HMS Hecla (1815)

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His Majesty's Discovery Ships Fury and Hecla RMG PY9224 (cropped).jpg
Image depicting Helca and Fury, by Arthur Parsey, 1823
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Hecla
Namesake: Hekla
Ordered: 5 June 1813
Builder: Barkworth & Hawkes, North Barton, Hull
Laid down: July 1813
Launched: 22 July 1815
Honours and
Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Algiers"[1]
Fate: Sold, 13 April 1831
United Kingdom
Name: Hecla
Acquired: 1831 by purchase
Fate: Wrecked 23 June 1840
General characteristics [2]
Class and type:
Tons burthen: 3752694, or 404[3] (bm)
  • 105 ft (32.0 m) (overall)
  • 86 ft 1 14 in (26.2 m) (keel)
Beam: 28 ft 7 12 in (8.7 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 10 12 in (4.2 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged
Complement: 67
  • 10 × 24-pounder carronades
  • 2 × 6-pounder guns
  • 1 × 13-inch (330 mm) mortar
  • 1 × 10-inch (250 mm) mortar

HMS Hecla was a Royal Navy Hecla-class bomb vessel launched in 1815. Like many other bomb vessels, she was named for a volcano, in this case Hekla in Iceland. She served at the Bombardment of Algiers. Subsequently she took part in three expeditions to the Arctic. She then served as a survey vessel on the coast of West Africa until she was sold in 1831. She became a merchantman and in 1834 a Greenland whaler. She was wrecked in 1840.

Ship history[edit]

Painting of the action by Thomas Luny

Commander William Popham commissioned Hecla for service in the Mediterranean.[2] Hecla saw wartime service as part of the Anglo-Dutch fleet at the bombardment of Algiers on 27 August 1816 .[4] In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the award of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Algiers" to all surviving claimants from the battle.

Arctic exploration[edit]

In early 1819 she was converted to an Arctic exploration ship and made three journeys to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage, and made one attempt on the North Pole, all under Lieutenant William Edward Parry or Commander George Francis Lyon, and spent many winters iced in without serious damage.[5]

On the first journey, from May 1819 until December 1820[6] Hecla was commanded by Parry. She and her companion ship, the gun brig Griper, reached a longitude 112°51' W before backtracking to winter off Melville Island. No ship was able to travel so far west again in a single season until 1910, when Joseph-Elzéar Bernier reached Cape Dundas on Melville Island.[7] The second year, the two ships reached longitude 113°46' W before returning to England.[5]

On her second expedition, from May 1821 until November 1823,[6] Hecla was under Lyon's command while Parry led the overall expedition from her sister ship Fury. The furthest point on this trip, the perpetually frozen strait between Foxe Basin and the Gulf of Boothia, was named after the two ships: Fury and Hecla Strait.

Ice conditions frustrated Hecla's third expedition to the Canadian Arctic, which took place from May 1824 to October 1825,[6] again in the company of Fury. Hecla was again under the command of Parry, who now was a captain. Fury was badly damaged at Prince Regent Inlet and had to be abandoned.[8]

In 1827, Parry used Hecla for an unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole from Spitsbergen by boat, reaching 82°45' N.[6] Following this voyage, Hecla was withdrawn from Arctic service.[8]

Commander Thomas Boteler was appointed captain of Hecla in December 1827.[2] She then was engaged in surveying the West African Coast in 1828-31. After Boteler's death in November 1829, Commander F. Harding became her captain.[6]

Disposal: Hecla was put up for sale in 1831 at Woolwich.[9] She was sold in April for £1,990 to Sir E. Banks.[2]

Merchantman and whaler[edit]

Hecla entered Lloyd's Register (LR) in 1831 with R. Jumson, master, Banerman, owner, and trade London–St Petersburg.[3] She underwent repairs in 1832 and then became a merchantman. The Register of Shipping for 1833 shows her with Allen, master, Banerman, owner, and trade Liverpool–Savannah.[10]

Banerman used her for one season in 1834 as a northern seas whaler. Under the command of Captain Reid she caught five whales, yielding 63 tun of whale oil, in the Davis Strait.[11] In 1835 Banerman sold her to Kirkcaldy. Hecla was operating out of Kirkcaldy when she was lost in 1840.[12] A gale on 23 June 1840 drove her against ice floes, crushing her.[13]

Hecla still appeared in LR for 1845 with M. Wright, master, Elder & Co. owner, and trade Leith–Davis Strait. Her homeport was Kirkcaldy, and her entry included the remark "wants repair". It had the annotation, "wrecked".[14]

Profile draught of the inboard works of a Hecla-class vessel to be built by Barkworth & Hawkes at North Barton near Hull; signed Navy Office 23 September 1813

Citations and references[edit]


  1. ^ "No. 20939". The London Gazette. 26 January 1849. p. 245.
  2. ^ a b c d Winfield (2008), p. 377.
  3. ^ a b LR (1831), "H" supple. pages, Seq.№H66.
  4. ^ James, William (1837). Naval History of Great Britain. Vol. VI. London: Richard Bentley. p. 398. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Hecla Rediscovered The Story Of An Arctic Explorer Pt 1 | Blogs | What's On | Heritage & Education Centre". hec.lrfoundation.org.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e "NMM, vessel ID 368380" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol i. National Maritime Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  7. ^ Pharand (1984), p. 43.
  8. ^ a b "Longitude Essays". cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  9. ^ "No. 18788". The London Gazette. 29 March 1831. p. 596.
  10. ^ Register of Shipping (1833), Seq.№H292.
  11. ^ Coltish (1842).
  12. ^ Marwood (1854), p. 8.
  13. ^ Ross (1985), p. 124.
  14. ^ LR (1845), Seq.№H206.


  • An Officer Of The Expedition (1821). Letters Written During The Late Voyage Of Discovery In The Western Arctic Sea. London: Sir Richard Phillips And Co. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  • [1] Coltish, William (c.1842) An account of the success of the ships at the Greenland and Davis Straits fisheries 1772-1842 inclusive.
  • Marwood, Thomas (1854) Marwood's North of England Maritime Directory, Shipping Register and Commercial Advertiser, Embracing the Ports and Sub-ports of Newcastle, Shields, Berwick, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Stockton, Whitby and Scarbro'.: 1854-5. (Thomas Marwood and Company).
  • Pharand, Donat (1984). The Northwest Passage: Arctic straits. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff. ISBN 90-247-2979-3.
  • Ross, W. Gillies (1985) Arctic whalers, icy seas : narratives of the Davis Strait whale fishery. (Toronto: Irwin}.
  • Winfield, Rif (2008). British Warships in the Age of Sail 1793–1817: Design, Construction, Careers and Fates. Seaforth. ISBN 1-86176-246-1.
  • This article includes data released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported UK: England & Wales Licence, by the National Maritime Museum, as part of the Warship Histories project

External links[edit]