HMS Implacable former french Duguay-Trouin, 74-gun third rate (launched 1800 - scuttled 1949)


Staff member
Dec 25, 2017

Vienna, Austria
during searching something I found one film of the scuttling this old vessel, I remembered her history which I want to share with you

HMS Implacable was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy.
She was originally the French Navy's Téméraire-class ship of the line Duguay-Trouin, launched in 1800.

She survived the Battle of Trafalgar only for the British to capture her at the subsequent Battle of Cape Ortegal. In British service she participated in the capture of the Imperial Russian Navy 74-gun ship of the line Vsevolod (Russian: Всеволод) in the Baltic in 1808 during the Anglo-Russian War. Later, Implacable became a training ship. Eventually, she became the second oldest ship in the Royal Navy after HMS Victory, Lord Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar. When the Royal Navy finally scuttled Implacable in 1949, she flew both the French and British flags side-by-side as she sank.

from Royal Museum Greenwhich

More details about her history you can find f.e. in wikipedia

The big tragedy was her end.
(In the following an excerpt of an article )

The HMS Victory now lies in dry dock at Portsmouth. She was Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar and on her deck, at the height of the battle on 21 October 1805, Nelson was mortally wounded by the musket-ball of a French naval sniper. No wonder that Victory, the only surviving ship from the battle, is a national shrine.
But within living memory, she was not the only survivor.

The HMS Implacable, a seventy-four-gun warship of the line, still lay anchored off Falmouth and later off Portsmouth as a training vessel and a floating hostel for youth groups.
But then the Admiralty, the authority commanding Britain’s navy, grew tired of maintaining her elderly timbers and – deaf to protests – towed her out to sea and blew her to bits.

In the end, in late 1949, the friends of Implacable accepted defeat. But now came an exquisite episode in Britain's long practice of inventing tradition and turning truly squalid occasions into pageantry. Implacable's end, though decided by nothing more noble than a lack of cash, was transformed into a state funeral, a majestic burial at sea.

The stern gallery of HMS Implacable, formerly the Duguay-Trouin, on display at the National Maritime Museum.

First the carpenters sawed off the warship's figurehead, a towering bust of Medusa with a headful of writhing serpents. Then they removed the whole ornamental stern, a double-decker gallery of windows separated by pilasters. (Both relics now occupy a single wall in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich). Finally, on 2 December 1949, the old Implacable was packed with explosive charges and loaded with 450 tons of iron ballast. Flying the white ensign and the French tricolour side by side, she was towed out to sea, escorted by modern warships carrying a party of admirals, sea lords and other senior naval staff.

Somewhere out in the English Channel, south of the Owers lightship off the Sussex coast, the moment came. The escorting warships stopped their engines, flags were lowered to half-mast, a Royal Marine bugler in white gloves blew the Last Post, the admirals snapped to attention and came to the salute, and the charges were detonated.

Figurehead of HMS Implacable in Neptune Court of the National Maritime Museum

That should have been the end of Implacable. But it was not. The engineers had bungled. They had made the mistake of doubling the size of the explosive charges in order to “make sure”. As a result, the explosion blew the deck off, separating it from the rest of the ship which promptly sank. The deck, however, continued to float on the surface, the two flags still fluttering in the sea breeze. Deeply embarrassed, the escort vessels hung around this jaunty remnant, hoping vainly that it would break up, until the winter daylight began to fade and they were obliged to return to Portsmouth.

Nothing more was heard of the Implacable for some days, until the planking of the upper deck washed up on the shores of France which the Duguay-Trouin had left 152 years before.

There were long-term consequences. Those who wanted to save historic ships saw that they must organise themselves more effectively. A few years later, they managed (yet again with royal help, from Prince Philip) to save the old tea-clipper Cutty Sark and preserve her in a dry-dock at Greenwich. In 1970 the Maritime Trust was founded, followed in 1979 by the World Ship Trust which is now restoring over 400 historic vessels and has three times as many on its books. The motto of the World Ship Trust is “Implacable – Never Again”.

some more photos of this vessel