HMS Indefatigable

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HMS Indefatigable was a 64-gun ship of the line. She was ordered in 1781 at the Bucklers Hard shipyard. She was launched in 1784. As she was already nearly obsolete for the main battle line, she was never commissioned. In 1794, she was razéed, i.e. her upper gun deck was cut away to convert her into a razee frigate, a large and heavily armed frigate of (nominally) 44 guns.

The Indefatigable was first commissioned in 1794 under Captain Sir Edward Pellew, he commanded her successfully until 1798. She captured a number of French frigates while under his command.

Her most famous battle was in 1797 against the French ship Droits de l'Homme, a 74-gun ship of the line. The battle ended with Droits de l'Homme being driven on shore in a gale. Indefatigable's consort, the Amazon also was run ashore but the majority of her crew survived and were captured. Despite being embayed and having damaged masts and rigging, Indefatigable was able to repair the damage and beat off the lee shore, showing excellent seamanship.

Following the resumption of hostilities after the Peace of Amiens, the Indefatigable was fitted for sea in 1803, and recommissioned under Captain Graham Moore.

On 5 October 1804, with three other frigates (HMS Medusa, HMS Lively and HMS Amphion and with Moore as Commodore, she intercepted a Spanish treasure fleet of four frigates off Cadiz -Medea, Clara, Fama and Mercedes which were carrying silver from South America to Spain. Spain was at the time a neutral country, but was expected to decalre war on Britain in an alliance with France. Acting on Admiralty orders Moore required the Spaniards to change their course and sail for England. The Spanish refused and a short fight ensued, during which the Mercedes blew up. The remaining ships struck and were escorted to Plymouth. The value of the treasure was very large, and if it had been treated as Prize money then Moore and his brother captains would have been immensely rich. As it was the money (and ships) were declared to be "Droits of Admiralty" on the grounds that war had not been declared, and they got a relatively small payment.

In the Canon

Indefatigable appears in Post Captain when Aubrey, in temporary command of the Lively participates in the action against the Spanish treasure fleet mentioned above. The action of Sir Edward Pellew in the Indefatigable against the Droits de l'homme is described in The Hundred Days. Barret Bonden is said to have been born between two guns on the lower gun deck of HMS Indefatigable. This must have been while she was laid up before being razéed, i.e. between 1784 and 1794, making Bonden somewhere between seventeen and twenty seven years old on his first appearance in Master and Commander

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