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This Month in Naval History


A British name retained.

( Ship: t. 280; cpl. 42; a. 16 guns )

The British whaler Georgiana was captured off the Galapagos Islands 29 April 1813 by boats from frigate Essex, flagship of Captain David Porter. One of three prizes taken that day during Porter's campaign to destroy British whaling ships found in the equatorial Pacific, she was thought a fast sailor and apparently well-calculated for a cruiser. She had been built for service of the English East India Company. Referred to by Captain Porter as a "letter of marquee ship, armed with 6 18 pdrs., 4 swivels and 6 long blunderbusses," she was fitted as a cruiser and commissioned 8 May 1813, Lt. John Downes in command.

Departing 12 May, Georgiana cruised off the Galapagos in search of British whaling ships. While sailing near James' Island 28 May, she met Catherine and Rose and captured them with no resistance. She then chased a third whaler Hector and engaged in a brief, but sharp, combat which brought down the whaler's main-top mast and most of her standing and running rigging. After capturing Hector, Georgiana placed the whaling crews in Rose and ordered them under parole to St. Helena in the south Atlantic. Escorting her other two prizes, she rejoined Essex at Tumbez, Peru, 24 June

Georgiana departed Tumbez 30 June and sailed for the Galapagos with Essex and her prizes. On 13 July she aided Greenwich during a spirited encounter with Seringapatam, a 357-ton whaler-cruiser. One of three whalers taken that day, Seringapatam was fitted out to replace Georgia. Despite her valuable captures, Georgiana had proved to be a dull sailor. She was loaded with a full cargo of sperm oil; and, manned by a prize crew under Lt. James Wilson, she departed the Galapagos for the United States 25 July. While sailing off the East Coast early in 1814, she was recaptured by the British frigate Barrosa.


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