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SWIFTSURE (74) Built in 1787, Deptford.
Broken up in 1816.

  • 1798 Capt. Benjamin HALLOWELL.
    The ship formed part of Sir Horatio NELSON's fleet at the battle with the French fleet in Aboukir Bay on 1 August 1798.
    Capt. HALLOWELL had been ordered to reconnoitre the port of Alexandria before the discovery of the enemy and so did not arrive at the scene of the battle until after dark.
    In the smoke it was difficult to distinguish friend from foe and the resolve he had made not to open fire until SWIFTSURE was at anchor with sails clawed up saved one ship standing out of the action with no lights displayed.
    He supposed her to be an enemy but it was in fact BELLEROPHON.
  • After anchoring SWIFTSURE began a steady fire on the quarter of FRANKLIN and the bow of the ORIENT.
    An hour later, when a fire broke out in the cabin of the latter, Capt. HALLOWELL ordered fire from great guns and musketry to be concentrated on her.
    ALEXANDER on the other side poured more shot into the same area.
    Some of the French officers and men, seeing it was impractical to extinguish the fire, jumped overboard.
    Many were pulled through the ports of the British ships, SWIFTSURE rescuing the first lieutenant and 10 men.
  • The ORIENT blew up at 10 PM and burning pieces of wreckage fell into the fore and main-tops of SWIFTSURE, fortunately causing no casualties.
    The silence which followed this catastrophe was broken by FRANKLIN firing back at SWIFTSURE and DEFENCE but, having no support and with her main and mizzen masts fallen the French ship soon struck.
    At midnight SWIFTSURE was being pounded by TONNANT's heavy guns but, because of the position of ALEXANDER she was unable to make a proper reply.
    (TONNANT continued fighting until the 3rd. when she was beached with her colours still flying from the stump of her mizzen.) SWIFTSURE lost 7 killed and 22 wounded in the action.
    Early on she had received a shot underwater and the pumps had to be kept going throughout the battle, the water in the hold never falling below four feet.
  • In common with the other ships a gold medal was presented to the captain and the first lieutenant, Thomas COWAN, was promoted to commander.
  • Capt. HALLOWELL took possession of the island of Aboukir on the 8th., threw the iron guns into the sea and brought off two mortars and two 12-pounders all made of brass.
    On the 10th. SWIFTSURE captured the FORTUNE, a corvette of 16 guns and 70 men, which had been seen in the offing on her way to cruise off Damietta.
    Her surgeon discovered that he had lost a brother when ORIENT exploded.
  • SWIFTSURE remained off the Egyptian coast in the squadron under the orders of Capt. Samuel HOOD until 14 February when she sailed to join Lord NELSON at Palermo on 20 March.
    On 31 March she sailed with a small squadron under Capt. TROUBRIDGE in CULLODEN for Naples.
    They entered the bay on the 2nd and Capt. HALLOWELL landed on the island of Procida to the joy of the inhabitants who hoisted the Neapolitan flag in place of the tricolour.
    Marines were sent to take possession of Ischia and the squadron continued off Naples until returning to Palermo on the 15th.
    and then cruised off Maritimo.
    On the 23rd. Capt. HALLOWELL presented Lord NELSON with a coffin made from the main-mast of ORIENT, with the wish that the time when he was to be buried in one of his trophies would be far distant.
  • On 29 June Capt. TROUBRIDGE opened trenches before the castle of St. Elmo towards the west of Naples which was occupied by Neapolitan rebels in French pay.
    Capt. HALLOWELL was his second in command.
    Batteries were erected around the fort by the British and by Russians in the army of Gen. Suvorof and the enemy surrendered after a short cannonade.
    The two officers then proceeded to Capua, 15 miles to the north, erected more batteries and in four days forced the surrender of the rebels there on the 29th.
    Another fortress, Gaieta, surrendered to Capt. LOUIS of MINOTAUR.
  • SWIFTSURE was sent to Civita Vecchia on 7 August so that Capt. HALLOWELL could negotiate surrender terms with the French there, but before talks could be concluded SWIFTSURE was ordered to proceed to Gibraltar from whence she joined LEVIATHAN, POWERFUL, VANGUARD and BELLEROPHON at Lisbon on 30 November.
    On 6 December she captured two merchant vessels.
  • 1800.
    During February 1800 she was badly damaged in a gale off the Spanish coast and had to be taken into the mole at Gibraltar for repairs.
    On 7 April the squadron intercepted a fleet sailing from Cadiz to Lima.
    Two frigates, CARMEN and FLORENTINA, and several merchantmen were captured with 140 tons of mercury on board but the SABINA and four merchantmen escaped.
    On the 12th. SWIFTSURE captured a Spanish schooner bound for Vera Cruz from Malaga.
  • Later, flying the flag of Sir Richard BICKERTON, she was employed on the blockade of Cadiz.
  • She was with Lord KEITH's fleet which landed the army at Aboukir Bay on 8 March 1801 and had Mr John FINCHLEY, midshipman, and one seaman wounded.
    her officers and seamen served on shore under Sir William Sidney SMITH and on 21 March, when the army was about four miles from Alexandria, the French struck with nearly all their force some eleven or twelve thousand men.
    The enemy were repulsed with heavy losses.
    The naval brigade lost four killed and twenty wounded; SWIFTSURE had Lieut. Lewis DAVIS and four seamen wounded.
    Many of the men suffered from fever, SWIFTSURE had 59 sick.
  • In June Lord KEITH took out 80 of her best men and sent her from Aboukir to Malta with a convoy of cartels and light transports.
    Hearing that Ad. Gantheaume's squadron was at sea Capt. HALLOWELL decided to quit his charges and reinforce Sir John WARREN's squadron.
    On the 21 June she was captured by the French.
    The first news to reach Britain came from the French newspaper 'Moniteur' dated 23 July.
    SWIFTSURE, in a leaky and foul condition, had been unable to escape from the fast-sailing Frenchmen and after a severe action with four ships of the line and a frigate was forced to surrender when her yards, masts and rigging were cut to pieces.
    Since the French intention had been to disable her only two men were killed, two mortally wounded and six, including Lieut. DAVIS, wounded.
    The French lost 33 killed and wounded.
  • At a court martial on 18 August 1801 at Port Mahon Capt. HALLOWELL was honourably acquitted of blame.

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