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RAVEN (18) Built in 1804, Blackwall (Cruizer class).
Lost in 1805.

  • 1804 Lieut.(act.
    Cdr.) William LAYMAN.
    During her fitting out at Woolwich LAYMAN made a number of changes to her armament.
    The two foremost ports were closed and the guns removed were replaced by a single 68-pounder carronade mounted on a traverse immediately before the fore-mast.
    In the same way the two stern chasers were replaced by a similar carronade.
  • RAVEN sailed on 21 January 1805 with dispatches for Lord NELSON, whose squadron she was to join, and for Sir John ORDE off Cadiz.
    When she arrived off Cadiz on 28 January there was no sign of ORDE's squadron so LAYMAN reduced sail, and finding that there was no bottom at 80 fathoms assumed that they were about 25 miles out, hove-to for the night.
    When he retired he left instructions that soundings should be taken every half hour.
    At about midnight he was called with the news that the lights of the squadron had been sighted but before he could get on deck the officer of the watch reported that they were really the lights of Cadiz.
    The lead showed 10 fathoms rapidly shoaling to 5 as they veered.
  • At daylight they found that they were close inshore between Spanish warships at anchor off Cadiz and batteries in a fort at Santa Catalina.
    In spite of a strong wind from the west they managed to beat out over the shoals until the main yard broke and they were forced to anchor off Rota.
    The wind now increased to gale strength, the anchor cables parted and she was thrown broadside on to the beach at Santa Catalina.
    Only two men were lost, drowned while trying to get ashore at the height of the gale.
    They were taken prisoners by the Spanish but the officers were given liberty to journey where they wished within a range of 20 miles
  • When LAYMAN made inquiries amongst the crew he found that the lead had not been used as he had instructed and that when the lights had first been seen the officer of the watch was below and not sober.
    He reported these findings to Lord NELSON after he had been exchanged.
  • Unfortunately he also followed Nelson's advice to withdraw these accusations against his officers since the officer of the watch would certainly be sentenced to death for his conduct.
    "You will not be censured." said Nelson, but the court martial on 9 March ordered him to be severely reprimanded and sentenced him to loss of seniority.

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© 1995, 2007 Michael Phillips