What is it about?

When Nelson adopted Agincourt Sound in the north of Sardinia as a logistic base for the Mediterranean Fleet he relied on reconnaissance surveys made by officers and masters of the Royal Navy to supplement the information in inadequate commercial charts. This article identifies the personnel who conducted the work, describes their methods, and explains how the vital navigational intelligence was disseminated for the fleet.

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Why is it important?

The received wisdom at the time, and in many standard histories of the period, was that the eighteenth century Royal Navy had little appreciation of the importance of hydrographic data for front-line operations and contributed little to its collection. This article arises from a larger study, based on examination of surviving records in official archives, that will challenge this assumption and describe extensive efforts during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. This enabled Captain Thomas Hurd, Hydrographer to the Admiralty Board, to spot talented practitioners and to make the case to form them into a specialist cadre.


The research for this article tapped into underused primary material enabling fresh appraisal of the role of personnel in the fleet who do not make it onto the pages of accounts of the head-line actions of the Great War with Revolutionary and Napoleonic France.

Captain RN Michael Kenneth Barritt

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This page is a summary of: Agincourt Sound Revisited, The Mariner s Mirror, April 2015, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/00253359.2015.1022413.
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