Agamemnon was a Royal Navy third-rate ship of the line with an
armament of 64 guns. She was built at Bucklers Hard on the
Beaulieu River in the New Forest, was launched on 10 April 1781,
and served until 1809 when she was lost after running aground on
a shoal in the mouth of the River Plate.
Launched during the American War of Independence, she was
immediately put into commission. Initially destined for the East
Indies, she sighted a large Franco-Spanish fleet in the Channel
and returned home to report the news to the Admiralty. She then
joined the Channel Fleet. In December 1781, she was part of a
squadron of 12 of the line under Rear-Admiral Richard Kempenfelt
that was sent out to intercept a French fleet and convoy
expected to sail from Brest for the West Indies.
Early in 1782 she was sent out to join the British fleet in the
Leeward Islands, arriving in time to take part in the Battle of
After the end of the American War, she was laid up in ordinary
(at Chatham?) until the outbreak of the French Revolutionary
Wars in 1793.
In 1793, Agamemnon was recommissioned under Captain Horatio
Nelson and sent out to join the Mediterranean Fleet under Lord
Hood. It was during this command that Nelson lost the sight of
his right eye at the siege of Calvi, Corsica, in 1794. By 1796
she was worn out and returned home in the summer — without
Nelson, by now a commodore, who shifted his broad pennant to the
On 22 July 1805 Vice-Admiral Robert Calder was cruising off Cape
Finisterre with a fleet of 15 of the line including Agamemnon
when the combined Franco-Spanish fleet from the West Indies was
sighted to windward. The British ships formed into line with
Agamemnon fifth in line and engaged the enemy in a thick fog.
During the action Agamemnon, which had three wounded, and
Windsor Castle lost a mast. By nightfall, with his fleet
scattered across the ocean, Sir Robert made the signal to break
off the action.
On 21 October 1805 Agamemnon, by then under the command of Sir
Edward Berry, took part in the Battle of Trafalgar.
In 1806 she took part in the Battle of San Domingo.
On 20 June 1809, while putting into the River Plate in a storm,
she grounded on an unmarked reef and was lost, though without
loss of life.
In 1993 the wreck was located north of Gorriti Island in
Maldonado Bay. Expeditions led by Mensun Bound have documented
the remains and recovered a number of artifacts.