Thursday, 17 March 2016

There's an Admiral in the port.

Plymouth-based beam trawler, Admiral Gordon is owned by Interfish, white fish processors and merchants from Plymouth.  For many years the Gordon was skippered by the popular Newlyn fisherman, Archie Donaldson before his untimely death in 2012.

In 2008 the boat, skippered by Archie, undertook a series of Seafish gear trials under the auspices of Gus Caslake investigating the potential use of outrigger trawls (a style of fishing popular in Australia) fishing for flats, langoustine and cuttlefish. 

A similar trial was carried out by the Brixham beam trawler, Linquenda back in 1983 fishing with two IC Prawn trawls on the Smalls SW of Milford. 
The full story of the Admiral Gordon trials can be read here

The Admiral Gordon is one of three identical boats, the other boats in the Interfish fleet are the Admiral Grenville and the Admiral Blake

Admiral Gordon was once described as the 'Last of Nelson's captains' and thought to be the principal model for the heroic character of CS Forester's Horatio Hornblower.  In 18811 he lost a leg after a cannonball shattered a knee in the Battle of Lissa and spent the rest of his life with a wooden leg. 

Interestingly, the prefix admiral is a misnomer for Blake who was actually ranked as a 'General at Sea' - himself being credited with being the founding father  of the British Navy and the first to introduce rules of engagement of the kind used by Nelson to defeat the French and Spanish on many occasions.

Unlike Blake, who was first and foremost a soldier, Admiral Grenville had Navy blood coursing through his veins, his father being the unlucky Robert Grenville, captain of the Mary Rose at the time of her sinking. Grenville was keen to pursue fame and fortune and with an air British superiority and the kind of thinking that would eventually lead to the creation of the British Empire he submitted this patent in 1574:

"Supplication for a new navigation, permission to seek rich and unknown lands, to discover and annex all or any lands, islands, and countries beyond the Equinoxial, or where the Pole Antarctic hath any elevation above the horizon, such lands not being already possessed by any other Christian Prince. The planting of people and habitations in strange and unknown lands. Need not offend foreign powers or provoke war, provided no attempts were made to take from other civilised nations anything they already possess. Such expeditions should be composed of voluntary adventurers; but under patronage and benediction of the Crown; the leaders having authority from the Queen to require that obedience, quiet, unity, and order be maintained. Gilbert an m'self having pointed out to her Majesty that such undertakings would provide work and livelihood for many of her subjects; and also bring honour and strength to Your Majesty with immortal fame, … besides great enrichment of Your Highness and your country, with increase and maintenance of the Navy."
Grenville was one of many Devon and Cornish sailors who plundered the high seas with their privateers (Killigrew House near Truro was one such estate built on the rewards of 'legitimate' piracy) but would go down in history as the captain of the Revenge who singlehandedly and suicidally took on 53 Spanish ships off Flores in the Azores. The battle saw him decimate the Spanish fleet in a battle over three days that cost him his life through injury - ironically, most of the fleet including the Revenge were lost in a huge storm a few days later. Tennyson's poem, 'The Revenge: A Battle of the Fleet' tells the story in graphic detail.

Closer to home, the inshore boat, Lady Hamilton boasts a connection with Britain's greatest naval commander - a story for another day.