History has been made on board Hartlepool’s iconic tourist attraction HMS Trincomalee.
A special type of gun called a sternchaser has been fired from the window of the captain’s cabin on board the ship.
Officials believe it’s the first time in more than 150 years it has happened - and possibly even the first time in Trincomalee’s long history.
Today, the ship’s trust general manager David McKnight re-lived the historic experience and told how it took a real team effort to achieve the momentous occasion.
“It took five of us most of the morning to get it into the captain’s cabin.”
He said it happened on the occasion that Trincomalee entertained a delegation of people from the Royal Northumbrian Yacht Club who were visiting from Blyth.
Trincomalee didn’t see a lot of action so the chances are that a sternchaser was never fired from her captain’s cabin, certainly not since the end of her commission which was in 1857. I can’t imagine any reason to have a long gun in the captain’s cabin in those daysHMS Trincomalee Trust general manager David McKnight
There had been plans to host a parade of sail by yacht club members, with the gun being fired in salute, but bad weather put paid to the parade of sail.
The decision was made that the gun should be fired anyway and David said: “It was really heavy, even though it was a reproduction.”
A sternchaser gun was a long gun which was used by the Royal Navy in battle to fire at pursuing ships which were chasing off the stern of a vessel - to deter an attacker from going any further. The importance of the sternchaser gun was that it protected the part of a ship which was thought to be its most vulnerable.
Its firepower was so great, it could fire an 18lb shot which could travel for a mile.
The gun used at the time, and its carriage, would have weighed about three tonnes. And even the replica weighed about three quarters of a tonne.
Yet the dedicated Trincomalee team got it into place for the historic event. The team of five people had to take the track off the gun to lift it into the cabin.
David added: “Trincomalee did not see a lot of action so the chances are that a sternchaser was never fired from her captain’s cabin, certainly not since the end of her commission which was in 1857.
“I can’t imagine any reason to have a long gun in the captain’s cabin in those days.”