Battle Of Sadras

The Battle of Sadras was the first of five largely indecisive naval battles fought between a British fleet under Admiral Sir Edward Hughes and French fleet under the Bailli de Suffren off the east coast of India during the American War of Independence. The battle, which was fought on 17 February 1782 near present-day Kalpakkam, was indecisive, but the British fleet suffered the most damage, and the troop transports that Suffren was protecting were able to land their troops at Porto Novo.

Suffren was hampered by the need to protect the troop convoys from Hughes, whose goal he presumed was to prevent the troops from landing. Detaching one corvette to protect the convoy and detailing another to watch the British fleet, he attempted to draw Hughes away. However, under cover of night Hughes managed to slip between Suffren's squadron and the convoys. The signal was raised on the morning of 17 February, and Suffren gave chase to force battle.

When the fleets closed for action around 15:30, some of Suffren's ships had not properly formed the line of battle, and only five of the French ships engaged at first, and of the remaining six, only two joined the action later, with the other four apparently violating Suffren's orders and hanging back. Suffren, leading in Héros, exchanged a broadside with Exeter before targeting Hughes' flagship Superb. The battle lasted for over three hours, with Exeter taking the worst damage. She was very nearly sunk, but two French ships were recalled (for reasons unknown) before they could finish her off. Superb also suffered significant damage. The battle came to end with the onset of night.