Baltic Fleet

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Baltic Fleet
Government Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Ensign of the British Baltic Fleet March-August 1854
Active1658-1856
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchRoyal Navy
TypeFleet
Part ofRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQSpithead, Hampshire, England
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Vice-Admiral James Saumarez

The British Baltic Fleet and also known as the Baltic Squadron was a series of temporary or semi permanent fleets assembled for various naval operations of the Royal Navy in the Baltic Sea from 1658 to 1856 commanded by the Commander-in-Chief, Baltic Fleet.[1]

Overview

The Baltic fleet sailing from Spithead, 11 March 1854

The British Baltic Fleet comprised a series of temporary fleets assembled for various naval campaigns of the Royal Navy from 1658 to 1854 under the command of a Commander-in-Chief, British Baltic Fleet. The fleet operated from a number of bases including Spithead in Hampshire but also the Nore.[2] During the crimean War of 1853-1856, the final British Baltic Fleet was the largest assembled since the Napoleonic Wars, and in terms of armament the most powerful naval force the Royal Navy possessed in the mid-19th century.[3] Pictured right is the fleet sailing from Spithead on 11 March 1854.

History

In November 1658 Vice-Admiral William Goodsonn was appointed to command the English Baltic Fleet of twenty ships - he was transporting General at sea Sir George Ayscue, who was being loaned to Sweden to assist in their naval operations against Denmark and the Dutch during the Dano-Swedish War (1658–1660).[4]

In 1715 Sir John Norris was sent with a fleet to the Baltic Sea to support a coalition of naval forces from Russia, Denmark and Hanover taking part in the Great Northern War of 1700-1721 against Sweden. Tsar Peter of Russia took personal command of the coalition fleet and appointed Norris as his deputy in 1716: together they protected British and other allied merchant vessels from attack by warships of the Swedish Empire.[5]

In 1717 the Baltic fleet formed again - this time under the command of Sir George Byng. It set out for the Baltic following information received by the Admiralty that Charles XII of Sweden was mediating a new movement in support of the exiled Stuarts.[6]

Following the death of Charles XII of Sweden on 30 November 1718 O.S., Admiral Sir John Norris returned to the region as Commander-in-Chief of the Baltic Fleet to protect British merchant shipping from attack by Russian raiders.[7]

In 1726 Sir Charles Wager was appointed to take command of a large battle fleet sent to the Baltic to protect Sweden and Denmark from the threat of a recently mobilized Russian fleet. Stopping first at Copenhagen, he met with the court and completed arrangements for co-operation with the Danish navy. Wager took his twenty ships of the line of the fleet to Reval (in present-day Estonia). He had orders to engage and destroy the Russian fleet if it came out. To reassure Sweden, the British fleet stayed at Reval all summer until 1 November 1726.[8]

In 1801 Sir Hyde Parker was appointed to command the British Baltic fleet destined to break up the northern armed neutrality (Denmark–Norway, Prussia, Sweden, and Russia), with Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson as his second-in-command. Copenhagen, the first objective of the expedition, fell in the Battle of Copenhagen on 2 April 1801.[9][10]

In 1808 Rear-Admiral Sir James Saumarez was given command of the British Baltic fleet with his flag in HMS Victory. His mission involved protecting the British trade interests that were of vital importance for Royal Navy supplies (naval stores and timber), in addition to blockading enemy ports such as those under French control in northern Germany. The Russian fleet was also kept under blockade until Alexander I reopened Russian ports. In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia - the Baltic fleet succeeded in obstructing French operations.[11]

The fleet in the Baltic, 1854

In February 1854 Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Napier was appointed to command the Baltic Fleet. It sailed on 11 March for an expedition to the Baltic to attack the fortresses at Kronstadt and Sveaborg. Napier reported back to the Admiralty they despite his attempts the fortresses were impregnable - he was relieved of his command in December 1854.[12][13]

On 20 March 1855, Vice-Admiral James Dundas taking command of the fleet stationed at Spithead, Hampshire, it proceeded to the Baltic Sea where it was employed on blockading duties to prevent Russia from receiving supplies at its Baltic ports until 13 August 1854.[14][15]

On 27 June 1855 the fleet was stationed at Spithead under the command of Rear-Admiral Richard Dundas it was a very large force consisted of some 93 naval units in total as reported in the Melbourne Argus newspaper at the time.[16]

In command

Commander-in-Chief, Baltic Fleet

Second-in-Command, Baltic Fleet

  1. Rear-Admiral of the Blue James Mighells, March to September, 1717.
  2. Rear-Admiral of the White James Mighells, April to October, 1718.
  3. Rear-Admiral of the Red Sir Samuel Hood, 1808 – 1812.[17]
  4. Rear-Admiral of the White James Hanway Plumridge, February to March, 1854.[18]

Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Baltic Fleet

  1. Vice-Admiral of the Blue Horatio Nelson, 1801 – 1803.[19]
  2. Commodore First Class Frederick Thomas Pelham 1855 – 1856.

Composition of the fleet 1855

As of 27 June 1855:[20]

Composition of the Baltic Fleet June 1855
# rate ships notes ref
1. First-Rate HMS Duke of Wellington, Flag Ship, 131 guns [20]
2. First-Rate HMS Royal George 120 guns newspaper report gives 102 guns [20]
3. Second-Rate HMS Exmouth 91 guns [20]
4. Second-Rate HMS James Watt steam and sail-powered , 91 guns [20]
5. Second-Rate HMS Orion 91 guns [20]
6. Second-Rate HMS Caesar launched 1853, 91 guns [20]
7. Second-Rate HMS Nile 90 guns [20]
8. Second-rate HMS Majestic 81 guns [20]
9. Second-Rate HMS Colossus 80 guns [20]
10. Second-Rate HMS Sans Pareil 70 guns [20]
11. Third-Rate HMS Cressy launched 1853, screw propelled, 80 guns [20]
12. Third-Rate HMS Blenheim 74 guns [20]
13. Third-Rate HMS La Hogue 74 guns source gives 60 guns [20]
14. Third-Rate HMS Ajax ditto [20]
15. Third-Rate HMS Hastings ditto [20]
16. Third-Rate HMS Pembroke 60 guns [20]
17. Third-Rate HMS Cornwallis 60 guns [20]
18. Third-Rate HMS Hawke 60 guns [20]
19. Third-Rate HMS Russell 74 guns, source gives 60 guns [20]
20. Third-Rate HMS Edinburgh 74 guns, source gives 58 guns [20]
21. Fourth-Rate HMS Euryalus screw frigate, 51 guns [20]
22. Steam frigate HMS Imperieuse 51 guns [20]
23. Frigate HMS Arrogant 46 guns [20]
24. Frigate HMS Amphion 36 guns, source gives 34 guns [20]
25. Frigate Template:Ship steam frigate, 24 guns [20]
26. Sloop-of-war HMS Malacca 17 guns [20]
27. Corvette HMS Cossack wooden screw, 20 guns [20]
28. Corvette HMS Tartar 20 guns [20]
29. Corvette HMS Pylades wooden screw, 20 guns [20]
30. Corvette HMS Esk 21 guns source gives 20 guns [20]
31. Screw sloop HMS Archer 15 guns [20]
32. Paddle frigate HMS Magiciene steam powered, 16 guns [20]
33. Paddle frigate HMS Odin ditto [20]
34. Paddle frigate HMS Vulture 6 guns [20]
35. Paddle frigate HMS Centaur 6 guns [20]
36. Paddle frigate HMS Dragon 6 guns [20]
37. Paddle sloop HMS Bulldog 6 guns [20]
38. Paddle steamer HMS Lightning 3 guns [20]
39. Screw sloop HMS Desperate 8 guns [20]
40. Screw sloop HMS Conflict 8 guns [20]
41. Screw sloop HMS Cruizer 17 guns, source gives 15 guns as HMS Cruiser [20]
42. Screw sloop HMS Harrier 17 guns, source gives 15 guns [20]
43. Screw sloop HMS Falcon ditto [20]
44. Screw sloop HMS Ariel 9 guns [20]
45. Paddle sloop HMS Basilisk 6 guns [20]
46. Steam sloop HMS Rosamond 6 guns [20]
47. Paddle sloop HMS Driver 6 guns [20]
48. Paddle sloop HMS Geyser 6 guns [20]
49 Paddle sloop HMS Gorgon 6 guns [20]
Ironclad floating batteries total 5
1. Aetna-class HMS Glatton 16 guns [20]
2. Aetna-class HMS Meteor 16 guns [20]
3. Aetna-class HMS Aetna 16 guns [20]
4. Aetna-class HMS Thunder 16 guns [20]
5. Example HMS Trusty 16 guns [20]
Mortar vessels total 28
8 Bomb vessels Blazer, Firm, Manly, Mastiff, Hardy, Havock, Porcupine, Porpoise. All built between 1854 and 1855, 1 gun each [20]
10 Gunboats Gleaner, Pelter, Ruby, Pincher, Teazer, Badger, Snaper, Biter, Boxer, Clinker Between 2 and 3 guns each [20]
10 Gunboats Cracker, Dapper, Fancy, Grinder, Snap, Jackdaw, Jasper, Jack, Magpie, Redwing Between 2 and 3 guns each [20]
Gunboats total 8
8 Gunboats Skylark, Hind, Starling, Stork, Twinger, Thistle, Weasel, Pigmy Between 2 and 3 guns each [20]
Other vessels/units total 3
1. Hospital ship HMS Belleisle [20]
1. Shell magazine Aeolus [20]
1. Powder magazine Volage [20]
The fleet consisted of 93 naval units of all types

References

  1. Davey, James (1 December 2009). "Within Hostile Shores: Victualling the Royal Navy in European Waters during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars". International Journal of Maritime History. London, England: Sage Publications Ltd. 21 (2): 241–260. doi:10.1177/084387140902100211.
  2. Lavery, Brian (2015). Nelson's Victory: 250 Years of War and Peace. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. p. 165. ISBN 9781848322325.
  3. Grehan, John; Mace, Martin (2014). "VIII British Battles of the Crimean Wars 1854 to 1855". British Battles of the Crimean Wars 1854-1856: Despatches from the Front. Barnsley, England: Pen and Sword. ISBN 9781473831858.
  4. Grainger, John D. (2014). The British Navy in the Baltic. Woodbridge, England: Boydell & Brewer Ltd. p. 43. ISBN 9781843839477. The intention was to loan Ayscue to the Swedes to assist their naval operations; in addition the fleet carried several hundred English seamen and a dozen officers who had been recruited for the Swedish Marine, and English privateers were operating under Swedish licences.
  5. Heathcoate, Tony (2002). British admirals of the fleet 1734-1995 : a biographical dictionary. Barnsley: Pen and Sword. p. 196. ISBN 0850528356.
  6. Laughton, John Knox. "Byng George". Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900. London, England: Smith, Elder and Co. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  7. Heathcoate, Tony (2002). British admirals of the fleet 1734-1995 : a biographical dictionary. Barnsley: Pen and Sword. p. 196. ISBN 0850528356. After the death of Charles XII of Sweden in December 1718 Norris was went back to the Baltic to protect Sweden against Peter the Great, whose new navy was regarded as a threat to British control of the Baltic. He served there between 1719 and 1722 [...].
  8. Campbell, John (1814). Lives of the British Admirals: Containing Also a New and Accurate Naval History, from the Earliest Periods. London, England: C. J. Barrinton. pp. 221–222.
  9. Laughton, John Knox. "Parker Hyde (1739-1807)". Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900. London, England: Smith, Elder & Co. Retrieved 28 February 2019.
  10. Williams, Chris (2006). A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain. Hoboken, New Jersey, United States: John Wiley & Sons. p. 79. ISBN 9781405156790.
  11. Heathcoate, Tony (2005). Nelson's Trafalgar captains and their battles. Barnsley, England: Pen & Sword Maritime. p. 106. ISBN 1844151824.
  12. Callo, Joseph F.; Wilson, Alastair (2004). Who's Who in Naval History: From 1550 to the present. Cambridge, London: Routledge. p. 296. ISBN 9781134395408.
  13. https://books.google.com/books?id=fui_CwAAQBAJ page 210.
  14. Lavery p. 165.
  15. Richards, Donald (2006). Conflict in the Crimea: British Redcoats on Russian Soil. Barnsley, England: Pen and Sword. pp. 143–145. ISBN 9781844153435. The first British ships sailed from Spithead on 20 March bound for Kiel, with the remainder following two weeks later, intent on enforcing a blockade to prevent essential supplies from getting through to Russia from the Baltic ports.
  16. "THE BALTIC FLEET". Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957). 27 June 1855. p. 5. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  17. The Naval Chronicle, Containing a General and Biographical History of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, with a Variety of Original Papers on Nautical Subjects. London: Joyce Gold. 1808. p. 262.
  18. The War Almanck. London: H. G. Clarke and Co. 1855. p. 95.
  19. Jones, Barry (2017). Dictionary of World Biography: Fourth edition. Canberra, Australia.: ANU Press. p. 621. ISBN 978-1-76046-126-3.
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 20.12 20.13 20.14 20.15 20.16 20.17 20.18 20.19 20.20 20.21 20.22 20.23 20.24 20.25 20.26 20.27 20.28 20.29 20.30 20.31 20.32 20.33 20.34 20.35 20.36 20.37 20.38 20.39 20.40 20.41 20.42 20.43 20.44 20.45 20.46 20.47 20.48 20.49 20.50 20.51 20.52 20.53 20.54 20.55 20.56 20.57 20.58 20.59 20.60 20.61 "THE BALTIC FLEET". Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957). 27 June 1855. p. 5. Retrieved 1 March 2019.