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HMS Friday is an urban legend concerning a disastrous attempt by the Royal Navy to dispel the superstition against sailing on a Friday. While widely circulated, the story is in fact untrue; moreover, there was never a ship named HMS Friday.

The details of the story vary, but it usually follows this form:

Sometime in the 19th century, the Royal Navy attempted to finally dispel the old superstition among sailors that beginning a voyage on a Friday was certain to bring bad luck. To demonstrate the falseness of this belief, they decided to commission a ship named HMS Friday. Her keel was laid on a Friday, she was launched on a Friday, and she set sail on her maiden voyage on a Friday, under the command of a Captain James Friday. She was never seen or heard from again.

This story, in numerous variations, is frequently recounted, often as fact.[1][2][3][4][5]

In fact, there has never been any Royal Navy ship of that name.[5][6][7] It is unclear where the story originated; however, it seems to have gained in popularity after its recounting by comedian Dave Allen on his BBC television show “Dave Allen at Large”, first broadcast in the 1970’s.[8]

References

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