HMS Bellona (1760)

HMS Bellona (1760)

HMS "Bellona" was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. Designed by Sir Thomas Slade, she was a prototype for the iconic 74-gun ships of the latter part of the 18th century. "Bellona" was built at Chatham, starting on 10 May 1758, launched on 19 February 1760, and commissioned three days later. She was the second ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name, and saw service in the Seven Years' War, American Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars.

"Bellona" left to join the squadron blockading Brest (this being the Seven Years' War) on 8 April 1760. She was later detached to patrol off the Tagus River in Spain, and on 13 August, while sailing with the frigate "Brilliant", she sighted the French 74-gun ship "Courageux" in company with two frigates. The British ships pursued, and after 14 hours, caught up with the French ships and engaged, the "Brilliant" attacking the frigates, and "Bellona" taking on the "Courageux". The frigates eventually got away, but the "Courageux" struck her colours, and was later repaired and taken into the Royal Navy.

In 1762 "Bellona" was paid off and did not see action again until 1780, during the American Revolutionary War. She was coppered at this time, one of the first British ships to receive the hull-protecting layer. Until 1783 she cruised in the North Sea and the West Indies, and participated in reliefs of Gibraltar.

"Bellona" was once again paid off, recommissioned briefly in 1789 in expectation of war with Russia, but didn't get into action again until 1793, when she went to the West Indies. In 1801 she was in the Battle of Copenhagen, participating despite having grounded on a shoal. She continued to serve in the North Sea and Bay of Biscay until 1814, when she paid off for the last time and was broken up, having served in the navy for over 50 years, an unusually long time for one of the old wooden ships.

"Bellona" in fiction

"Bellona" appears in the Patrick O'Brian novels "The Commodore" and "The Yellow Admiral" as the pennant ship of a squadron led by the character Jack Aubrey.



*Lavery, Brian (1985) "The 74-gun Ship Bellona." Conway Maritime Press, London. ISBN 0-87021-148-X.
*Lavery, Brian (2003) "The Ship of the Line - Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650-1850." Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.

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