Location of Wreck: Head of Deadmans Bay Depths 12ft (4m) Place and Builder: Chatham Royal Navy Shipyards, Chatham, Great Britain

HMS Psyche was one of four planned pre-fabricated frigates and brigs by the Admiralty for the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain station. She was the only frigate assembled.

Construction & Transportation #

Two vessels were designed to be 38-gun frigates known as PROMPTE and PSYCHE. The frames of the frigates were constructed out of fir, an inferior material that was not suitable for a sea-going ship but the ships were for Great Lakes use the vessels were built in Great Britain at Royal Navy Shipyards located near Chatham Great Britain and dismantled.

The pieces were transported across the Atlantic, the first of which landed at Montreal in June 1814. Prévost attempted to ease the strain on government supply lines by hiring the private contractor William Forbes to move Frigate B (Psyche) up the Saint Lawrence River to be assembled at Kingston.  It was reported that this effort cost the Royal Navy £300,000. The decision by the Admiralty was based upon the belief that there was a lack of suitable white pine growing around Kingston to build frigates this large.  Meanwhile, after receiving Prévost’s communications nixing the plan, the Admiralty re-directed the two pre-fabricated sloops to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and canceled the construction of the frigates. The communication, not being received by Prévost until October when Frigate B was nearly completed.

The speed at which William Forbes and his workers transported the frames of Frigate B to Kingston earned him a £1,000 bonus. Master Shipwright Thomas Strickland had been sent from Great Britain to take control of the construction project. With Sir James Yeo and Point Frederick yard commissioner Robert Hall, Strickland re-designed Frigate B, completely planking the upper deck, creating a spar deck which allowed an increase of armament from 38 to 56 guns. As-built, Frigate B was 130 feet (39.6 m) long between perpendiculars and 121 feet (36.9 m) long at the keel. The vessel had a beam of 36 feet 7 inches (11.2 m), a depth of hold of 10 feet 3 inches (3.1 m), and a draught of 9 feet 8 inches (2.9 m).  The frigate re-measured 769​194 tons burthen and had a complement of 280 officers and sailors. Frigate B was armed with 28 24-pounder (11 kg) long guns on its lower deck and 28 32-pounder (15 kg) carronades on its upper deck.

Service history #

Frigate B’s keel was laid on 31 October 1814 at Kingston Royal Naval Dockyard in Kingston. The frigate was launched on 25 December 1814 and was completed in early 1815. The launch of Psyche would mark that last major warship to begin its career during the War of 1812. Named Psyche, the frigate joined the Lake Ontario squadron under Sir James Yeo. On 19 March 1815, Yeo was replaced by Commodore Edward Owen who raised his pennant in Psyche.

Following the end of the war in 1815 Psyche was hauled out and placed on a slipway, the frame stripped down for preservation. The  Rush–Bagot Treaty of 1816 limited the navies on the Great Lakes to one gunboat armed with one gun, which led to the remaining fleet being disarmed.

Disposition #

The frigate remained in this condition until 1827, when, declining funds and the poor condition of the existing fleet led the Naval Commissioner to abandon hopes of refitting the existing vessels and instead start new construction. Beginning in 1832, all the vessels at Kingston were sold under the Whig government and the dockyard closed in 1835. Psyche was pulled apart on the slipway at Kingston throughout the 1830s. Those hulks that were not sold were either left to rot at Navy Bay or taken around Point Henry to Hamilton Bay (now Deadmans) and scuttled there. The exact fate is uncertain. College & Warlow have the hulk being sold. Lardas claims the hulk sank at its moorings in the late 1830s. Winfield states the HMS PSYCHE and HMS MONTREALand was taken to Deadman Bay off Kingston and sunk there. J. Moore (Parks Canada) identifies the Deadman’s Bay halls as PSYCHE and PRINCE REGENT and HMS MONTREAL off Ceder Island. A group called DeepQuest was the first to identify Gunther’s wreck as HMS MONTREAL located near Ceder Island, J.Moore with POW Kingston, at a later date conduct a separate survey and potentially confirmed DeepQuest’s research.

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