The Hazardous (formerly Le Hazardeux)


Heritage Category:
Maritime Wreck
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Bracklesham Bay, off West Sussex


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Bracklesham Bay, off West Sussex
Marine Location Name:
National Grid Reference:


Remains of 1706 wreck of a British Third Rate ship of the line which was beached in Bracklesham Bay during a storm. Acting as an escort for a convoy en route from Chesapeake Bay to the Thames Estuary, she took shelter in St Helen's Roads, Isle of Wight, but was forced to beach in Bracklesham Bay. Originally a French Third or Fourth Rate ship of the line, she had been captured by the English three years previously and refitted for the Royal Navy.

Reasons for Designation

The warship Hazardous is designated a Protected Wreck Site for the following principal reasons:

Archaeological: The Hazardous is a rare survival of a 54-gun Ship of the Line;

Historical: The ship is a rare survival of a naval vessel directly associated with the convoying of goods direct from Chesapeake Bay (America) to England during the early Colonial Period of American history;

Vulnerability: Component parts of the warship and its artefacts remain vulnerable to uncontrolled salvage.


Built in 1698 in Port Louis, France, the Hazardous (originally Le Hazardeux) was loaned to de Beaubriand of St. Malo for use as a privateer in 1703. She was spotted by three British ships led by Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, and after six hours of fighting was taken as a prize.

In company with several other ships inbound from America, the Hazardous was coming to anchor off Portsmouth in November 1706 when she missed stays twice, and the anchor failed to come home. She went aground on a sandbank between Selsey and East Wittering, and was wrecked. Captain John Lowen of the Advice, senior ship in company, was found to have been negligent in failing to order ships to anchor earlier, and failing to indicate the presence of shallow water to the Hazardous.

A gun was raised from the vicinity of the site in 1966 but the wreck was not relocated again until 1977. The site is being surveyed and investigated by a team forming the 'Hazardous Project'.


Designation History: Designation Order: (No 1), No 1441, 1986 Made: 21st August 1986 Laid before Parliament: 1st September 1986 Coming into force: 22nd September 1986 Protected area: 50m within 50 45.10 N 000 51.47 W

Designation Order: No 287, 1988 Made: 19th February 1988 Laid before Parliament: 26th February 1988 Coming into force: 18th March 1988 Protected area 100m within 50 45.10 N 000 51.47 W

Designation Order: No 773, 2017 Made: 18th July 2017 Laid before Parliament: 19th July 2017 Coming into force: 18th August 2017 Protected area 150m within 50 45.10 N 000 51.47 W

No part of the restricted area lies above the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides.

Documentary History: The Hazardous was formerly the French vessel Le Hazardeux and originally a Third Rate ship of the line with 50 guns. She was built of pine and oak in Port Louis, France, in 1698. On completion, she displaced 725 tons and was 137 feet long with a 38 foot beam. She was captured in 1703 by the Warspite and Orford in company with other ships and although badly damaged during the engagement, she was refitted for service in the Royal Navy. After repairs her displacement weight had increased and her armament, including some of the French guns, increased to 54.

In September 1706, the Hazardous sailed from Chesapeake Bay (America) along with three other warships escorting a convoy of 200 ships to the Thames Estuary. Despite appalling weather she arrived off the southern tip of the Isle of Wight in November where she sought shelter in St Helen's Roads. After missing several stays she was eventually forced to run before the gale into shore. Trapped on a lee shore, the captain, Lieut. John Hares, ran the ship ashore at high water to save his crew.

Archaeological History: In 1966, a gun was raised from the vicinity of the wreck but it was not until 1977 that local divers discovered two guns protruding from the seabed. Recovery of late seventeenth/early eighteenth century artefacts followed by survey and excavation in the mid- to late 1980s of the remaining hull established that the remains of Hazardous comprised principally the lower hull. The remains of the wreck lie in fine sand and silt to the north and on rock formations to the south, east and west, in a general sea bed depth of 7 metres.

Remains of the hull are in two parts: the larger part, thought to be the bow lying to the north and the other, of lighter construction thought to be the stern, lying to the south. These remains extend some 42 metres and 13 metres respectively along a north-south axis. Most of the bow remains buried. There appeared to have been a transverse breach of the hull at the amidships section and forward of this, the bow section had become buried within the seabed. The port side appears to survive to a slightly higher level than the starboard side and the stern has faired less well due to shallower sediments. Certain aspects of the construction also suggest that this ship was built according to French design. For example, the distance between each set of station frames of 3 metres is considered a typical feature of French ships of this period. Further, the cant frames near the bow and stern are fitted at an angle, a method of construction that was in use in France by 1698 but not used in England until 1715.

During the late 1980's changes in erosion patterns were noticed with timbers, concretions and artefacts being freshly exposed. Due to the excellent state of preservation of the timbers it was assumed that the wreck had remained relatively stable from the time of wrecking until the early 1980's. Excavation was therefore carried out in 1988 and 1989 with a trench forward on the port side establishing the extent of the remains buried towards the bow of the ship. However, due to financial constraints and a backlog of work required on artefacts raised, excavation was not continued after 1989. A collection of artefacts can still be viewed at Earnley Gardens, near Bracklesham, West Sussex.

The principal threat to the wreck is from the continuing fluctuation of sand cover with progressive destruction of extensive areas of the ship on exposure. The continuing degradation of the remains has led to the authorisation to recover material exposed on the surface to prevent loss of artefacts.

The site has an established and active Diver Trail scheme run and organised by the Hazardous Project group.

Remote sensing, undertaken in 2014 by Wessex Archaeology for Historic England, revealed two seabed anomalies lying some 25m east of the current Restricted Area. A further anomaly lies <10m to the south-west. The western anomaly has since been confirmed by the Licensed Team as being a cannon most likely associated with the Hazardous while the eastern anomalies are, as yet, unidentified. Further archaeological material, comprising bar shot and a lead scupper, has recently been discovered by the Licensed Team lying some 20m to the west of the Restricted Area with more material believed to lie beyond this. This material is most likely associated with the Hazardous having become dislocated during the wrecking process. Re-designation of the site was therefore required in order to ensure the security of the artefacts.

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 08/07/2019


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:
AMIE - Wrecks


Books and journals
Warship Hazardous, Investigating a Protected Wreck, (2003)
Colledge, J J, Ships of the Royal Navy: Volume 1, (1989)
Hepper, D J, British Warship Losses in the Age of Sail, 1650-1859, (1994)
Lyon, D, The Sailing Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy Built, Purchased and Captured 1688-1860, (1993), 191
Pastscape record, accessed 27/03/2017 from
'Warrant Books: April 1708, 21-30', Calendar of Treasury Books: 1708, Volume 22 (1952), pp. 211-224, accessed 09 September 2008 from"cast away"
'Warrant Books: January 1709, 11-20', Calendar of Treasury Books: 1709, Volume 23 (1949), pp. 44-63, accessed 15 September 2008 from
Wessex Archaeology (2015) Archaeological Services in Relation to Marine Designation: Hazardous Marine Geophysical Survey Report, unpublished report for Historic England


This site is designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 as it is or may prove to be the site of a vessel lying wrecked on or in the sea bed and, on account of the historical, archaeological or artistic importance of the vessel, or of any objects contained or formerly contained in it which may be lying on the sea bed in or near the wreck, it ought to be protected from unauthorised interference. Protected wreck sites are designated by Statutory Instrument. The following information has been extracted from the relevant Statutory Instrument.

Statutory Instrument

Information provided under the Statutory Instrument heading below forms part of the official record of a protected wreck site. Information provided under other headings does not form part of the official record of the designation. It has been compiled by Historic England to aid understanding of the protected wreck site.

Statutory Instruments: 2017/773

End of official listing

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