1697 - Launch of ASSOCIATION

1st January. The 2nd rate ship Association of 90 guns was launched from the Dockyard. She was part of Admiral Sir George Rook’s Anglo-Dutch fleet of 25 sail-of-the-line that attacked a Spanish treasure fleet protected by a French squadron of 13 ships-of-the-line on 12th October 1702 that became known as the Battle of Vigo (in Spain). The treasure fleet lay behind a protected boom with shore batteries guarding the approaches to Vigo. Vice-Admiral Hopson in command of the 80 gun Torbay broke through the boom and opened the way for his squadron to enter the harbour. The Dutch landed troops that silenced the gun batteries ashore. In the fierce battle that followed the French squadron were severely savaged. Ten French sail-of-the-line were captured or destroyed and eleven treasure ships were taken as prizes. It was reported that every ship in the harbour was burnt and that the treasure amounted to £1 million. The Allied losses in ships were nil and casualties described as light. Other Portsmouth built ships formed part of Rook’s fleet.

The Association was the flagship of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell when of 22nd October 1707 she was wrecked on the Scilly Isles along with the 70 gun Eagle, 50 gun Romney, and the fire-ship Firebrand. The high loss of life was a terrible disaster for the Royal Navy and Shovell who had started his naval career as a rating was greatly mourned.