HDMS Najaden (1796)

HDMS Najaden (Danish: "The Naiad
In Greek mythology, the Naiads or Naiades were a type of nymph who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, and brooks....

") was a frigate of the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy, which she served from 1796 to 1807 until the British captured her in 1807. While in Dano-Norwegian service she participated in an action at Tripoli
Tripoli is the capital and largest city in Libya. It is also known as Western Tripoli , to distinguish it from Tripoli, Lebanon. It is affectionately called The Mermaid of the Mediterranean , describing its turquoise waters and its whitewashed buildings. Tripoli is a Greek name that means "Three...

, North Africa. She served the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 as the fifth rate 
HMS Nyaden
(or Nijaden) from 1808 until 1812 when she was broken up. During her brief British service she participated in some small attacks in the Barents Sea
Barents Sea
The Barents Sea is a marginal sea of the Arctic Ocean, located north of Norway and Russia. Known in the Middle Ages as the Murman Sea, the sea takes its current name from the Dutch navigator Willem Barents...

 during the Anglo-Russian War
Anglo-Russian War (1807-1812)
The Anglo-Russian War occurred during the Napoleonic Wars. Hostilities were limited primarily to a small number of naval actions in the Baltic, though there were also attacks in the Barents Sea...



Najaden was the first ship that the great Danish naval architect F.C.H. Hohlenberg designed after he returned home from training abroad. She had several revolutionary innovations and bore more resemblance to 19th century sailing warships than 18th century examples. HMS Nymphen was the only other member of the class.

Najaden had a slab-sided hull and the typical Hohlenberg pinkie stern, with a place for two stern chaser guns. Gardiner suggests that the pink sternie and increased tumblehome towards the stern permitted the vessel to fire over the quarters. Naval warfare in the Baltic made extensive use of oared gunboats, which would fire on becalmed vessels from the quarter, an angle that normally broadside guns could not cover. The pinkie stern was unpopular with the British, who removed it when they refitted her.

Compared to many British frigates of the same period, her main gun deck ports were closer to the water (at 6 feet (1.8 m) when loaded with full supplies), and she had less carrying capacity for supplies. This made sense as Hohlenberg expected that her primary area for operations would be the Baltic. But it would have been difficult for her to be in full action in heavy weather in the open Atlantic.

Dano-Norwegian service

In the action of 16 May 1797
Action of 16 May 1797
This battle took place on 16 May 1797 near Tripoli . The Danish squadron was victorious over a Tripolitan squadron that outnumbered them in terms of the number of vessels...

, Najaden, under Captain John Hoppe, with Captain Steen Andersen Bille
Steen Andersen Bille
The name of Steen Andersen Bille is closely associated with one extended family of Danish Naval Officers over four generations. Their relationships are as follows*Steen Andersen Bille Colonel and Vice-Commandant of Copenhagen....

 in overall command, led a small squadron that also included Sarpen
HDMS Sarpen (1791)
HDMS Sarpen was brig of the Royal Dano-Norwegian Navy, which she served from 1791 to 1807 until the British captured her in 1807. While in the Dano-Norwegian service she participated in an indecisive action at Tripoli, North Africa. She served the Royal Navy as HMS Sarpen from 1808 until 1811 when...

 and a hired xebec
A xebec , also spelled zebec, was a Mediterranean sailing ship that was used mostly for trading. It would have a long overhanging bowsprit and protruding mizzen mast...

 in an attack at Tripoli. The battle lasted for about two hours before the Tripolitans retreated. The Danes suffered one man killed and one wounded. As a result of the Danish victory, the Bey
Bey is a title for chieftain, traditionally applied to the leaders of small tribal groups. Accoding to some sources, the word "Bey" is of Turkish language In historical accounts, many Turkish, other Turkic and Persian leaders are titled Bey, Beg, Bek, Bay, Baig or Beigh. They are all the same word...

 of Tripoli signed a peace treaty with Denmark on 25 May.

British service

The British captured Najaden at the Battle of Copenhagen
Battle of Copenhagen (1807)
The Second Battle of Copenhagen was a British preemptive attack on Copenhagen, targeting the civilian population in order to seize the Dano-Norwegian fleet and in turn originate the term to Copenhagenize.-Background:Despite the defeat and loss of many ships in the first Battle of Copenhagen in...

 on 7 September 1807. Lieutenant John Gore brought her home in October. She was to be renamed Hephaestion but the Admiralty canceled the name change. After refit she joined the British Navy as HMS Nyaden (sometimes given as Nijaden).

Anglo-Russian War

Nyaden was commissioned under Captain Frederick Cottrell (or Cotterell) in February 1809 and may have sailed for Greenland on 2 March. Under Cottrell Nyaden participated in at least one and possibly two actions during the Anglo-Russian War. In June 1809 her boats, under the command of her senior lieutenant, A. Wells, participated in a night raid on Kildin Island
Kildin Island
Kildin is a small Russian island in the Barents Sea, off the Russian shore and about 120 km from Norway. Administratively, Kildin belongs to the Murmansk Oblast of the Russian Federation....

 that wiped out a Russian garrison. Boats from the Nyaden also captured some 22 or 23 coastal trading vessels in the Kola River, many upriver from the present city of Murmansk. The landing party took away the fort's guns or threw them into the Kola River
Kola River
Kola is a river on the Kola Peninsula i Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It is 83 km long, with a drainage basin of 3,850 km². The river flows out of Lake Kolozero north into the Kola Bay of the Barents Sea, some 10 km south of Murmansk. The neighbouring Tuloma River has its mouth just one...


On 9 June Nyaden captured the Russian vessels Peter Metropolite, Neptune, and Magnum Brostrum, for which prize money was paid on 4 July 1811. Then on 15 June Nyaden captured two Russian vessels, the Rolla and the Czar Constantine, for which prize money was paid on 23 February 1810. Unfortunately, it is unclear what connection, if any, these vessels had with the raid on Kildin.

Nyaden was probably the vessel whose boats in July took possession of Catherine Harbour, in the ostrog or fortified settlement of Kola
Kola (town)
Kola is a town and the administrative center of Kolsky District of Murmansk Oblast, Russia, located at the confluence of the Kola and Tuloma Rivers, south of Murmansk and southwest of Severomorsk. It is the oldest town of the Kola Peninsula. Population: 11,060 ; -History:The district of Kolo...

. The British also commandeered all the stores belonging to the White Sea
White Sea
The White Sea is a southern inlet of the Barents Sea located on the northwest coast of Russia. It is surrounded by Karelia to the west, the Kola Peninsula to the north, and the Kanin Peninsula to the northeast. The whole of the White Sea is under Russian sovereignty and considered to be part of...

 Company (est. 1803 at Archangel
An archangel is an angel of high rank. Archangels are found in a number of religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Michael and Gabriel are recognized as archangels in Judaism and by most Christians. Michael is the only archangel specifically named in the Protestant Bible...

), consisting of salt, cordage etc., as well as some vessels loaded with corn. The Times reported that this was the first attack of the English upon the Russian territory, news of the attack on Kildin Island either being subsumed or overlooked. The Russian account of the incident is that a British vessel sent two boats with 35 men under a lieutenant. Kola had been demilitarized during the reign of Paul I, but its citizens quickly formed a militia corps of about 300 men under under the command of the merchant Matvey Gerasimov to resist the attack. However the Governor, fearing possible reprisals, forbade any resistance so most of population of the town (about a thousand souls) left Kola with their goods. The British sailors entered the town unopposed, sacked a wine store, looted what they could, arrested the Governor and officials, and singing their anthem, returned to their ship. They also captured all the vessels in the bay.

Leeward Islands

Nyaden sailed for the Leeward Islands on 14 January 1810. On the way, on 17 January, she and Dannemark, with Hamdryad in company, captured the brig Thomas. (Prize money was available for payment on 24 November 1812.)

On 8 and 10 July Nyaden captured the Marrimack and the Sally. (Prize money was paid on 19 November 1816.)

While she served in the Leeward Islands she suffered an epidemic of yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

 that killed 47 of her crew. On 19 April 1811 Cottrell died of "a rapid consumption" while Nyaden was off Barbados. His replacement was Captain Robert Fowler. Later, she came under the command of Captain Farmery Predam Epworth.

In the spring of 1812 she was carrying dispatches from Lisbon back to Great Britain when a flotilla of five French ships of the line that had escaped from Lorient spotted her. The French ships pursued Nyaden and shots were exchanged, but then three East Indiamen, the Northampton, Monarch and Euphrates, appeared over the horizon. The French, fearing that they might be British ships of the line, broke off the pursuit.

Post script

The British took the lines off Najaden, and they are available at the National Maritime Museum
National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England is the leading maritime museum of the United Kingdom and may be the largest museum of its kind in the world. The historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, it also incorporates the Royal Observatory, Greenwich,...

 in Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

. The Royal Danish Naval Museum holds a set of the 1795/96 plans for the Najaden, signed by Hohlenberg.
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