HMS St Lawrence (1814)


HMS "St Lawrence" was a 112-gun first-rate wooden warship of the Royal Navy that served on Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. She was likely the only Royal Navy ship of the line ever to be launched and operated entirely in fresh water.Fact|date=May 2008


The "St Lawrence" had her keel laid on 12 April 1814, and was launched on 10 September 1814. British naval commodore James Yeo commissioned her as his flagship (Captain Frederick Hickey) in the Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard in Kingston, Upper Canada.

At the time, Lake Ontario was effectively landlocked for any but the smallest vessels, due to shallow water and rapids on the St. Lawrence River downstream and Niagara Falls upstream. As a result, warships operating on Lake Ontario had to be built onsite, either in Kingston or in the American naval dockyards at Sackets Harbor, or converted from merchant ships already operating in the lake.

Control of the lake — the most important supply route for military operations to the west — had passed back and forth between the Americans and the British over the course of the war. The construction of a first rate ship of the line, in a campaign that had been dominated by sloops and frigates, gave the British uncontested control of the lake during the final months of the war. HMS "St Lawrence" never saw action, because her presence on the lake deterred the U.S. fleet from setting sail.

After the war in 1815, the ship was decommissioned and her hull was used as a storage facility by Morton's Brewery in Kingston. In January 1832, the hull was sold there to Robert Drummond for £25. Later, it was sunk in 30 feet (10 m) of water close to shore, and is now a popular diving attraction.


Master shipbuilder John Dennis and nearly 200 shipwrights built the "St Lawrence" in under 10 months [however cf. both refs 1 and 2 which state that she was designed and built by master shipwright William Bell] . The "St Lawrence"'s 112 guns on three flush decks qualified her as a first rate, larger than Lord Nelson's flagship HMS "Victory" at the Battle of Trafalgar nine years earlier.

The "St Lawrence" measured 2,305 tons burthen, and she carried a crew of 700. In way of armaments she carried thirty-two 32pdr long guns and two 68pdr carronades on the upper deck, thirty-six 24pdr long guns on the middle deck and twenty-eight 32pdr carronades, four 24pdr long guns, and two 68pdr carronades on the lower deck. [cite book | title= The Sail & Steam Navy List| author =Lyon & Winfield | page=p. 100] She had a gundeck of 191' 2" and breadth of 52' 6".


* cite book | title= The Sail & Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889 | author =David Lyon & Rif Winfield | location= London | year= 2004 | id= ISBN 1-86176-032-9
*cite book| title= British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793-1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates | author = Rif Winfield | location= London | year= 2005 |id = ISBN 1-86176-246-1
* cite book | title= Warships of the Great Lakes: 1754-1834 | author =Robert Malcomson | location= Annapolis | year= 2001 | id= ISBN 1557509107
* cite book | title= Lords of the Lake | author =Robert Malcomson | location= Annapolis | year= 1998 | id= ISBN 1557505322
* cite book | title= Archaeological and Historical Investigations of Three War of 1812 Wrecks at Kingston, Ontario : HMS St. Lawrence, HMS Kingston and HMS Burlington : Report for Province of Ontario Licence to Conduct Archaeological Exploration or Fieldwork 1999-096 at Sites BbGd-6, BbGc-45 and BbGc-46 | author =Jonathan Moore | location= Ottawa | year= 2006 | id= ISBN 0-9781712-0-9

External links

* [ of HMS St. Lawrence]
* [ Diving information for HMS St. Lawrence]

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