Military Wiki
Career (France) French Navy Ensign French Navy Ensign French Navy Ensign
Name: Railleuse
Builder: Rochefort
Launched: 11 August 1779[1]
Notes: Originally the Galathée-class frigate Railleuse and then the 36-gun privateer Egyptienne
Career (United Kingdom) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Antigua
Namesake: Antigua, an island in the West Indies
Acquired: By capture 25 March 1804 or 27 March 1804
Fate: Scrapped 1816
General characteristics [2]
Type: Galathée class frigate, later Prison ship
Tons burthen: 856 tons bm
Length: 145 ft (44 m)
Beam: 37 ft (11 m)
Complement: 301 (French service)

French service
Initially: 26 x 12-pounder + 6 x 6-pounder guns

Later: 8 x 6-pounder guns + 4 x 36-pounder howitzers[1]

HMS Antigua was a French frigate launched in 1779. She became a privateer that the British captured in 1804. She served the Royal Navy as a prison ship from 1804 to 1816, when she was broken up.

French service

Antigua began her career as the Galathée-class French frigate Railleuse.[3] She was built in Bordeaux to a 32-gun design by Raymond-Antoine Haran and launched in 1779. She became the French privateer Egyptienne, a 36-gun ship with a crew of 120 based at Bordeaux. She underwent repairs at Rochefort several times, in January to April 1783, in May 1790, and in 1794. In 1791 she was coppered. In 1797 the French navy disposed of her.[1]


On 23 March 1804, the British 18-gun sloop Osprey gave chase to four ships which turned out to be a frigate and three merchant ships. Osprey badly damaged the frigate Egyptienne in a close, 80-minute action near Barbados before Egyptienne used her superior speed to escape. Osprey lost one man killed and 16 wounded in the action and her hull and rigging were badly damaged.[4]

On the 25th, Osprey and the British 18-gun sloop Hippomenes recaptured the Reliance, one of several prizes that Egyptienne had taken. From the prize master the British found out the identity of the vessel that Osprey had fought.

On 25 March 1804[5] or 27 March 1804[6] Hippomenes captured the damaged Egyptienne after a 54-hour chase followed by a three-hour, 20-minute single-ship action.[7] Egyptienne was under the command of M. Placiard and had a crew of 255 men. After Hippomenses captured Egyptienne, the British found out that she had lost eight men killed and 19 wounded in the fight with Osprey. Hippomenes had only one man slightly wounded.

British service and fate

The British took Egyptienne into service as HMS Antigua as there was already an Egyptienne in the Royal Navy. Because Egyptienne was twenty-five years old, and battered, the Navy decided against sending her to sea again. Lieutenant James Middleton commissioned her in December 1808 and commanded her until 1815.[2] From December 1808 Antigua served as a prison hulk until scrapped in 1816.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Demerliac (1996), p.65, #399.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Winfield (2008), p.402.
  3. Roche (2005), p.370.
  4. Clowes, p. 341; Colledge, p. 251.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Colledge (1987), p. 34.
  6. Clowes, p. 342
  7. "No. 15702". 15 May 1804. 


  • Clowes, Sir William Laird (1897) The Royal Navy: A History From the Earliest Times to 1900, Volume V. (Sampson Low, Marston and Company, 1900; republished by Chatham Publishing, London). ISBN 1-86176-014-0
  • Colledge, J.J. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy From the Fifteenth Century to the Present. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987. ISBN 0-87021-652-X.
  • Demerliac, Alain (1996) La Marine De Louis XVI: Nomenclature Des Navires Français De 1774 À 1792. (Nice: Éditions OMEGA). ISBN 2-906381-23-3
  • Roche, Jean-Michel (2005) Dictionnaire des Bâtiments de la Flotte de Guerre Française de Colbert à nos Jours. (Group Retozel-Maury Millau).
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1. 

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