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Latitude 50° 20.77 N
Longitude 004° 10.07 W
Accuracy Unknown, not found
Location Description Redding Point
Reference NMR 1062472
Craft type Gun brig
Date built 1794
Date of loss 20 January 1804
Manner of loss Wrecked
Outcome Abandoned
Construction Wood
Propulsion Sail
Nationality United Kingdom
Departure port Plymouth
Destination port Channel Islands
Hull length 75ft
Hull beam 21ft
Hull displacement 149 tons
Armament 2 x 24pdr bow chase guns
10 x 18pdr carronades
2 x 18pdr stern chase guns
Crew 29
Built Claveley, Gravesend
Master Lt Williams RN
Owners Royal Navy

HMS Fearless

The Conquest class gun-brig HMS Fearless was wrecked on Redding Point at the north end of Cawsand Bay on 20th January 1804.

The ship was a Henslow design fitted to row with 18 oars and was able sail with either a schooner or brigantine rig. The initial design was to be armed with 4-pounder long guns, but relatively early on it was decided to subsitute these for a primary battery of ten 18-pounder carronades, as well as two 24-pounder long chase guns in the bow. The Conquest class also contained, HMS Teazer, Tickler, Plumper and Swinger, names which we are unlikely to see used in again in the modern Royal Navy!

Fearless was part of unconventional Royal Navy commander Sidney Smith's squadron in 1795, and was paid off and recommissioned twice. In 1798 the Fearless sailed for the Isles of Scilly with two naval transports to recover the stores salvaged from the wreck of HMS Colossus.

A storm from the south-east hit Plymouth on the 19th January 1804, whipping up the sea into such a state that in Cawsand Bay it carried 'water over the town... and deluged the streets in a sluice'.

The Fearless was at anchor in the Bay waiting for the weather to clear so that she could escort a convoy of merchant ships to the Channel Islands. Instead, due to the worsening weather, Lt Williams, Captain of the Fearless, ordered the topmasts and yards to be lowered and for the crew to put out a second anchor. Despite the precautions the shank of the best bower anchor broke during the course of the afternoon and she began to drive across the bay. The crew fired guns to signal that they were in trouble and at 11pm she struck the shore under high cliffs near Redding Point, going broadside on.

The Fearless gun-brig, No.12, Lieutenant Williams,
and a dockyard lighter, were obliged to cut from Cawsand Bay,
and were both driven on the rocks near Redding Point

It seemed that all hands were to be lost were it not for actions of some Cawsand fishermen who arrived on the clifftop with lanterns and ropes, they hailed the crew, telling them not land until the men had climbed down to the shore. The Fearless and a dockyard lighter lay below with their masts gone overboard. Using ropes the Cawsand men managed to get Lt Williams, his wife, two children belonging to a Mate as well as the officers and crew to safety. In total they managed to rescue 32 from the Fearless and all the crew of the lighter. By the following day the vessel had become a total wreck so it was recommended that she be stripped and sold where she lay.

The storm was so severe that the Plymouth flagship, the huge 112 gun Salvador del Mundo dragged her moorings in the comparative shelter of the Hamoaze.

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HMS Fearless

HMS Fearless

Lines and Inboard Profile Plans of the Henslow Design Conquest class of 1794 (NMM)