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 Ship Launch 
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Post Ship Launch
From The Times of June 24, 1815, I rather liked this description of the launch of the Cambridge at Deptford:

" ..... several thousands of spectators assembled ... to witness the launch of the Cambridge, an 80-gun line-of-battle ship...the Commissioners of the Admiralty, Navy, and Ordnance, arrived in their respective barges; the band of the Tower Hamlets Militia was in front of the Admiralty booth, and a marine band stationed on the quarterdeck of the Cambridge. Precisely at three o'clock she went off the slips in a most majestic manner; the two bands struck up, Rule Britannia, and the acclamations of the multitude rent the air.... not the smallest accident happened. She remained in the midst of the river some time, under jury masts, and decorated with different colours, and afterwards dropped down with the tide to Woolwich, where she is to be coppered....."

...and herewith the launch of another Cambridge at Deptford 60 years earlier.

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Mon Sep 03, 2007 1:20 pm
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From The Times, May 28, 1805:

".... BOMBAY. On Wednesday night last, a beautiful frigate named Pitt, being the first ever built in India for his Majesty's service, was launched from the dock-yard. Between eleven and twelve o'clock, on the appointed signal being given, she moved majestically into the water, amid the acclamations of a great concourse of spectators, and under a salute from the saluting-battery. From the stillness of the night, and the ship's being finely illuminated, the whole effect was uncommonly grand. .... "

....that sounds like a sight to behold....


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Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:47 am
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It always seems strange to me that ships were launched, then taken off to be coppered, presumably in a dry dock. Were building docks in such short supply?

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Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:42 am
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Badger wrote:
It always seems strange to me that ships were launched, then taken off to be coppered, presumably in a dry dock. Were building docks in such short supply?



Was this practice followed in respect of ships built in a Royal Dockyard or did it only apply to ships built in private yards when coppering was done later in a Royal Dockyard?


Wed Oct 15, 2008 10:00 am
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According to Chatham Dockyard (a "Royal"):
"Vessels were coppered at the yard during building and before launching. The main yards, including Chatham, had copper mills and copper smiths. Repairs might be carried out at other yards"
So yes, it may well have been a private yard. Private yards were only used for rated ships during time of war, but that would fit with the date.
Still, it does sound daft to copper after the hull has been in water...

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My understanding is that all coppering was carried out in Royal Dockyards but I cannot cite an authority for this. Perhaps private yards were not trusted to undertake this expensive and technically demanding task although the coppering of merchant ships seems to have been adequately done (but there were differences in the technique).


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The Times, September 18th, 1786:

" .... Extract of a Letter from Plymouth, Sept. 12. There was so tremendous a gale of wind, and such a sea, in Hamoaze on Saturday last, that the launching of the Royal Sovereign, of 110 guns, the finest ship in the British navy, was deferred, as the Master Attendant declined taking charge of her. A very large concourse of people were disappointed. Wind W.S.W. ....."



..... to be continued .....




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Last edited by Mil Goose on Sun Dec 06, 2009 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Dec 04, 2009 5:29 pm
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The launch of the Royal Sovereign - Part 2



The Times, September 18th, 1786:

" .... Monday, September 11. The wind this morning veered round from the W to the N and from the appearance of the weather promised a very fine day. At twelve o'clock at noon it was determined by the Builder and Master Attendant, that the Royal Sovereign should be launched in the evening. Preparations were made for the purpose; the usual colours were hoisted on board her as a signal for launching. At seven o'clock the last shores were cut away, and she went off the stocks into her proper element with a grandeur undescribable. The launch being very long, the appearance of her moving slowly into the sea was beautifully majestic. Conceive to yourself near 50,000 spectators at the moment this noble ship began to move, all eagerly looking at once object, struck with awe at so magnificent a sight, a dazed silence reigned among them, not even a whisper could be heard for the space of six or seven moments. ....."


.... to be continued ....




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Sat Dec 05, 2009 10:55 am
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Launch of the Royal Sovereign - Part 3



The Times, September 18th, 1786:

" .... When she was off the stocks, the whole air resounded with repeated huzzas, the firing of guns, ringing of bells, and othr demonstrations of joy, which, contrasted with the previous silence, had as fine an effect as the human mind was capable of conceiving. The number of persons of the first rank, present on this occasion, made a splendid appearance. Lady M Edgecombe christened the Royal Sovereign with the usual forms. Very fortunately except a few bruises, no material accident happened. ....."



It must have been a wondrous spectacle, I reckon!






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The Times, November 15th, 1787:

" .... Chatham, Nov.12. The Excellent, a beautiful new ship of 74 guns, now building at Harwich, is ordered to be launched on the 16th. Forty riggers from this yard, besides a number of seamen from the Conqueror, are ordered to Harwich, to assist in launching her. They are all to be under the command and direction of William Nicholson, Esq. Master Attednant of this dock-yard, who is ordered by the Navy Board to go to Harwich for that purpose. The above ship, when launched, is to be navigated to this port, under Mr Nicholson's inspection, in order to be laid up in ordinary here. ...."



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The Times, October 10ty, 1785:

" .... Extracts of a letter from Portsmouth, Oct.5 ... 'Yesterday, agreeable to the orders of the Admiralty Board, his Majesty's ship, the St George of 90 guns was launched at this port; his Royal Highness Prince William Henry, the Lorders Commissioners of the Admiralty, and many of the nobility were present upon the occasion. By nine in the morning, the yard was crowded with spectators, from the different parts of the country, and at half after eleven, she was put into the water amidst the acclamations of the multitide. The ceremony of christening her being first performed by the young Prince. After the launch was over, his Royal Highness, the nobility. and officers of different ranks, of the navy and marines, attended a public breakfast given by the Commissioners. The Prince afterwards dined on board the Queen with Admiral Montagu, and was saluted with 21 guns.' ...."




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Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:38 am
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Post Re: Ship Launch
The Times, My 27th, 1785:

" ........... The docks at Woolwich and Deptford being all full, an order has been sent to suspend the launching of the Ramllies man of war of 74 guns at Rotherhithe, till there is room to copper her at one or other of those places. ....... "


Susan's entry for the vessel.

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