She was the French privateer MARQUIS DE VANDREVIL and captured in 1757 by the British.
28 April 1757 bought by the Royal Navy and renamed HMS RACEHORSE.
Tonnage 385 tons burthen, dim. 90.7 ft. length of deck, beam 30.8ft. and depth in hold 13.4ft.
After bought, first classed as fire ship, but later refitted in a bomb-vessel. The deck plan dated 18 September 1758 clearly shows her ship rigged.
Her primary role being not engage other vessels but instead bombard enemy targets ashore; hence the name Bomb or Bomb Vessel.
As bomb-vessel she had an armament of 1 – 13 inch mortar, 1 – 10 inch mortar, 8 – 6 pdrs. and 12 swivels.
In 1773 was she modified and fitted out for an Arctic exploration, on 19 April 1773 Capt. Constantine John Phipps the later Lord Mulgrave was appointed to her. He received orders to sail with her and the HMS CARCASS under command of Capt. Skeffington Lutwidge, as close as possible to the North Pole. On board was also Philippe d’Auvergne.
Contrary winds and other factors prevented sailing until 2 June. On 22 June they made a landfall off the coast of Spitsbergen where they found the weather temperate and the sea free of ice. But on 5 July, they discovered ice lying N.W. to E with no apparent opening to the north. On the 19th, in misty weather the ships worked into a roadstead called by the Dutch, Vogel Sang, and anchored in 11 fathoms. When the weather cleared on 17th Capt Phipps was able to climb a hill and could see several leagues to the N.E. where the ice appeared uniform and compact. On the 18th they tried again to penetrate the ice but by the 31st they were unable to move further and moored themselves to the edge of the field where the ice was over 20 feet thick. On the 1 August their latitude was 80.37 and the ice continued to build around them and in some places it was higher than the main-mast. On the 3rd the ship’s companies tried to cut a passage to the westward but by evening the ships had moved less than 300 yards. On the 7th Capt Phipps returned to the ship after hauling the launch over the ice for about two miles, to find that the ice was more open and, by hoisting the sails to take advantage of a little wind, the ships were moved about a mile. By taking every opportunity of forcing the ships through the ice and moving the boast across the ice to the water’s edge.
As there was thick fog it was difficult to see what progress was being made, but on the 9th the ships moved through some small openings and they found that they had overtaken the boats. The next morning the wind increased and they hoisted all sail to force the ships through the ice with such violence that the shank of RACEHORSE’s best bower anchor was broken at on stroke.
Having failed to find any other openings in the ice Capt. Phipps quitted Greenland waters on 22 August. On 7 September they reached the Shetland Islands and had to fight through a succession of gales until they made Orfordness on the 24th (25th). During this voyage the RACEHORSE lost three boats and had to heave two guns overboard.
The stamp depicts the two vessels in the ice, and the crews hauling the longboat over the ice to open water. The design is after a painting made by John Cleverly (the younger) who may have been on board this voyage. There is now indication of which ship is which.
During the voyage she discovered Walden Island and reached Seven Islands.
After her return under command of Lieut. James Jones she sailed for the Caribbean, where she was captured by the Continental Navy ship ANDREW DORIA in December 1776.
After the ANDREW DORIA sailed from St.Eustatius with on board a cargo of munitions and military supply bound for Philadelphia.
December 1776 while passing Puerto Rico she sighted HMS RACEHOURSE a 12gun sloop of the Royal Navy.
After a two hour battle Lieut. Jones struck her colors.
After an American prize-crew was put on board with the orders to sail her to Philadelphia, where she arrived early January 1777.
She was later bought by the Continental Navy and renamed SURPRIZE, some web-sites on the Continental Navy gives her name as SURPRISE.
15 November 1777 destroyed by the Royal Navy in Delaware Bay.
Jersey 1987 11p sg417, scott? (the other vessel on the stamp is the HMS CARCASS.)
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