HMS Colossus was a 74 gun warship built in 1787 at Gravesend and wrecked in 1798. These 74 gun ships were one of the most successful types of the period. They were about 51m (170 feet) in length and had a crew of over 600. During her relatively short working life (eleven years) Colossus saw action at Toulon, Groix, Cape St Vincent and Cadiz. She also took part in the capture of two enemy ships Le Vanneau and Vrai Patriotin 1793

In December 1798 Colossus was on her way home to England with a remarkable cargo including eight crates of Greek antiquities, wounded sailors from Nelson’s victory at the battle of the Nile and the body of a dead admiral. What she did not have on board was one of her spare bower anchors, which had been given to Nelson’s ship Vanguard in Naples. This would prove to be disastrous. She was sheltering from a gale in St Mary’s Roads when the anchor cable parted and she was driven aground to the south of Samson. All but one member of the crew were taken off safely before Colossus turned onto her beam ends and proceeded to break up.