Cochrane was one of the best naval officers of his time but had a somewhat notorious career. At the age of seventeen he entered the Royal Navy. Quickly rising through the ranks he became famous whilst commander of the boat, HMS Speedy. In 1806 he embarked on a political career and, despite being unpopular amongst colleagues, he was well-liked by the voters. In 1814 he was expelled from the navy and parliament following his involvement in the Great Stock Exchange Fraud. He travelled to South America in 1817 to fight in the navies of Chile and Brazil before being reinstated into the British navy in 1832 as rear-admiral. Cochrane was also extremely interested in scientific developments and devised improvements to steam propulsion alongside proposing the controversial use of gas warfare.