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HMS Rose (1757)
The Phoenix and the Rose engaged by the enemy's fire ships and galleys on Aug. 16, 1776, 08-16-1776 - NARA - 532907.tif
The Phoenix and the Rose engaged by the enemy's fire ships and galleys on Aug. 16, 1776. Engraving by Dominic Serres after a sketch by Sir James Wallace
Career (Great Britain) Royal Navy Ensign (1707-1800)
Name: HMS Rose
Ordered: 13 April 1756
Builder: Hugh Blaydes, Hull, England
Laid down: 5 June 1756
Launched: 8 March 1757
Fate: Scuttled on 19 September 1779 in Savannah, Georgia.
General characteristics
Class & type: 20-gun sixth-rate post ship
Tons burthen: 449 bm
Length: 108 ft 11.5 in (33.2 m) (gundeck)
90 ft 10.25 in (27.7 m) (keel)
Beam: 30 ft 6 in (9.3 m)
Draught: 9 ft 7 in (2.9 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 160
Armament: 20 × 9 pdrs

HMS Rose was a 20-gun sixth-rate post ship of the Royal Navy, built in Hull, England in 1757. Her activities in suppressing smuggling in the colony of Rhode Island provoked the formation of what became the Continental Navy, precursor of the modern United States Navy. In the Seven Years' War, Rose was in service in the Channel and in the Caribbean. She was briefly considered for service as Captain James Cook's vessel on his first exploration of the Pacific, but was rejected as unable to stow the quantity of provisions required for the planned circumnavigation of the globe.[1] Instead she was sent to the North American station, en route to which she encountered Cook's ultimate choice of vessel, HMS Endeavour on September 12, 1768 when the two ships anchored alongside each other at Funchal in the Madeira Islands.[2]

In 1774, Rose, under the command of Sir James Wallace, was sent to Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island to put an end to the smuggling that had made Newport the fourth wealthiest city in America. Since the Rose was much larger than any American vessel of the time and Wallace was an effective commander, smuggling soon came almost to a standstill. This severely affected the economy of Newport. Rhode Island's merchants petitioned $3 to create a navy to deal with Wallace. They backed up their petitions with money by fitting out a merchant vessel for naval service. This vessel was commissioned as the sloop of war Providence, which became the first naval command of John Paul Jones. Rhode Island declared its independence from Britain on 4 May 1776, two full months before the rest of the colonies. The petitioning of the Continental Congress to form a naval force to rid Narragansett Bay of the Rose was the impetus for the creation of the Continental Navy.

In July 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, the Rose played a large part in the British invasion of New York state, firing on fortifications and making forays far up the Hudson River. Wallace was knighted for his actions in helping to drive George Washington and his troops from the city of New York. She also patrolled the rest of the northeast coast of America, pressing sailors from merchant vessels and seeking out provisions for the British garrison at Boston.

Rose finally met her end in 1779 in Savannah, Georgia. The British, who were occupying the city, scuttled the Rose in a narrow part of the channel, effectively blocking it. Consequently, the French fleet was unable to assist the American assault and Savannah remained in British hands until the war's end. After the war the Rose was destroyed to clear the channel. Only a few artefacts have been recovered by dredging over the years.

HMS Rose replica

In 1970 a replica of HMS Rose, designed by Phil Bolger, was built in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia for an estimated $330,000 contract to the West India Packet Company (John Millar). She was initially intended as a "dockside attraction," used for display and later sail training until 2001 when she was purchased by Fox Studios, sailed to Southern California and altered to resemble HMS Surprise for the Peter Weir movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, based on the books by Patrick O'Brian. The Surprise was also featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the ship of Hector Barbossa, the Providence.

She is currently owned by the San Diego Maritime Museum. The museum's volunteer crew is giving her an extensive refit. She returned to the Maritime Museum in March 2007 to complete preparation for sailing.


  1. Beaglehole, J.C., ed (1968). The Journals of Captain James Cook on His Voyages of Discovery, vol. I:The Voyage of the Endeavour 1768–1771. Cambridge University Press. p. cxxiii. OCLC 223185477. 
  2. Hough, Richard (1995). Captain James Cook. Hodder and Stoughton. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-340-82556-3. 

Further reading

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