1798 - British and French Fleets, State of the British Navy,


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1798 Mars and Hercule 107

yet most of the captains, especially of the 38s and 36s, managed to get the greater part of their long 9s exchanged for carronades of that highly effective caliber. Six of the eight bomb-vessels ; that had been purchased in the year, 1797, were each ordered to be fitted with eight 24-pounder carronades, instead of eight long 6-pounders as formerly ; and the 42 launched and purchased vessels of the gun-brig class (see the Annual Abstract for the year 1798) were armed wholly with 18-pounder carronades, except for chasers.

The number of commissioned officers and masters, belonging to the British navy at the commencement of the year, was:

Admirals   24
Vice-admirals   36
Rear-admirals   44
Rear-admirals, superannuated 26  
Post-captains   518
Post-captains, superannuated 20  
Commanders, or sloop-captains   338
Lieutenants   2030
Masters   492

and the number of seamen and marines, voted for the service of the year 1798, was 120,000.*

The Channel fleet, at the commencement of the present year, was still commanded by Admiral Lord Bridport. On the 25th of January a detachment from it, consisting of 12 ships of the line and three frigates, under the orders Vice-admiral Sir Charles Thompson in the Formidable 98, sailed on a cruise in the Bay of Biscay. On the 9th of April a second detachment of six ships of the line and three frigates, under Rear-admiral Sir Roger Curtis, in the Prince 98, sailed. from Cawsand bay, to cruise off Ireland ; and on the 12th Lord Bridport himself, with the remainder of the Channel fleet, consisting of 10 sail of the line, put to sea from St.-Helen's bound off Brest.

On the 21st, at 11 a.m., while Lord Bridport, with the fleet, was standing across the Iroise passage on the larboard tack, with the wind from the north-east by east, the 74-gun ships Mars, Captain Alexander Hood, and Ramillies, Captain Henry Inman, which, with two or three frigates were on the look-out to windward, discovered and gave chase to two strange sail, distant about four leagues to the eastward. At 2 p.m., as the British advanced ships were getting abreast of the two strangers, then ascertained to be enemy's ships, a third, and a much larger sail, made her appearance about five leagues off, in the east-south-east, working up alongshore towards Brest. The latter became the preferable object of pursuit, and was therefore at 5 h. 45 m. p.m., chased under all sail by the Mars, Ramillies,

* See Appendix, No. 12.

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