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Success vs Santa Catalina

16th March 1782
Part of : The American War of Independence (1775/04/19 - 1784/01/14)
Previous action : Battle of Sadras 17.2.1782
Next action : Action off Dominique 9.4.1782


Great Britain

Unknown Division
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Success (32) 1781-1801
British 32 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
Charles Morice PoleBritish
Naval Sailor
Service 1770-1830


Unknown Division
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Santa Catalina (34) 1767-1782
Spanish 34 Gun
5th Rate Frigate
Miguel TaconSpanish
Naval Sailor
Service 1732-1832

Notes on Action

Description of the ActionB103
On the 16th of March, at daylight, the 32-giiri frigate Success, Captain Charles M. Pole, and the armed store-ship Vernon (mounting twenty-two long 6-pounders), John Falconer commander, being off Cape Spartel, on their voyage to Gibraltar, observed a strange sail ahead, standing towards them on the larboard tack, with the wind at south-west. The weather being hazy, Captain Pole at first mistook the stranger for a line-of-battle ship, and wearing round on the larboard tack, made sail away. At 2h 30m pm, observing that the Vernon was losing ground in the chase, Captain Pole shortened sail to allow her to close. Shortly afterwards, the haze clearing away, the ship in chase was discovered to be a large frigate with a poop, which, at about 5h pm hoisted Spanish colours and a commodore's broad pendant. At 6h., the Spanish frigate having approached within random shot, the Success wore and steered for the lee bow of the enemy (still on the larboard tack), apparently with the intention of crossing her bows and engaging to leeward; but having arrived within musket-shot, the Success suddenly hauled up, and passing to windward, poured a most destructive broadside into the larboard bow of her adversary. So unexpected was this clever manoeuvre of Captain Pole's that the lee guns of the Spanish frigate were fixed, under the firm belief that the enemy was to leeward. The Success then wore round, and took up her position on the lee quarter of the enemy, and being most gallantly seconded by the Vernon, the Spanish frigate having lost her mizenmast, at 8h. 20m. hauled down her colours, and was taken possession of by Lieutenant Oakley, of the Success. The prize was the Spanish 12-pounder 34-gun frigate Santa Catalina, commanded by Don Miguel Tacon, the senior officer of the squadron cruising in the Straits. Out of 300 men, the Santa Catalina had twenty-five killed and eight wounded, and the Success one killed and four wounded. The prize being very leaky, and six strange sail heaving in sight the next day, Captain Pole considered it necessary to destroy her, and she was accordingly set on fire and blown up. The Spaniards had formed a plan to take possession of the Success, but which was happily frustrated by the vigilance of the British officers.


B103Battles of the British Navy Vol IJoseph Allen, Digital Book

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