HMS St. George (1785)

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Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom, svg
Ship data
Surname HMS St. George
Keel laying August 1774
Launching ( ship christening ) October 14, 1785
Shipyard Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth
crew 850 officer and crew grades
Technical specifications
Type Duke-class ship of the line
Length over all 177 feet , 6 inches (= 54.09 m)
Draft 21 feet , 2 inches
Armor system without
Main battery deck 28 × 32 pounder
Middle battery deck 30 × 18 pounders
Upper battery deck 30 × 12 pounders
Foredeck 2 × 12 pounders
Weight of a broadside 958 pounds (434 kg)

The HMS St. George was a 98-gun, three- decker sailing warship in the service of the Royal Navy , which entered service in Portsmouth in 1785 .

She took part in two naval battles, the naval battle of the Îles d'Hyères in 1795 and the naval battle of Copenhagen (Denmark) in 1801.

Thomas Masterman Hardy , who later was the captain of the famous Victory under Lord Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar , commanded the St. George in the 1801 naval battle of Copenhagen.

The St. George sank in a hurricane on December 24, 1811 near Thorsminde (west coast of Jutland ) . The last voyage of the St. George is as follows:

She drove as the flagship of Rear Admiral Reynolds together with the Cressy and the Defense in the formation. The Victory also sailed in the same association . Your assignment was to accompany a convoy at Marvik in Sweden through Danish territory to England. At that time, these ships were assigned to the British Baltic Fleet.

Calendar sequence of the ship disaster

Autumn 1811: A large fleet of merchant ships gathers in the bay of Hanø off Sweden. The convoy is supposed to return to the UK and consists of merchant ships and warships, among other things, which are to serve as escorts against attacks by Danish pirates. The British Escort Association consists of ships of the line and briggs, led by the Victory , which at the time was led by Vice Admiral James Saumarez .

Two of the accompanying ships of the line were the St. George and the Defense .

The last ride of the St. George and Defense
  • November 1, 1811: The British convoy leaves the anchorage at Hanø in the ( Baltic Sea ), but a strong storm forces the formation to turn back.
  • November 9, 1811: The convoy makes a second attempt to sail towards Great Britain.
  • November 15, 1811: In a heavy storm, the St. George wrecked near Rødsand, west of the Gedser / Falster ( Denmark ), and lost its steering gear. Many of the merchant ships suffer the same fate: they wreck or are lost. Of the original 120 merchant ships, only 76 later reach their destination.
  • November 21, 1811: The convoy sails to Vinga , a small island in Västergötland , (Sweden) off Gothenburg . The St. George can no longer move on its own and has to be towed by the Cressy .
  • December 1, 1811: The convoy anchors at Vinga. Vice-Admiral Saumarez has great reservations about allowing the St. George's voyage to continue. With his opinion he meets strong opposition from Rear Admiral Reynolds and his flag captain Daniel Guion . Both hold on to the fact that the St. George can make the crossing. With this decision they seal the death sentence for themselves and a large part of their own crew.
  • December 17, 1811: After a makeshift repair, the St. George , accompanied by Defense and Cressy, leaves the Swedish waters off Vinga and sails on towards Great Britain.
The last voyage of the St. George in heavy seas ( diorama display)
St. George, already badly damaged by the storm
  • December 19, 1811: The ships of the line St. George , Defense , Cressy and Bellette have to interrupt their voyage and turn around due to a strong storm and high seas. The Cressy eventually has to haul the St. George again . Vice-Admiral Saumarez continues with the Victory and the other ships. They arrive in the United Kingdom on December 26, 1811 after a difficult journey, with no information on the fate of the St. George and Defense .
  • December 21, 1811: The ships that turned are in front of Vinga, northeast of the so-called Salo lighthouse. In the end, those responsible made a fateful decision and tried again to sail into the North Sea via the Skagerrak . This time, however , the St. George is not being towed by the Cressy .
  • December 23, 1811: The wind turns and the ships get into great trouble. The Cressy and Bellette turn around and try to follow the planned route at a later time. Atkins, the commandant of the Defense , is also considering turning, waiting for a signal from St. George to do this . However, the signal is never given. The storm in the North Sea reached hurricane strength and hit the ships. Finally Atkins decides to shoot too - but it's too late: The Defense runs aground and breaks in the surf. Six sailors from Defense come ashore alive - some reports even mention only five survivors. The St. George is also stranded.
  • December 24, 1811: The sailors on the St. George fight in vain for survival.
  • December 25, 1811: Only twelve sailors save themselves on land. In the evening you can still see 150 people on board.
  • December 26, 1811: There are no more signs of life on board the St. George .

The Defense and St. George were so badly damaged that they finally broke and sank off Thorsminde (Denmark), while the Cressy and Bellette were able to make their way home and safely reach an English port.

Of the St. George , only twelve of her 850 crew members survived the sinking. In total, almost 1,300 seafarers fell victim to the tragedy off Denmark.

The Royal Navy lost two more ships in its fleet in the same storm: The liner Hero and the brig Grasshopper sank off the Dutch coast near the island of Texel .


In Thorsminde there is the "Strandingmuseum St. George ", which deals with the sinking of ships off the Danish coast. After the wreck of the St. George was found (position 56 ° 21 ′ 30 ″  N , 8 ° 6 ′ 0 ″  E, coordinates: 56 ° 21 ′ 30 ″  N , 8 ° 6 ′ 0 ″  E ), there are various salvaged wreckage, utensils, weapons, uniforms and the like on display. A recovered skeleton was removed from the exhibition and buried after British protests.

The 11.70 m long and well-preserved rowing system of St. George (originally weighing 8,500 kg) is now exhibited in the Strandingsmuseum, which was found during the construction of a windmill park in the sea near Rødsand, west of Gedser / Falster (Denmark).


  • Information boards of the Strandingsmuseum in Thorsminde (DK) 2007

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