Destined to become one of the most famous ships of her day, H.M.S. Centurion was built by Surveyor Allin at Portsmouth Dockyard to a modified 1719 Establishment design. Orderered and laid down in 1729, she was launched on 6th January 1733 and measured by her builder at 1,005 tons. A third rate two-decker mounting 60 guns, she was 177½ feet in length with a 40 foot beam, and carried a crew of 400 men.
When the war with Spain began in the autumn of 1739, Centurion was placed under the command of Captain George Anson whose orders were to take a squadron to the Pacific, harry the Spanish possessions there and, if possible, capture one of the valuable treasure ships which annually travelled between Mexico and Manila. By June 1743, various misfortunes had reduced Anson's squadron of six vessels to a single ship, Centurion, but she was by then well-armed and manned by a highly experienced veteran crew. On 20th June, she sighted, chased and brought to action the huge Spanish treasure galleon Nuestra de Senora de Cavadonga in a celebrated engagement east of the Phillippines, after which, with the Spaniards combing the surrounding ocean, Anson decided to return home by circumnavigating the globe, still a highly unusual and immensely risky voyage in the mid-eighteenth century. Arriving home in 1744 with treasure valued at over half-a-million sterling, Anson's reputation was made and his career assured; likewise his ship, whose name became synonymous with the triumphant exploits of her commander.