1732 - Launch of CENTURION
6th January. The 4th rate ship Centurion of 60 guns was launched from the Dockyard. She was Anson’s flagship when he circumnavigated the world 1740-44.
Anson was a post-captain at the beginning of the war with France and Spain in 1740. He was given command of a squadron of six ships with the rank of Commodore and sailed from Portsmouth on 19th September 1740 to harass the Spanish possessions in the Pacific; in particular the treasure ships that sailed yearly from Acapulco in Mexico across the Pacific to Manila
He met bad weather in the South Atlantic that scattered his ships and mortality from scurvy reduced his crews. Anson rounded the Horn and reach the rendezvous at Juan Fernandez with just 30 men left fit for duty. Later two more of the squadron join him. Two were wrecked rounding the Horn and the other had to turn back to England. Anson raided numerous settlements and shipping; causing alarm far and wide among the Spanish possessions. By the middle of 1743 Anson’s force was reduced to just the Centurion.
On 20th June off the Philippines she encountered the Spanish ship Nuestra Senora de Covadonga which after a brief fight surrendered to Anson, who discovered her to be a treasure ship of enormous wealth. Anson and the Centurion returned home 15th June 1744 and the treasure he brought was valued at more than £500,000 and was paraded through the streets of London in thirty two wagons. Anson’s voyage around the world has survived as one of the finest feats of seamanship and navigation in the annals of the Royal Navy. It was said only four men died from enemy action but over 1,300 died from disease, mainly scurvy.