Local Trincomalee is world's oldest floating warship

The Trincomalee

[02/11/16] HMS Trincomalee, currently the oldest warship afloat, is available to view in Hartlepool after being restored as a museum ship.

The ship is a Royal Navy Leda-class sailing frigate, which was built in Bombay, India, with a construction cost of £23,000.

It was launched on 12 October 1817, and soon after completion it set sail to Portsmouth Dockyard, where it arrived on 30 April 1819.

After being fitted out at a further cost of £2400, Trincomalee was placed in reserve until 1845, when it was re-armed with fewer guns giving greater firepower, had its squared stern reshaped into an arc to improve field of fire and was reclassified as a sixth-rate spar-decked corvette.

Trincomalee departed from Portsmouth in 1847 to the North America and West Indies stations. The ship was involved in the subduing of riots in Haiti and preventing an invasion of Cuba, as well as providing hurricane relief to colonists, searching vessels for illegal slave-trade activities, courtesy visits to British colonies, and the carriage of messages, cargo and money to British garrisons and ships in the area.

The ship was ordered north to patrol the St. Lawrence Estuary, Newfoundland and Labrador before being recalled to Britain in June 1850.

In 1852 it was redeployed to join the Pacific Squadron on the west coast of North America. Britain and France declared war on Russia on 28 March 1854, and Trincomalee joined an Anglo-French Squadron of 11 ships assigned to destroy Russian frigates in the north Pacific.

After the end of the war, Trincomalee returned to standard duties and was eventually placed in reserve again in 1895.

The ship was sold for scrap two years later on 19 May 1897, and then purchased by entrepreneur George Wheatley Cobb who restored and renamed it Foudroyant after his previous ship which was wrecked in a storm in Blackpool.

The ship was utilised for training and was based in Falmouth before being moved to Portsmouth.

In 1986, there were changes made to nautical training and a reduction in the number of schoolchildren requiring the seagoing skills the ship offered. It was decided that the ship should be restored and it was brought to Hartlepool in 1987 where it underwent 10 years of careful restoration. During that time it was also renamed back to Trincomalee.

The ship is now afloat at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience and gained the temporary title of oldest warship afloat in the world after the USS Constitution was moved to dry dock until 2017 for a major restoration.

Trincomalee is listed as part of the National Historic Fleet and has won numerous awards including the World Ship Trust International Maritime Heritage Award, the North East England Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2009 and a Business Award for Tourism and Leisure in 2010.

To find out more about HMS Trincomalee visit their website.

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