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US Frigate Hancock (II)

  • Authorized by resolution of the Continental Congress, 13 December 1775
  • Built at Newburyport, Mass., and placed under command of Captain John Manley, 17 April 1776
  • Hancock departed Boston in company with Continental frigate Boston 21 May 1777
  • On 30 May the two frigates encountered a convoy of transports escorted by the British 64-gun ship HMS Somerset which gave chase to Hancock
  • Escaping from Somerset the two frigates sailed to the northeast and on 7 June engaged the Royal Navy's 28-gun frigate Fox who tried to outsail the Americans
  • Hancock gave chase and soon overhauled Fox who lost her mainmast and suffered other severe damage in the ensuing duel
  • After Boston joined the battle Fox was compelled to strike her colors
  • Sailing along the coast of New England Hancock took an enemy coal sloop which she towed until the next morning
  • The approach of a British squadron prompted Manley to set the coal sloop ablaze and leave her adrift
  • The British gave chase and early in the morning of 8 July 1777 Hancock and Boston were within striking distance
  • HMS Rainbow began to score with her bowchaser and followed with a series of broadsides which finally forced Hancock to strike her colors after a chase of some 39 hours.
  • Taken into British service and renamed HMS Iris the frigate served the British Navy until captured by the French in the West Indies
  • When the British took Toulon in 1793 they found Iris dismantled and used as a powder hulk
  • Final Disposition, the British blew her up as they evacuated Toulon
    Displacement 763 t.
    Keel Length 136' 7"
    Beam 35' 6"
    Depth of Hold 11'
    Draft unknown
    Speed unknown
    Complement 290
    twenty-four 12-pdr guns
    ten 6-pdr guns
    Propulsion sail

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    Size Image Description Source
    Hancock (II) 36k Continental Frigates Hancock and Boston capturing British Frigate Fox 7 June 1777.
    US Navy photo from DANFS.
    Hancock (II) 96k "USS HANCOCK, BOSTON and FOX vs. HMS FLORA and RAINBOW, 7 July 1777".
    Painting by Francis Holman, 1779 of HMS Flora (left) recaptures the American prize Fox. At right, the Continental Frigate Boston escapes into the distance, while at left, HMS Rainbow is in chase of the Continental Frigate Hancock, which was finally captured the following day. Fox was formerly a British frigate, which had been taken by Hancock and Boston, 7 June 1777.
    Commissioned by Captain Brisbane, Commanding Officer of HMS Flora. Fourth of a set of four.
    Description: Courtesy of Carl L. Crossman, Childs Gallery, Boston, 1971. Purchased by Peabody Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, in 1976.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 76838
    Hancock (II) 166k "British and American Vessels in Action"
    Painting by Thomas Buttersworth of the American frigates Boston under command of Captain Hector McNeill, and Hancock under Captain John Manley, in action against the British frigate HMS Flora and British ship HMS Rainbow, off Cape Sable, Newfoundland, 7 July 1777. Following the action, HMS Fox was recaptured from the Americans by Flora, Hancock was captured by Rainbow after a 39 hour chase, and Boston escaped.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 56431. Print received from M. Knoedler and Co. Courtesy of Mr. Daniel Farr, New York City

    USF Hancock (II)
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 19 August 2016