement: 160
  • Upper deck: 22 x 9pdrs
  • Quarter deck: 2 x 6pdr carronades

HMS Hyaena was a 24-gun Porcupine-class post-ship of the Royal Navy.

Early service[edit | edit source]

Launched in March 1778, she was commissioned in January 1779 for service in British home waters and the Caribbean, under the command of Captain Edward Thompson. She saw active service in the blockade and capture of French-controlled Gorée in April 1779, and eight months later was part of Admiral George Rodney's fleet which sailed to the naval relief of Gibraltar in January 1780.[1]

Hyaena then returned to England, bearing reports of the battle and the disposition of Admiral Rodney's fleet.[2] In August 1780, still under Thompson's command, Hyaena escorted a merchant convoy to New York and then turned south to the Caribbean. Thompson's orders were to use his ship and any other forces at his disposal to secure British control of Dutch settlements of Demerara and Essequibo. This was achieved despite a lack of resources, with Hyaena subsequently escorting merchant convoys between these new British possessions and the larger port of Barbados, and thence to England.[2] Convoy in tow, Hyaena reached England in January 1782. Eighteen months in tropical waters had left her in poor condition, and she was promptly decommissioned and sailed to Woolwich dockyards for repair. The works were extensive and were completed at a final expense of ₤5,561, more than half the cost of Hyaena's original construction four years earlier.[1]

While Hyaena was out of service her captain, Edward Thompson, had been assigned to the newly built HMS Grampus, a 50-gun ship of the line. Command of Hyaena was passed to Captain Patrick Sinclair, whose orders were to protect shipping in the seas immediately surrounding the British Isles. Recommissioned in January 1783, Hyaena took up this new role in April and remained at this station for the next five years.[1] In May 1787 she was the initial escort for the convoy of ships that would become the First Fleet to Australia, sailing alongside the fleet to a point two hundred miles west of the Scilly Isles.[3]

In 1788 Hyaena was again decommissioned to allow a four-month refit at Plymouth Dockyard for a cost of ₤4,439.[1] After a brief period of service in the Irish Sea under the command of Captain John Aylmer, she returned to the English Channel where she remained throughout 1790 and early 1791. In mid-1791 she was relegated to the status of an impressment vessel at Bristol, holding press-ganged sailors aboard until they could be transferred to Navy vessels departing for foreign service.[1]

Capture and recapture[edit | edit source]

Finally, after a further refit, Hyaena was restored to overseas service under Captain William Hargood, sailing for Jamaica in October 1791. Disaster struck on 25 May 1793 when Hyaena was engaged by the 40-gun French frigate La Concorde in open waters off Hispaniola. Outgunned by the larger French vessel, Hyaena's colours were struck and she became a French prize. Her quarterdeck and forecastle were removed to create a flush-deck. The modified vessel was then renamed L'Hyene and used as a privateer privateer in pursuit of British and neutral shipping in the Caribbean.[1]

After four years as a privateer, L'Hyene encountered and was swiftly retaken by the HMS Indefatigable, a 64-gun ship of the line commanded by Sir Edward Pellew. She was returned to Plymouth dockyards where her six and nine-pounder guns were removed and replaced with twenty much larger 32-pounder cannons. Recommissioned in March 1798, she resumed convoy protection duties off the English coastline, under the command of Captain Courtnay Boyle.[1]

Fate[edit | edit source]

Again in poor condition, Hyaena was sold out of naval service at Deptford Dockyard in February 1802.[1]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Winfield 2007, p.269
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thompson 1898.
  3. Keneally 2005, pp.61, 68-69

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Keneally, Tom (2005). The Commonwealth of Thieves. Random House Australia. ISBN 9781741666137. 
  •  Laughton, John Knox (1898). "Thompson, Edward". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 56. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships of the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 9781844157006. 

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