Sir Richard Strachan, 6th Baronet - Off The French Coast - Command of The Donegal

Command of The Donegal

In 1802 Strachan was appointed to command HMS Donegal. Whilst serving aboard her, he was made senior officer at Gibraltar and ordered to watch the combined French and Spanish fleet at Cadiz, under the orders of Nelson. Whilst on this station, she spotted and gave chase to the large 42-gun Spanish frigate Amfitrite in November 1804. After pursuing her for 46 hours, Amfitrite lost her mizzen-top-mast and was subsequently overhauled by Donegal.

A boat was dispatched from Donegal and the Spanish captain was brought aboard. Sir Richard did not speak Spanish and the captain did not speak English, so it was with difficulty that Sir Richard attempted to inform him that his orders were to return the Amfitrite back to Cadiz. Sir Richard allowed the captain three minutes to decide whether he would comply with the order, but after waiting for six minutes without an answer, opened fire on Amfitrite. The engagement lasted only eight minutes, and resulted in a number of deaths, including the Spanish captain, who fell to a musket ball. Amfitrite surrendered and after being searched, was found to be laden with stores and carrying dispatches from Cadiz to Tenerife and Havana. She was taken over and later commissioned into the Navy as HMS Amfitrite. Donegal would later make another capture off Cadiz, taking a Spanish vessel carrying a cargo reputed to be worth £200,000.

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