HMS Centaur (1759)

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Plate IV. A View of the Sea on the Morning after the Storm, with the distressed situation of the Centaur, Ville de Paris and the Glorieux as seen from the Lady Juliana, the Ville de Paris passing to Windward under RMG PY8434 (cropped).jpg
The view from Lady Juliana on the morning after the hurricane, featuring Centaur along with HMS Glorieux and HMS Ville de Paris
French Royal Navy EnsignFrance
Name: Centaure
Ordered: 1755
Builder: Joseph-Marie-Blaise Coulomb, Toulon Dockyard
Laid down: February 1756
Launched: 17 March 1757
Commissioned: October 1757
Captured: 18 August 1759, by Royal Navy
General characteristics In French service[1]
Class and type: 74-gun second-rank ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1450
Length: 164 French feet[2]
Beam: 43 French feet
Draught: 19 French feet 11 inches
Depth of hold: 20½ French feet
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Complement: 620 men, +6/10 officers
Armament: 74 guns of various weights of shot
Great Britain
Name: HMS Centaur
Acquired: 18 August 1759
Fate: Wrecked, 24 September 1782
General characteristics In British service[3]
Class and type: 74-gun third-rate ship of the line
Tons burthen: 1739
Length: 175 ft 8 in (53.54 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 47 ft 5 in (14.45 m)
Depth of hold: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Armament: 74 guns of various weights of shot

Centaure was a 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy, launched at Toulon in 1757. She was designed by Joseph-Marie-Blaise Coulomb and named on 25 October 1755, and built under his supervision at Toulon. In French service she carried 74 cannon, comprising: 28 x 36-pounders on the lower deck, 30 x 18-pounders on the upper deck, 10 x 8-pounders on the quarterdeck, 6 x 8-pounders on the forecastle.

The Royal Navy captured Centaure at the Battle of Lagos[4] on 18 August 1759, and commissioned her as the third-rate HMS Centaur.[3]

Career in British service[edit]

She had a skirmish with the French ships Vaillant and Amethyste, in January 1760.[5] In the War of American Independence, Centaur served continuously on the North America/West Indies station, taking part in all the major battles including Admiral Rodney's victory at the Saintes.


In September 1782, Centaur was one of the ships escorting prizes and a large trade convoy back to Britain from Jamaica, when she foundered due to damage received in the 1782 Central Atlantic hurricane near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Captain John Nicholson Inglefield, along with eleven of his crew, survived the wreck in one of the ship's pinnaces, arriving at the Azores after sailing in an open boat for 16 days without compass quadrant or sail, and only two quart bottles of water; some 400 of her crew perished.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Winfield & Roberts, French Warships in the Age of Sail 1626-1786, p. 106-107.
  2. ^ The pre-metric French foot or pied was 6.575% longer than the equivalent British unit of measurement of the same name.
  3. ^ a b Lavery, Ships of the Line vol. 1, p. 178.
  4. ^ a b Ships of the Old Navy, Centaur.
  5. ^ "HMS Centaur chasing the Vaillant and Amethyste, January 1760". Royal Museums Greenwich. Retrieved 13 April 2018.


External links[edit]