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Forgotten warship discovered 250 years after being wrecked by a storm.

Ian Harvey

An iconic warship of the 1700s is set to be excavated in one of the most notable rescue missions of the past three decades. Her name is the HMS Invincible. This titanic 74-gun ship set out to overrun the French at Fort Louisbourg in the mid 18th century, but was dealt its first and final blow at the hands of a massive storm and disappeared for over two centuries.

Luckily, in 1979, a fisherman caught some timbers inside of his nets, which had been tangled on the sandbanks at the bottom of the sea. Now, a grant of £2,000,000 has allowed a team to excavate the famous warship. This grant was one of Chancellor Osborne’s last acts before he left his post. The funding came directly from the fines of big banks for the unlawful acts that occurred as part of the Libor lending system.

The ship had two decks and a crew of over 700 soldiers, and was originally built for the French navy as L’Invinciple. In 1748, she was captured by the Royal Navy and her name was Anglicized to Invincible.



The Royal Navy has a tradition of recycling the names of famous ships, here is a timeline of all the ships named HMS Invincible:

1744: The Invincible set sail for the first time before it was captured by England in 1747, where it served faithfully for over a decade before it was sunk in Solent.

1765: The second Invincible lasted three and a half decades in service before it was sent to another early retirement when it grounded in Norfolk, killing hundreds of soldiers on board. The wind and waves decimated the ship.

1808: Practically identical to the same style as the first two ships, the 1808 version of the Invincible had exactly 74 guns but with a little bit of a twist. The ship served as a coal hulk and lasted over 60 years before it was broken up in the year 1861.

1869: The Invincible warship was back in the field. Shockingly, the battleship sank during a storm off the coast of Dorset.

1907: This version of the Invincible was the first ever battlecruiser. Even though it battled alongside other ships during the First World War, it was by far the slowest battlecruiser in the English arsenal. The ship was the first to be destroyed in battle due to a magazine explosion.

1977: The last installment of the lineage to date was a light aircraft carrier that was in action for almost 30 years. It was retired in 2005 before it was scrapped and bought by Turkey six years later.

The Invincible after her capture

The Invincible after her capture

Although there have been plenty of Invincibles since the Royal Navy first captured the French warship, the original is the most prominent from a historical standpoint. Traveling across the seas around the West Indies and through Nova Scotia, the boat ran aground on a terrible day in 1758. Three days later, the boat was finally dragged into the sea by a storm, sinking it for good.

The remains of the Mary Rose's hull Photo Credit

The remains of the Mary Rose’s hull Photo Credit

Two decades before the second millennium, the Invincible was named as a Historic Shipwreck. Excavation is set to start soon, so stay tuned for all of the relics in store.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News