- Grose, Kelvin
- 19th century wars, Ship histories and stories
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- June 2005 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
ON RENEWAL OF THE WAR in 1803, Rear Admiral Lord Northesk was immediately appointed to HMS Britannia ((Name of the last Royal Yacht 1953-2001, and the Roman name for Britain)) (100) at Portsmouth. Towards the end of 1803, Britannia was stationed at St. Helens, to guard that end of the Isle of Wight. Afterwards she formed part of the Channel Fleet, commanded by Admiral Cornwallis.
Britannia continued to serve in the arduous blockade of Brest until August 1805. In that month she was detached with a squadron, under the orders of Rear Admiral Sir Robert Calder, to reinforce Vice Admiral Collingwood off Cadiz.
At Trafalgar, Northesk took a distinguished share in achieving the victory. On the morning of the battle, Nelson sent verbal directions to Northesk to break through the enemy line astern of the 14th ship. This was done in a most masterly and gallant manner, though the Britannia was severely mauled in bearing down by raking fire from several of the enemy. On passing through the line and hauling up, she was the 4th ship of the Van. In a short space of time she completely dismasted a French ship of 80 guns. She afterwards singly engaged and kept at bay three of the enemy’s Van ships, that were attempting to double upon HMS Victory (at that time much disabled) and warmly engaged with two of the enemy.
Bibliography: Royal Naval Biography Vol. 1 by John Marshall (Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, London 1823)