The Cruizer class was an 18-gun class of brig-sloops of the Royal Navy. Brig-sloops were the same as ship-sloops except for their rigging. A ship-sloop was rigged with three masts whereas a brig-sloop was rigged as a brig with only a fore mast and a main mast.
The Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Pelorus aground at low water
|Tons burthen:||38241⁄94 (bm)|
|Length:||100 ft (30 m) (overall); 77 ft 3 1⁄2 in (23.559 m) (keel)|
|Beam:||30 ft 6 in (9.30 m)|
|Depth of hold:||12 ft 9 in (3.89 m)|
The Cruizer class was the most numerous class of warships built by the British during the Napoleonic Wars, with 110 vessels built to this design, and the second most numerous class of sailing warship built to a single design for any navy at any time, after the smaller 10-gun Cherokee-class brig-sloops.
Of the vessels in the class, eight (8%) were lost to the enemy, either destroyed or taken. Another was taken, but retaken. Fourteen (13%) were wrecked while in British service. Lastly, four (4%) foundered while in British service. In all cases of foundering and in many cases of wrecking all the crew was lost. Many of the vessels in the class were sold, some into mercantile service. One at least was wrecked. The fate of the others is generally unknown.
In December 1796, the Navy Board placed new orders for four flush-decked sloops, to differing designs by the two Surveyors of the Navy — Sir William Rule and Sir John Henslow. In order to compare the qualities of ship-rigged and brig-rigged vessels, one vessel to each design was to be completed as a ship-sloop and the other as a brig-sloop. While the Henslow-designed vessels (the brig-sloop Busy and the ship-sloop Echo) would see no further sister ships built, the Rule-designed vessels (the brig-sloop Cruizer and the ship-sloop Snake) would each have a single sister ship ordered in the following March, and Rule's Cruizer design would subsequently see 106 constructed during the Napoleonic War. The hull design was exceeding fine (narrow as compared to length), with a noted deadrise amidships and a sharp sheer, giving away the design that had origins in the smaller cutter-type designs.
The order placed in March 1797 for the first sister ship to Cruizer was subsequently cancelled, but new orders were placed from 1802 up to 1813. A final order in 1815 (HMS Samarang) was cancelled in 1820.
The Cruizer-class brig-sloops proved to be fast sailers and seaworthy, and the 32-pounder carronade armament gave them enormous short-range firepower, exceeding the nominal broadside of a standard 36-gun 18-pounder frigate. To a Royal Navy increasingly desperate for manpower, the great attraction of the design was that — thanks to the two-masted rig and the use of carronades with their small gun crews — this firepower could be delivered by a crew only a third the size of a frigate's. The Dutch built three 18 gun-brigs — Zwaluw, Mercuur and Kemphaan — to a similar design; in one case apparently a copy, though without the square tuck stern. The Russian brig Olymp was also built to the same lines.
The type was a necessary one but represented the inevitable unsatisfactory compromise when a vessel has to be designed to fight, to be seaworthy and to have a long endurance, all on a minimum displacement and at minimum expense. Few men in the Royal Navy had a good word to say for the gun-brigs, which rolled terribly and were greatly over-crowded, but they had to be employed.
Later in the same book he was more complimentary as regards the larger brigs such as the Cruizer class HMS Penguin.
Perhaps the most salient aspect of his statement is that the Cruizer class and its smaller sister class, the Cherokee class, highlight the huge expansion of the Royal Navy. Whatever else one may say of the class, the Cruizer-class brig-sloops were both fast and provided serious firepower for minimal crewing, characteristics that appealed to a Navy suffering serious and ever increasing staffing shortages.The class proved to be ideal for many of the shallow water commitments in the Baltic and Ionian Seas, as well as around Danish waters.
Prior to 1808, the complement of officers, men, and boys for a Cruizer-class brig-sloop included 15 Royal Marines. After 1808, the vessels carried 20 marines comprising 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 18 privates (the marine contingent on unrated vessels did not include a commissioned officer).
Service in the War of 1812
During the Anglo-American War of 1812, several ships of the class fell victim to larger American ship-rigged sloops of war of nominally the same class. The American vessels enjoyed an advantage in weight of broadside and number of crew. The ship-rigged sloops enjoyed the ability to back sail, and their rigging proved more resistant to damage; by contrast, a single hit to the brig-sloop's rig could render it unmanageable. In many cases, however, the American advantage was in the quality of their crews, as the American sloops generally had hand-picked volunteer crews, while the brigs belonging to the overstretched Royal Navy had to make do with crews filled out with landsmen picked up by the press gang. During a battle with the equivalently armed and crewed American brig Hornet, HMS Penguin was unable to land a single shot from her cannons, with the only American losses being inflicted by Royal Marines aboard the British ship.
The comparison was made in the London press unfavorably and was not entirely fair. The American ship-rigged sloops were bigger vessels, averaging just over 500 tons (bm); the Cruizer-class vessels were not quite 400 tons (bm). The crew sizes were disproportionate at 175 to 120, and at least some of the Cruizer class in these combats were outfitted with 24-pounder carronades vice the normal 32-pounders. USS Wasp, in another combat, would retain control despite the loss of her gaff, main topmast, and the mizzen topgallant. USS Wasp vs. HMS Avon provides another example. Despite being fought gallantly, Avon was crippled by loss of a gaff. She then lost her main mast, which loss rendered her immobile. The Cyrus-class vessels, built in 1813–1814, were intended as an answer to the American ship-rigged sloops.The rigging was often the deciding factor as the combat between USS Peacock and HMS Epervier would highlight. When HMS Epervier lost her main topmast and had her foremast damaged she was disabled.
The following table lists the Cruizer-class brig-sloops (and the two Snake-class ship-sloops, which were identical apart from carrying a three-masted ship rig) according to the date on which the Admiralty ordered them.
|Snake (ship rig)||19 December 1796||Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard||January 1797||18 December 1797||Sold to be broken up on 18 April 1816|
|Cruizer (brig rig)||19 December 1796||Stephen Teague, Ipswich||February 1797||20 December 1797||Broken up February 1819|
|Victor (ship rig)||11 March 1797||Josiah & Thomas Brindley, King's Lynn||April 1797||19 March 1798||Sold to be broken up on 5 September 1808|
|unnamed (brig rig)||15 March 1797||Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet||never commenced||order subsequently cancelled|
All subsequent vessels were brig-rigged.
St Vincent's Board
The Board ordered 19 in 1802 and 1803.
|Scorpion||27 November 1802||John King, Dover||17 October 1803||Sold 1819|
|Dispatch||27 November 1802||Richard Symons, Falmouth||26 May 1804||Broken up 1811|
|Scout||27 November 1802||Peter Atkinson, Hull||7 August 1804||Sold 1827|
|Musquito||27 November 1802||John Preston, Great Yarmouth||4 September 1804||Sold 1822|
|Swallow||27 November 1802||Benjamin Tanner, Dartmouth||24 December 1805||Broken up 1815|
|Ferret||27 November 1802||Benjamin Tanner, Dartmouth||4 January 1806||Abandoned as a wreck 1813|
|Leveret||16 July 1803||John King, Dover||14 January 1806||Wrecked 1807|
|Belette||16 July 1803||John King, Dover||21 March 1806||Wrecked 1812|
|Amaranthe||15 October 1803||John Dudman, Deptford Wharf||20 November 1804||Sold 1815|
|Calypso||15 October 1803||John Dudman, Deptford Wharf||2 February 1805||Broken up 1821|
|Espoir||7 November 1803||John King, Dover||22 September 1804||Broken up 1821|
|Surinam||7 November 1803||Obadiah Ayles, Topsham||January 1805||Sold for breaking up 1825|
|Wolverine||7 November 1803||Thomas Owen, Topsham||1 March 1805||Sold 1816|
|Moselle||7 November 1803||John King, Dover||October 1804||Sold 1815|
|Weazel (or Weazle)||7 November 1803||Thomas Owen, Topsham||2 March 1805||Sold 1815|
|Minorca||7 November 1803||Josiah & Thomas Brindley, King's Lynn||14 June 1805||Broken up 1814|
|Racehorse||7 November 1803||Hamilton & Breeds, Hastings||17 February 1806||Wrecked 1822|
|Avon||9 December 1803||Richard Symons & Co., Falmouth||31 January 1805||Foundered as a result of damage in fight with U.S. 22-gun sloop-of-war Wasp 1814|
|Rover||9 December 1803||Joseph Todd, Berwick||13 February 1808||Sold 1828|
Melville's First Board
The Board ordered six vessels to this design during May 1804, all of fir. Building of fir (pine) made for speedier construction at the cost of reduced durability in service.
|Beagle||22 May 1804||Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall Yard||8 August 1804||Sold 1814|
|Elk||22 May 1804||Frances Barnard, Sons & Co., Deptford Dockyard||22 August 1804||Broken up 1812|
|Raven||23 May 1804||Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall Yard||25 July 1804||Wrecked 1805|
|Saracen||23 May 1804||Perry, Wells & Green, Blackwall Yard||25 July 1804||Broken up 1812|
|Reindeer||23 May 1804||Samuel & Daniel Brent, Rotherhithe||15 August 1804||Taken by USS Wasp and burnt 1814|
|Harrier||23 May 1804||Frances Barnard, Sons & Co., Deptford Dockyard||22 August 1804||Believed to have foundered near Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean in March 1809|
The Board ordered 22 vessels to this design, seventeen of which were launched in 1806 and five in 1807.
|Forester||16 July 1805||John King, Dover||3 August 1806||Sold 1819|
|Foxhound||16 July 1805||John King, Dover||30 November 1806||Foundered 1809|
|Mutine||22 July 1805||Henry Tucker, Bideford||15 August 1806||Sold 1819|
|Emulous||21 August 1805||William Row, Newcastle||June 1806||Wrecked 1812; crew saved but Emulous was unsalvageable.|
|Grasshopper||30 August & 31 October 1805||Richards (Brothers) & (John) Davidson, Hythe||29 September 1806||Stranded at Texel and surrendered to the Batavian Republic on 25 December 1811, with no loss of life among her crew, though the pilot was killed. She became the Dutch brig Irene; broken up at Flushing in 1822.|
|Columbine||12 November 1805||Balthazar & Edward Adams, Bucklers Hard||16 July 1806||Wrecked January 1824 in Port Longue Harbour, Sapientza Island, Greece; Captain and master were reprimanded for having only one anchor down.|
|Pandora||12 November 1805||John Preston, Great Yarmouth||11 October 1806||Wrecked February 1811 on the Scaw Reef off the coast of Jutland. The ship's boats were frozen to the deck so it was only the next day that the Danes were able to rescue most of the crew; 29 of her crew of 121 died and the rest became prisoners.|
|Alacrity||14 January 1806||William Row, Newcastle||13 November 1806||Taken by French brig Abeille 1811; in French Navy as Alacrity until broken up in 1822.|
|Raleigh||16 January 1806||Francis Hurry, Newcastle||24 December 1806||Sold 1841|
|Primrose||21 January 1806||Thomas Nickells, Fowey||5 August 1807||Wrecked 1809|
|Cephalus||22 January 1806||Custance & Stone, Great Yarmouth||10 January 1807||Broken up 1830|
|Procris||22 January 1806||Custance & Stone, Great Yarmouth||27 December 1806||Sold 1815|
|Redwing||24 January 1806||Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea||30 August 1806||Foundered 1827 after leaving Sierra Leone; wreckage washed ashore in November near Mataceney suggested that lightning had started a fire that destroyed her.|
|Ringdove||27 January 1806||Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea||16 October 1806||Sold 1829|
|Peacock||27 January 1806||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||9 December 1806||Taken and sunk by U.S. sloop of war Hornet 1813. Peacock sank with four of her crew and three Americans aboard.|
|Sappho||27 January 1806||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||15 December 1806||Broken up 1830|
|Recruit||27 January 1806||Thomas Hills, Sandwich||31 August 1806||Sold 1822|
|Royalist||27 January 1806||Thomas Hills, Sandwich||10 January 1807||Sold 1819|
|Carnation||28 January 1806||William Taylor, Bideford||3 October 1807||Taken by French brig Palinure 1808 and burnt 1809|
|Clio||29 January 1806||James Betts, Mistleythorn||10 January 1807||Broken up 1845|
|Philomel||4 February 1806||(Nicholas) Bools & (William) Good, Bridport||11 September 1806||Sold 1817|
|Frolic||4 February 1806||(Nicholas) Bools & (William) Good, Bridport||9 December 1806||Taken by U.S. 22-gun sloop-of-war Wasp but retaken; broken up 1813|
The Board ordered ten vessels to this design – all on 1 October 1806, nine of which were launched in 1807 and one in 1808.
|Derwent||1 October 1806||Isaac Blackburn, Turnchapel, Plymouth||23 May 1807||Sold 1817|
|Eclair||1 October 1806||Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea, Essex||8 July 1807||Broken up 1831|
|Eclipse||1 October 1806||John King, Dover||4 August 1807||Sold for mercantile use 1815|
|Barracouta||1 October 1806||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||6 July 1807||Sold 1815|
|Nautilus||1 October 1806||James Betts, Mistleythorn||5 August 1807||Broken up 1823|
|Pilot||1 October 1806||Robert Guillaume, Northam, Southampton||6 August 1807||Sold 1828|
|Sparrowhawk||1 October 1806||Matthew Warren, Brightlingsea, Essex||20 August 1807||Sold 1841|
|Zenobia||1 October 1806||Josiah & Thomas Brindley, King's Lynn||7 October 1807||Sold 1835|
|Magnet||1 October 1806||Robert Guillaume, Northam, Southampton||19 October 1807||Wrecked 1809|
|Peruvian||1 October 1806||George Parsons, Warsash||26 April 1808||Broken up 1830|
This Board ordered 14 vessels to this design during 1807 and 1808.
|Pelorus||30 July 1807 (contract 7 October 1807)||Robert Guillaume, Northam||25 June 1808||Sold for mercantile use at Singapore 1842 and wrecked 1844|
|Doterel||31 December 1807 (contract 9 January 1808)||Richard Blake & John Scott, Bursledon||6 October 1808||Broken up c.1855|
|Arachne||4 August 1808||Thomas Hills, Sandwich||18 February 1809||Sold 1837|
|Persian||4 August 1808||Daniel List, Cowes||2 May 1809||Wrecked 1813|
|Castilian||4 August 1808||Thomas Hills, Sandwich||29 May 1809||Broken up 1829|
|Charybdis||5 September 1808||Mark Richards & John Davidson, Hythe||28 August 1809||Sold 1819|
|Scylla||5 September 1808||Robert Davy, Topsham||29 June 1809||Broken up 1846|
|Thracian||30 September 1808||Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindsbury||15 July 1809||Broken up 1829|
|Trinculo||5 November 1808||Richard Blake & John Tyson, Bursledon||15 July 1809||Broken up 1841|
|Hecate||5 November 1808||John King, Upnor||30 May 1809||Sold 1817 and resold to Chile 9 November 1818; served as Galvarino until broken up 1828.|
|Crane||5 November 1808||Josiah & Thomas Brindley, Frindbury||29 July 1809||Foundered 1814|
|Rifleman||5 November 1808||John King, Upnor||12 August 1809||Sold 1836; became a merchantman and whaler; last listed 1856|
|Echo||21 November 1808||John Pelham, Frindsbury||1 July 1809||Broken up 1817|
|Sophie||21 November 1808||John Pelham, Frindsbury||8 September 1809||Sold 1825|
Charles Yorke's Board
This Board ordered 15 of the design between January 1811 and January 1812.
|Childers||19 January 1811||Portsmouth Dockyard (M/Shipwright Nicholas Diddams)||9 July 1812||Broken up 1822|
|Curlew||30 August 1811||(William) Good & Co., Bridport||27 May 1812||Sold at Bombay 1822; from 1823 as Jamesina served as an opium runner for Jardine & Matheson until at least the mid-1830s.|
|Wasp||30 August 1811||Robert Davy, Topsham||9 July 1812||Broken up 1847|
|Fairy||30 August 1811||William Taylor, Bideport||11 June 1812||Broken up 1821|
|Pelican||30 August 1811||Robert Davy, Topsham||August 1812||Sold 1865|
|Bacchus||30 August 1811||Chatham Dockyard (M/Shipwright Robert Seppings)||17 April 1813||Breakwater at Harwich 1829|
|Pandora||30 August 1811||Deptford Dockyard (M/Shipwright Robert Nelson to July 1811; completed by William Stone)||12 August 1813||Sold 1831|
|Nimrod||26 September 1811||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||25 May 1812||Bilged after being run ashore in a storm. Salved with no loss of life, but sold as unrepairable in 1827.|
|Saracen (2nd of name)||26 September 1811||(Nicholas) Bools & (William) Good, Bridport||25 July 1812||Sold 1819|
|Satellite||5 October 1811||Daniel List, Fishbourne||9 October 1812||Sold in East Indies 1824|
|Arab||24 October 1811||John Pellham, Frindsbury||22 August 1812||Wrecked, with the loss of all her crew, in Broad Haven near Belmullet on the coast of Mayo, Ireland, in 1823.|
|Espiegle||2 November 1811||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||10 August 1812||Sold 1832|
|Heron (ex-Rattlesnake)||14 November 1811||John King, Upnor||22 October 1812||Broken up 1831|
|Dispatch (2nd of name)||14 November 1811||John King, Upnor||7 December 1812||Sold 1836|
|Grasshopper (2nd of name)||6 January 1812||Portsmouth Dockyard (M/Shipwright Nicholas Diddams)||17 May 1813||Sold 1832|
Melville's Second Board
The Board ordered 20, of which only eighteen were built; two were cancelled.
|Fly||23 April 1812||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||16 February 1813||Sold at Bombay 1828|
|Epervier||6 May 1812||Mrs. Mary Ross, Rochester||21 December 1812||Taken by 22-gun sloop USS Peacock 1814|
|Jaseur||6 May 1812||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||2 February 1813||Sold 1845|
|Argus||8 June 1812||Thomas Hills, Sandwich||11 September 1813||Sold 1828|
|Halcyon||7 July 1812||Edward Larking & William Spong, King's Lynn||16 May 1813||Wrecked 1814|
|Challenger||29 July 1812||Hobbs & Hellyer, Redbridge||15 May 1813||Sold at Trincomalee 1824|
|Penguin||20 August 1812||William Bottomley, King's Lynn||29 June 1813||Taken by U.S. brig Hornet and scuttled 1815|
|Lynx (ex-Pandora; renamed 24 September 1812||7 September 1812||M/Shipwright Edward sison||Cancelled|
|Victor||2 October 1812||East India Company, Bombay (M/Shipwright Jamsetjee Bomajee Wadia)||29 October 1814||Foundered in 1842 with all hands while en route from Vera Cruz, Mexico to Halifax.|
|Zebra||2 October 1812||East India Company, Bombay (M/Shipwright Jamsetjee Bomajee Wadia)||18 December 1815||Wrecked 1840|
|Carnation (2nd of name)||8 October 1812||William & James Durkin, Norham (Southampton)||29 July 1813||Sold 1836|
|Elk (2nd of name)||2 November 1812||Hobbs & Hellyer, Redbridge (Southampton)||28 August 1813||Sold 1836|
|Confiance||2 November 1812||Mrs. Mary Ross, Rochester||30 August 1813||Wrecked, with the loss of all her crew, between Moyin Head and the Three Castles Head near Crookhaven, Ireland, in 1822.|
|Alert||2 November 1812||Thomas Pitcher, Northfleet||13 July 1813||Sold 1832|
|Harlequin||2 November 1812||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||15 July 1813||Sold at Jamaica 1829|
|Harrier (2nd of name)||2 November 1812||Jabez Bayley, Ipswich||28 July 1813||Sold 1829|
|Ontario (ex-Mohawk; renamed 9 April 1813||2 November 1812||Richard Chapman, Bideford||26 October 1813||Sold 1832|
|Belette (2nd of name)||14 August 1813||Edward Larking & William Spong, King's Lynn||18 June 1814||Sold 1828|
|Gannet||14 August 1813||Edward Larking & William Spong, King's Lynn||13 November 1814||Sold 1838|
|Samarang||6 September 1815||Portsmouth Dockyard (M/Shipwright Nicholas Diddams)||Cancelled 30 September 1820|
Citations and references
- Winfield (2008), pp. 282 & 291.
- Forester, p.79
- Clowes et. al (1897-1903), Vol. 6, pp. 173-5
- The Naval War of 1812, p.91.
- The Naval War of 1812, p.87.
- The Naval War of 1812, p.85.
- Gossett (1986), p.71.
- Gossett (1986), p.84.
- Gossett (1986), p.82.
- Grocott (1997), p.335.
- Gossett (1986), p.100.
- Gossett (1986), p.78.
- Gossett (1986), p.102.
- Gossett (1986), p.88.
- Gossett (1986), p. 102.
- Gossett (1986), p.108.
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
- Forester, C.S. The Age of Fighting Sail. New English Library. ISBN 0-939218-06-2.
- Clowes, William Laird, et al. (1897-1903) The royal navy : a history from the earliest times to the present. (London: S. Low, Marston and Co.) Vol. 6.
- Gardiner, Robert (1996). The Naval War of 1812. Caxton pictorial history. ISBN 1-84067-360-5.
- Gossett, William Patrick (1986). The lost ships of the Royal Navy, 1793–1900. Mansell. ISBN 0-7201-1816-6.
- Grocott, Terence (1997). Shipwrecks of the revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Chatham. ISBN 1-86176-030-2.
- Phillips, Michael Ships of the Old Navy, http://www.ageofnelson.org/MichaelPhillips/
- Winfield, Rif (2008) British Warships in the Age of Sail, 1793–1817. Second edition, Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84415-717-4
- Petrejus, E W (1970). Modelling the brig-of-war Irene (A handbook for building a Cruizer-class model). De Esch. ASIN B0006C7NRA. [Note that there was no actual vessel that carried the name Irene.]
Media related to Cruizer class brig-sloop at Wikimedia Commons