The HMS Olive Branch
‘Okay, lets send them the Olive branch’
*everyone chortles politely*
‘We’re so funny’
-British Admiralty, 1794
A fire ship was a ship filled with combustibles, or gunpowder deliberately set on fire and steered (or, when possible, allowed to drift) into an enemy fleet, in order to destroy ships, or to create panic and make the enemy break formation. Ships used as fire ships were either warships whose munitions were fully spent in battle, surplus ones which were old and worn out, or inexpensive purpose-built vessels rigged to be set afire, steered toward targets, and abandoned quickly by the crew.
To be fair, naming a fire ship the HMS Olive Branch was probably quite funny… the first time they did it. Unfortunately by 1794 the novelty had probably worn off since there had been at least four Fire ships with that name previously, the first being recorded in 1672.
Could they not have sent in the HMS Warm Welcome or maybe… the HMS Burnevolence. Har har. (I should have been in the Admiralty. I would have been great)