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HMS Flying Fish (1803)

HMS Flying Fish was the American-built schooner Flying Fish, launched in 1801.[2] She became the French privateer schooner Poisson Volant, which the British captured in 1803 in the West Indies and took into the Royal Navy. She captured a privateer and recaptured some small merchant vessels. She was renamed Firefly in 1807, but was lost with all hands when she foundered later that year.

French Navy EnsignFrance
Name: Flying Fish
Launched: 1801
Acquired: By purchase
Renamed: Poisson Volant on purchase[1]
Captured: June–July 1803
Royal Navy EnsignUK
Name: HMS Flying Fish
Acquired: June–July 1803 (by capture)
Fate: Foundered November 1807
General characteristics
Type: Schooner
Tonnage: 150 3294 (bm)
Length: 78 ft 8 in (23.98 m) (overall)
Beam: 21 ft 7 in (6.58 m)
Depth of hold: 7 ft 10 in (2.39 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Schooner
Armament: 12 guns


Poissant Volant was the American schooner Flying Fish, built at Baltimore in 1801. She was then bought by the French.[1]


In mid-1803, the squadron under Captain Henry William Bayntun, consisting of Cumberland, Hercule, Bellerophon , Elephant, and Vanguard captured Poisson Volant and Supérieure.[3] The Royal Navy purchased her on 15 October 1803.[4] The British commissioned her as Flying Fish under Lieutenant Clement Ives in June 1804.


On 29 June Blanche captured the Dutch schooner Nimrod, three miles south of "Saint Cruz (Corosoa)". Captain Zacharia Mudge reported that Nimrod, of four guns, was one of two schooners that had engaged Flying Fish.[5]

By at least July, Flying Fish was under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Price. On 14 July she recaptured the Content, which the French privateer Republic (Republique) had captured the evening before off Black River. From the prisoners Price learned where he might intercept the privateer. The next day he encountered her and captured her after a five-hour chase. Republic was armed with one long gun and small arms, and had left St. Jago with a crew of 51 men. On her cruise she had taken three prizes.[6] Another account reports that the privateer that Flying Fish captured had 37 men aboard her, and that Flying Fish succeeded in recapturing two of the privateer's prizes.[7]

Between 1 March and 1 June 1805, Flying Fish recaptured the British ship Mary, which was carrying cargo of island produce.[8]


In 1807 Flying Fish was renamed Firefly. On 17 November she struck a submerged rock off Curacao. Lieutenant Price and all his crew were lost.[9][Note 1]

Notes, citations, and referencesEdit


  1. ^ Gilly reports that she was lost on 17 October, in a hurricane of the Spanish Main. He further states that her surgeon and three men were saved.[10] Another account agrees with Hepper in date and circumstances, but reports that only the surgeon was saved.[11]


  1. ^ a b Footner (1998), p.194.
  2. ^ Footner (1998), p.72.
  3. ^ "No. 15620". The London Gazette. 13 September 1803. p. 1228.
  4. ^ Winfield (2008), p.364.
  5. ^ "No. 15744". The London Gazette. 9 October 1804. p. 1266.
  6. ^ "No. 15743". The London Gazette. 6 October 1804. pp. 1254–1255.
  7. ^ Naval Chronicle, Vol. 12, p.421.
  8. ^ "No. 15827". The London Gazette. 23 July 1805. pp. 954–955.
  9. ^ Hepper (1994), p.120.
  10. ^ Gilly (1850), p.319.
  11. ^ The united service journal and naval and military magazine (July 1833), p.319.


  • Footner, Geoffrey M. (1998) Tidewater Triumph: The Development and Worldwide Success of the Chesapeake Bay Pilot Schooner. (Naval Institute Press). ISBN 978-0913372807
  • Gilly, William Stephen; William Octavius Shakespeare Gilly (1850) Narratives of shipwrecks of the Royal navy between 1793 and 1849, compiled from official documents in the Admiralty, with a preface by W.S. Gilly.
  • Hepper, David J. (1994). British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859. Rotherfield: Jean Boudriot. ISBN 0-948864-30-3.
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1861762461.