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HMS Brisk (1851)

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Title: HMS Brisk (1851)  
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Subject: Sunny South (clipper), HMS Encounter (1846), HMS Reynard (1848), Slavery in Africa
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HMS Brisk (1851)

Brisk captures the slave ship Emanuela
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Brisk
Ordered: 25 April 1847
Builder: Woolwich Dockyard
Cost: £47,482[1][Note 1]
Laid down: January 1849
Launched: 2 June 1851
Completed: 24 August 1853 at Devonport Dockyard
Commissioned: 24 May 1853
Decommissioned: 19 January 1869
Fate: Sold on 31 January 1870
General characteristics as built[1]
Type: Screw sloop (corvette from 1862)
Displacement: 1,474 long tons (1,498 t)
Tons burthen: Design: 1,074 81/94 bm
As built: 1,087 bm
Length: 193 ft 7 14 in (59.0 m) (gundeck)
169 ft 9 14 in (51.7 m) (keel)
Beam: 35 ft (10.7 m)
Draught: 13 ft 9 in (4.2 m) (mean)
Depth of hold: 20 ft 5 12 in (6.2 m)
Installed power: 250 nominal horsepower
505 ihp (377 kW)
(From 1864: 200 nhp & 837 ihp)
  • Scott, Sinclair & Co. 2-cylinder horizontal single-expansion steam engine
  • Single screw
(From 1864: Miller, Ravenhill & Salkeld 2-cylinder steam engine)
Speed: 7.35 kn (13.61 km/h)
(From 1864: 10 kn (19 km/h))
  • 2 × 68-pounder (87 cwt) guns
  • 12 × 32-pounder (42 cwt) guns

HMS Brisk was a 14-gun wooden-hulled screw sloop of the Royal Navy, launched on 2 June 1851 from Woolwich Dockyard.[2] She served in the Crimean War and as part of the West African anti-piracy patrol, as well as during the New Zealand land wars. She was sold in 1870.


Ordered from Woolwich Dockyard on 17 February 1847 to the same design as Rattler, she was re-ordered as an enlarged version on 25 April 1847. She was laid down in January 1849 and launched on 2 June 1851.[1]


North America and West Indies

She was sent to the North America and West Indies Station on 24 May 1853 under Commander Frederick Beauchamp Paget Seymour. Her task was to stop slave boats.

Crimean War

When war was declared she was sent on 27 March 1854 to participate in the White Sea blockading Archangel under Sir Erasmus Ommanney's squadron. Returning to England in spring of 1854 she was then sent operations on the Russian Pacific coast. She was under Commander Alfred John Curtis from 20 October. On 1 June 1855 the squadron entered the harbour of Petropalovski, but found it abandoned. The batteries and magazines were then destroyed. On 7 June an eruption of Koselskoi was witnessed.

Pacific Station

She was then assigned to the Pacific Station from 1854 until paying off at Plymouth on 13 June 1857.

Cape of Good Hope

From recommissioning on 5 May 1859 to the 24 February 1862, she served with the Cape of Good Hope Station under Captain Algernon Frederick Rous De Horsey. Apart from anti-slavery patrols, she also searched for Dr Livingstone on 15 September 1859 at the River Kongone. In November she picked up the survivors of the Barretto Junior which had run aground on Mayotto Reef from Mayotto

On 10 August 1860 she captured the Manuella in by the Mozambique Channel with more than 800 slaves aboard.[3]

West Africa

She was assigned in February 1862 to the West Africa Squadron under Captain John Proctor Luce until being paid off on 22 August 1863.

Australia and New Zealand

From October 1864 she was assigned to the Australia Station under Captain Charles Webley Hope. She was sent to relieve HMS Miranda. Sailing around the Cape of Good Hope, she arrived in Sydney on 15 January 1865. Once there she received orders to proceed immediately to New Zealand and join the squadron at Auckland. She arrived in Auckland on 5 February, with the Miranda departing the same day. The Brisk was to undertake escort duties during the New Zealand land wars.

Her first task was to take 300-400 troops of the 2nd Battalion Governor Grey Kawau on 1 May. On 15 May she received news from the Dauntless of the demise of the clipper Fiery Star. She sailed for the Chatham Islands to search for the missing passengers and crew.[4] None were found and she returned to Auckland.

On 6 August she took 300 soldiers of the 70th Regiment from Taranaki to Napier and from there she was involved in the fighting around Opotiki. In early 1866 she took soldiers of the 43rd Regiment to Taranaki. After this she left Auckland and sailed around the south sea islands, returning to Sydney on 26 September for a refit. From 10 January to 3 May 1867 she took Governor Grey on a tour around New Zealand's South Island.

In September 1868 she left the Australia Station.[2][5][6]


She was decommissioned on 19 January 1869 and lent on 31 January 1870 to the International Mid-channel Telegraph Company for commercial service.[2] Anchored some 60 miles of shore near Admiralty Patch, of Penzance Harbour in April 1870, the Brisk was part of an experimental telegraph service located at Porthcurno, Cornwall.[7][8][9] Cable breakages and sea-sickness amongst the signallers ended the venture after 2 months in June 1870.[10][11]


  1. ^ A total cost accounting for inflation of approximately £4,536,100 in today's money.


  1. ^ a b c Winfield (2004), p.213.
  2. ^ a b c Bastock, p.27.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Cruise of HMSS Brisk, New Zealand Herald, Volume II, Issue 484, 1 June 1865, Page 4
  5. ^ "Brisk"HMS . Retrieved 2010-04-02. 
  6. ^ HMS BRISK, New Zealand Herald, Volume V, Issue 1513, 30 September 1868, Page 3
  7. ^
  8. ^ Mid-ocean telegraph stations, Hawke's Bay Herald, Volume 14, Issue 1131, 1 March 1870, Page 5
  9. ^ Shipping, South Australian Register, Adelaide, SouthAustralia, Saturday 6 August 1870, page 4
  10. ^
  11. ^ 150 years of industry & enterprise at Enderby's wharf, Allan Green, Research Fellow, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, Cornwall UK


  • Bastock, John (1988), Ships on the Australia Station, Child & Associates Publishing Pty Ltd; Frenchs Forest, Australia. ISBN 0-86777-348-0
  • Winfield, Rif & Lyon, David (2004).  
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