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HMS Imperieuse (1793)
Career (France) Flag of the Kingdom of France (1814-1830).svg Flag of French-Navy-Revolution.svg
Name: Impérieuse
Ordered: 27 November 1785
Builder: Toulon
Laid down: February 1786
Launched: 11 July 1787
Commissioned: May 1788
Captured: 11 October 1793
Career (United Kingdom) Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.png
Name: HMS Imperieuse
Acquired: 11 October 1793
Renamed: HMS Unite on 3 September 1803
Reclassified: Harbour service from 1832
Fate: Broken up January 1858
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 700 (bm)
Length: 46.1 metres
Beam: 11.7 metres
Draught: 5.5 metres
Armament: 44 guns

The Impérieuse was a 40-gun Minerve class frigate of the French Navy. She later served in the Royal Navy as HMS Imperieuse and HMS Unite.

French service and capture

In 1788, she cruised in the Middle East, and the Aegean Sea the two following years. She performed another cruise off the Middle East before returning to Toulon. On 11 October 1793, Impérieuse was captured off La Spezia by HMS Captain and the Spanish ship of the line Bahama.

She was subsequently recommissioned in the Royal Navy as the fifth rate frigate HMS Imperieuse.

Imperieuse entered service in 1795, and operated in the West Indies off Martinique and Surinam for most of the French Revolutionary Wars, under the command of Captain John Poo Beresford. Imperieuse returned to Britain at the Peace of Amiens.

Napoleonic Wars

Imperieuse was renamed Unite and when the Napoleonic Wars began returned to service in the Mediterranean. The frigate was under the command of Captain Chaloner Ogle as one of Nelson scouts, but not present at Trafalgar; instead, she lay dismasted in Lisbon harbour.

Unité, Melpomene and Weazel shared in the capture of the Buona Esperanza on 19 July 1807 and the Bizzaro, on 21 August. The bankruptcy of the prize agents meant that some prize money was not distributed until 21 years later, in 1828.[1] The fourth and final payment for Bizzarro did not occur until July 1850.[Note 1]

Under Captain Patrick Campbell Unite was the first frigate to enter the Adriatic Sea and during the spring of 1808 captured a string of French and Italian gunboats and coastal merchant vessels, notably the Jeulie.

On 19 May 1810 Unite captured the French privateer Du Guay Trouin of 10 guns and 116 men.[3]

By 1811 Unite was still operating in the Mediterranean, under Captain Chamberlayne.

On 31 March 1811, Unite and Ajax encountered a French squadron comprising the frigates Adrienne and Amélie, and the armed transport French corvette Dromadaire. Ajax captured Dromadaire, while the frigates managed to escape to Portoferraio. Captain Otway of Ajax reported that Dromadaire was frigate-built and sailed remarkably well. Her cargo consisted of 15,000 shot and shells of various sizes and 90 tons of gunpowder.[4] Apparently Napoleon Bonaparte intended them as a present for Hammuda ibn Ali, the Bey of Tunis.[5] Admiral Sir Charles Cotton, commander in chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet, decided to buy her and her stores for the Royal Navy.[4]

On 1 May, Unite participated in the destruction of the French vessels Giraffe, Nourrice, and an armed merchant man sheltering near the island at Sagone, with the help of HMS Pomone and HMS Scout.[6]

Through the summer Unite operated off the mouth of the Tiber and in the autumn she was once again sent to the Adriatic, participating in the Action of 29 November 1811 at which she captured the armed storeship Persanne.

Post-war and fate

By 1815, Unite was back in Britain in reserve at Deptford and she remained there until converted for harbour service in 1832. Between 1841 and 1858, she was used as a prison hulk. The ship was eventually broken up in January 1858 at Chatham Dockyard.


  1. A first-class share of the remaining prize money was worth £2 7s 6pence; a fifth-class share, that of an able seaman, was worth 3d. The sixth, seventh, and eighth class shares received nothing.[2]


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