HMS Daedalus (1826)

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Daedalus 1.jpg
The Daedalus sea serpent of 1848
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Daedalus
Ordered: 23 July 1817
Builder: Sheerness Dockyard
Laid down: November 1822
Launched: 22 May 1826 (floated out)
Fate: Sold 14 September 1911
General characteristics
Class and type: Modified Leda-class frigate
Tons burthen: 1082 bm
  • 150 ft 10.25 in (45.9804 m) (gundeck)
  • 127 ft 4.5 in (38.824 m) (keel)
Beam: 40 ft 3.5 in (12.281 m)
Depth of hold: 12 ft 9 in (3.89 m)
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Complement: 300
  • 46 guns (original)
  • Upper deck: Twenty-eight 18-pounder guns
  • Forecastle: Two 9-pounder guns and two 32-pounder carronades
  • Quarter deck: Eight 9-pounder guns and six 32-pounder carronades

HMS Daedalus was a nineteenth-century warship of the Royal Navy. She was launched as a fifth-rate frigate of 46 guns of the Modified Leda class in 1826, but never commissioned in that role, being roofed over fore and aft and then laid up in Ordinary (reserve). After spending 18 years laid up in reserve, she was raséed (cut down) at Woolwich Dockyard into a corvette, reduced to 19 guns in 1844.

Another of the original illustrations

On 6 August 1848, Captain McQuhae of the Daedalus and several of his officers and crew (en route to St Helena) saw a sea serpent which was subsequently reported (and debated) in The Times. The vessel sighted what they named as an enormous serpent between the Cape of Good Hope and St Helena. The serpent was witnessed to have been swimming with four feet (1.2 m) of its head above the water and they believed that there was another sixty feet (18 m) of the creature in the sea. Captain McQuahoe also said that "[The creature] passed rapidly, but so close under our lee quarter, that had it been a man of my acquaintance I should have easily have recognised his features with the naked eye." According to seven members of the crew it remained in view for around twenty minutes. Another officer wrote that the creature was more of a lizard than a serpent. Evolutionary biologist Gary J. Galbreath contends that what the crew of the Daedalus saw was a sei baleen whale.[1]

In 1853 [2] the Daedalus was laid up at Plymouth Dockyard. Between March and June 1851[3] she was fitted out as a training ship, and transferred to the Royal Naval Reserve as a drill ship at Bristol. She was finally paid off from this role in September 1910, and sold in 1911 at Bristol to take to pieces.

Portrayal in popular fiction

  • Matthew Willis, Daedalus and the Deep (2013)


  1. ^ Mystery of the Daedalus Sea Serpent Solved. Skeptical Inquirer. September-October 2015
  2. ^ This date needs to be checked !
  3. ^ And so does this one !
  • "Big eels and little eels" in Eagle Annual 1968, Oldhams books limited, Holland, 1967, p 118.
  • "Don't Shoot the Albatross!: Nautical Myths and Superstitions" by Jonathan Eyers, A&C Black, London, UK, 2011, p 87.
  • Mid-Victorian ships of the Royal Navy
  • The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889 Rif Winfield and David Lyon. Chatham Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-86176-032-9.

Further reading

  • Gleason's Pictorial, 1852
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