HMS Griper

William Edward Parry sailed from London on 11 May 1819 commanding two 3-masted sailing ships; the 375 ton HMS Hecla and the 180 ton HMS Griper. Their destination was the Northwest Passage.

The Griper was by far the inferior of the two ships being described as "one of these paltry Gunbrigs.....utterly unfit for this service!" (A.Parry; Parry of the Arctic ). Their departure had previously been delayed as the condition of the Griper was described as being "so crank as to cause apprehensions to be entertained for the safety of the officers and crew". She was so slow that she had to be towed by the Hecla part of the way across the Atlantic. However, they successfully travelled further West along the Northwest Passage than any European had previously achieved. After wintering at Melville Island they returned to London in November 1820.

During 1823, the vessel, under the command of Captain Douglas Clavering, conducted a voyage to Greenland and Norway, conveying astronomer Edward Sabine who took observations on behalf of the Board of Longitude. A further note to this voyage occurred on an island later named Clavering Island, where, in August, the expeditioners made the first and only European contact with the now extinct North Greenland Inuit..

In 1824, the Griper was refitted for a further Northwest Passage expedition, sailing to Wager Bay in support of the Hecla and HMS Fury. She departed on 3 July 1824, and proceeded in company with the survey vessel Snap. On this occasion, she was carrying a land component of men under the command of Captain Lyon.


  • Lyon, G. F. A Brief Narrative of an Unsuccessful Attempt to Reach Repulse Bay, Through Sir Thomas Rowe's "Welcome," in His Majesty's Ship Griper, in the Year MDCCCXXIV. London: J. Murray, 1825. googlebooks Retrieved September 27, 2008
  • Fleming, Fergus. Barrow's Boys. London: Granta Books, 1998.

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