Third Rate Ship of the Line

A Third Rate in action..
Ships Data

Captured – 19th April 1782

Broken Up – 1831

Le Jason was launched on the 13th February 1779 in the port of Toulon she was designed by Joseph-Marie-Blaise Coulomb.  

On the 19th April, 1782, The two decked 64-gun French third-rate ship, “Jason”, was captured whilst in the Mona Passage that separates Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, by a squadron of ships under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Hood. 

Between 9 April 1782 and 12 April 1782 a British fleet under Admiral George Brydges Rodney engaged and defeated a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse at the battle of the Saintes, thus frustrating French plans for an invasion of Jamaica. Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood fought under Rodney during the battle, and was deeply critical of his commander for not pushing home his victory against the retreating enemy fleet. The British fleet made its way to Jamaica, from where Rodney ordered Hood to seek out any disabled or damaged French ships that had escaped the battle. Hood’s division of thirteen ships set out toward Saint-Domingue. 

Hood chased down the French ships, the faster copper-sheathed British ships outpacing the damaged French ships. HMS Valiant captured both Jason and Caton at the cost of four men killed and six wounded, whilst HMS Magnificent captured the frigate Aimable at the cost of four killed and eight wounded. The frigate Astrée however managed to escape with minimal damage. 

The captured French ships were taken back to England for further use. Jason was renamed HMS Argonaut, while Caton was used as a prisoner of war hospital ship and moored off Saltash in Cornwall. She continued in this role well into the Napoleonic Wars. Aimable was renamed HMS Aimable and served in the Royal Navy until 1811. 

Rear-Admiral Alexander John Ball (1757-1809)

In 1783, she was renamed HMS Argonaut. On January 8th 1795, whilst commanded by Captain Alexander John Ball she was involved in battle with the French and, with the assistance of HMS Oiseau; she captured the French sloop, Esperance armed with 22 guns (4 and 6-pounders), and had a crew of 130 men. She was under the command of Lieutenant de Vaisseau De St. Laurent and had been out 56 days from Rochfort, bound for the Chesapeake. Argonaut shared the prize money with Captain Robert Murray’s HMS Oiseaux. 

The French ambassador to the United States registered a complaint with the President of the United States that Argonaut, by entering Lynnhaven bay, either before she captured Esperance or shortly thereafter, had violated a treaty between France and the United States. The French also accused the British of having brought Esperance into Lynnhaven for refitting for a cruise. The President passed the complaint to the Secretary of State, who forwarded the complaint to the Governor of Virginia. The Governor inquired into the matter of the British Consul at Virginia. The British Consul replied that the capture had taken place some 10 leagues off shore. The weather had forced Argonaut and her prize to shelter within the Chesapeake for some days, but that they had left as soon as practicable. Furthermore, Argonaut had paroled her French prisoners when she came into Lynnhaven and if had entered American territorial waters solely to parole her French prisoners no one would have thought that objectionable. The authorities in Virginia took a number of depositions but ultimately nothing further came from the matter. 

Because she was captured in good order and sailed well, Rear Admiral George Murray, the British commander in chief of the North American station, put a British crew aboard and sent Esperance out on patrol with Lynx on 31 January. 

In 1797, she was reduced to harbour service and used as a Hospital Ship in the River Medway. Then, in 1822, she was moved a short distance upstream to Chatham and used in a similar role. Argonaut was eventually broken up in 1831.