HMS Serapis

Defence of Captn Pearson in his Majesty’s Ship Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough Arm’d Ship Captn Piercy, against Paul Jones’s Squadron, 23 Sept 1779 Author: Robert Dodd

A legendary encounter fought during the American Revolutionary War, saw HMS Serapis engage the famous USS Bonhomme Richard, captained by John Paul Jones, giving rise to his immortal battle cry: “I have not yet begun to fight!” The outcome would see the Bonhomme Richard sink and the Serapis captured.

Named after the God Serapis referred to in Greek and Egyptian mythology, the 44-gun British Royal Navy Roebuck-class fighting vessel was built by Randall & Brent. She was launched in early 1779 and commissioned to serve the Navy under the command of Captain Richard Pearson.

Before the bloody September 23 fight that would last more than three hours, she was outfitted with an additional six guns, which made her a most formidable foe. As the two ships used all their gunpower might on each other, the Bonhomme Richard began to falter. However, the quick-witted Jones thought to ensnare Serapis by attaching the two ships together so that he and his crew would have the upper hand.

Unfortunately, in the chaos, the frigate Alliance, a member of Jones’ squadron, took aim at both ships, disabling the Bonhomme Richard. Yet, Jones was able to capture the Serapis  even as his own ship sank, transferring his crew aboard as Captain Pearson surrendered. The Serapis was subsequently commissioned by the French and was later lost in an onboard fire in 1871. Archaeologists located the remains of the Serapis in 1999. The remains of the Bonhomme Richard have never been found.

Text source: Wikipedia under Creative Commons licence.

Photo credit: Wikipedia public domain image.

© Copyright Vince Capone 2013