Attack in Saldanha Bay

21st July 1781
Part of : The Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780 - 1784)
Previous action : Action of 1781-05-30 30.5.1781
Next action : Battle of Dogger Bank 5.8.1781


Great Britain

British Squadron, George Johnston (1730-1787)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Romney (50) Roddam Home (d.1801)Fleet Flagship
Jupiter (50) Thomas Pasley (1734-1808)
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Active (32) Thomas Mackenzie (1753-1813)

Dutch Republic

VOC Squadron, Gerrit Harmeyer
Ship NameCommanderNotes
Middelburg (24) Justinus van Gennep Burnt
Dankbaarheid (24) Hendrik Steedsel
Honcoop (20) Nikolaas Sevie Captured
Hoogkarspel (20)  
Parel (20) Dirk Corneliszoon Plokker

Notes on Action


On July 21st, Commodore George Johnstone's squadron, on the way to the East Indies, captured five valuable prizes in Saldanha Bay. These were the Dutch East Indiamen Dankbaarheid, 24, Perel, 20, Schoonkoop, 20, Hoogcarspel, 20, and Middelburg, 24. Their masters were surprised and could not escape; they therefore cut their cables, loosed their fore-topsails, and drove on shore, where the ships were fired, and the men landed. The British boats, however, were smartly on the spot and checkmated the Dutch designs. The fires were got under on board all the ships except the Middelburg, which burnt furiously, floated off, and nearly drifted on board two of the other prizes. Finally she blew up. A hooker laden with the sails of the captured ships, was discovered hidden away, and captured. Two other hookers were taken, but restored to the Dutch inhabitants by the Commodore. The prizes were sent home, but it is noteworthy as showing the extreme insecurity of British waters at that time, that two of them had sharp fights in coming up the Channel.

The Hoogcarspel was chased by a French frigate, and had to retire to Mount's Bay, there to await an escort. The Perel was attacked by two privateers, which only retired when their ammunition was exhausted.

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