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HMS Indefatigable was one of the Ardent class of 64-gun ships of third rates designed by Sir Thomas Slademarker in 1761 for the Royal Navy. She was ordered on 3 August 1780 (long after Slade's death), and her keel was laid down in May 1781 at the Bucklers Hardmarker shipyard in Hampshire owned by Henry Adams. She was launched in early July 1784 and completed from 11 July to 13 September of that year at Portsmouth Dockyardmarker as a 64-gun two-decked third-rate ship of the line for the Royal Navy. She had cost £25,210.4s.5d to build (her total initial cost including fitting out and coppering was £36,154.18s.7d). At that time, she was already nearly obsolete for the main battle line, and was never brought into commission in that role. In 1794, she was razéed: the upper gun deck was cut away to convert her into a razee, a large and heavily armed frigate of (nominally) 44 guns and fitted at Portsmouth (for £8,764) from September 1794 to February 1795. The Indefatigable had a long career under several distinguished commanders, serving throughout the Napoleonic Wars. She was broken up in 1816.

Commissioned in 1794

The Indefatigable was first commissioned in December 1794 under Captain Sir Edward Pellew, for cruising; he commanded her until 1798. She took the French 44-gun frigate Virginie off the Lizard 22 April 1796; took (with her squadron) two French brigs 10-gun Trois Couleurs and 16-gun Blonde off Ushant 11 June 1796; and took 12-gun privateer schooner Revanche off Brest 2 October 1796.

Her most famous battle was the engagement off the Penmarcks in the Action of 13 January 1797marker, in company with the frigate Amazon, against the French Droits de l'Homme, a 74-gun ship of the line. The battle ended with Droits de l'Homme being driven onto shore in a gale. Amazon also was run ashore, and the majority of the 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.

Subsequently she took more privateers in the Channel – the 8-gun Basque 30 April 1798 and 16-gun Nouvelle Eugénie 11 May 1797; retook the 24-gun privateer Hyène (ex HMS Hyaena) off Teneriffe 14 October 1797; took (with others, in the Channel) more privateers – the 12-gun Vengeur 4 January 1798, the 8-gun Inconcevable 16 January 1798, and the 22-gun Heureuse Nouvelle 28 January 1798; took the 16-gun privateer Heureux off Bayonne 5 August 1798, the 20-gun Vaillante 7 August 1798 and the 16-gun Minerve off Ushant 31 December 1798. From March 1799 she was under Captain Henry Curzon (until the end of 1800); under his command, she took two 14-gun privateers - Vénus 31 May 1799 and Vengeur June 1799; served with Warren's squadron at Ferrol 26 August 1800; took (with Fisgard) the French 28-gun frigate Vénus off the Portuguese coast 28 October 1800. In January 1801 she was under Captain Matthew Scott until she paid off later that year.

Indefatigable was fitted for Ordinary at Plymouth in March to April 1802, and laid up in reserve at Plymouthmarker as a result of the peace of October 1801. Following the resumption of hostilities, the Indefatigable was fitted for sea in July to September 1803, and recommissioned under Captain Graham Moore, younger brother of Sir John Moore of Rifle Brigade and Corunnamarker fame.

On 5 October 1804, with three other frigates (Medusa, Lively and Amphion and with Moore as Commodore, she intercepted a Spanish treasure fleet of four frigates off Cadiz - Medea, Clara, Fama and Mercedes - carrying bullion from South America to Spain. Spain was at the time a neutral country, but was showing strong signs of declaring an alliance with Napoleonic France. Acting on Admiralty orders Moore required the Spaniards to change their course and sail for England. The senior Spanish officer refused and a short fight ensued, during which the Mercedes blew up. The remainder surrendered and were escorted to Plymouthmarker. The value of the treasure was very large, and if it had been treated as Prize of War then Moore and his brother captains would have been set for life several times over. 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 ex gratia payment.

In October 1805 the Indefatigable was now under Captain John Tremayne Rodd (-1809), for the blockade of Brest; her boats (with her squadron's) took the French 36-gun frigate César in the Gironde on 15 July 1806; was in the operations in the Basque Roads 12/13 April 1807; took French privateers – the 14-gun La Diane off the Gironde 31 July 1808, the American ships Sally and Peggy on 1 and 9 September 1808 and the 3-gun La Clarisse in the Channel 14 January 1809. On 24 March 1809 she captured the Danish ship Neptunus, and on 28 March, French ship La Nymphe. In October 1809 she was under Captain Henry E. R. Baker, then in December 1809 under Captain John Broughton (until 1812) - 20 October 1810 she re-captured Portuguese brig Intrigua then in June 1812 Captain John Fyffe, on South American station, visiting the Galapagos islandsmarker and giving the second largest island now known as Santa Cruz islandmarker, its English name Indefatigable. In 1815 she was finally paid off. The Indefatigable was taken to pieces at Sheerness in August 1816.

In fiction

See also

 and   of the similar Intrepid class, both 64-gun ships, were also razeed around the same time as Indefatigable, but neither had as distinguished a career.


  1. Ommanney and Druce, Prize Agents, Notice of prize money published in the London Gazette, 6 January 1810",, accessed 2nd November, 2009
  2. Ommanney and Druce, Prize Agents, Notice of prize money published in the London Gazette, 17 April 1810",, accessed 2nd November, 2009
  3. Wilson and Wilkinson, Prize Agents, Notice of prize money published in the London Gazette, 30 March 1811",, accessed 2nd November, 2009


  • Robert Gardiner, Frigates of the Napoleonic Wars, Chatham Publishing, London 2000.
  • Rif Winfield, British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793 to 1817, Chatham Publishing, London 2005. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.
  • 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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