Origin and History
The sloop of war “King of Portugal” was purchased by the Royal Navy on November 17 1756, renamed “Vesuvius” and converted to a fireship.
During the Seven Years' War, the fireship was under the command of:
- from at least 1759 to at least 1761: Commander James Chads who was a "small boats specialist", having gained experience of amphibious landings while serving under Captain (later Admiral) Richard Howe as 2nd Lieutenant on Dunkirk (60) (January 1755 to July 1757) during the aborted raid on Rochefort in September 1757 and subsequently as 1st Lieutenant under Howe on Magnanime (74) (July 1757 to October 1758) during the first and second amphibious raids on the French coast in the English Channel ordered by William Pitt. In 1759, during the expedition against Quebec, General James Wolfe placed James Chads in command of the boats for the amphibious landings at Beauport on July 31 and again in command of the boats that carried the troops down the Saint-Laurent River for the amphibious landing at Anse-aux-Foulon on the night of September 12 to 13, leading to the victorious battle of Québec. James Chads was later involved in the amphibious landings on Belle-Isle during 1761 under Admiral Keppel while still in command of HMS Vesuvius.
The vessel was sold on May 3 1763.
Service during the War
In February 1759, the fireship sailed from Spithead in Great Britain as part of the fleet destined for the expedition against Québec. The voyage was long and tedious. On April 21, when the fleet finally reached Louisbourg, it was to find the harbour blocked with ice, so that the fleet made for Halifax instead. The fleet finally sailed for Louisbourg in May. From June 1 to 6, the fleet gradually left the harbour of Louisbourg and sailed for Québec. On June 23, Saunders' fleet made a junction with Durell's squadron at Isles-aux-Coudres. On June 26, the whole British fleet of vice-admiral Saunders was anchored safely off the southern shore of Isle-d'Orléans, a few km below Québec without loosing a single ship. Québec finally surrendered on September 18 1759. At the end of October, vice-admiral Saunders fired his farewell salute and dropped down the Saint-Laurent river with his fleet on his way to Great Britain.
To do: more details on the campaign from 1760 to 1762
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ADM 51/4001 Captain's Log HMS Vesuvius held at The National Archive, Kew, London
Blasco, Manuel: Unrated 1714-1792, 3 Decks Wiki
Phillips, M.: Michael Phillip's Ships of the Old Navy
Stacey, C.P.: Quebec, 1759, The siege and Battle
Syrett, David: Admiral Lord Howe - A Biographyâ, Spellmount Limited, Stroud, England, 2006
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
David Chads for additionnal info on the commander of this fireship