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HMS Terpsichore (commonly known simply as 'Terpsy') is a fifth-rate frigate of 32 guns and belongs to the Amazon class, and has a full complement of 220. For a list of her named officers and crew, see Terpsichores


HMS Terpsichore was a 32-gun Amazon-class fifth-rate frigate of the Royal Navy. She was built during the last years of the American War of Independence, but did not see action until the French Revolutionary Wars. She served during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, in a career that spanned forty-five years.

The Amazon class of 1773, was made up of eighteen 32-gun fifth rates with a main battery of 12-pounder guns. The first ships of the class (the Amazon, Ambuscade and Thetis) were launched in 1773; the second batch - Cleopatra, Amphion, Orpheus, Juno, Success, Iphigenia, Andromache, Syren, Iris, Greyhound, Meleager, Castor, Solebay, Terpsichore and Blonde - were launched in the years 1779 to 1787.

Terpsichore was launched in 1785, but was not prepared for active service until the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793. She was initially sent to serve in the West Indies where in 1794 Captain Richard Bowen took command, remaining her captain until his death in 1797. Several of her most memorable exploits occurred during his captaincy. Terpsichore served mostly in the Mediterranean, capturing three frigates, and in 1797 went as far as to attack the damaged Spanish ship-of-the-line Santíssima Trinidad, as she limped away from the Battle of Cape St Vincent to return to Spain. The Santíssima Trinidad mounted 136 guns to Terpsichore's 32, and was the largest warship in the world at time. Terpsichore inflicted several casualties, before abandoning the attack.

Terpsichore passed through several commanders after Bowen's death at Tenerife, and went out to the East Indies, where her commander was Captain William Augustus Montagu. While in command of Terpsichore, Montagu fought an action with a large French frigate in 1808, and though he was able to outfight her, he was not able to capture her. Terpsichore returned to Britain later that year, spent time undergoing repairs in dry-dock at Chatham Royal Dockyard, and was recommissioned in 1809 under Captain Hereward Thorburn, a distinguished frigate captain from a Norfolk family. [1]

Finding your Way Around Terpsichore[]

This is the quick and dirty guide to what can be found where. Remember - if your character is a sailor or Marine, there are certain places that are out-of-bounds unless he has extremely good reason to be there!

The Weather Deck[]

The highest deck is known as the weather deck. Aft is the quarterdeck, with the foc'sle for'rard. They are linked by narrow gangways, with beam between these two walkways where the boats are stored.

Quarterdeck3d.png This is where the captain commands from. The commissioned officers have the freedom of the quarterdeck, although when the captain is on deck, they move over to the lee side. The officer of the watch will stand here. This is also where the ship's wheel and binnacle are. The steps to the quarterdeck are guarded by Marine sentries. When coming aboard a ship for the first time, or as a visitor, it is courtesy to salute the quarterdeck, or raise your hat to it. Remember: Officers board from the starboard side and men from the larboard.
Ship's Boats 1b.png Terpsichore has several boats of varying sizes. Most of them are stored on beams running between the two gangways, although one is kept hanging from the quarter davits - sturdy oak beams projecting out from the taffrail at the aft end of the quarterdeck. This means that a boat can be launched quickly in an emergency.
Fo'c'sle A.png The foc'sle is where the offwatch sailors take their ease during the two dog-watches (between 4pm and 6pm, and 6pm to 8pm), in fine weather. They may sing and dance, or just sit and chat, or do whatever they wish to, to relax. Aft of the foc'sle is the ship's bell, used to indicate the time.


Aloft2.png Above the ship's deck tower the three great masts with their spread of canvas. The youngest and nimblest of the sailors work aloft, risking their lives in all weathers when making or handing (taking in) sail. It requires a steady nerve to climb the rigging and one slip could mean death.

The Upper Deck[]

The deck below the weather deck is the gun-deck. It is more sheltered than the weather deck, although it is still open to the elements. There is a ceiling or roof of sorts over the guns, formed by the two gangways which run fore and aft. The boats are stowed on massive beams which reduce the available headroom. Aft is the Captain's cabin or Great Cabin, guarded at all times by a Marine sentry. For'ard by the foremast is where the scuttlebutt is found - a barrel of water available to anyone to slake their thirst. In warm weather, a Marine may be posted here to limit the amount of water one man can have. Under the foc'sle itself is the sickbay, the dispensary and the galley, whose chimney may be seen just for'rard of the foremast itself.

Great Cabin3a.png The Great Cabin is the Captain's private space. It runs across the whole width of the ship, aft of the gundeck, affording the captain a large, airy space to live and work in, and to see people in private. It is guarded by a Marine sentry, as befits the man nearest to God in the ship.
Gundeck.png For'rard of the Great Cabin runs the sweep of the gundeck. Terpsichore carries 26 12-pounder guns on this deck, although only 24 are visible unless she has cleared for action (the other two are in the Great Cabin). The Navy expects its men to train every day at firing the 'great guns', even just in dumb show.
Sickbay.png The sickbay is where the surgeon treats those who are ill or who have been injured or suffered an accident. During battle, the sickbay is removed and the surgeon may be found on the orlop, below the waterline, where he will treat the wounded

The Lower Deck[]

The lower deck is where the rest of the ship's company live, with the officers aft in the gunroom, under the Great Cabin, and the Marines between them and the sailors. The petty officers have their messes screened off from the rest of the open messdeck (or berthdeck; the terms are interchangeable) by canvas screens that can be rolled up during the day to facilitate cleaning the whole deck.

Gunroom.png The gunroom is where the commissioned officers, the Master and (under certain circumstances) the surgeon live. It is kept separate from the berthdeck for'rard of it by a thin bulkhead and a Marine sentry guards the door. Each officer has his own tiny cabin, although the privacy granted is negligible due to the thinness of the boards or canvas used.
Marines Messdeck2.png For'rard of the officers is where the Marines eat, sleep and relax. Although the Marines' and sailors' areas are not delineated by any visible partition, each group keeps to themselves within the confines of the berthdeck.
Sailors Messdeck2.png This is where the sailors eat, sleep and relax.

Orlop and Hold[]

Midshipmen's Berth.png The midshipmen have their berth aft on the orlop deck. A frigate is allowed up to ten midshipmen, who have usually been granted a place by the captain as favour to someone who may in turn help him. The midshipmen are generally noisy and boisterous, but they are also 'young gentlemen' in training to (hopefully) one day become commissioned officers themselves.

Hold 1a.png

The hold is where the ship's stores are to be found, from casks of salt pork to the huge leaguers of fresh water (that isn't so fresh after a while at sea!) There is no light down here apart from the lanterns brought by working parties who come to get barrels out when they are needed. It is not unknown for ship's boys to sneak down here from time to time, although it is forbidden territory for them.

External References[]

HMS Terpsichore at Wikipedia

HMS Terpsichore and her Daring Endeavours at the HMS Acasta website

The Action between Terpsichore and Vestale in 1796 and The Action between Terpsichore and Semillante in 1808 both from Paul Benyon's site.


  1. The real Terpsichore was decommissioned in 1810, being fitted as a receiving ship at Chatham and was then laid up in ordinary at Chatham. She was broken up at Chatham in 1830. We have ignored this later history to fit with StC's timeline, keeping everything prior to the end of 1808.