Military Wiki
Action of 16 March 1782
Part of the American War of Independence
HMS Success vs Santa Catalina.jpg
Engagement between HMS Success and the Santa Catalina
Date16 March 1782
Locationoff Strait of Gibraltar
Result British victory
Spain Spain  Kingdom of Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
Spain Don Miguel Tacon (POW) Kingdom of Great Britain Captain Sir Charles Pole
1 frigate
Santa Catalina
1 frigate
HMS Success
1 armed storeship
HMS Vernon
Casualties and losses
1 frigate destroyed
25 killed
8 wounded
260 surrendered
1 killed
4 wounded

The Action of 16 March 1782 was a minor naval engagement between a British Royal Naval frigate HMS Success and a Spanish frigate Santa Catalina in the Strait of Gibraltar during the American War of Independence.

On the 16th of March the 32-gun frigate Success, Captain Charles Pole, and the armed store-ship HMS Vernon (mounting twenty-two long 6-pounders), which was commanded by John Falconer, being off Cape Spartel, on their voyage to Gibraltar, sighted the Spanish 12-pounder 34-gun frigate Santa Catalina commanded by Don Miguel Tacon. This ship was part of a squadron keeping an eye out for any relief convoys heading into Gibraltar which was then under siege. The Spanish frigate having approached within random shot the Success suddenly hauled up and poured a destructive broadside. The Success then wore round, and took up her position which was also mimicked by the Vernon. The Spanish frigate having lost her mizzenmast at around 8pm hauled down her colours, and then was taken possession of by the Success.

Out of 300 men, the Santa Catalina had 25 killed and eight wounded, and the Success one killed and four wounded. The Santa Catalina was however severely damaged and had been holed below the waterline, and six Spanish sail were sighted the next day. Pole fearing the Spaniards had formed a plan to take possession of the Success and the Santa Catalina decided that once all the valuables and prisoners removed that it was necessary to destroy her, and she was accordingly set on fire and blown up. Pole then headed back to Gibraltar which he made successfully a few days later.



  • Allen, Joseph (1853). Battles of the British Navy. 1. H.G. Bohn. 
  • Beatson, Robert (1804). Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, From 1727 to 1783. 6. Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme. 
  • Winfield, Rif (2007). British Warships of the Age of Sail 1714–1792: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-295-X. 

Coordinates: 35°52′N 5°58′W / 35.867°N 5.967°W / 35.867; -5.967

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