On April 21st, the Tremendous, 74, Captain John Osborn, and Hindostan, 50, Captain Alexander Fraser, convoying a number of East Indiamen home, fell in off the coast of Natal with the French frigate Canonniere, 40, Captain C. J. Bourayne. The Canonniere had been despatched from France to reinforce M. Linois, had failed to find him at Mauritius, and was on her way to the Cape. The wind was E.N.E., and the Canonniere was steering S.S.W., and was to leeward of the British vessels. The Hindostan was at once ordered by Osborn to take charge of the convoy, whilst the Tremendous went in chase of the French frigate. Osborn succeeded in closing her sufficiently, at about 3.30 P.M., for the chasers of both vessels to come into action. The Canonniere, which had been going before the wind, then hauled up on the port tack. The Tremendous, on her port quarter, did the same, but, having too much sail spread and being to windward, heeled so much that her fire was not effective. The Canonniere drew ahead and yawed, bringing time after time her whole broadside to bear; but this manoeuvre enabled the Tremendous to gain upon her. The 74-gun ship had drawn slightly ahead, and was preparing to cross her adversary's bows and pour in a raking fire, when a skilfully directed broadside from the Canonniere shot away the jib-stay and fore top-yard ties and slings, and brought. the yard down on the cap. The loss of so important a stay and the damage to the fore-rigging retarded the Tremendous. She dropped back and passed under the frigate's stern, directing, but at too long a range for any effect, a raking broadside upon her enemy. The Canonniere then rapidly drew away, and, in spite of an attempt of the leading Indiaman in the convoy to cut her off, escaped.
In this action the French ship was handled with remarkable skill. The same cannot be said of the Tremendous; and the decline of British gunnery is clearly shown by the fact that the 74-gun ship's powerful broadside failed to disable her enemy. The Canonniere's loss was 7 killed and 25 wounded. As she fired high, to injure her opponent's masts and rigging, she inflicted no loss upon the Tremendous. Her main mast, fore-yard, and mizen mast were all badly wounded, and one of her guns was smashed.