HMS Hecla (1815)

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Crews of Hecla & Griper cutting into winter harbour, 26 September 1819, from the 1821 journal of the Arctic expedition.
The crews of Hecla & Griper cutting into winter harbour,
26 September 1819, from the journal of the expedition.
Name: HMS Hecla
Namesake: Hekla
Ordered: 5 June 1813
Builder: Barkworth & Hawkes, North Barton, Hull
Laid down: July 1813
Launched: 22 July 1815
Honours and
Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Algiers"[1]
Fate: Sold, 13 April 1831
General characteristics [2]
Class & type:
Tons burthen: 375 2694 tons bm
  • 105 ft (32 m) (overall)
  • 86 ft 1 14 in (26.2 m) (keel)
Beam: 28 ft 7 12 in (8.7 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 10 12 in (4.229 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged
Complement: 67
  • 10 × 24-pounder carronades
  • 2 × 6-pounder guns
  • 1 × 13-inch (330 mm) mortar
  • 1 × 10-inch (250 mm) mortar

HMS Hecla was a Royal Navy Fury-class bomb vessel launched in 1815. Like many other bomb vessels, was named for a volcano, in this case Hekla in Iceland. She served at the Bombardment of Algiers. Subsequently she took part in three expeditions to the Arctic. She then served as a survey vessel on the coast of West Africa until she was sold in 1831.

Ship history

Painting of the action by Thomas Luny

Hecla was commissioned under Commander William Popham for service in the Mediterranean.[2] Hecla saw wartime service as part of the Anglo-Dutch fleet at the bombardment of Algiers on 27 August 1816 .[3] In 1847 the Admiralty authorized the award of the Naval General Service Medal with clasp "Algiers" to all surviving claimants from the battle.

Arctic exploration

In early 1819 she was converted to an Arctic exploration ship and made three journeys to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage, and made one attempt on the North Pole, all under Lieutenant William Edward Parry or Commander George Francis Lyon, and spent many winters iced in without serious damage.

On the first journey, from May 1819 until December 1820[4] Hecla was commanded by Parry. She and her companion ship, the gun brig Griper, reached a longitude 112°51' W before backtracking to winter off Melville Island. No ship was able to travel so far west again in a single season until 1910, when Joseph-Elzéar Bernier reached Cape Dundas on Melville Island.[5] The second year, the two ships reached longitude 113°46' W before returning to England.

On her second expedition, from May 1821 until November 1823,[4] Hecla was under Lyon's command while Parry led the overall expedition from her sister ship Fury. The furthest point on this trip, the perpetually frozen strait between Foxe Basin and the Gulf of Boothia, was named after the two ships: Fury and Hecla Strait.

Ice conditions frustrated Hecla's third expedition to the Canadian Arctic, which took place from May 1824 to October 1825,[4] again in the company of Fury. Hecla was again under the command of Parry, who now was a captain. Fury was badly damaged at Prince Regent Inlet and had to be abandoned.

In 1827, Parry used Hecla for an unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole from Spitsbergen by boat, reaching 82°45' N.[4] Following this voyage, Hecla was withdrawn from Arctic service.

Commander Thomas Boteler was appointed captain of Hecla in December 1827.[2] She then was engaged in surveying the West African Coast in 1828-31. After Boteler's death in November 1829, Commander F. Harding became her captain.[4]


Hecla was put up for sale in 1831 at Woolwich.[6] She was sold in April for £1,990 to Sir E. Banks.[2]


  1. The London Gazette: no. 20939. p. 245. 26 January 1849.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Winfield (2008), p. 377.
  3. James, William (1837). Naval History of Great Britain. Vol. VI. London: Richard Bentley. p. 398. Retrieved 10 January 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "NMM, vessel ID 368380" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol i. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 10 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Pharand, Donat (1984). The Northwest Passage: Arctic straits. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff. p. 43. ISBN 90-247-2979-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. The London Gazette: no. 18788. p. 596. 29 March 1831.


External links