Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
HMS Royal George
In 1782 HMS Royal George under the command of Richard Kempenfelt was preparing to sail with a fleet commanded by Admiral Lord Howe to Gibraltar, and the ships were anchored at Spithead to take on supplies. Royal George was being heeled at an angle to allow for minor repairs below the waterline, while at the same time rum casks were being loaded aboard. It is believed that during these operations the lower deck gunports were not properly secured causing an inrush of water. The ship rolled over rapidly, and sank, taking with her around 800 people, including up to 300 women and 60 children who were visiting the ship in harbour.
A court martial failed to attribute blame and acquitted the officers and crew (many of whom were dead), blaming the accident on the "general state of decay of her timbers."
The incident ranks as the worst single peace time disaster in the history of the Royal Navy.
The wreck of the Royal George, was investigated in an early example of diving. The wreck close to the site of Mary Rose was destroyed with explosives in the early 1840s.
David Hepper - British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859 (1994)
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