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HMS Enterprise

Ten ships of the Royal Navy (and several British ships not commissioned into the Navy) have borne the name HMS Enterprise (sometimes spelled Enterprize).

See also the Space Shuttle Enterprise and USS Enterprise, as well as the starships of the Star Trek series.


The first HMS Enterprise (1705)[?], 24, a sixth-rate, was known as l'Entreprise before her capture from the French by HMS Triton in May 1705. She served in the Mediterranean Sea under command of J. Paul until Captain W. Davenport took command on May 19, 1707, and she saw action off Leghorn (Livorno, Italy[?]). She wrecked on October 12, 1707, off Thornton, England[?].

Table of contents

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 320 tons
  • Length: 110 feet
  • Beam: 28 feet
  • Draught: 15 feet
  • Complement: 115


The second HMS Enterprize (1709)[?], 40, was a fifth-rate built at Plymouth, England, and launched on April 28, 1709.

Under command of Nicholas Smith, she patrolled off the coast of Virginia from 1709 to 1712, with an expedition to the St. Lawrence River against French possessions in Quebec and French Canada under Rear Admiral Sir Hovenden Walker in June 1711. However, poor planning, poor supply arrangements in New England, and ignorance of the pilotage of the St. Lawrence doomed the expedition to failure, and eight transports were wrecked, with nearly 900 men drowned.

Enterprise then returned to England, and sailed in home waters until 1720. In 1718 she underwent a major repair and refit, and was thus ready in March 1719 when a small Spanish expedition landed in the western Highlands of Scotland, making its depot at Eilean Donan Castle[?] in Loch Duich[?], and raising a small force of disaffected clansmen in support of the Jacobite cause. Enterprise, in company with HM Ships Worcester[?] and Flamborough[?], was soon on the scene and, after a close-range bombardment of the castle, a landing party blew it up. The Jacobite forces and their Spanish supporters were later easily defeated at the Battle of Glenshiel[?], and the invasion scare was soon over.

Spain's intention had been for a full-scale invasion of the West of England, but their forces had been dispersed in a storm and only the West Highland landing had proceeded. In retaliation a British punitive expedition was quickly assembled and in late September 1719 Enterprise sailed as part of a strong force for the port of Vigo, Spain[?]. By October 14, bombardment from land and sea had forced the town's surrender; over 200 guns and many tons of military stores were taken as booty.

After another patrol off the Virginia coast from 1721 to 1724, Enterprise again returned to her home waters. She was stationed in the English Channel from 1729 to 1731. On February 20, 1740, Enterprise was hulked. From September 1745 she was used as a hospital ship called Liverpool and on April 3, 1749, she was sold off for £280.

General Characteristics

  • Length: 118 feet
  • Beam: 32 feet
  • Complement: 190
  • Displacement: 531 tons


The third HMS Enterprize (1743)[?], 8, was a barca longa[?] captured from Spain in 1743 in the Mediterranean and rated as a sloop by the Royal Navy. She was employed as a despatch vessel and tender, and was sold in 1748 at Minorca.


The fourth HMS Enterprize (1744)[?], 44, was originally commissioned as Norwich, 50[?], a fourth-rate, in 1718. On May 23, 1744, while the sloop described above was still in commission, the Royal Navy renamed Norwich to Enterprise while reducing her to a fifth-rate. She patrolled the Caribbean until the end of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1748, when she was laid up in ordinary.

Enterprise was recommissioned in 1756 at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War, again for service in the West Indies and North America and resuming her duties as Atlantic convoy escort. In 1762 she was present at the siege and capture of Havana, Cuba, an action involving nearly 60 warships and transports enough for more than 16,000 troops.

Enterprise was decommissioned in January 1764 and was broken up in 1771 at Sheerness.


The fifth HMS Enterprize (1774)[?], 28, was the lead ship of a class of 27 sixth-rate frigates. Enterprise was built at Deptford, England[?], launched in August 1774, and was commissioned in April 1775 under the command of T. Rich.

Enterprise served throughout the American Revolutionary War as cruiser and convoy escort.

On June 7, 1780, Enterprise, under command of Captain Patrick Leslie, was at anchor in the Bay of Gibraltar with other ships of the Royal Navy. At about 1:30am, Enterprise saw some vessels drifting toward the harbor. When they came within hailing distance, the seaman on watch called a challenge. The six drifting vessels were set afire by their crews, who made their escape in small boats, leaving the flaming hulks drifting toward the British ships. Captain Leslie fired a three-gun salvo to warn the other ships, cut his anchor lines to let Enterprise drift away from the hulks, and then opened fire on the hulks in an attempt to sink them. With the Spanish fleet waiting just outside the harbor for any British ships trying to escape, the British seamen took to small boats and, at great peril to their lives, boarded the flaming hulks to attach lines to pull them away from their own ships and burn themselves out.

After this action and continued service in the Mediterranean, she sailed on April 27, 1782, for the Leeward Islands[?] in the Caribbean, where she captured the privateer Mohawk.

Enterprise was decommissioned in 1784. From 1790 until she was broken up in August 1807, she was stationed in port in British home waters as a receiving ship, monitoring the arrival of foreign vessels.

In 1791, during the war scare known as the Spanish Armament[?], she was hulked as a receiving ship for impressed men at the Tower of London.

In 1803, another Enterprize-class frigate, HMS Resource[?] (built at Rotherhithe in 1778) was renamed Enterprize, and joined her sister ship at the Tower as another receiving ship to accommodate men taken up by another press at the end of the Peace of Amiens and the outbreak of the Napoleonic War[?].

In 1806 the original Enterprise was taken to Deptford and broken up in 1807. The second Enterprise, ex-Resource, was broken up in 1816.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 594 tons
  • Length: 120.5 feet
  • Beam: 33.5 feet
  • Complement: 200
  • Armament: 24 nine-pounder guns on a single deck, four three-pounders on the quarterdeck
  • Complement: 200 officers and men


The Honourable East India Company[?]'s armed paddle steamer Enterprise served alongside the Fleet in the First China War[?] from 1839 to 1840 and the Second Burmese War[?] in 1852, but was not a commissioned warship and so not entitled to the "HMS" prefix.


The sixth HMS Enterprise (1848)[?] was a new-built merchant vessel purchased by the Admiralty in 1848 to be fitted and strengthened for Arctic exploration in search of Sir John Franklin[?]'s lost expedition. Enterprise made two voyages to the Arctic, the first via the Atlantic in 1848-1849, then in 1850-1854 via the Pacific and the Bering Straits[?].

From 1860 she was lent to the Commissioners of Northern Lights for use as a coal hulk at Oban[?], and from 1889 she was lent to the Board of Trade. She was sold in 1903.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 471 tons


The seventh HMS Enterprise (1864)[?] was a sloop of war[?] launched in 1864 at Deptford Dockyard. Originally laid down as a wooden screw sloop, she was redesigned and completed as an ironclad, making her one of the first vessels of composite construction. She was designed by Edward Reed. Her keel was laid down May 5, 1862, at the Royal Dockyards, Deptford, England[?]. She was launched on February 9, 1864, and completed on June 3, 1864. She served with the Mediterranean Fleet until 1871 when she was placed in reserve; she was assigned to harbor service at Chatham in 1875. On February 23, 1884, she was sold, and in November 1886 was broken up.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 1350 tons full
  • Length: 180 feet
  • Beam: 36 feet
  • Draught: 12.4 feet to 15.1 feet
  • Propulsion:
    • Barque-rigged, 18,250 square feet of sail
    • Ravenhill horizontal steam piston engine, two 45-inch cylinders with an 18-inch stroke producing 160 horsepower at 90 rpm on one shaft
  • Speed: 9.9 knots
  • Fuel: 95 tons coal
  • Complement: 130
  • Armament: two 100-pounder "Somersets," two 110-pounder breachloaders, replaced in 1868 by four seven-inch muzzle-loading rifled guns
  • Armor belt: iron plate, 4.5 inches thick, from below the load line to the upper decks
  • Cost: £62,464


An uncommissioned tug named Enterprise was in service at Portsmouth Dockyard from 1899 to 1919 when she was renamed Emprise. (She continued to serve until 1947.)


Two uncommissioned hired drifters served during World War I. Enterprise was an auxiliary patrol anti-submarine net drifter with Harwich Local Forces from 1914 to 1918; Enterprise II was originally based at Larne[?] but transferred to Italian waters in November 1915. In March 1916 she struck a naval mine off Brindisi[?] and sank with eight casualties.


The eighth HMS Enterprise (1926)[?] was an Emerald-class light cruiser designed and built by John Brown and Company of Clydebank, Scotland[?], who laid her keel down on June 28, 1918. She was launched on December 23, 1919. Final fitting-out proceeded slowly, and she was commissioned on March 31, 1926 in Devonport.

Until 1937 Enterprise served with the 4th Cruiser Squadron in the East Indies. On September 30, 1938, she was reduced to reserve service. In October 1939, she was recommissioned and began to escort Atlantic convoys and serving in the Northern Patrol at Scapa Flow.

In April and May 1940, Enterprise took part in the Norway Campaign. On April 19, a torpedo attack by U-65[?] missed, and on April 24 she bombarded German positions near Narvik, Norway[?].

After the fall of France in June 1940, Enterprise joined Force H at Gibraltar and took part in various operations in the Western Mediterranean. In September 1940 she was transferred to the South Atlantic for trade protection and escort duties.

In 1941, Enterprise moved to the Indian Ocean to suppress the revolt of Rashid Ali[?] in Iraq in May and April of 1941. From March 11 to March 18 she entered refit and repair at Colombo. In December she helped escort troop ships to Singapore and Rangoon, Myanmar, and then joined the Eastern Fleet under Admiral Sir James Somerville, taking part in protection of trade for the next year. On December 25, 1942 she returned to Clyde for refit and modernization. On October 31, 1943, she returned to service, and on December 28, 1943, in the Bay of Biscay, Enterprise and HMS Glasgow intercepted a force of eleven German destroyers, the tardy escort for their blockade runner Alsterufer (which had been sunk the previous day by air attack). Three of the destroyers, T-25, T-26 and Z-27, were sunk and four damaged.

From February 3 to February 29, 1944 she was docked at Devonport for refit, and from March 27 to March 31 she was fitted for missile jamming gear at Devonport. Enterprise was then assigned to Task Force 122 Western Naval Forces, under the command of Rear Admiral Alan G. Kirk. Her sub-group was TF125 Assault Force "U" (for Utah Beach). In June 1944 Enterprise took part in the Allied landings in Normandy as part of the bombarding force, serving with USS Nevada (BB-36), HMS Black Prince[?], and USS Quincy (CA-71).

On June 25, 1944, Enterprise departed Portland to support troops at Cherbourg. She fired on Querqueville[?], silencing the German guns there.

On January 5, 1945, Enterprise was placed in reserve service at Rosyth. In May she helped return British troops from the Far East, and on January 13, 1946, returned to the United Kingdom for the final time. On April 11 she was sold off, and on April 21 she arrived at Newport for scrapping.

Enterprise received battle honors for her service in the Atlantic in 1939 and 1940, Norway in 1940, the Bay of Biscay in 1943, and Normandy in 1944.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 7580 tons standard, 7335 tons light, 9435 tons full
  • Length: 570 feet
  • Beam: 54.5 feet
  • Draught: 16.5 feet
  • Propulsion:
    • four sets of Brown-Curtis geared steam turbines
    • eight Yarrow 250psi boilers making 80,000 horsepower
  • Speed: 32 knots
  • Range: 1,350 nautical miles at 32 knots, 8,000 nautical miles at 15 knots
  • Fuel: 1746 tons of oil
  • Complement: 572
  • Armament: seven six-inch guns, five four-inch guns, three quadruple 21-inch torpedo tubes mounts upgraded in 1929 to four quadruple mounts
  • Searchlights, two 36-inch, two 24-inch


The ninth HMS Enterprise (A 71)[?] was an Inshore Survey ship built by M.W. Blackmore & Sons of Bedeford and commissioned in 1959.

With her sister ships HMS Echo[?] and Egeria[?], Enterprises career was spent in hydrographic surveys of the seas, sandbanks, and coastlines of the East Coast and Eastern English Channel. She was well-known around the harbours of Eastern England, and showed the flag on many official visits to Belgian, Dutch, and German ports on the North Sea coast, and as far up the Rhine as Cologne. After the American television series Star Trek became popular, Enterprise inevitably became known throughout the Royal Navy as "the Starship." She was put up for disposal by sale in 1985.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 120 tons standard, 160 tons full
  • Length: 32.6 meters
  • Beam: 7.0 meters
  • Draught: 2.1 meters
  • Propulsion: Twin diesels
  • Endurance: 4500 nautical miles at 12 knots
  • Speed: 14 knots
  • Complement: 2 officers, 16 enlisted
  • Armament: none


The tenth HMS Enterprise (A88)[?] (and her sister ship HMS Echo[?]) are multi-role SVHOs -- Survey Vessels (Hydrographic/Oceanographic) -- built by Appledore Shipbuilders[?] under the prime contractor Vosper Thornycroft[?]. Enterprise was launched on April 27, 2002, and officially named by the ship's sponsor, Mrs S Forbes, at her Naming Ceremony on May 2, 2002. She is scheduled to complete contractor trials in January 2003, then to be delivered to the Royal Navy in March 2003. She will undergo around four months of naval trials before joining the Fleet in July 2003.

Enterprise is designed to collect an array of military hydrographic and oceanographic data both on and off the continental shelf, and to support mine warfare and amphibious operations. She is designed and built to Lloyd's Naval Ship Rules[?].

Enterprises crew consists of 72 personnel, with 48 onboard at any one time, working a cycle of 75 days on, 30 days off. The ship can accommodate 81 personnel if necessary. The ship is operationally available 330 days a year. In support of this high availability, all accommodation and recreational facilities are designed for an unusual (in a warship) degree of comfort. All personnel share double cabins with private facilities, except the Captain and Executive Officer who both have single cabins.

Echo and Enterprise are the first Royal Navy ships to be fitted with azimuth thrusters[?]. Both azimuth thrusters and the bow thruster can be controlled through the Integrated Navigation System by a joystick providing high manoeuvrability. Complete control and monitoring for power generation and propulsion, together with all auxiliary plant systems, tank gauging and damage control functions is provided through the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), accessible through workstations around the ship.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 3470 tonnes
  • Length: 90 meters
  • Range: 9300 nautical miles at 12 knots
  • Endurance: 35 days
  • Power: diesel-electric, three generators, totalling 4.8 MW
  • Propulsion: two 1.7 MW azimuth thrusters and one 0.4 MW bow thruster
  • Speed: 15 knots
  • Sensors:
    • Multi beam echo sounder
    • Single beam echo sounder
    • Survey Planning and Processing Systems
    • Side-scan sonar
    • Oceanographic Probe and sensors
    • Undulating Oceanographic Profiler
    • Doppler Current Log
    • Sub-bottom Profiler
    • Bottom Sampling Equipment
  • Auxiliary vessel: motor boat fitted with multi-beam sonar and sidescan sonar
  • Complement: 72 ship's company, 48 onboard; accommodation for 81
  • Ship's Motto: spes aspera levat: hope lightens difficulties
  • Affiliation: Tiverton town



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