HMS Bellona (1760)

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Plan HMS Superb 74 canons en 1758-1760.jpg
Royal Navy EnsignGreat Britain
NameHMS Bellona
Ordered28 December 1757
BuilderChatham Dockyard
Laid down10 May 1758
Launched19 February 1760
Honours and
Battle of Copenhagen
FateBroken up, 1814
General characteristics [1]
Class and type Bellona-class 74-gun ship of the line
Tons burthen1615 bm
  • 168 ft (51 m) (gundeck)
  • 138 ft (42 m) (keel)
Beam46 ft 11 in (14.30 m)
Draught21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
Depth of hold19 ft 9 in (6.02 m)
Sail planFull-rigged ship
Complement650 officers and men
  • Lower gundeck: 28 × 32-pounder guns
  • Upper gundeck: 28 × 18-pounder guns
  • QD: 14 × 9-pounder guns
  • Fc: 4 × 9-pounder guns
The action of 14 August 1761 off Cape Finisterre at which HMS Bellona captured the French ship Courageux

HMS Bellona was a 74-gun Bellona-class 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. "The design of the Bellona class was never repeated precisely, but Slade experimented slightly with the lines, and the Arrogant, Ramillies, Egmont, and Elizabeth classes were almost identical in size, layout, and structure, and had only slight variations in the shape of the underwater hull. The Culloden-class ship of the line was also similar, but slightly larger. Thus over forty ships were near-sisters of the Bellona."[2] Bellona was built at Chatham,[1] 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.

She was captained by Robert (Bob) Faulknor the elder (father of the naval hero Robert Faulknor the younger).[3]

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 them at the Battle of Cape Finisterre (1761), 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, when on 30 December, under command of Captain Richard Onslow, along with Captain Taylor Penny on HMS Marlborough they captured the 54-gun Dutch ship Princess Carolina.[4] She then from 1781 saw action 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 did not get into action again until 1793, when she went to the West Indies.

On 10 January 1797, Bellona and Babet drove a small French privateer schooner ashore on Deseada. They tried to use the privateer Legere, of six guns and 48 men, which Bellona had captured three days earlier, to retrieve the schooner that was on shore. In the effort, both French privateers were destroyed. Then Babet chased a brig, which had been a prize to the schooner, ashore. The British were unable to get her off so they destroyed her.[5] Babet and Bellona were paid Prize money in 1828, more than 30 years later.[6]

Bellona took part in the action of 18 June 1799, securing the surrender of the frigates Junon and Alceste, and helping HMS Centaur in capturing Courageuse.

Bellona at Copenhagen, 1801

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,[1] having served in the navy for over 50 years, an unusually long time for one of the old wooden ships.

Bellona in fiction[edit]

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.


  1. ^ a b c Lavery, Ships of the Line, vol. 1, p. 176.
  2. ^ Brian Lavery, Anatomy of the Ship: The 74-gun ship BELLONA, Conway Maritime Press, London 1989, , p.7
  3. ^ Famous Fighters of the Fleet, Edward Fraser 1904, p.183
  4. ^ "Taylor Penny".
  5. ^ "No. 13996". The London Gazette. 25 March 1797. p. 289.
  6. ^ "No. 14829". The London Gazette. 4 January 1828. p. 27.


  • Lavery, Brian (1985). The 74-gun Ship Bellona. Conway Maritime Press. 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.
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1714–1792; Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84415-700-6.

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