Author Topic: HMS Formidable (1777 - 1813)  (Read 149 times)

Offline stuartwaters

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Re: HMS Formidable (1777 - 1813)
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2020, 09:37:50 PM »
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.

Offline stuartwaters

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HMS Formidable (1777 - 1813)
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2019, 11:30:13 PM »

HMS Formidable was a Barfleur Class, 98 gun Second-Rate ship of the line built at the Royal Dockyard, Chatham.

The Barfleur Class was a group of four Second-Rate ships of the line. HMS Formidable was the last of three of the class to be built at Chatham. Aside from the lead ship, the other Chatham-built ship of the class was HMS Prince George. The odd one out was HMS Princess Royal, built at the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard.

The Second Rate ship of the line (carrying more than 80, but less than 100 guns) was regarded as a slightly cheaper alternative to the great First Rate ships. First rate ships of the line in the Royal Navy were very few and far between, whereas Second Rate ships were much more numerous. Even at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar, when the Royal Navy was larger than the rest of the worlds navies put together, there were only six First Rate ships in commission, not including the ex-Spanish ships HMS San Josef (112) and HMS Salvador del Mundo (112). At the same time, there were sixteen Second Rate ships in commission. That stated, the First Rate ships, despite only carrying slightly more guns, threw a much heavier broadside and were thus significantly more powerful than the similarly sized Second Rate ships.

The Barfleur Class was designed by Sir Thomas Slade, Co-Surveyor of the Navy. Slade is now more famous for having designed HMS Victory.

As a more general point, the Second Rate ship was unique to the Royal Navy. Only the British built ships of the line which carried less than 100 guns on three gundecks. The French and Spanish preferred instead to build 80 gun ships with two gundecks which threw a broadside of similar weight and power. Despite the obvious advantages of the 80 gun two-decker in terms of building costs, running costs, speed and agility, the British preferred the 90 and later 98 gun three-decker because they felt that it's towering appearance and sheer presence had a significant negative impact on the enemy's morale and willingness to fight. Although a small number of 80 gun two-deckers did serve in the Royal Navy at the time, all but two of them had been captured from the enemy. In other words, despite their advantages, the British only ever built two 80 gun two-deckers during the French wars.

HMS Formidable was ordered by the Navy Board on 17th August 1768. The 1/48 scale drawings were expanded to full size in chalk on the Mould Loft floor and those were used by the shipwrights to build the moulds which were taken to the timber yard and used to mark out the full sized timbers prior to their being taken to the saw pits to be cut into shape. The timbers were then taken to the slipway and assembled. HMS Formidable was built on the No.2 Slipway which had been prepared following the launch of HMS Barfleur on 30th July 1768. The first keel section of what was to become HMS Formidable was laid on the slipway during December of 1769. The early stages of the project were overseen by Mr Joseph Harris, Master Shipwright in the Kings Dock Yard at Chatham. Mr Harris left his position at Chatham in July 1773 and his replacement, Mr William Gray was only in office for two years before he in turn was replaced by Mr Israel Pownall. It was Mr Pownall who oversaw the completion and launch of the completed hull into the River Medway on Wednesday 20th August 1777.

While the ship was under construction at Chatham, what had started in Britain's American colonies as unrest over what was seen as illegal taxation and the heavy-handed way in which those taxes were enforced had escalated into an all-out, armed rebellion. From 1776, the French had been supplying the American rebels with arms and money. After her launch, HMS Formidable was fitted with her guns, masts and rigging at Chatham. In the meantime, the French had concluded a Treaty of Alliance with the American rebels, which recognised the United States of America as a sovereign independent nation for the first time, on 6th February 1778. Although the British were trying to salvage the situation diplomatically, the American rebels had already committed themselves to seeking full independence in exchange for unlimited French military assistance, war was really inevitable. It was against this background that HMS Formidable was completed and commissioned under the Dover-born Captain John Bazely on Wednesday 15th April 1778.

On completion, HMS Formidable was a large and very powerful warship. The ship was a vessel of 1,944 tons. She was 177ft 6in long on her upper gundeck, 143ft 10in long at the keel and 50ft 5in wide across the beam. Her hold was 21ft deep and she drew 13ft 11in of water at the bow and 14ft 11in at the rudder. HMS Formidable was armed with 28 x 32pdr long guns on her lower gun deck, 30 x 18pdr long guns on her middle gun deck and 30 x 12pdr long guns on her upper gun deck. She had 8 x 6pdr long guns on the quarterdeck and 2 x 9pdr long guns on her forecastle. She also carried a dozen half-pounder swivel guns on her forecastle and quarterdeck handrails and in her fighting tops. The ship was manned by a crew of 750 officers, men, boys and Royal Marines.

Her construction at Chatham had cost £50,090.12s.1d, while fitting her out added a further £3,663.12s.10d to the bill.

Barfleur Class Plans:

Orlop Plan:

Lower Gun deck Plan:

Middle and Upper Gundecks, Quarterdeck and Forecastle plans:

Inboard Profile and Plan:

Sheer Plan and Lines:

A painting by Joseph Marshall of the Navy Board model of HMS Barfleur. HMS Formidable would have been identical. This is the view from the starboard quarter:

A painting by the same artist of the same model, this time from the starboard bow:

A model of HMS Formidable on display at the Fort Napoleon Des Saintes museum on Guadeloupe:

HMS Formidable was commissioned into the Channel Fleet, then under the overall command of Admiral Sir Augustus Keppel who was flying his command flag in the new 100 gun First Rate ship of the line HMS Victory. The ship was assigned as the flagship of the Rear Division under Vice-Admiral Hugh Palliser. Also under Palliser's command in the Rear Division was the 90 gun Second-Rate ship HMS Ocean, the 74 gun Third Rate ships HMS Elizabeth, HMS Robust, HMS Ramillies and HMS Egmont and the 64 gun Third Rate ships HMS America, HMS Defiance and HMS Worcester.

On 23rd July 1778, the Channel Fleet was at sea when they sighted the French Atlantic Fleet, at sea in it's entirety. The French Commander-in-Chief, Louis Guillomet, the Compte D'Orvilliers, was under orders to avoid a fleet action if possible. The two forces sighted each other about 100 miles west of the island of Ushant, with the French being downwind of the British. The next four days were spent with both fleets manoeuvring for advantage. The French fleet was cut off from Brest, but had manoeuvred upwind of Keppel's force. The British were attempting to close the range, whereas the French were frustrating this. Eventually, Keppel decided that D'Orvilliers was going to continue avoiding being brought to action and that if the French were to be brought to action, he would have to force them to do so. Rather than order his fleet to form an orderly line of battle, Keppel merely signalled his force to close the range and engage the enemy. What followed was a rough and ready battle. In poor weather, HMS Victory was the first to engage the enemy, opening fire on the French flagship Bretagne of 110 guns at about noon. The action which followed became known as the First Battle of Ushant and ended indecisively, with the British driving off the French but suffering heavier casualties. The indecisive result of the battle caused a violent political quarrel in the UK which led to Keppel being court-martialled for dereliction of duty but found not guilty and resigning from the Navy temporarily.

The First Battle of Ushant by Theodore Gudin:

What was important about the First Battle of Ushant was that it was the first major open conflict between British and French naval forces in the American War of Independence. The reason why the Compte D'Orvilliers had been ordered to try to avoid a fleet action with the British was that the French King, Louis XVI wanted the British to attack, meaning that the French would then avoid being seen to be the ones to start the battle, a necessary condition of the "Pacte de Familie" with the Spanish, in order to draw Spain into the war alongside the French. All the governments involved knew that this was just political smoke and mirrors.

During the Battle of Ushant a boy in HMS Formidable had his arm shot away. After being taken below to the Surgeon, but before the Surgeon had had a chance to see him, the boy got dressed and returned to his station. On seeing the boy, Vice-Admiral Palliser called him and asked why he didn't stay below. The boy replied "Damn me eyes sir, she ain't struck yet and I'll not quit my post all the time I can stand". At that moment, the boy was struck by another ball which opened his belly up. Nobody expected to see him alive again, but to their astonishment, in the weeks after the battle, he recovered from his horrific wound. When HMS Formidable was paid off, Vice-Admiral Palliser personally gave the boy ten guineas from his own pocket as a sign of his admiration for the boy's dogged determination and courage. After the war, Palliser told the story to Lord Sandwich, who was First Lord of the Admiralty at the time. Sandwich was so impressed by it, he had the boy tracked down to his home in Shoreditch and gave him a pension of £20 per year. What is truly remarkable is that shortly after being awarded the pension by the First Lord of the Admiralty himself, the lad was petitioning the Admiralty to be allowed to return to service on the grounds that "Although I wanted my arm and part of my belly, I'd be more use aboard ship than any fresh water sailor their Lordships might employ".

HMS Formidable remained in the Channel Fleet for the next couple of years. On 20th February 1779, Captain Bazely left HMS Formidable to assume command of the 9pdr armed 28 gun frigate HMS Pegasus and was replaced, firstly by Captain Thomas Cadogan for a couple of weeks and then, from 12th March 1779, by Captain John Stanton. In February 1780, the ship was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Plymouth and had her lower hull sheathed in copper. It would have been during this refit that the ship was fitted with carronades. An Admiralty order dated July 13th 1779 directed that second rate ships such as HMS Formidable be fitted with four 12pdr carronades on the forecastle with another six on the poop deck.

In early 1782, HMS Formidable became flagship to Vice-Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, one of the Royal Navy's most famous and distinguished commanders. Rodney brought with him amongst whom was Captain Sir Charles Douglas. Rodney had been been tasked with resuming his previous command in the Caribbean. He had returned to the UK in his previous flagship HMS Sandwich (90) because he had been taken ill. While he had been away from his command, the British war effort in America had suffered a catastrophe. His replacement in the America's, Admiral Sir Thomas Graves had commanded the fleet in the inconclusive Battle of Chesapeake Bay during the previous September. While the battle itself had been inconclusive, the end result of it had been that the British had failed to wrest control of the mouth of Chesapeake Bay from a French fleet commanded by the Compte de Grasse, one of France's finest naval commanders. This had meant that the Royal Navy was unable to resupply the army under General Lord Cornwallis which was under seige at Yorktown at the head of the bay. Cornwallis had eventually been forced to surrender along with most of the British Army in North America, which had rendered the British position in America untenable. The British were now engaged in a desperate scramble to protect their possessions in the Caribbean. It was into this scramble that HMS Formidable sailed when she arrived at Barbados in February 1782.

While Rodney had been en-route, his old friend and second-in-command, Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood had prevented De Grasse and his fleet from taking possession of the strategically important Frigate Bay during the Battle for St Kitts. This hadn't prevented the island from falling to the French on 12th February.

Fresh from their success at St Kitts, the French returned to their base at Martinique and began to lay plans to seize Jamaica from the British. Rodney, now back in command sent his frigates to scour the Caribbean to discover De Grasse's intentions and it wasn't long before these became clear. If the British were expelled from Jamaica, they would find it very difficult to defend the rest of their possessions in the Caribbean and would probably, over time, be driven from the area altogether. On 7th April 1782, de Grasse set out from Martinique with 35 ships of the line with a convoy of 100 transport ships with the intention of meeting up with a Spanish squadron of 12 more ships of the line and 15,000 soldiers and launching the operation against Jamaica.

News of the French departure reached Rodney the following day and the entire British fleet left St Lucia in search of the French. After only a day, the French were sighted. Surprised at the sheer speed of the British fleet, the Compte de Grasse ordered the convoy to head to Guadeloupe while he covered them with his fleet. Hood decided to attack as soon as he could. Commanding the vanguard of Rodney's fleet, Hood and his force of 12 ships of the line fought an inconclusive action against the French in which both sides suffered damage. This encounter saw Captain William Bayne of HMS Alfred (74) killed in action and HMS Royal Oak (74) and HMS Montagu (74) both damaged.

The next two days saw the British follow parallel to the French, but with both sides keeping their distance as they made repairs. On 12th April, Hood's vanguard force was still making its repairs, so Rodney ordered Rear Admiral Sir Francis Samuel Drake and his rearguard force to take the lead. The two fleets were passing through the passage between the Iles des Saintes and the northern end of Dominica. By 07:40, HMS Marlborough of Drake's rearguard was leading the fleet and was approaching the centre of the French line. It looked as though the action was going to be a typical fleet action of the time, with both fleets in lines of battle, sailing in opposite directions along each others lines. At about 8am however, as HMS Formidable was engaging the French flagship, the enormous Ville de Paris of 104 guns, the wind changed. This enabled Rodney's fleet, starting with HMS Formidable to sail through the French line of battle, raking enemy ships through their bows and sterns and inflicting terrible damage and casualties. By 13:30, HMS Barfleur had come up and had begun a gunnery duel with the French flagship. This went on until about 16:00 when the Ville de Paris, having suffered horrific casualties, struck her colours and surrendered to HMS Barfleur. The French admiral was the only unhurt officer aboard the Ville de Paris. The French flagship had had over 400 of her crew killed. In fact, the casualty figures for the Ville de Paris alone were more than those for the entire British fleet. It is estimated that French casualties in the Battle of the Saintes came to more than 3,000 killed or wounded and more than 5,000 captured. The British suffered 243 killed and 816 wounded across the fleet. The bill for HMS Formidable came to 14 dead and 29 wounded. The British had not lost any ships and had captured four French ships of the line and another, the Cesar of 74 guns had blown up after having caught fire.

The fleets at the Battle of the Saintes:

Rodneys Action 12th April 1782 by Lieutenant William Elliot. This painting shows HMS Formidable (center foreground) breaking the French line at the Battle of the Saintes:

The end of the battle. The Ville de Paris (foreground right) surrenders to HMS Barfleur (alongside). HMS Formidable is the three-decked ship flying the St Georges Cross on her main mast in the left background. The St Georges Cross denotes that she is the fleet flagship. The painting is by Thomas Whitcombe:

The remaining French ships withdrew towards Guadeloupe. On 17th, Rodney sent Hood in the Vanguard squadron after the remaining French ships and Hood's force caught up with them in the Mona Passage, between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Rodney had sent Hood after his second in command had criticised him for not having pursued the retreating French after the Battle of the Saintes and completing his rout of the enemy. The only members of Hood's force to actually engage the enemy at the Battle of Mona Passage were the 74 gun ship HMS Valiant, which vastly outgunned and captured the French 64 gun ships Caton and Jason, while the 74 gun ship HMS Magnificent captured the French frigate L'Aimable of 32 guns.

While the British and French fleets were tearing pieces out of each other during April 1782, peace talks had started in Paris. Now that the American colonies had been lost and French ambitions to drive the British out of the Carribean had been thwarted, and the British were successfully driving the French from their possessions in India, the naval element of the American War of Independence began to wind down. In early 1783, HMS Formidable paid off at Portsmouth and entered the dockyard there for repairs. The war was eventually ended by the Treaty of Paris, signed in September 1783 and effective from 12th April 1784.

Amongst Rodney's staff aboard HMS Formidable was the noted Scottish physician Dr Gilbert Blane, who had been engaged by Rodney to act as his own private physician. With the Commander-in-Chief's blessing and encouragement, Dr Blane asked all the ship's surgeons to provide him with weekly reports and sick lists. This allowed Dr Blane to conduct an early form of statistical analysis and the report which resulted from this was to have startling and far-reaching effects on the entire field of marine medicine. Dr Blane is widely regarded as being the father of modern day medicine and it all resulted from his time in HMS Formidable. The recommendations in his report, entitled "Observations on the Diseases Incident to Seamen", eventually fully implemented by Admiralty Order in 1795, but were more or less common practice throughout the fleet from about 1790. These included:

1) A daily ration of lemon or lime juice
2) Fresh vegetables and fruit to be included in the men's diet where possible
3) Beer or wine be substituted for rum
4) That the men and their living spaces be subjected to regular inspections for cleanliness.
5) That ships be kept clean and fumigated on a regular basis.

Dr Blane's work was more comprehensive that that of Dr Joseph Lind, undertaken in the late 1740s, whose work concentrated on the treatment and prevention of Scurvy. Taken together, these reforms led to the almost complete eradication of the biggest killers of sailors, Scurvy, Typhus and Dysentery.

Among the crew of HMS Formidable between 9th and 15th April 1783 was Mr Midshipman Henry William Bayntun. The reason his stay in HMS Formidable was so short was because on 15th April 1783, he passed his examination for Lieutenant and was promoted into the post of Third Lieutenant in the 16 gun Sloop of War HMS Zebra. He was later to command the 74 gun Third Rate ship of the line HMS Leviathan at the Battle of Trafalgar.

In April 1784, HMS Formidable's repairs were complete at a cost of £17,353.15s.1d and the ship went into the Ordinary at Portsmouth.

The ship was to remain at a mooring at Portsmouth for the next six years with her yards, rigging, sails and guns removed. During her time in the Portsmouth Ordinary, she came under the command of the Master Attendant at Portsmouth. She had aboard a skeleton crew consisting of her Boatswain, her Gunner, her Carpenter and her Cook. As senior warrant officers, these men were entitled to have a servant each and usually lived aboard with their families while the ship was in the Ordinary. The ship also had a further senior warrant officer in the form of a Purser assigned to her, but he was allowed to live ashore within a reasonable distance from the Dockyard. Because he lived ashore, he was not entitled to an allowance to employ servants and any servants he did have were paid out of his own pocket. In addition to these men, the ship had a crew of 32, all rated as Able Seamen. For any tasks over and above the Capabilities of these men, the Master Attendant would send a team of labourers from the Dockyard to assist.

The American War of Independence had cost the British Government an unimaginable sum of money for the day, but with the establishment after the war of colonies in modern-day Australia and the expansion of trade in India and the far east, although the Government had to engage in a program of what would today be called Austerity, it could cope with the repayments. The same cannot be said of France. The French Government, which at the time took the form of an Absolute Monarchy, where the King owns everything and everybody, was pretty much bankrupt at the end of the Seven Years War in 1763. Their involvement in the American War of Independence had been a huge gamble. They had hoped to be able to regain territories lost in the Seven Years War and to rebuild their trading empire in North America and India. The gamble had not paid off and the country, financially, was in even worse straits than it was at the start of the war. By 1789, more than half the French Government's income was being spent on servicing their debts and when the country was struck by famine at the end of the 1780s, the Government of King Louis XVI could do little or nothing about it. With people starving to death in the streets of Paris, the King was removed from his position of absolute power in the Revolution of July 1789 and the Absolute Monarchy was replaced by a Constitutional Monarchy not unlike our own, where the power of the King was limited by an elected assembly, the National Convention. King Louis XVI was not about to take this laying down and a power struggle arose which over the next few years became more bitter and violent. Against this background, the republican Jacobin movement came to prominence and slowly began to gain control of the National Convention. All this instability at the centre of Government did nothing to ease the problems the people were facing, instead they became worse. The country was sliding towards civil war. The British Government, alarmed by developments in France began to arm and fund French Royalist rebels and fighting actually broke out in the Vendee Region along the French Biscay coast. The National Convention attempted to head off this problem by attempting to export the revolution to their neighbours so that by 1790, France was at war with pretty much the rest of Europe.

The British meanwhile, had become embroiled in a territorial dispute with the Spanish. British traders had set up a large settlement and port at Nootka, on Vancouver Island off the west coast of modern day Canada. This was in defiance of a Spanish territoral claim over the entire western coastline of both American continents. By 1790, Britain and Spain were drifting towards war. The British began to mobilise the fleet and between May and July 1790, HMS Formidable was taken into the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth and was fitted for sea. As part of this work, her armament was increased when she was fitted with 12pdr long guns on her forecastle and quarterdeck instead of the 6 and 9pdr long guns she was fitted with previously. The ship commissioned under Captain the Honorable Keith Stewart.

The Spanish were alarmed at the scale of British preparation for war and approached the National Convention for assurances of assistance should war break out with the British. The National Convention refused. They already had enough problems with civil war in the Vendee region and wars against their neighbours all of which was sucking up money and resources. The French navy had been utterly neglected in the years since the end of the American War and was in no fit state to take on the British without a lot of money, time and effort being spent on bringing it up to scratch. This forced the Spanish to the negotiating table and by the end of 1790, what is now called the Spanish Armaments Crisis was pretty much resolved peacefully. With the Crisis over, the ship had paid off again at Portsmouth by the end of 1790.

During 1783, the Russians under Catherine the Great had annexed the Crimean Peninsular. This was in defiance of a territorial claim over the Crimea by the Ottoman Empire and in 1787, the Ottomans had launched a war to reconquer the Peninsula. The Russians repelled the Turks and went on to make major territorial gains from the Ottomans. The British were alarmed by this and feared it would upset the balance of power in the Levant and Black Sea, both of which were important to British trade. The British, with their Prussian allies had pressured the Russians and their Austrian allies to end the war without making any more gains. Austria was happy with this, but the Russians refused and continued their war against the Turks. In an attempt to intimidate the Russians, Britain began to prepare for war again, this time in the Black Sea and Crimean Peninsula and as part of the mobilisation of the fleet, HMS Formidable was again recommissioned under Captain Henry Nicholls and was fitted for sea between March and May of 1791. The build-up for war was unpopular. Many feared the loss of trade with Russia and the cost and impact of fighting another war in a faraway place. Political support for the threatened war evaporated, the Government of William Pitt the Younger fell and the Russian annexation of Crimea was accepted. In September 1791, HMS Formidable was again paid off.

In April 1792, HMS Formidable was taken again into the Royal Dockyard at Portsmouth and began a "Middling" repair.

The next crisis arose in December 1792, when the Jacobins abolished the French Monarchy. In January 1793, the King and Queen were tried and convicted of treason and were executed. The British expelled the French Ambassador in protest and on 1st February 1793, the National Convention declared war on Great Britain, starting the French Revolutionary War.

HMS Formidable's repairs continued into 1795 and were a major piece of work. The ship finally recommissioned under Captain George Cranfield Berkeley in February 1795 and the repairs were fully completed the following June, when the ship joined the Channel Fleet. BY the time they were complete, HMS Formidable's repairs had cost £38,751.

After their tactical defeat and catastrophic losses at the hands of the Channel Fleet at the Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794, the French Atlantic Fleet was reluctant to put to sea in any numbers. By 1796 however, the British had become aware that a major operation was in the offing. They had no idea what the target was though and in order to prevent being caught with his pants down, Admiral Sir Alexander Hood, the Lord Bridport, Commander-in-Chief Channel Fleet, split the fleet into three large squadrons. The largest, under Lord Bridport's command, was to remain in the fleet anchorage at Spithead, ready to go where any intelligence might lead them. Vice-Admiral Sir John Colpoys was ordered to raise his command flag in HMS London (98) and was ordered to take a squadron and patrol off Brest. Rear-Admiral Sir Roger Curtiss was ordered to raise his command flag in HMS Formidable and patrol the Western Approaches.

On 17th December 1796, a French squadron of nine ships of the line under Rear-Admiral Bouvet managed to get out of Brest and avoiding Vice-Admiral Colpoy's squadron, broke out into the Atlantic Ocean. On 20th December, Captain Sir Edward Pellew in the 24pdr armed 44 gun razee Heavy Frigate HMS Indefatigable arrived at Falmouth carrying news of the French escape. On receiving the news, the Admiralty ordered Lord Bridport to put to sea with the Channel Fleet and hunt them down. On Christmas Day 1796, the Channel Fleet began to put to sea. The departure was delayed by a number of accidents. HMS Prince (98) collided with HMS Sans Pareil (80), damaging both ships. HMS Atlas (98) ran aground and HMS Formidable collided with the brand new first rate ship HMS Ville de Paris (110), damaging both ships.

On 1st February 1799, HMS Formidable was involved in another accident when she broke free from her mooring in the Homoaze during a gale. She collided with the ex-French 18pdr armed 38 gun frigate HMS Amelia before running aground on the West Mud. The ship was floated off without further damage once the weather had calmed down. Despite the intensity of the war, particularly in the period leading up to the Battle of Trafalgar on 21st October 1805, HMS Formidable saw no action. In 1801, the ship was found to be structually weak, but such was the need for ships in the Royal Navy, she was strengthened by doubling the hull planking from the tops of the bulwarks down to just above the waterline. In addition to this, she was fitted with internal diagonal bracing to stiffen the hull. After service in the Mediterranean and the Baltic between 1807 and 1810, the ship was once again paid off into the Ordinary at Portsmouth in 1812. By now, the need for large ships of the line like HMS Formidable had declined and many of the older second rate ships were being paid off. That stated, the need for 74 gun third rate ships of the line was greater than ever and despite the efforts of both the Royal Dockyards and private shipbuilders, there were never enough. HMS Formidable was ordered to be cut down into a large 74 gun third rate ship. This work would have involved the complete removal of her forecastle, poop deck and part of her quarterdeck. Her upper gundeck was to have the centre section removed, leaving the forward section as her new forecastle and the after section as a new quarterdeck. The remains of the original quarterdeck would now become a new poop deck. The ship was taken to the Royal Dockyard Chatham to have this work done. On arrival at Chatham on 30th June 1813, HMS Formidable was thoroughly surveyed and was found to be rotten. The conversion was cancelled and HMS Formidable was broken up at Chatham during September of 1813.
"I did not say the French would not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Admiral Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl St Vincent.