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HMS Achilles (1863)

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NameAchillesExplanation
TypeBroadside ironclad frigate   
Launched23 December 1863
HullIron
PropulsionScrew
Builders measure6121 tons
Displacement9820 tons
Guns20
Fate1923
Class 
Ships bookADM 135/2
NoteFirst iron ship built in Royal Naval dockyard.
1886 h.s.
1902 = Hibernia, base ship.
1904 = Egmont.
1918 = Egremont.
1919 = Pembroke.
Snippets concerning this vessels career
DateEvent
14 September 1864
- 2 November 1868
Commanded (from commissioning at Chatham until paying off at Plymouth) by Captain Edward Westby Vansittart, Channel squadron
12 April 1870
- 1873
Commanded by Captain Richard Vesey Hamilton, coast guard service, Portland
21 April 1873Commanded by Captain Radulphus Bryce Oldfield, Portland (Reserve squadron)
10 March 1875Commanded by Captain William Henry Whyte, Coast Guard, Liverpool
(October 1875)
- May 1877
Commanded by Captain Sholto Douglas, Coast Guard, Liverpool
May 1877Commanded by Captain William Nathan Wrighte Hewett,Channel squadron, then Mediterranean and Sea of Marmora (during Russo-Turkish war)
(1883)
- 1884
Commanded by Captain George Digby Morant, Channel squadron
1902Renamed Hibernia, base ship
1904Renamed Egmont
1918Renamed Egremont
1919Renamed Pembroke
Extracts from the Times newspaper
DateExtract
Ma 8 October 1860The paddlewheel steam tender Otter, after embarking Capt.-Superintendent W.H. Stewart, C.B., Mr. Thornton, principal master shipbuilder, and other officials at the dockyard pier, steamed out of the harbour to meet their Lordships, who commenced the duties of the day by the inspection of the iron-clad frigate Achilles, 20, 6,121 tons, 1,250-horse power, which is moored a short distance out in the harbour below the dockyard. On proceeding on board the members of the Board were received by Capt. Vansittart, and by him conducted over the various portions of the frigate. Only a comparatively small amount of work, and that chiefly in the way of fittings, now remains to be effected on board, and there appears to be every probability that the Achilles will be completed and ready to leave Chatham in the course of next month. Owing to the length of time she has been lying in the harbour - a period of about nine months - her bottom has become exceedingly foul, which will necessitate her being docked for the purpose of having the barnacles, sea-weed, and other marine incrustations removed before she can proceed on her trial cruise. No dock is now available to receive her at Chatham, and it will consequently necessitate her removal to Portsmouth for that purpose.
Sa 16 March 1861Admiralty orders have been received at Chatham dockyard for a squadron of five steam frigates and other vessels of war to be built at that establishment, in addition to the several line-of-battle and other screw steamers which are now in progress. The following are the names, number of guns, and horse-power of the new vessels: -The Boadicea, 51, 600-horse power [cancelled 1863]; the Pactolus, 22, 200-horse power [cancelled]; the Diligence, 17, 200-horse power [cancelled 1863]; the Salamis, 4, 250-horse power; and the Albatross, 4, 200-horse power [cancelled 1863]. The above ships of war will be commenced immediately the vessels now on the stocks, several of which are in a very forward state, are completed. The ships building at Chatham are the Bulwark, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1873]; the Royal Oak, 91; the Belvidera, 51 [laid down in 1860 and cancelled in 1864]; the Rattlesnake, 21; the Menai, 21 [laid down in 1861 and cancelled in 1864]; the Reindeer, 17; and the Myrmidon, 4.
The Lords of the Admiralty have decided on naming the large iron mail-clad steamer about to be commenced at Chatham dockyard the Achilles. The new vessel will be an improvement on those of the same description recently built, and her dimensions will be somewhat larger. Her engines will be nominally of 1,250 horse-power, but they will be capable of being worked up to considerably over 2,000 horse-power. She will be pierced for 40 guns, all of which will be the long-range Armstrong guns.
Th 21 March 1861The Hussar, lately employed as a receiving-hulk at Chatham harbour, having had the necessary alterations and repairs effected to adapt her for a target-ship, has been put out of No. 2 dock at Chatham. The second dock being now empty, preparations will be commenced for laying down the Achilles, previously to which, however, the present caisson at the entrance to the dock will require to be removed, and a cofferdam erected in its place, by which an additional length of nearly 30 feet will be gained, thus giving a length of dock of nearly 400 feet for the new ship. Considerable quantities of the heaviest portions of the beams and other parts of the vessel still continue to arrive at the dockyard from the iron companies who have entered into contracts with the Admiralty for supplying them.
Th 4 April 1861No further discharge of hired smiths will, it is understood, be made at Chatham dockyard, but those now working at that establishment who have received notice to leave the dockyard will be transferred to the Achilles, iron-cased steamer, about being commenced. The number of smiths who will be employed on the Achilles will be upwards of 1,000.
Fr 12 April 1861Messrs. Taylor and Co., of the Britannia Ironworks, Birkenhead, have commenced the erection of a pair of their new description of steam travelling-cranes, with the elevating jibs, on each side of the second dock at Chatham Dockyard, in which the Achilles, iron steamer, will be built. The tramway and supports for the cranes extend the entire length of the dock - a distance of 330 feet, the works being of the most substantial character. The tramways rest on double rows of supports of great strength, the cranes being required for lifting the immense beams and slabs of iron used in the construction of the new steamer. A considerable portion of the new machinery which will be used in preparing the iron work for the Achilles has arrived at the dockyard, and as soon as the workshops and sheds have been completed will be fixed in its place. During the last few days a powerful planing machine for planing and preparing the large slabs of metal has been received at Chatham Dockyard, from the firm of Messrs. Collier, of Salford, the manufacturers.
Fr 19 April 1861A memorial from about 600 of the shipwrights now employed at Chatham dockyard has been laid before the Board of Admiralty, requesting their Lordships to allow the memorialists to be employed on the iron mail-clad steam frigate Achilles, about to be built at that establishment.
Th 9 May 1861The Warrior.
Fr 10 May 1861Yesterday preparations were commenced at Chatham dockyard for building the temporary dam which is to be placed at the entrance of No. 2 dock in lieu of the present caisson, in order that additional space may be obtained for the building of the large mail-clad steamer Achilles, 40. The length of the second dock, in which it is intended to build the new iron war steamer, is 336 feet, but by the substitution of a dam for the caisson now at the entrance an addition of about 20 feet will be gained. The steam travelling cranes which are in course of erection along each side of the dock by Messrs. Taylor and Co., of the Britannia Works, Birkenhead, will be completed in the course of a few weeks. These machines are of the most powerful description, and capable of lifting the heaviest portion of the iron work which will be used in the construction of the new frigate. A considerable portion of the machinery required in building the Achilles has arrived at the dockyard from the contractors, but a great deal has yet to be received before the ship can be commenced; in fact, the chief delay in the commencement of the Achilles has arisen from the non-arrival of the various descriptions of machinery. Up to the present time only comparatively few mechanics have made application at the dockyard to be employed on the new frigate, but good platers as they apply are at once taken on. As there are to be upwards of 1,000 men employed in building the Achilles, the number of mechanics to be hired must be very large.
Ma 13 May 1861The names of the several steamships ordered to be constructed at Chatham are the Boadicea, 51 [cancelled 1863]; the Achilles, 40, iron war steamer; the Ganymede, 22 [cancelled 1863]; the Falmouth, 22 [cancelled 1863]; the Weymouth, 22 [cancelled 1863]; the Diligence, 17 [cancelled 1863]; the Tees, 17 [cancelled 1863]; the Albatross, 4 [cancelled 1863]; and the Salamis, 4.
Th 23 May 1861Several of the largest and most powerful of the machines to be employed in preparing the plates and slabs of iron which will be used in the construction of the Achilles, 40, at Chatham, have been erected in the new workshop erected by Messrs. Grissell, under the direction of Mr. Baker, chief engineer at this dockyard, and every effort is being made to have the remainder of the machinery fixed in its place immediately on its arrival from the Government factory at Woolwich and the establishment's private firms. Some powerful shearing, punching, and stamping machines have already been received from the firms of Hulse, Manchester; Collier, Salford; and Garforth, Dukinfield; and these are now in course of erection. The utmost care has been taken in preparing the foundations on which the heavy machinery will be deposited, each machine resting on thick layers of concrete carried to a sufficient depth. The machinery for setting in motion the whole of the engines which will be used in the factory is now in course of erection by Messrs. Simpson, of Pimlico. A number of enormous iron slabs, upwards of four inches in thickness, and each weighing four tons, have been landed at the dockyard. These plates were forged for the Warrior, 40, but, not being required for that vessel have been sent to Chatham to be used in constructing the Achilles.
A number of workmen are busily employed at Chatham dockyard in removing the section of the caisson at the entrance to No. 2 Dock, in order to provide additional space for building the Achilles, 40.
We 29 May 1861The whole of the hired mechanics and labourers, numbering nearly 800 men, employed at Chatham Dockyard during the busy period which prevailed some time since, have now been discharged from that establishment, the last of the hired hands having quitted the yard on Saturday last. A few of the hired smiths and labourers have been retained to be employed on the Achilles, 40.
Th 30 May 1861The Lords of the Admiralty have given directions to Messrs. Taylor, of the Britannia works, Salford, to erect two of their traveling steam crane-lifts, with elevating jibs, on the Anchor-wharf, at Chatham dockyard, to facilitate the loading and unloading of ships. One of the new cranes has been at work in the dockyard for several days past, and performs its task in a most expeditious and in every respect satisfactory manner. Messrs. Taylor are also erecting four of their patent travelling cranes on each side of the second dock, to be used in lifting and moving the heavy slabs and ribs of iron used in the construction of the Achilles, 40.
Tu 11 June 1861ln addition to the Achilles, 40, iron steamer, and the Royal Oak, 50, iron plated frigate in progress at Chatham, the Lords of the Admiralty have given directions for the following line-of-battle and other steamers to be built at the same dockyard:- The Pitt, 91 [cancelled 1863]; the Boadicea, 51 [cancelled 1863]; the Pomona, 51 [cancelled 1863]; the Ganymede, 28 [cancelled 1863]; the Falmouth, 22 [cancelled 1863]; the Tees, 19 [cancelled 1863]; the Diligence, 17 [cancelled 1863]; the Albatross, 4 [cancelled 1863]; and the Salamis, 4.
We 12 June 1861The reconstruction and enlargement of No. 1 dock at Chatham Dockyard - the works connected with which have been some considerable time in progress, in consequence of the difficulties encountered in the formation of the new entrance from the river - are being rapidly proceeded with by Messrs. Foord and Sons. In order to afford accommodation for docking vessels of the size of the present line-of-battle ships, which were unthought of when this dock was originally constructed, it is the intention of the Admiralty to carry the entrance to No. 1 dock some distance beyond its original limits. A spacious basin, little less than 400 feet In length, will be obtained. Chatham already possesses one dock of this kind, but it is likely to be occupied for the next two years, as the Achilles, 50, is ordered to be constructed in it.
We 26 June 1861The portable steam cranes recently introduced into Chatham dockyard having been found to work satisfactorily, the Admiralty have entered into an arrangement with Messrs. Taylor, of the Britannia Ironworks, for the supply of several others to that establishment, four of which will be employed exclusively in moving the iron-plates and other portions of the ironwork used in the construction of the Achilles, 50. In order to facilitate the removal of the steam cranes from one part of the dockyard to another, a line of rails is ordered to be laid down the whole length of the Anchor-wharf, on which the new cranes will be employed in loading and unloading the various transports as they arrive.
We 3 July 1861A series of photographs are being taken at Portsmouth, by orders from the Admiralty, for the use of the Iron Plate Committee, of the sample armour plates for the Achilles and Valiant, Lately tested at Portsmouth, in the presence of Mr. Fairbairn, Dr. Percy, and other members of the Committee, by the Stork's 95-cwt. smooth-bore gun, and which have been taken from the sides of the Sirius, target ship, for the purpose The views are taken back and front of each plate, so that an accurate idea maybe formed of the nature of the fractures produced by the shot.
Ma 29 July 1861The entry of smiths, platers, boiler-makers, and other mechanics to be employed on the Achilles, has commenced at Chatham dockyard, but up till now only a small proportion of the number have been taken on. There are still vacancies for good mechanics. Mr. Baskcomb, one of the foremen at Woolwich-dockyard, who has been employed in superintending the construction and fitting of the Warrior, will attend at Chatham dockyard on alternate days, during the time the Achilles is in progress, to superintend the building of that iron frigate.
Ma 5 August 1861On Saturday a number of shipwrights commenced laying down the blocks in the spacious dock at Chatham, in which the iron-plated frigate Achilles, 50, is to be built. Nearly the whole of the powerful machinery required in the construction of the beams, plates, and other portions of the iron vessel has been fixed in the new factory adjoining No. 2 dock, in which the steamer will be built, and already the preliminary works for preparing the plates are in operation. An exceedingly powerful hydraulic press for bending the massive iron plates to any pattern has been fixed adjoining the dock, and the trials made with it have been exceedingly satisfactory. As fast as really good mechanics offer themselves at the dockyard they are taken on. In the course of a few weeks there will be as many as 1,000 workmen employed about the new steamer. The class of mechanics mostly required are platers and angle iron smiths, especially the latter.
Ma 5 August 1861The armaments intended for the following ships - viz., the Defence and Resistance, and Achilles, recently laid down, and also to be iron-clad, after the method of the Warrior, are announced as follows: -The Defence and Resistance, of 1,462 tons each, and to be fitted with engines of 600 nominal horse-power, will have two 100-pounders on the upper deck, 16 100-pounder as side guns on the main deck, and four 40-pounders also on the main deck. The Achilles will be provided with 34 100-pounders on the main deck. On the upper dock there will be two 100-pounders on revolving carriages. There will be eight of the same on slides and carriages; four 40-pounders on truck carriages and two 32-pounders smooth bore of the old cast-iron Ordnance, making a total of 50 to the Achilles, and 22 each to the Defence and Resistance. The whole of the guns have been handed over to the store for dispatch from Wolwich on demand.
Sa 17 August 1861By direction of the Lords of the Admiralty a number of the labourers employed at Chatham Dockyard have been selected to be employed as hammermen for the Achilles, 50. Several hundred shipwrights have also memorialized the Admiralty to be employed in the construction of the new iron steamer, and their Lordships have given directions for such as are found competent to be taken on in that department.
Th 22 August 1861Yesterday the Commissioners of the Admiralty commenced their annual inspection of the dockyard at Chatham. They visited, in the first instance, the lead mills, and afterwards the testing-houses, where the anchors and cables manufactured at this and other yards are tested by powerful hydraulic engines before being delivered to the various vessels of war. Their Lordships, having directed a few minor alterations to be carried out at the testing-house, proceeded to the Anchor-wharf, where the anchors, buoys, and other stores are deposited. Since their last visit several improvements have been carried out at this part of the dockyard, and others are in contemplation. They spent a short time in examining one of the portable steam cranes, several of which have been recently supplied to the yard by Messrs. Taylor, of the Britannia Ironworks, the saving of manual labour by the use of these machines being very great. Leaving the wharf, their Lordships proceeded to inspect the various docks, and also the ships now on the stocks. Passing No. 1 slip, on Which the Salamis has only been within the last few days commenced, the members of the Board inspected the Reindeer, 16, under the second shed. Their Lordships next visited No. 1 dock, which is in course of being extended seaward, and deepened and enlarged, by Messrs. Foord and Sons, the contractors. Already a considerable depth has been gained, by the harbour at that spot having been deepened and the entrance to the dock cleared of the mud, which had for years been accumulating to such an extent that only the smallest vessels could be docked in it. The alterations effected, however, will now admit of large line-of-battle ships being accommodated in it. At present this dock is empty. Advantage has been taken of that circumstance, and the whole is now being floored over, in order that the space thus gained may be used for storing the models and portions of the ironwork required in constructing the Achilles, 50, building in the next dock. The new factory and workshops recently erected between the first and second docks were next visited, the factory being filled with machinery, forges, and workmen employed in preparing the beams, slabs, and plates for the new iron frigate. The Orpheus, 21, screw corvette, in No. 3 dock, being rigged and fitted for the first division of the Steam Reserve, was next inspected, the Duke of Somerset going on board and inquiring into the work in progress. Passing the President, 51, in the next dock, their Lordships briefly inspected the Menai, 22 [laid down in 1861 and cancelled in 1864], the Belvidera, 51 [laid down in 1860 and cancelled in 1864], the Bulwark, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1873], and the Myrmidon, 4. screw steamers, all of which are in various stages of progress, and then visited the Royal Oak, 51, building under the last shed. This vessel, although only a short time since commenced, has made considerable progress, and every effort is being made to have her completed by an early date. She is the first of the large wooden frigates which the Admiralty have decided on having covered with armour plates, and more than usual interest is therefore felt in her progress. The massive iron plates, each weighing nearly five tons, and of a regular thickness of four and a-half inches, are lying by the side of the vessel in readiness to be placed on the sides immediately the timbers are fit to receive them. The members of the Board went over this fine frigate, which, although only in frame, appears to be of the most gigantic size and of enormous strength. After completing the inspection of the ships building and in dock, their Lordships visited the eastern end of the yard, and inspected the site on which it is proposed to construct the additional docks, basins, and locks for the extension of Chatham Dockyard, in conformity with the recommendation of the Parliamentary committee, the estimated cost of which is upwards of 1,000,000l. sterling. Close to this part of the yard the iron gunboats, built at the close of the Russian war, are laid up under cover, but these were not inspected by their Lordships. Their Lordships then landed at the New-stairs, and proceeded to Melville Naval hospital, where they were received by Surgeon J. Moody, the principal medical officer, and the staff of the establishment. The excellent arrangements of the interior of this hospital were warmly commended The buildings are of the largest kind, and a greater space is afforded the inmates than in any other similar establishment. At present there are 170 patients in the hospital, but accommodation is provided for nearly 300. After leaving the hospital the Duke of Somerset and their lordships again took boot, and were rowed over to St. Mary's Island, to inspect the works in progress there for enlarging the dockyard establishments in that direction. A considerable tract of land has already been reclaimed from the river and embanked, chiefly by means of convict labour, several hundred prisoners being daily employed on the operations. Their Lordships were conducted over the place by Mr. Rivers, clerk of the works, and Mr. Macdonnell, C.E., under whose superintendence the improvement are being carried out. The works are of great magnitude, and will occupy several years before they are completed. The entire sum required for this part of the improvement of Chatham Dockyard, exclusive of the construction of the new docks, &c., is nearly 200,000l. The members of the Board will resume their inspection of the naval establishment at Chatham this morning, after which they will proceed to visit Sheerness.
Sa 31 August 1861Orders were yesterday issued at Chatham dockyard announcing that the Lords of the Admiralty have consented to allow the whole of the mechanics and artisans employed on the Achilles, 50, to leave work on this and succeeding Saturday afternoons at 4 o'clock, on the understanding that the workmen make up the time thus granted during the week. In consequence of the increased activity which now prevails in all the departments at Chatham dockyard, notice was yesterday given that 50 more labourers are required at that establishment, in addition to the same number entered a short time since.
We 4 September 1861'The Proposed New Iron Frigates'.
Fr 6 September 1861The preparation of the iron-work for the Achilles, 50, which has been in progress for several weeks past, having considerably advanced, a commencement has at length been made in the construction of that vessel in the second dock at Chatham, where the first portion of the keel was successfully laid down yesterday afternoon. Although a great deal of apparent delay in building the Achilles has taken place, this has arisen solely in consequence of this having been the first iron ship to be built at Chatham, which necessitated the building of large additional workshops and factories, together with the erection of powerful engines and machinery, none of which were required in the ordinary shipbuilding operations at that establishment. All these preliminary difficulties have at length been got over. The work will now be carried on uninterruptedly until the vessel is completed, which, it is anticipated, will be in less than two years. As many as 1,000 hands are to be employed on her, and as fast as good mechanics offer themselves at the dockyard they are engaged.
Tu 24 September 1861Directions have been received at Chatham for the whole extent of No. 1 dock, which has been floored over, and used as workshops and fitting shops by the mechanics employed on the Achilles, 50, to be roofed in, the cost of which will be nearly 3,000l.
Sa 9 November 1861On Thursday another large quantity of iron, chiefly of the description known as angle iron, which had been forwarded from the contractors to Chatham, to be used in the construction of the iron frigate Achilles, 50, was reshipped on board the transports which had conveyed it to the dockyard, the whole of it having been condemned and rejected by the dockyard authorities as not being of the superior quality required in building the vessel. Had it not been for the difficulties which exist in procuring iron of a sound and suitable quality, the Achilles would now have been at least three-fourths in frame, and she would have been entirely framed by Christmas. Instead of this, the entire keel has not yet been laid, and only two or three of her ribs and frames have been fixed in their places. Before a single plate or bar of iron is used it is taken to the testing-house, where it is subjected to the severest hydraulic tests in order to ascertain its quality. Some idea of the enormous strength required may be formed when it is stated that each bar and plate has to bear a strain of 22 tons to the square inch with the grain, and 19 tons against the grain. Should the slightest flaw or fracture be discovered after this severe test, the iron is at once rejected and returned to the contractors. In this way some hundreds of tons have been rejected.
Ma 18 November 1861The iron-plated frigate Royal Oak, 51, 800-horse power under construction at Chatham, is ordered to be fitted with tube scuttles on her lower deck to afford air and light to the officers' cabins. In carrying out this improvement arrangements are to be made to enable the holes through the armour plates to be plugged or otherwise secured when required. A further supply of the massive iron armour plates, without either tongues or grooves, were received at the dockyard on Saturday from the Parkgate Iron Works, Yorkshire, the company having entered into an arrangement with the Admiralty to furnish all the armour plates required for the Royal Oak, the whole of which supply will be of rolled iron. By direction of the Admiralty the exterior armour plates of the Royal Oak are not to be tongued at the edges, and the plates so constructed which have hitherto been supplied at the dockyard will it is understood, be used in the interior of the Achilles, 50, in the formation of the bulkhead compartments of that frigate.
Th 28 November 1861Yesterday a new description of rivet-making machine for manufacturing the rivets required in the construction of the iron frigate Achilles, 50, arrived from Manchester at Chatham dockyard. The saving in manual labour by the use of this machine is something extraordinary, the apparatus being capable of turning out the rivets complete at the rate of 40 to 60 per minute, with only two men to attend to it.
Th 28 November 1861

The Achilles.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.

Sir, - We beg to enclose you a copy of a letter we have addressed to the Storekeeper-General of the Navy respecting remarks made in your impression of to-day under Naval and Military Intelligence; in reference to which we shall feel obliged by your obtaining at Somerset-house further information to enable you to correct a statement calculated to do us a serious injury if left uncontradicted.
Were we not old contractors to the Admiralty for the supply of plates, angle iron, &c, we would not have troubled you with this communication.
We are, Sir, your obedient servants, MOSER AND SONS.
Dowgate Iron-wharf, London, Nov. 27.


"Dowgate Iron-wharf, London, Nov. 27.
"Sir, - We take the liberty of calling your attention to a paragraph in The Times of to-day under head of Naval and Military Intelligence, respecting 'the difficulty experienced in obtaining adequate supplies of plate and angle iron' for the construction of Her Majesty's frigate Achilles, 'and the delay in building this vessel' having 'arisen solely from the difficulty experienced in obtaining iron of prime quality;' remarks which, we feel, reflect unjustly upon ourselves, who have for some time supplied the whole of Her Majesty's dockyards with plates, angle iron &c.
"May we ask you to contradict these assertions, or to permit us to do so under your authority? Having your orders on hand for iron for above-named vessel, as well as for others in progress, we fear such statements, if allowed to pass unexplained, may do us an injury.
"We are, Sir, your obedient servants, MOSER AND SONS.
"To the Storekeeper-General of the Navy, Somerset-house."
Tu 3 December 1861'Our Iron-Clad Frigates'.
Ma 16 December 1861During Saturday and the previous day an important series of trials was made at the testing-house in Chatham dockyard, for the purpose of submitting to powerful tests a superior description of iron from the ironworks belonging to Earl Dudley, at Dudley, which it is proposed, shall be used in the construction of the Achilles. Upwards of 60 specimens of bar, plate, angle, and T-iron have been forwarded to Chatham dockyard, with the request that they may be submitted to any tests thought desirable to ascertain their quality. Accordingly two days were occupied in testing, by means of the hydraulic engines, the various specimens forwarded, Earl Dudley being represented at the trials by Mr. Smith, his principal manager, Mr. Schofield, and Mr. Azzani; Mr. Lang, master-shipbuilder, and Mr. Cotsell, master-smith at Chatham, superintending the trials on the part of the Admiralty. The average standard required by the Admiralty is that the best iron shall stand a test of 22 tons to the square inch with the grain, and 19 tons against it. The samples coming up to that qualification are considered very good, a considerable quantity of !the iron recently sent in to Chatham dockyard for the Achilles having attained nothing like that standard, and, consequently, been all rejected. Out of the 68 samples of iron sent in from Earl Dudley's works, every kind, with only one exception, bore the 22 tons test without exhibiting the slightest flaw, the great majority of the samples requiring the enormous force of 28 and even 30 tons to the square inch before any sign of a flaw could be detected. In one instance a small sample of iron of about 2 inches square actually endured the strain of 64 tons, the ponderous chain of the hydraulic press even snapping without any sign of a fracture in the iron tested. So satisfactory were the trials considered that the officials of the dockyard who superintended them state that in all their experience they never tested iron at all equal to that submitted to trial on Saturday. There can be no doubt that the Lords of the Admiralty will at once accept the offer of Earl Dudley to supply the iron for the Achilles provided an agreement can be arrived at with regard to the price.
Tu 24 December 1861A further series of trials has just been made in Chatham Dockyard for the purpose of testing specimens of plate and angle iron from the Consett and Derwent Ironworks, proposed to be used in the construction of the iron frigate Achilles, 50, building at Chatham. The result of the trials of the angle iron was deemed satisfactory, nearly the whole of the specimens subjected to the hydraulic tests standing the strain of 22 tons to the square inch, with the grain, without signs of fracture. In the second series of trials with some additional specimens of iron, consisting principally, of plate iron, the result of the several tests was not deemed so satisfactory by the dockyard officials, under whose superintendence they were made. A quantity of the largest kind of chain cable, constructed of the best iron at the establishment of Brown and Lennox, Cardiff, intended for the iron frigate Defence and the other vessels fitting for commission at Chatham, was also subjected to a variety of tests to ascertain its strength and quality with very satisfactory results.
We 15 January 1862By direction of the Admiralty, No. 1 dock at Chatham has been entirely floored over, the opening at the entrance enclosed and glazed, and the whole converted into a large fitting and workshop for the workmen employed on the Achilles, 50, iron steamer, building in the adjacent dock. A considerable portion on the land side of the dock has also been taken in and covered with a corragated iron roof by Messrs. Grissell and Co., in order to extend the workshop for the large number of additional hands who will shortly be employed on the Achilles.
Tu 21 January 1862Admiralty instructions have been received at Chatham Dockyard for an additional roofing to be placed over the workshop in which the mechanics engaged in the construction of the iron frigate Achilles, 50, are employed. The contract for the undertaking has been taken by Messrs. Foord and Sons, of Rochester.
Tu 4 February 1862Yesterday a party of 60 additional shipwrights, including a portion of the hands removed from the Rattlesnake, 21, screw corvette, completed, and the Pylades, 21, screw, under repair in the fourth dock at Chatham, were placed on the iron-cased steam frigate Royal Oak, 51, building under No. 7 shed, in order to expedite the construction of that vessel, which it is intended shall be completed and ready for launching by the first spring tide in the month of September next. A number of the shipwrights now employed on the iron frigate Defence, 18, will he attached to the Royal Oak on their leaving that ship during the present week. The number of hands now employed on the Royal Oak is nearly 400, including apprentices and labourers. By direction of the Admiralty a powerful travelling crane is in course of erection at the side shed adjoining that under which the frigate is building, in order to facilitate the removal of the heavy beams and timbers used in her construction. The erection of the traveller has been placed in the hands of a London firm, the iron tramways on which the crane will work having been already fixed. Considering the great weights which the traveller will be required to lift, it is to be hoped that care will be taken to have the supports thoroughly tested before the work is completed and handed ever to the Admiralty, the opinion of practical men being that greater strength ought to have been secured.
Although the construction of the iron ship Achilles, 50, 6,079 tons, 1,250-hose power, building at Chatham, has been seriously retarded owing to the difficulty experienced by the Admiralty in procuring iron of the quality required, considerable progress has been made in the work, and already about one-half of her massive ribs, answering to the timbers in an ordinary vessel, have been forged and successfully fixed in their place without accident. The difficulty experienced by the Admiralty in obtaining adequate supplies of iron is still felt in as great force as ever, and, instead of the Achilles being completed within two years from the time in which she was commenced, as was originally expected, at least treble that period will elapse before she will even be afloat, if she continues to progress only at her present rate. There are not more than about 100 workmen engaged on her, including those in the factory department, and yet it was estimated that at least 1,000 hands would be constantly required to complete her in the prescribed period of two years. The chief difficulty appears to be in obtaining adequate supplies of plate iron, the establishment being overstocked with angle iron. Negotiations are, however, now pending with several eminent firms, and it is believed that in a very short time sufficient supplies of first-class iron will be sent in to the dockyard. During yesterday and Saturday a number of the massive armour-plates were landed at the dockyard, although these will not be required to be used for several months to come. Each plate weighs slightly over four tons, is about 15 feet in length by about 3 feet in width, and of an uniform thickness of 4½ inches. The whole are manufactured of rolled iron, at the Parkgate Ironworks, Yorkshire, where powerful machinery has been erected for the purpose.
Yesterday a party of shipwrights were despatched from Chatham dockyard to Shoeburyness, to be employed in erecting a target faced with iron armour-plates fastened together without bolting, on the principle recommended by Mr. Scott Russell. The armour-plates, which are of the same thickness as those for the Achilles and Royal Oak, have been prepared at Chatham dockyard, where the target has been put together, the plates being of different sizes, with the edges prepared according to Mr. Russell's directions. The experiments with the elongated Armstrong shot upon this target, and their effect on the iron plates, are looked forward to with some interest, as, should the Admiralty decide on adopting the plan recommended by Mr. Scott Russell, the whole of the armour-plates for the iron ships building will require to be altered.
Th 20 February 1862In order to provide increased facilities at Chatham Dockyard for constructing the iron and iron-plated vessels now building, as well as those intended to be built, at that naval establishment, the Lords of the Admiralty have decided on expending a considerable sum during the present year in the improvement and enlargement of the dockyard, in addition to the large sum voted last year for the formation of new docks and basins, and the erection of an additional factory and other buildings. The principal works in connexion with the enlargement of the dockyard will be executed by convicts. The second dock, in which the iron steamer Achilles, 50, is under construction, will be improved at a cost of about 3,500l., which sum will be expended in the construction of a new caisson at the entrance, l,000l. having already been voted for this purpose. It is also intended to enlarge the workshops used by the mechanics and artisans employed on the Achilles, at an estimated cost of about 1,000l. Their Lordships have also given directions for the enlargement of the millwrights yard and premises so as to admit of a greater number of hands being employed in connexion with that department, should their services be suddenly required. The erection of a large workshop on the space adjoining the slip on which the Royal Oak is building, the works connected with which have already been commenced by Messrs. Foord and Sons, the contractors, will involve an outlay of upwards of 3,000l., including the machinery required in armour-plating the wooden ships. Directions have also been given for erecting additional quarters for the metropolitan police force employed in the dockyard, at an estimated cost of 3,000l. The total sum which it is intended to expend during the present year in the improvement of Chatham Dockyard, exclusive of the large amount already voted for that purpose, is nearly 50,000l. A considerable addition is to be made to the number of mechanics employed on the Achilles, provision having been made for employing 1,051 hands on that vessel during the present year, in order that she may be completed in the shortest possible time. The sum taken in the estimates for wages for the hired workmen engaged on the iron ships this year is 74,310l. Provision has also been made for the entry of hired artificers and labourers at Chatham and the other dockyards for a period of four months, to be employed exclusively on the repair of ships, the sum required for this purpose being 30,000l. In addition to the present dock accommodation it is intended to construct five new docks at Chatham, three of which will be of 500ft. in length, and two of 400ft., and each capable of receiving the largest vessels in the service. Three large basins, communicating with each other, are also intended to be formed at the eastern end of the existing yard, the largest of which will have an area of 30 acres, with a length of 2,000ft. and width of 700ft., the two remaining basins covering 22 acres and 7 acres respectively. The depth of water in each basin will be 30ft. at neap tides. By far the most important part of the intended improvements, however, will be the embankment of the river to prevent the filling up of the existing channel-way. This will be accomplished by means of convict labour, the estimated cost of the work already contemplated being 85,000l., which includes the cost of the cofferdams for executing the work within free from water. The river from the locks at the entrance to the basins, towards Sheerness, will be deepened to form a channel 600ft. wide and 27ft. deep at half-tide, which will give 31ft. at neaps and 35ft. at spring tides. The sum to be expended on deepening the river, according to the plan already decided upon, is 45,000l. As soon as the whole of the alterations and improvements now in progress, as well as those decided upon, have been carried into effect Chatham Dockyard will be the most commodious or our naval establishments, while its protection from hostile attacks will be amply secured by the powerful batteries and fortifications now being erected in its vicinity.
Fr 21 February 1862It is a matter of much surprise and comment in naval circles to find that no sum has been apportioned in the Naval Estimates for 1862-3 for the commencement of the long talked of increase in the dock and basin accommodation of Portsmouth dockyard. Under these Estimates immense sums will be spent on works in the dockyard which, when completed, will be found useless. Of this class will be the north inlet, or No. 11 dock, the total Estimate for which is 77,160l., but which, like No. 10, now occupied by the Black Prince, will possibly exceed the original Estimate by some 21,000l., the extension of No. 8 dock at a cost of 19,292l., and the deepening the present steam basin - a work often begun and as often only partially completed owing to the scarcity of dock and basin room in the yard. The north inlet dock may be constructed, No. 8 extended, and the bottom of the steam basin this time excavated, but when all is done there will be no depth of water at their entrances. In the plans for the north inlet dock is shown an outline of the Achilles midship section, but should that ship ever become a reality she will never get inside the north inlet unless the latter has deeper water approaches given to it. This new dock (which has been commenced by the contractor) is to be 426 feet in length, 99 feet in width from coping to coping, 33 feet in depth from coping to entrance invert, and with a depth of water at spring tides of only 28 feet 6 inches. This depth of water might, however, be found sufficient in the majority of cases if the dock was in an accessible position, which, as already stated, it is not. It is unfortunate that works should be executed in such positions, as plan after plan has been prepared and submitted to the Admiralty for the creation of a new steam basin and docks at the north part of the harbour, adjoining the dockyard, where basins and docks of any extent could be created at very little cost, and adjoining the present steam basin and factory. Another provision in the Estimates relating to Portsmouth is equally useless and objectionable:-12,000l. is set down for dredging the harbour and its channel of entrance, in addition to the thousands that have been spent upon the same object during the few past years. A series of groynes, costing but little more than has been paid for one year's dredging, would confine the ebb tide to the channel proper, and more effectually deepen the channel and remove the mud from the bed of the harbour by doing away with the existing eddies than any process of dredging that engineering skill may devise, and would render Portsmouth harbour capable of receiving or sending from within our largest men of war. The patching up of old docks and the completion of others in situations where they can never be of service to our Warriors and Minotaurs, and the dredging of a harbour, an operation often to be repeated, instead of at once applying effectual remedies, can never render Portsmouth harbour equal to the service required from it for the accommodation of our first-class ships. Twenty years ago Portsmouth supplied all that could be desired for the building, outfit, repair, and reception when afloat of our fleets, but now our ships have outgrown our docks and harbours. If the intention of the authorities be not to extend Portsmouth dockyard and improve its harbour and entrance channel, why are those endless lines of defence being constructed, the outer circle of which is nine miles in diameter? In Portsmouth dockyard all is puny and insignificant as compared with our present wants, and the occupation of one dock stays the work of the port. If Portsmouth dockyard is to remain in its present state, why all this costly expenditure to defend an establishment, which, if continued in its present state, would, in the event of an action in the channel, be brought to a dead lock for want of the common resources which would be required for the quick repair of an iron steam fleet? The dock question has been discussed more than once during the past year, and cannot be much longer delayed. There must be additional docks formed, whether their site be Portsmouth, Hamble, Portland, or any other part of our south coast. The existence of iron ships is not a more imperative necessity.
Tu 1 April 1862Yesterday the lower portion of the projecting iron prow for the Achilles, 50, building at Chatham, was successfully fixed in its place, under the superintendence of Mr. Lang, master-shipbuilder, and his staff. The stem-piece fixed yesterday weighed 12 tons, and was forged at the Thames Ironworks. Blackwall. An additional number of mechanics and labourers were entered at the dockyard yesterday to be employed on the Achilles, the works connected with which are advancing rapidly.
Th 3 April 1862The remaining portion of the large projecting iron stem or prow of the Achilles, 50, iron vessel, building at Chatham, was successfully fixed in its place yesterday. The stem is of great strength, weighing upwards of 20 tons, and was forged at the Thames Ironworks, Blackwall. It is made to project some distance from the vessel, especially below the water-line, and when used as a ram in running down any hostile ship the Achilles will strike her antagonist below the water, by which it is believed that the greatest and speediest amount of injury will be inflicted.
Fr 4 April 1862No instructions have yet been received from the Admiralty for suspending the works connected with the Royal Oak, 50, armour-plated frigate, under construction at Chatham, and it is therefore probable that the plan proposed for completing the squadron of armour-plated frigates building at the several dockyards as cupola ships, on Captain Coles's principle, has been abandoned, and that the Royal Oak and the other vessels of her class will be completed simply as armour-plated ships, according to the original plan. In the meantime every effort is being made by the dockyard officials to have the Royal Oak completed and afloat during the present summer. To accomplish this every hand, with the exception of some 50 or 60 shipwrights and caulkers at work on the Racoon, 22, and the Pylades, 21, is employed on her, and from the energy which is just now being displayed little more than four months will see the first of the new description of wooden armour-covered ships afloat. By special direction of the Admiralty all the hands in the dockyard have been withdrawn from the wooden ships and placed on the two iron vessels, the Achilles and Royal Oak, which together have upwards of 1,000 shipwrights and mechanics employed on them, in addition to the hands at work in the factory and smithy preparing the materials to be used. The exterior of the Royal Oak is now completely planked in readiness to receive her armour-plates, which will be laid on a solid backing of teak and oak of 29 inches in thickness. Adjoining the slip, an extensive building is in course of erection for the reception of the machinery to be used in preparing the iron slabs in which the vessel will be encased. Unlike the Achilles, the Resistance, the Defence, and other iron vessels of that class, which are provided with projecting stems, for running down vessels, the Royal Oak and the other armour-plated ships, are almost square-built, each being constructed with what is termed a "tumble-home" stem, projecting in the slightest possible manner from the bow of the ship, thus doing away altogether with the supposition of these frigates being used as steam rams. In order to obtain additional strength for the stern-post, the screw-well usually found on board screw steamers will be partially abolished in the Royal Oak and the sister ship Royal Alfred, building at Portsmouth.
We 9 April 1862The Board of Admiralty, composed of the Duke of Somerset, Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir F.W. Grey, K.C.B., Capt. Charles Frederick, Capt. the Hon. J.R. Drummond, C.B., and Rear-Admiral Lord Clarence Paget, C.B., the Secretary, went yesterday morning to witness some experimeats with large guns at Shoeburyness.
In addition to the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 6,079 tons, 1,250-horse power, building at Chatham dockyard, the following squadron of iron vessels are now under construction by private firms for the Admiralty, several of which are in a very advanced state - viz., the Agincourt, 50, 6,621 tons, 1,250-horse power, building at Birkenhead; the Northumberland, 50, 6,621 tons, 1,250-horse power, and the Valiant, 32, 4,063 tons, 800-horse power, building at Millwall; the Minotaur, 50, 6,621 tons, 1,250-horse power, and the Orontes, 3, 2,812 tons, 500-horse power, building at Blackwall; and the Hector, 32, 4,063 tons, 800-horse power, building at Glasgow. The following iron-plated frigates are now building at the several Royal dockyards, the whole of which are intended to be afloat during the present year - viz., the Caledonia, 50, 4,045 tons, 800-horse power, at Woolwich; the Ocean, 50, 4,045 tons, 1,000-horse power, at Devonport; the Prince Consort, 50, 4,045 tons, 1,000-horse power, at Pembroke; the Royal Oak, 50, 3,716 tons, 1,000-horse power, at Chatham; and the Royal Alfred, 50, 3,716 tons, 800-horse power, at Portsmouth. in addition to the above there are no fewer than 31 line-of-battle ships and other screw steamers now on the stocks at the several dockyards, most of which are admirably adapted for conversion into shield ships, on Captain Coles's principle. Of these the Bulwark, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1873], at Chatham; the Repulse, 91, at Woolwich; the Robust, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1872], at Devonport; and the Zealous, 91, at Pembroke, are all in a very advanced state, requiring only a comparatively small outlay to plate them with iron. There are also three first-class 51-gun figates also building - viz., the Belvidera [laid down in 1860 and cancelled in 1864] at Chatham, the Tweed [laid down 1860 and cancelled in 1864] at Pembroke, and the Dryad at Portsmouth, - which are admirably adapted for conversion into armour-plated ships. They would not require the removal of any decks, as would be the case with line-of-battle ships, but would only have to be lengthened and strengthened to enable them to bear the increased weight which would be placed on them. Of the other vessels in progress several are intended to carry 22 guns and upwards. If completed as iron-cased steamers they would be larger and of greater tonnage than either the Monitor or Merrimac. The whole of the hands have been removed from the wooden ships building at the several dockyards, and are now employed on the iron-cased frigates under construction, five of which will be afloat by the end of the present year.
Th 10 April 1862'Important Experiments At Shoeburyness'.
We 16 April 1862The Duke of Somerset, First Lord of the Admiralty, accompanied by his private secretary, Capt. J. Moore, C.B., and Rear-Admiral R. Spencer Robinson, Controller of the Navy, paid an official visit to Chatham dockyard yesterday. Their object was to inspect the iron ships now under construction at Chatham, in order to ascertain the progress made with them. On arriving at the dockyard the Duke of Somerset was met by Capt. Fanshawe, superintendent, Mr. Lang, master shipbuilder, Commander Pope, master attendant, and the other principal officials of the establishment, who accompanied him to the dock in which the Achilles, 50, is building, where he spent a considerable time in the inspection of the works. After leaving the Achilles he proceeded to the extreme end of the building sheds to inspect the armour-plated frigate Royal Oak, 50, which is now waiting to receive her shield-plates. Instructions were given for every exertion to be used in completing this vessel, which, provided no delay arises in plating her, will be launched in August next, about a month before the period formerly calculated upon. The works adjoining the Royal Oak shed, in which the machinery required to be used in preparing the armour-plates is to be erected, were then inspected, after which a visit was paid to the Bulwark, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1873], and the Belvidera, 51 [laid down in 1860 and cancelled in 1864], ordered to be converted into armour-plated shield-ships. His Grace returned to the Admiralty in the afternoon.
We 23 April 1862During the past few weeks large supplies of the best descriptions of both angle and plate iron have poured into Chatham Dockyard, to be used in the construction of the iron steam frigate Achilles, 50. The number of hands employed upon the vessel will shortly be increased to 700, the utmost number that can be accommodated in the factory adjoining the dock in which the Achilles is under construction. Messrs. Collier, of Salford, have received orders to erect two powerful machines in the factory, - one a "slotting" engine, for cutting and shaping the slabs of iron which will form the shield-plates of the Achilles; and the other a planing machine, the largest of its kind in the world, for smoothing the surface of the plates before they are affixed to the ship's side. Both machines are now being fixed in the factory, and will shortly be fit for working. By direction of the Admiralty, Mr. Robinson, first assistant master-shipwright at Sheerness Dockyard, has been removed to Chatham Dockyard, in order that he may acquire a knowledge of the details of the system of iron shipbuilding. The projecting bow of the Achilles, forged at the Thames Ironworks, has been fixed in its place, and the stern-post will shortly be received from Glasgow, where it is being forged. The following are the principal dimensions of the Achilles :-Length between perpendiculars, 380ft.; length of keel for tonnage, 338ft. 9in.; extreme breadth, 58ft. 3½in.; breadth for tonnage, 58ft. 1¾in.; breadth, moulded, 58ft. ; depth in hold, 21ft. 1in.; burden, 6,079 5-94 tons.
We 7 May 1862Yesterday Prince Oscar, Crown Prince of Sweden, attended by his suite, paid a visit to Chatham for the purpose of inspecting the dockyard and other naval establishments. His Royal Highness, who was accompanied by Captain the Hon. J.R. Drummond, C.B., one of the Lords of the Admiralty, arrived at the dockyard shortly before 11 o'clock. He was received there by Captain Fanshawe, superintendent, and the principal officials, who conducted him over the establishment. The objects which attracted the greatest interest were the iron steamers now building, one of which, the armour-plated frigate Royal Oak is so far advanced that she will be shortly launched. His Royal Highness waa first shown the Achilles, 50, every part of which he examined, and with the extraordinary size of which he appeared much struck. Nearly the whole of the frames - answering to the timbers of a wooden ship - are in their places, and two of the bulkheads fixed. After spending some time in examining the works connected with the Achilles, the Prince inspected the Bulwark, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1873]; the Belvidera, 51 [laid down in 1860 and cancelled in 1864]; the Menai, 22 [laid down in 1861 and cancelled in 1864]; and the Reindeer, 17, all eventually to be transformed to iron-plated steamers. He then visited the works connected with the Royal Oak and the various factories. He left the dockyard shortly before 1 o'clock and returnd to town.
Ma 2 June 1862Orders were on Saturday received at Chatham dockyard from the Admiralty, directing no more hands to be entered at that establishment to fill up vacancies, excepting in the case of those for the iron frigate Achilles, 50.
Tu 3 June 1862The works connected with the construction of the iron frigate Achilles, 51, building at Chatham, are rapidly advancing, and nearly the whole of the iron ribs, answering to the timbers in a wooden vessel, are in their place. There is still a want of both angle, bulkhead, and plate iron, the deliveries from the contractors not keeping pace with the requirements. The large sternpost, one of the largest forgings ever prepared in this country, has been forged by an eminent firm in the north, but it was yesterday announced in the dockyard that the officials appointed by the Admiralty had condemned the sternpost in consequence of the discovery of a serious flaw in the iron in an important part. This will cause a considerable loss of time, as several months will lapse before another equally large sternpost can be prepared. In consequence of the factory at the eastern end of the yard not being completed some portion of the machinery for preparing the plates for the Royal Oak has been fixed in the factory in which the workmen on the Achilles are employed.
We 18 June 1862The process of testing the iron delivered by the various contractors at Chatham Dockyard, for the Achilles, 50, building at that establishment, has been carried on for the last few days in the testing house of the dockyard, and has resulted in nearly 100 tons, chiefly of five-eighths plate-iron, being rejected as not reaching the standard of excellence laid down by the Admiralty. For some time the iron received at Chatham was of very superior quality, but lately it has proved rather inferior, In consequence considerable quantities have been rejected, by which the works have been greatly retarded. This will cause a serious delay in the construction of the ship, as only a very small number of platers are now employed, owing to the scarcity of good iron. There are rather less than 500 hands now employed on the Achilles, but at least double that number of workmen will be required to be placed on her if she is to be completed by the time originally fixed by the Admiralty. A slight alteration is to be made in the plans, so as to obtain increased strength, in order to enable the frigate to sustain the additional weight which will be thrown on her in having the massive armour plates carried from stem to stern, and not simply along her broadsides as was at first intended, this arrangement rendering her completely invulnerable, as no part will be left exposed to shot.
Ma 7 July 1862It was considered probable that the body of mechanics employed on the iron frigate Achilles, 51, who struck work at Chatham Dockyard on Thursday afternoon, would resume their employment next morning, but at the hour of opening the yard not a single man of the whole number who turned out on the previous day presented himself at the gates, and it therefore appears that the men are firm in their resolve not to re-enter the yard as long as shipwrights are employed on the iron ship. As soon as it was found that the men who voluntarily quitted their work would not return, another body of shipwrights was placed on the Achilles, and, acting on instructions received from the Admiralty, a third party was removed to that vessel from the iron-plated frigate Royal Oak on Friday afternoon. The mechanics on strike do not complain of the insufficiency of the wages paid them - skilled mechanics obtaining from 7s. to 8s. 6d. per day - nor of the number of hours they are required to work. Their sole ground of complaint is that shipwrights are employed on work which they cannot perform, and that ultimately they will monopolize the whole of the labour connected with iron shipbuilding at the Royal dockyard. At present the strike is confined to the platers, riveters, and angle-iron smiths. The number who had left their work up to Friday is about 100. Notwithstanding the attempts made by the workmen who have quitted the yard to induce the hammermen, holders-up, chippers, and labourers to leave their work, no disposition has yet appeared among them to join in the strike. Arrangements were on Friday made by the Admiralty to procure a fresh supply of hands to take the places of those who had left work, and under no circumstances will any of those men who are out on strike be allowed to resume work at Chatham Dockyard. After the weekly payment of the ordinary workmen of the yard had been made on Friday, the men on strike were admitted to receive their pay, which was handed to them in the presence of Capt. Fanshawe, by Mr. Clutworthy, the accountant; after which the mechanics again left the yard. On Friday the chairman, secretary, and some of the leading committee of the Trades' Union, arrived at Chatham from Manchester and London, and commenced an organization for preventing any new hands being allowed to enter the dockyard to take the place of those on strike. A strong body of police is on duty in and near the dockyard to prevent intimidation towards workmen who may be desirous of entering the yard. On Saturday Mr. Lang, the master shipbuilder, proceeded to London to have an interview with the Admiralty on the course to be adopted under the present circumstances, as the works in connexion with building the Achilles will be nearly at a standstill unless skilled mechanics can be obtained to take the places of the men who have struck. The workmen boast that they have a fund amounting to some thousands of pounds at their disposal, and can not only decline to work themselves, but can also prevent a single hand from entering the yard for several months to come. Each of the men on strike is paid the sum of 12s. per week during the whole time the strike lasts. In consequence of the demand which now exists for skilled first-class mechanics, most of the turnouts have already obtained employment. In consequence of this sudden and unlooked-for strike the completion of the Achilles will be delayed several months.
Tu 8 July 1862Yesterday a number of mechanics presented themselves at Chatham Dockyard for entry at that establishment to supply the places of those now on strike, it being now definitely understood that under no circumstances will any of the turnouts be again employed. The applicants for work were all inspected by the master-shipbuilder, and several were at once entered and placed on the Achilles. There is no doubt, whatever, that the entire number of hands required to succeed the men on strike will be soon obtained, notwithstanding the attempts of the turnouts, aided by the emissaries of the trades society, to prevent the Admiralty from obtaining workmen. Since the strike the shipwrights placed on the Achilles have been employed as riveters and platers, - branches of the trade in which it was never intended to employ them had it not been for the attempted coercion of the hired mechanics. As it is, the new hands are making very satisfactory progress, considering that the work is altogether new to them, and the officials engaged in superintending the building of the iron frigate state confidently that in a very short time the work done by the shipwrights will not be in the slightest degree inferior to that of the trade mechanics. Yesterday, the second of the large machines to be used in bending the armour plates for the Royal Oak and Achilles, while hot, was completed at the factory under the superintendence of Mr. Armstrong, the machine being precisely the same as that used in preparing the armour-plates for the Warrior. There are also two very powerful hydraulic machines used in the dockyard, manufactured by Messrs. Westward, Baillie, and Co., for bending the armour plates cold.
We 9 July 1862A peremptory order was yesterday received at Chatham from the Admiralty, directing two leading men among the mechanics employed on the iron ship Achilles, 50, to be immediately discharged from the yard, as, from facts which have come to the knowledge of the Admiralty, they were the instigators of the strike which took place in the dockyard a few days since. Several of the men who left their employment now bitterly complain of the step which they were compelled, under compulsion of the union, to take, and would gladly re-enter the yard. Under no circumstances, however, will any of the hands connected with the late strike be again taken on. The Admiralty are determined to submit to no coercion from their own men, who had no real grounds for taking the course they did. Yesterday several additional applications were received from mechanics for entry in the yard, and there is no doubt that the whole number of hands required on the iron ship will before long be obtained.
Th 17 July 1862By special permission of the Admiralty 28 of the cadets belonging to the Danish training frigate Pillau, lying off Greenhithe, accompanied by their captain, paid a visit of inspection to Chatham dockyard on Tuesday, and were conducted over the establishment by Mr. Hutchins, one of the assistant master shipbuilders. The principal objects of attraction appeared to be the iron frigate Achilles, 50, and the armour-plated frigate Royal Oak, 50, both of which are under construction. Both vessels were very minutely inspected, particularly the Royal Oak, Capt. Suemon, who accompanied the cadets, stating that it was the intention of the Danish Government forthwith to construct several armour-plated frigates, and that they were desirous of obtaining the best possible information to guide them in their construction. After leaving the Royal Oak a considerable time was spent in inspecting the costly and powerful machinery recently erected in the factory adjoining the dock in which the Achilles is building for boring, planing, cutting, and otherwise preparing the exterior plates for that vessel. The cadets left the yard in the afternoon, after expressing the greatest possible pleasure at their visit to the extensive establishment.
Th 24 July 1862The strike which recently took place among the hired mechanics employed on the iron frigate Achilles, 51, at Chatham Dockyard, having caused the whole of the skilled mechanics to leave the yard, upwards of 100 of the best workmen have been removed from the Royal Oak, 51, and the other wooden ships building, and placed on the Achilles, where they will work as riveters, platers, and in other branches of the trade until the iron vessel is completed. To supply the vacancies thus caused the Admiralty have given directions for 200 additional shipwrights to be immediately entered in the yard to take the places of the established shipwrights who are draughted on to the Achilles. During yesterday, and the previous day, large numbers of hands presented themselves at the dockyard gates, and in the course of a few days the entire number of additional shipwrights required will have been obtained.
Th 7 August 1862'Admiralty Waste'.
Ma 11 August 1862'Our Iron-Cased Fleets'.
Tu 19 August 1862The portable steam travelling cranes recently supplied to Chatham dockyard by Messrs. Taylor and Co., of the Britannia Works, Birkenhead, the patentees, for lifting the iron slabs, beams, and plates used in the construction of the Achilles, 50, iron frigate, having been very favourably reported on by the officials of the establishment, four of them, each capable of lifting eight tons, are to be supplied for use in No. 3 dock in which the Royal Oak, 50, is to be floated, as soon as launched, to be plated. The elevated tramway for the cranes have been laid down, on each side, the entire length of the dock, and two of the steam cranes have already arrived from the patentees and the remainder will shortly follow. The Royal Oak, according to present orders, is to be launched on the 10th proximo, immediately after which she will be floated into No 3 dock, to have the remainder of her armour plates affixed to her sides.
We 27 August 1862Yesterday Captain Rattendyke,[actually Willem Huyssen van KattendijkeExternal link] the Dutch Minister of Marine, paid a visit to Chatham Dockyard for the purpose of inspecting the iron ships under construction at that establishment. On arriving at the dockyard he was conducted over the several departments by Capt. Fanshawe, the superintendent, and Mr. Lang, principal master shipbuilder, the chief points of attraction being the factory in which the massive machinery is at work for preparing the iron used in the construction of the Achilles, 50, in progress in No. 3 dock, in the inspection of which, as well as the skeleton of the iron frigate, some time was spent. Capt. Rattendyke then proceeded to the extremity of the yard to inspect the armour-clad frigate Royal Oak, 50, which is just ready for launching.
Tu 9 September 1862Yesterday a number of additional hands were transferred to the iron frigate Achilles, 50. The vacancies by the withdrawal of the large number of mechanics from the dockyard, on strike, have not yet all been filled up, and firstclass platers are still required for employment on board the iron ship. Some delay has been occasioned in prosecuting the works connected with the bulilding of the Achilles, in consequence of the amended plans having been for some time under the consideration of the Admiralty; these, however, have finally been decided upon, and every effort will now be directed to the completion of the iron frigate with the least possible delay. The whole of the improvements which the experience of the last six months has taught the Admiralty, will, it is fully espected, have the effect of rendering the Achilles as much superior in sailing capabil,ties and attacking and defensive powers to the Warrior as the latter vessel is to our Marlboroughs, Renowns, and Merseys.
Th 18 September 1862The first portion of the iron plates required for the projecting stem of the Achilles, 50, were successfully bent at the factory in Chatham Dockyard yesterday afternoon, under the direction of Mr. Armstrong, by whom the whole of the plate-bending machines for preparing the plates both for the Achilles and the Royal Oak have been constructed. The plates operated upon yesterday were bent under a new application of the hydraulic principle, the machine used having been constructed in the dockyard under Mr. Armstrong's directions.
Tu 23 September 1862Orders have been received at Chatham Dockyard for several additional men and boys to be entered at that establishment, to be employed on the Achilles, 50, iron steamer.
Sa 11 October 1862With the exception of a body of shipwrights employed on the paddlewheel despatch steamer Salamis, 4, 250-horse power, the efforts of the mechanics and artisans at Chatham dockyard are devoted almost exclusively to the iron and iron-plated ships under construction. The greatest share of attention is directed to the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 1,250-horse power, which has as many as 500 hands employed on her, a considerable number of whom are shipwrights who have been there since the turnout of the hired mechanics, which occurred some few months since. The work is now steadily proceeding. Some unforeseen delays have occurred during her progress, consequent on the Admiralty having deviated from the plans according to which it was originally intended she should be built; but as the alterations are the result of the practical trials with the Warrior and Black Prince, the experience thus gained will be turned to proper account during the progress of the Achilles. The alterations have been finally approved by the Board of Admiralty, and no further delay from this cause is again likely to arise. The Achilles, unlike the Warrior and Black Prince, will be completely encased in armour-plates, rendering her invulnerable from stem to stern. In this respect she wil be superior in her means of defence to both the vessels named, which are only covered with armour-plates for about 200ft. on their broadsides, leaving the distance to their stem and stern entirely unprotected, with the exception of a thin coating of iron. It is also intended to carry the armour-plates to a height of seven feet above the main deck all round. By this means additional protection wil be given at the part of the vessel where it is most required. In No. 3 dock, adjoining that in which the Achilles is building, lies the Royal Oak, 50, armour-plated frigate. The number of hands employed about her is between 300 and 400, their efforts being chiefly concentrated on placing her armour-plates. At the time of her Launch a few weeks since, her third tier of plates on her broadsides had been commenced. Since she has been in dock, however, another tier has been added, and these have nearly all been bolted to the ship's side. The bolts carrying her armour-plates are all of galvanized iron, the plates being laid on a packing of felt. The machinery for planing, shaping, bending, and otherwise preparing the plates is now in full operation, the iron slabs being turned out complete as fast, if not faster, than the mechanics can fix them to the ship's side. The Royal Oak has already shipped her huge iron lower masts and bowsprit, and from the energy which is being shown in completing her there is every probability that she will be ready to proceed to sea, early in 1863. In order to facilitate the operation of plating the Royal Oak tramways have been laid down on both sides of the dock, on which are laid two of Taylor's large travelling steam cranes, each capable of lifting armour-plates of the heaviest kind. To within 40ft. of her stem and stern the armour-plates of the Royal Oak will be of the uniform thickness of 4½in.; they will then commence tapering off to 3in. in thickness, excepting under the buttock, where they will be 2½.in., and at the stern 2in. in thickness.
Fr 31 October 1862The Grand Duke of Saxe-Coburg and suite paid a visit to Chatham Dockyard on Wednesday, and inspected the various departments connected with that establishment. After spending a short time in the inspection of a variety of moulds and drawings in the office of Mr. Lang, master shipbuilder, the distinguished visitors, accompanied by Capt. Fanshawe and the other officials, made the tour of the dockyard, visiting in the first instance the iron frigate Achilles, in the examination of the works of which they spent some time. They next proceeded to No. 3 dock, occupied by the iron-cased frigate Royal Oak, over which they were conducted, and the interior of which was very minutely inspected, his Serene Highness descending into the engine-room and examining the machinery. Leaving the Royal Oak, the party was conducted to the end of the yard, where the Duke and attendants witnessed the operations connected with the preparation of the slabs of iron for forming the armour-plates for the Royal Oak. Before quitting the dockyard the visitors went over the factory, and also examined the Salamis paddlewheel steamer, building on the first slip.
Sa 1 November 1862Yesterday Rear-Admiral S. Robinson, the Controller of the Navy, visited Chatham Dockyard, and was occupied some time in the transaction of official business. During his visit to the dockyard Admiral Robinson proceeded to the factory and dock in which the iron steam frigate Achilles, 6,000 tons, is under construction, for the purpose of inspecting progress. He also inspected the armour-plated steam frigate Royal Oak, 3,700 tons, in the adjoining dock.
Th 6 November 1862Yesterday a body of 50 additional shipwrights, together with a large number of labourers, holders up, and other workman, were placed on the iron steam-frigate Achilles, 1,250-horse power, under construction at Chatham dockyard. The number of hands now employed about that vessel is close upon 900, 250 of whom are dockyard shipwrights who have acquired sufficient knowledge of iron shipbuilding to justify their being employed on the new iron frigate. The midships portion of the iron-plates, or skin of the vessel, having all been riveted, the operation of fixing the teak backing, on which the exterior armour plates will be laid, was commenced yesterday. Between the inner and outer plates of the vessel's side will be laid a backing of teak 18 inches in thickness, composed of two planks, the 10-inch baulks of timber being fixed fore and aft, and the 8-inch timbers up and down. Over these, again, will blithe 4½-inch armour-plates, giving, with the interior plates, a solid thickness of iron and teak of between 23 and 24 inches. In this respect the Achilles will be constructed differently from the Warrior and Black Prince, both of which vessels have their armour-plates fixed amidships only, leaving the stem and stern entirely unprotected. In the Achilles every portion of the exterior of the vessel's side will be covered with armour-plates, which towards the stem and stern will not exceed 2½ inches in thickness, those portions of the vessel being the least exposed. To lessen the tendency to roll common to all our large iron ships of war, the Achilles is constructed flatter on the floors than either the Black Prince or the Warrior; her engines and machinery will also he placed about two feet lower, and nearer her keelson. It is intended to give the Achilles an additional mast, in order to render her more manageable when under canvas than the Warrior, which, it is now generally admitted, would have her sailing qualities improved by being provided with a fourth mast. Although the Achilles will be furnished with one more mast than her sister ships, the amount of canvas she will spread will scarcely exceed the Warrior's. The trim of the new frigate will be improved, and the sails being somewhat smaller than in the other large iron ships, the operations of reefing, shortening, and making sail will be attended with considerably less labour and difficulty. From the progress already made there is every probability of her being ready for floating out of dock by the end of next year. It will be 12 months later before she will be ready to proceed on her first cruise.
Tu 2 December 1862The large target erected at Shoeburyness for the recent experiments with the 70-pounder, 120-pounder, and other Whitworth guns, is to be at once repaired with the iron plates used in the construction of the Achilles, 50, and the Royal Oak, 34, at Chatham Dockyard, in readiness for some further experiments which will be made under the direction of the Ordnance Select Committee. The target is to be repaired under the superintendence of Mr. W. Baskcamb, one of the foremen of shipwrights at Chatham Dockyard.
Fr 5 December 1862The works connected with the construction of the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 1,200 horse-power, have made considerable advance during the past few weeks, and should no further interruption take place there is little doubt that the vessel will be completed some few months before the time originally contemplated. On Wednesday another body of shipwrights were removed from the vessels on which they have been working at Chatham Dockyard, and placed on the iron frigate, making the number of hands now employed on the Achilles close upon 1,000. The operation of bending the remaining plates to form the stem of the frigate was successfully accomplished in the factory on Wednesday, under the direction of Mr. Armstrong, formerly employed on the Warrior, under whose superintendence all the mechanical details connected with the preparation of the iron for the Achilles are carried out. The stem is formed from three longitudinal plates, each about three inches in thickness, and weighing from 16cwt. to 2 tons. The process of bending the plates for this portion of the vessel has been the most difficult yet undertaken, and one which has taxed the efforts as well as the ingenuity of the officials in the factory. The plates used in the process have to be bent to the shape of a semicircle, and to effect this the utmost care is required, as the slightest flaw or crack in the iron during the operation causes its instant rejection. The plates as soon as heated are removed to a powerful hydraulic press, where the mass is gradually bent to the required shape. As soon as this operation has been completed the parts are welded together under the Nasmyth hammer. The resources of Chatham Dockyard not allowing the iron sternpost to be forged at that establishment, it has been prepared at a private factory at Glasgow, and will arrive at the dockyard in the course of the week, the Rhadamanthus having been despatched to Glasgow to convey it to Chatham. The internal plating on the midships portion of the frigate is now completed and ready for the reception of the teak backing, which will be carried to a thickness of 18 inches, and on which the exterior 4½-inch armour-plates will be laid. The whole of the iron frames, with the exception of a few at the stem and stern, are now in their place. The mechanics are now employed in fixing on these the three-quarter inch iron plates which form the skin of the vessel. There will be 18 compartments, as bulkheads, all of which will be shot-proof and water-tight, and several of these have already received the first portion of their iron plates. The factory for preparing the plates for the Achilles adjoins the dock in which the frigate is building, and is fitted up with annealing furnaces and the most powerful hydraulic and other machinery, nearly the whole of which was constructed for the Government by private firms.
Tu 9 December 1862As soon as sufficient progress has been made with the iron-plated steam frigate Royal Oak, 50, and the iron steamer Achilles, 50, to allow of a proportion of the hands employed on those vessels being transferred to the other ships which have been commenced at Chatham, the works connected with the whole of which have been suspended for several months past, it is intended to proceed with the conversion of the 50-gun frigate Belvidera, 3,030 tons, 600-horse power, now on the stocks, to an iron-plated frigate of the Royal Oak class [Belvidera was never completed, being cancelled in 1864]. The Belvidera was laid down nearly three years ago on the fourth slip, but for the past two years not a single hand has been employed on her. She is completely in frame, but no portion of her planking has yet been affixed. In order to convert her into the armour-cased vessel intended it will be necessary to take her to pieces and reconstruct her on No. 7 slip, on which the Royal Oak was built, the shed under which the Belvidera at present lies not being sufficiently commodious to permit of her proposed alterations; in addition to which the new slip is fitted with the requisite machinery, travellers, cranes, &c., employed in iron shipbuilding. In converting the Belvidera into an iron-clad frigate it will be necessary to lengthen, her amidships about 40ft., in addition to which her breadth of beam will be increased six feet. In the reconstruction of the Belvidera it is not intended to follow the plans and models on which the Royal Oak and the other armour-plated frigates have been built, until the sailing and other qualities of our squadron of wooden iron-cased steamers have been tested by practical experience at sea.
Tu 16 December 1862A contract for the supply of a portion of the armour-plates for the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 1,250-horse power, building at Chatham dockyard, has been taken by Messrs. Brown and Co., of the Atlas works, Sheffield. They have engaged to supply the plates at the rate of 45l. 10s. per ton. The same firm is under contract to supply the armour plates for the iron vessel Enterprise, -which is being constructed according to the plan proposed by Mr. Reed. About 600 tons have already been received at Chatham dockyard from the Thames Ironworks, the Parkgate Foundry, and other establishments, to be used in plating the Achilles and the Royal Oak, 50. The whole of these plates are stacked beneath the shed erected for the screw steamer Reindeer, 17, under construction. In addition to these upwards of 800 tons of armour plates have been already bolted to the sides of the Royal Oak. The principal portion of the armour-plates for the Achilles will be manufactured at the Parkgate Ironworks, Yorkshire, which firm has already supplied a large number used at Chatham. In the manufacture of the armour plates for the Achilles some improvements will be introduced in order to give greater strength and hardness to the iron. In the preparation of the plates hitherto supplied for our iron and iron-cased vessels a certain number have been manufactured either from rolled or hammered iron, that is, the "bloom" of iron when taken from the furnace is either rolled into the required slab under heavy rollers, or else beaten into shape under the steam hammer. It is intended, however, to employ both these processes in preparing the armour-plating for the Achilles, the "bloom" being first rolled into the shape of the plate, which will then be completed under the operations of the hammer, experience having shown that the plates manufactured by hammering are considerably tougher and have a much closer grain than those which have been rolled only. According to existing appearances, the Achilles will be ready to receive her first tier of armour-plates in about a month, the shipwrights being now engaged in fixing the 18-inch teak backing on those parts of the interior plates of the vessel which are already completed. The present elevated tramway on each side of the dock will shortly be removed, and in its place a much larger tramway will be laid down for a pair of the most powerful of Taylor's steam cranes, two of which have been for some time at work in the adjoining dock, lifting the heavy armour-plates and other portions of the iron-work for the Royal Oak:, which latter vessel is expected to be ready for floating out of dock during the ensuing mouth.
Sa 27 December 1862The Rhadamanthus, 4, 220-horse power, Master Commander F.B. Sturdee, arrived at Chatham on Christmas-day from Scotland, having on board the stern-post and some heavy portions of the iron-work for the Achilles, 50, 1,250 horse power, which have been forged at one of the Glasgow foundries. The stern-post was unshipped yesterday by means of the floating shears in the harbour, after which the Rhadamanthus left Chatham for the Nore.
We 31 December 1862The iron sternpost and sill of the Achilles, 50, 1,250-horse power, have arrived at Chatham Dockyard from the private factory at Glasgow where they were forged, having been conveyed to Chatham in the Rhadamanthus paddlewheel steamer. The sternpost weighs about 30 tons, and is one of the largest forgings in one piece ever accomplished for the Admiralty by any private firm. This is the second sternpost forged for the Achilles, the one originally prepared for that vessel having been discovered to contain several flaws, which led to its rejection. Before the sternpost was removed from Glasgow it was carefully inspected by some of the officials connected with the Admiralty.
Sa 3 January 1863Some delay has taken place in fixing the large wrought iron sternposts and keel of the iron frigate Achilles, 50, under construction at Chatham, in consequence of it having been found necessary to make some alterations in them before they could be fitted. The sternpost and the other portions of the keel were received at Chatham dockyard from Glasgow about ten days since, and since their arrival it has been necessary to alter the length of the afterpiece of the keel. Some three or four days will still elapse before the alterations now in hand are effected. The weight of the inner sternpost is 12 tons 4 cwt., the afterpiece of the keel 14 tons 4 cwt., and the outer sternpost 13 tons 12 cwt.
Tu 6 January 1863About 100 tons of the large armour-plates for the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 1,250-horse power, have been received at Chatham Dockyard from the establishment of Messrs. Saunderson and Co., the firm under contract with the Admiralty to supply a portion of the armour-plating for this ship. The iron slabs for the exterior are now being prepared in the factory adjoining the dock in which the Achilles is building, in order that no delay may be experienced in the work of plating that vessel when the 18 inches of teak backing, on which the armour-plates will be hung, is completed. This will probably be in about two or three weeks hence.
Th 15 January 1863The required alterations having been effected in the inner stern-post for the iron frigate Achilles, building at Chatham Dockyard, the operation of lowering it into the dock and fixing it in position was accomplished vesterday, under the superintendence of Mr. Lang, master-shipwright, and his assistants. It was necessary to exercise the utmost care in handling and lowering the formidable mass, owing to its unwieldy shape and great weight. The after-piece of the keel, the weight of which is 14 tons 4 cwt. 3 qrs. 4 1b., was successfully fixed the previous day, when a number of mechanics immediately commenced preparing it for receiving the outer and inner stern-posts. The inner stern-post weighs 12 tons 4 cwt., and the outer post 13 tons 12 cwt., both pieces having been forged for the Admiralty at the private foundry at Glasgow, their manufacture occupying several months, owing to the difficulties connected with the operation. The value of the stern-post is estimated at 6,000l. The shipwrights yesterday commenced the second course of 10-inch teak planking on the broadsides of the Achilles, on which the 4½-inch armour-plates will be fixed, thus giving a thickness of just 24 inches of timber and iron.
Ma 19 January 1863The wrought-iron rudder-post for the iron frigate Achilles, 50, under construction at Chatham, having had the required alterations effected, was lowered into its position in the dock on Saturday afternoon. Its weight is 14 tons, and its manufacture occupied several months. The work of plating the Achilles will be immediately commenced, a considerable portion of the 18-inch teak backing- on which the armour-plates will be placed, being now ready for their reception. In order to facilitate the operation of fixing the iron slabs to the frigate's broadsides, the elevated tramways running the entire length on both sides the dock will be taken down. Their removal will be commenced to-day. An additional line of rails will then be laid on each side the dock, on which will be placed two of the largest description of the steam travelling cranes, manufactured for the Admiralty by Messrs. Taylor, of the Britannia Ironworks, Birkenhead, each crane being capable of raising weights up to ten tons, The whole of the requisite machinery has been erected for bending, planing, and otherwise preparing the slabs of iron which will form the armour-plating of the Achilles, in order that no delay whatever might occur in the progress of plating the iron frigate after the work has once fairly commenced.
Tu 20 January 1863The operation of bending the first armour-plate for the iron frigate Achilles, 50, at Chatham Dockyard, was successfully accomplished yesterday afternoon in the factory adjoining the dock in which the Achilles is under construction. The plate operated upon yesterday was one of a large number supplied to the Admiralty by the Parkgate Company, Yorkshire, and was of the best possible iron. Its dimensions were 15 feet 3 inches in length, 3 feet 2 inches in breadth, and 4½ inches in thickness, the weight being 3 tons 19 cwt. 1 qr. The plates received from the Parkgate foundry, being all of rolled iron, require no annealing, as is the case with those shaped under the operations of the steam hammer, the hammering process which they undergo in their manufacture rendering them so exceedingly hard that it is impossible to bend, plane, drill, and otherwise prepare them until they have undergone the annealing process in the furnace. The plate selected yesterday was taken from several hundred tons stored beneath the shed under which the Reindeer is building, and was removed direct from the stack to the hydraulic press with which the whole of the plates used for the Royal Oak were bent cold. In less than an hour it had been twisted and bent to the exact shape of the mould taken from that portion of the side of the Achilles to which the plate will be attached. It was afterwards removed to another part of the factory to undergo the planing, drilling, and polishing processes. The hydraulic press, being no longer required to be used in bending the plates for the Royal Oak, will now be exclusively employed in shaping the armour-plates for the Achilles. During yesterday afternoon the workmen commenced the removal of the elevated tramways on each side of the dock in order to lay down a much larger line of rails, on which will be placed two of the patent steam cranes for lifting the armour-plates.
Tu 27 January 1863The massive wrought-iron sternpost for the iron frigate Achilles, building at Chatham, having been successfully lowered into the dock a few days previously, was fixed in its place on Saturday afternoon without the slightest accident having occurred. A considerable portion of the broadside of the Achilles is now covered with the 18-inch teak planking, and in a few days will be ready for the reception of the 4½-inch armour-plates, a number of which have been bent by the hydraulic machine, and are now undergoing the polishing, planing, and boring processes in the factory adjoining the dock. On Saturday workmen commenced laying down a portion of the tramway on which will be placed a couple of Taylor's patent steam travelling cranes, to be used in lifting the slabs of iron which will be bolted to the broadside of the Achilles. Cranes of the same description have been used in the plating of the Royal Oak, in the next dock, where they were found to work well.
Ma 9 February 1863Rear-Admiral Robinson, the controller of the navy, went down to Chatham-dockyard on Saturday for the purpose of inspecting the progress made with the iron and ironplated vessels under construction at that establishment. After transacting some business with Captain Fanshawe, superintendent of the dockyard, the controller, accompanied by Mr. Lang, master shipbuilder, and Mr. Hutchens, one of his assistants, visited the iron frigate Achilles, 50, the iron-plated frigate Royal Oak, 34, and the iron paddlewheel steamer Recruit, 6. Every hand now employed in the dockyard has been removed from the wooden ships, and the whole of the exertions of the establishment are at present devoted to the completion of the squadron of iron vessels. The Achilles, which is by far the most important vessel of any of those in hand, has made rapid progress during the last few months, there being now upwards of 1,000 hands employed exclusively on this ship. The first of her armourplates has been already bolted to her sides, and it is now confidently asserted that she will be completed and undocked in six months from the present time. The Royal Oak, in the adjoining dock, is entirely completed in her armour-plating, and a number of hands are employed in erecting the shot-proof turret on her upper deck. After visiting the iron paddle wheel steamer Recruit, which is undergoing some very extensive repairs, Admiral Robinson proceeded to the shed under which the wooden frigate Belvidera, 51, 500.horse power, is building [but was subsequently cancelled in 1864], but which is shortly to be taken to pieces and rebuilt on the large granite slip at the extremity of the yard, on which the Royal Oak was built. The Belvidera is intended to be reconstructed as an iron-plated frigate of the Royal Oak class, although on a somewhat different plan. The designs have been prepared by Mr. Lang, the master-shipbuilder at Chatham, and approved by the Admiralty. As soon as the hands now employed on the Royal Oak were released from that vessel they will be transferred to the Belvidera, the reconstruction of which will then be commenced. After giving various directions as to the work connected with the several vessels inspected, Admiral Robinson returned to the Admiralty early in the afternoon.
Ma 16 February 1863Now that the armour-clad frigate Royal Oak, 34, 800 horse power, is, with the exception of a few trifling operations, out of the hands of the smiths, every exertion will be used to push forward the construction of the much larger iron frigate Achilles, now in the adjoining dock at Chatham. The result of the visit of the Controller of the Navy, Admiral Robinson, to the dockyard a few days since has already shown itself in the increased exertions which are being used by all persons, from the foremen to the rivet boys, employed on this frigate, in order that she may be completed and afloat some time before the end of the present year. About 200ft. on both the port and starboard broadsides of the frigate is planked with the 18in. of teak timber on which the armour-plates will be placed, and as fast as these can be prepared by the hands in the adjoining factory they will be bolted to the sides of the vessel. The whole of the plates received at Chatham Dockyard up to the present time for armour-plating the Achilles are stacked beneath the shed under which the Reindeer is lying on the stocks, where there is massed close upon 1,000 tons of armour-plating, which, at the lowest contract price of 37l. per ton, represents a capital of nearly 37,000l. Most of the plates are from the firm of Beale and Co., at the Parkgate Ironworks, Derbyshire, and from the Thames Ironworks. Notwithstanding the difficulties which have been encountered in plating the sides of the Achilles, owing to the absence of the proper lifting steam cranes, the work of fixing the armour-plates is progressing steadily, and in spite of these drawbacks the first tier of plates on both sides are nearly all fixed in their places as far as the teak planking has been laid. Workmen are now busily engaged in preparing the ground and laying down the tramways for a couple of the largest of Taylor's steam travelling cranes, similar to those used on the Royal Oak, in the plating of which ship they were of such immense service. With the aid of these there is nothing now to prevent the work of plating the Achilles being carried on as fast as the slabs of iron can be turned out of the factory, where, with every exertion, about 20 armour-plates can be prepared weekly. This is by no means an inconsiderable number when the nature of the operations connected with the smoothing, bending, planing, polishing, and boring slabs of iron, each 15ft. in length by 3ft. 6in. in width, with a thickness of 4½in., and of 4 tons weight, is taken into calculation. In fact, the principal part of the delay in the construction of the Achilles has hitherto arisen from the want of the requisite machinery for the construction of vessels of this kind. Most of the difficulties have, however, now been surmounted, and nearly the whole of the younger class of shipwrights are already metamorphosed into workers in iron. The manner in which they are doing their work on board the Achilles is admitted, even by those unfriendly to this system, to be in no respect inferior to that of regular mechanics. Notwithstanding that the Minotaur, a sister ship to the Achilles, building for the Government by the Thames Iron Company at Blackwall, is already far advanced towards completion, it is even now stated that the Achilles will be afloat before her. At all events, there is no doubt that before the close of the present year two other splendid iron vessels will be added to the British navy, as much superior to the Warrior and Black Prince as the latter were in their turn superior to the Defence, 16, and vessels of that class. The tonnage of the Achilles is slightly in excess of the Warrior, while her horse-power will be the same - viz., 1,250. Several improvements, both as regards her hull, rig, and armour, are, however, introduced on the Achilles. Every inch of her surface above the water-line, and for some feet below it, will be covered with armour-plates, the Warrior, as well as her sister ship the Black Prince, being only armour-coated for about 220ft. on her broadsides.
Th 5 March 1863The firm employed by the Admiralty to forge the rudder for the iron frigate Achilles, 50, building at Chatham, is that of Westwood, Baillie, and Campbell, at Poplar.
Tu 10 March 1863Yesterday a number of the shipwrights and other hands recently transferred from the Salamis - the only wooden vessel under construction at Chatham dockyard - to the ironplated frigate Royal Oak and the iron frigate Achilles, were again placed on the Salamis in order to complete her for launching.
Ma 6 April 1863On Saturday the Marquis of Hartington, M.P., one of the junior Lords of the Admiralty, accompanied by Colonel G.T. Greane, director of Admiralty works, paid a visit to Chatham dockyard for the purpose of inspecting the works in progress for the extension of that establishment by the formation of additional docks, basins, and factories. His Lordship, who reached the dockyard shortly before noon, was received by Capt. E.G. Fanshawe, the superintendent of the establishment, with whom he was occupied some short time in the transaction of official business. He afterwards proceeded to St. Mary's Island. the site of the proposed new locks, basins, and docks, and spent some time in making an inspection of the work, which is proceeding as rapidly as the difficult nature of the work will permit. He returned to the dockyard by the eastern entrance and inspected the new buildings and factories which have recently been erected adjoining No. 7 slip, and fitted with the requisite machinery for bending, slotting, planing, and preparing the armour plates to be used in plating the Achilles, iron frigate. After partaking of luncheon at the official residence of Captain Fanshawe, his Lordship inspected the block of buildings recently erected by Messrs. Foord and Sons, the Admiralty contractors, near the entrance to the dock-yard, as quarters for the married officers and men of the metropolitan police. Leaving the dockyard, his Lordship next visited the Royal Marine barracks, where he inspected the additional wing and block of buildings now in course of erection by Messrs. Foord, so as to provide barrack accommodation for 800 officers and men beyond the number whom it is now possible to quarter in the barracks. After concluding his inspection of the Royal Marine barracks the Marquis of Hartington returned by train to the Admiralty.
We 8 April 1863In order to hasten the completion of the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 6,080 tons, building at Chatham, in readiness for her being floated out of the dock in which she is under construction by the close of the present year, all the available strength of the dockyard is now engaged upon her, Chatham yard just now presents the unusual spectacle of every hand belonging to the establishment being employed on iron ships, with the exception of a few men engaged in completing the mahogany-built paddle-wheel Admiralty despatch steamer [Salamis], which will be launched during the approaching summer. At present there are between 1,200 and 1,300 mechanics, shipwrights, engineers, and other workmen engaged on the Achilles, the whole of whom have commenced working extra hours. This practice will be continued during the whole of the spring and summer, in order that no unnecessary delay may occur in having the first iron vessel built at either of the Government yards completed and launched. This body of workmen is the largest ever employed at one time on any single vessel at either of the Royal dockyards, and under their exertions the progress made is very considerable. A considerable portion of the broadsides, on both the port and starboard sides, for a length of some 200 feet, is covered with the 20-inch teak planking, on which the slabs of iron are bolted as fast as they are prepared in the adjoining factory. Already four rows of the armour-plates are bolted to the ship's sides for some considerable distance, but this portion of the work is of necessity subject to delay from the time employed in slotting, planing, and otherwise preparing the massive slabs of iron. Some considerable delay is also occasioned from the circumstance of there being no machinery and appliances at Chatham dockyard for galvanizing the iron bolts used in securing the plates to the exterior of the ship, each bolt after being manufactured having to be sent to a private factory to undergo the process of galvanizing according to Tupper's plan. The armour-plates now being used in plating the Achilles are the ordinary 4½-inch 80-cwt. slabs, most of those already fixed being of rolled iron from the Parkgate Ironworks, Yorkshire, which have supplied the greater portion of the iron plates now in store at Chatham dockyard. Unlike the Warrior and the Black Prince, the Achilles will be furnished with four masts, each of which will be of iron.
Sa 11 April 1863An official notice has been received at Chatham dockyard that the boilers for the iron frigate Achilles, 50, have been completed by Messrs. Penn and Sons, at their works, Deptford, and that they are ready for shipment. Owing to every foot in Chatham dockyard being now filled, and there being no unoccupied shed at that establishment sufficiently capacious to receive the large boilers for the Achilles, it is probable that they will be landed at Sheerness dockyard, and placed in store until they are ready to be shipped on board the iron frigate.
We 15 April 1863On board the iron-frigate Achilles, 50, building at Chatham, the greatest activity prevails, and under the operations of the 1,200 hands constantly employed on her very considerable progress is daily perceptible. At the close of this present week all the mechanics, shipwrights, and other hands engaged on this vessel will commence working additional hours, entering the dockyard at 6 a.m. and working until 7 45 p.m. This arrangement will be continued during the summer, the Admiralty being desirous of having her completed and afloat by the close of the year. On the port and starboard sides 65 of the armour-plates had been fixed up to yesterday afternoon, and the operation of bolting the slabs of iron to the exterior of the vessel will be carried on as rapidly as the plates can be prepared and turned out from the adjoining factory. Each plate is laid on a backing of felt, and so evenly is the work finished off that it is impossible to insert a penknife blade between the edges even before the iron caulking is applied to the seams. Although the ironwork on board the Achilles is performed chiefly by shipwrights, who are employed as riveters, platers, and in other capacities, and the whole of whom until within the last few months had been working exclusively on wood, yet so admirably are they doing the work that the results of their labours will bear no unfavourable comparison with that of the most experienced mechanics in that particular department. In the interior of the ship the mechanics are busy with the completion of the watertight bulkheads, or compartments. The Achilles is intended to be fitted with four masts, all of which will be of iron and ship-rigged.
Fr 1 May 1863Yesterday the mechanics commencing bolting the last tier of armour-plates on the port and starboard midship sides of the Achilles, at Chatham dockyard; the seven tiers of armour-plating which encase her sides being now carried from about 5ft. below her load water-line to her bulwarks. During the last few days about 500 hands have been released from the Royal Oak, on which they have been working for several months past, and the greater part of these have been placed on the Achilles, swelling the number of workmen, of all trades, employed on that vessel to upwards of 1,300. The hands engaged on the iron frigate now enter the yard at 6 o'clock, and continue working, with only a few minutes' intervals for meals, until dark, not leaving the establishment till just 8 o'clock. Under the extraordinary exertions which are thus being made to complete this vessel astonishing progress is being made upon every portion of the ship, and there appears to be no reasons for doubting that she will be ready to be floated out of dock by the close of the present year.
Th 7 May 1863The Duke of Somerset, first Lord of the Admiralty, and Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir F.W. Grey, KC.B., Senior Naval Lord, accompanied by Rear-Admiral S. Robinson, Controller of the Navy, Mr. W.G. Romaine, C.B, Under-Secretary of the Admiralty, and Captain R. Hall, Private Secretary to the First Lord, went down to Chatham dockyard yesterday, in order to inspect the vessels under construction and repair, as well as the works in progress at that establishment. Their lordships reached the dockyard shortly after 11 am., and were received at the entrance by Captain E.G. Fanshawe, the superintendent, Mr. Lang, master-shipwright, and the other heads of departments. The chief object of their visit was to inspect the screw frigate Orlando, 46, 1,000-horse power, Capt. Randolph, which has been sent home from the West Indies to undergo heavy repairs. It now appears that the defects are more serious than were at first conjectured, and her repairs will require her detention in dock for some time. Most of the injuries she has sustained are towards her stern, which, from the heavy strain this portion of the vessel in called upon to sustain from the enormous power of her engines, will require to be very considerably strengthened by the addition of iron knees to those parts which give signs of weakness. The whole of her copper sheathing is to be stripped off, when her planking below her water line will be inspected, in order that those portions which give tokens of unsoundness may be renewed. After completing their inspection of the Orlando the Board proceeded to the adjoining dock, in which the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 1,000-horse power, is under construction. Since the former visit of their Lordships the progress made in this ship is something marvellous, and from a mere skeleton of huge iron ribs, nearly every portion from her stem to stern is covered with the inner skin of iron, on which has been laid the 18 inch backing of teak, in readiness for the reception of the armour-plating. About one-third of the armour-plating is already completed, the number of slabs of iron fixed up to yesterday being 97, the total number required to encase every portion of her surface above the water and to 5ft. below the water line being rather over 300. The number of workmen already employed exclusively on the vessel exceeds 1,300. After spending some time in the inspection of the Achilles their Lordships went down the harbour in the Admiralty steam yacht Wildfire, Mr. Brockman commander, to the iron-cased frigate Royal Oak, 35, 800-horse power, Capt. Campbell, lying at Folly Point, preparing for sea. They spent some time in the inspection of this ship, which has comparatively little remaining to be done on board before she will be ready to take her departure for her experimental cruise. After re-embarking in the Wildfire, and before returning to the dockyard, they inspected the works at St. Mary's Island for the extension of the dockyard by the formation of additional docks and basins. On relanding at the dockyard they were occupied a short time in the transaction of official business with Captain-Superintendent Fanshawe, and afterwards left the establishment for the Admiralty.
Fr 8 May 1863A memorial was yesterday forwarded to the Admiralty from the inspectors employed in Chatham dockyard, requesting an extension to them of the same privileges in the way of payment for the extra hours during which they are employed in the dockyard as are now enjoyed by the subordinate officers and mechanics. The workmen and officials employed on the Achilles enter the dockyard, under the present arrangement, at a few minutes before 6 am., and continue working until 8 pm., for which they receive increased pay. The inspectors, however, although employed during the same number of hours, have had no addition made to their salaries, which they complain of as a very great hardship. Some of the leading men are actually placed on the same footing as themselves as regards the extra pay. As a matter of justice to a deserving class of officers it is hoped that their Lordships will take steps for removing the grievance complained of.
Sa 23 May 1863A reply has been received to the memorial transmitted to the Admiralty some few days since from the inspectors employed on the iron frigate Achilles, building at Chatham dockyard, requesting that they may be placed on the same footing as regards increased pay as the junior officers and mechanics working on the iron frigate for the additions number of hours they are employed in the dockyard The Lords of the-Admiralty intimate that they cannot accede to the wishes of the memorialists, who are reminded that, as salaried officers of the establishment, the whole of their time is at the disposal of the Admiralty. This decision has caused considerable dissatisfaction.
We 3 June 1863It is now confidently stated that the Achilles will be ready to be floated out of the dock in which she is building during the approaching month of September, or some three or four months earlier than was originally anticipated. Up to yesterday 150 of her armour-plates, or nearly one-half of the whole number, had been bolted to her sides. On the port and starboard quarters the plates are of an uniform thickness of 4½in., but in the less exposed portions plates varying from 4in. to 3in. will be used. The whole of the slabs of iron hitherto used have been prepared at the Parkgate Ironworks, Yorkshire, and are of rolled iron, which besides being easier to work, is believed to possess several important advantages over the plates formed under the hammering process. Each plate is 35ft. in length by about 3ft. 3in. in width, but during the last few days several new kinds of plates have been received at the dockyard of a size much larger than any hitherto used at the establishment. These have all been subjected to the usual tests, which they have stood without showing any appreciable flaw. Up to within the last few days the steam sawing mills have been working extra hours to prepare the timbers for the 18-inch teak planking between the inner and outer plates of the frigate to which the armour-plates will be bolted, but enough having been prepared the saw-mills have discontinued working over-time. With the exception of a portion of the stem and stern all the planking is already fixed. Passing on board the frigate no less activity is perceptible than is to be witnessed on her exterior parts. The mechanics are just now busy in completing the watertight bulkheads or compartments, of which there will be no fewer than 18. By means of them the Achilles can be kept afloat even when partially disabled. Most of the iron deck-plating on the upper deck is all riveted to its place, and only awaits the ordinary wooden planking. A steam-engine has been erected on the upper deck to facilitate the raising of the heavy materials required. Although the Achilles is built after the model of the Warrior she will be very much superior to the latter in her general construction. Some very important testing of English and foreign armour-plates of various dimensions will commence at Portsmouth to-day, and will be continued over to-morrow and Friday.
Tu 21 July 1863Four of the largest description of bower anchors ever forged for the English navy having been received at Chatham dockyard for the iron frigate Achilles, 50, 1250-horse power, the operation of testing them was completed yesterday, under the superintendence of the officials of the establishment. The anchors were forged at the establishment of Messrs. Brown and Lennox, who are the contractors for the manufacture of all the largest descriptions of anchors used in the navy. On being removed to the testing-house, each of the anchors was tested by hydraulic pressure from a low strain, which wan gradually increased until the maximum pressure of 72 tons to the square inch was attained. Under this enormous pressure no signs of any defects were observable, while the elastic force of the iron did not exceed the usual allowance. Each of the anchors weighs 5 tons 11 cwt. Before they are finally approved they will be subjected to another test, which will made when the anchors have been heated to a red heat, in order to discover any flaws not otherwise discernible.
Fr 31 July 1863Yesterday the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty paid an official visit to Chatham for the purpose of making their annual inspection of the dockyard and other naval esatablishments at that port. The members of the Board present comprised his Grace the Duke of Somerset, K.G., First Lord; Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir F. W. Grey, K.C.B., Rear-Admiral C. Eden, C.B., Capt. the Hon. J.R. Drummond, C.B., and Mr. J.T. Stansfeld, M.P, Junior Lords; Rear-Admiral the Right Hon. Lord Clarence Paget, C.B., M.P., First Secretary; Rear-Admiral R.S. Robinson, Controller of the navy; Col. G.T. Greene, director of Admiralty engineering works; Mr. E.J. Reed, chief constructor of the navy; Capt. R. Hall, private secretary to the Duke of Somerset, and other officials. The members of the Board arrived at the dockyard shortly before noon, and on alighting at the official residence of the Capt.-Superintendent were received by Capt. E.G. Fanshawe, Sir B. Mayne, Mr. Superintendent Mallalieu, Mr. Lang, master-shipbuilder; Mr. Moore and Mr. Hutchens, assistant-master shipwrights; Mr. Churchward, store receiver; Mr. Chatworthy, accountant; Mr. Rivers, clerk of works, and the other heads of departments. The members of the Board repaired in the first instance to the Office of the Captain Superintendent, and were occupied for about half an hour in the transaction of official business, after which they commenced the tour of the yard for the purpose of inspecting the various vessels under construction and repair. The large iron frigate Achilles, 6,000 tons, 1,250 horse-power, was the first vessel visited. Confident hopes are now entertained that she will be afloat some time before the close of the present year. Although her first armour-plate was only fixed in its place on the 5th of February last, no fewer than 238 plates had been bolted to her broadsides up to yesterday afternoon, leaving only about 100 more to be affixed to render the whole exterior surface, down to 5ft. below her water-line, as nearly as possible invulnerable. When it is remembered that the whole of the iron work on board the Achilles has, for the last 12 months, been performed exclusively by the dockyard shipwrights, who previously possessed no knowledge whatever of iron shipbuilding, the progress made in the construction of the iron vessel is without a parallel at any of the Royal dockyards. Their Lordships ascended the upper deck of the frigate, over which they were conducted by Mr. Lang and his subordinates, and they afterwards went below to the main deck, where a short time was spent in inspecting the progress made in the work. Leaving the shipbuilding department of the establishment the members of the Board visited the ropery, in which nearly the whole work of preparing the largest description of cables used in the navy is performed by steam machinery. It will be necessary, however, to erect other machinery to keep pace with the requirements of the increasing demands of the establishment, which will involve an outlay of about 10,000l. After deciding on the additional machinery to be provided, the members of the Board resumed their inspection of the naval portion of the dockyard, and visited the Anchor-wharf, on which it is intended to erect steam machinery for loading and unloading the various vessels at the dockyard, thus doing away with the great demand for manual labour for that purpose. After inspecting No. 1 slip, which is at present unoccupied, their Lordships proceeded to the second building shed, where the 17-gun screwy frigate Reindeer is in the frame, but on which not a single hand has been employed for several years. They next visited the factory, in which the iron slabs as well as the whole of the iron required in the construction of the Achilles is prepared. Shortly before their arrival the fine iron screw frigate Tamar, 2,800 tons, 500-horse power, steamed into the harbour from Milwall, where she has been constructed for the Admiralty by a private firm. This vessel wil be placed in the first dock which becomes vacant for the purpose of being surveyed, previous to her being taken over from her builders. Their Lordships partook of luncheon at the official residence of Captain Superintendent Fanshawe, and afterwards proceeded to inspect the various wooden vessels lying on the several slips, including the line-of-battle ship Bulwark, 91 [laid down in 1859, suspended in 1861 and finally cancelled in 1873], the Belvidera, 51 [laid down in 1860 and cancelled in 1864], the Menai, 22 [laid down in 1861 and cancelled in 1864], and the Myrmidon, 4, on neither of which is a single hand employed. The last slip inspected was that on which the blocks for the new iron clad frigate the Lord Warden, the first of the squadron of that class of vessel to be constructed on Mr. Reed's plan, will be built. Their Lordships gave directions for some additional machinery to be erected on this slip to facilitate the building operation, and, after inspecting the stock of timber, left the dockyard. They were then conducted over the block of buildings recently erected by Messrs. Foord and Sons, Rochester, adjoining the dockyard, for the married officers and men of the Metropolitan police doing duty at Chatham. At 3 o'clock their Lordships arrived at the Royal Marine Barracks, and were received by Major-General A.B. Stransham, Inspector-General; Col. T. Lemon, C.B., Commandant, and the entire staff of the division. The battalion, which now numbers nearly 2,000 officers and men, was drawn up on the parade-ground. After the division had defiled past their Lordships proceeded over the barracks, and afterwards made a lengthened inspection of the additional barrack-buildings, now nearly completed. As soon as ready for occupation, they will afford accommodation for about 800 more men than can be crowded into the present barracks, in addition to which there will be commodious quarters erected for the field officers and subalterns, and a parade-ground of double the size of the existing one provided. At 4 o'clock their Lordships visited Melville Naval Hospital, over which they were conducted by Deputy-Inspector Kinnear, M.D., and the medical staff of the establishment. The Lords of the Admiralty afterwards returned to the dockyards to visit the works at the eastern end of the establishment, on St. Mary's Island, for the enlargement and extension of the dockyard. They afterwards vent on board the Enchantress, Admiralty yacht, in the harbour, where they dined, and on board which they slept last night, in readiness to resume their inspection this morning.
Ma 10 August 1863In accordance with Admiralty instructions to that effect received at Chatham, the mechanics employed on the Achilles discontinued working overtime on Saturday afternoon, and left the yard at the usual hour, 4 o 'clock. The cause of this order on the part of the Admiralty appears to be that, although the mechanics employed on that vessel have ostensibly been working for several months past from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with only short intervals for meals, yet, in reality there is not a sufficient excess of work accomplished to justify the continuance of the system.
We 12 August 1863In consequence of the success which has attended the ventilating arrangements carried out on board the iron-cased frigate Royal Oak, Admiralty directions have been forwarded to Chatham directing that the iron frigate Achilles, 6,000 tons, 1,250-horse power, now rapidly approaching completion at that dockyard, is to be ventilated on the same principle. The leading feature of the new system is that a constant circulation of air is kept up between the decks by means of open gratings to all the berths and cabins, instead of the old-fashioned plan of bulkheads. The adoption of such a system on board the Achilles will, however, be attended with some difficulty, as that vessel is constructed with is many as 18 watertight, and consequently airtight, compartments, which will considerably interfere with the ventilating arrangements. As in the case of the Royal Oak, all the four huge iron masts with which the Achilles is to be fitted will serve the purpose of ventilators, as they will be hollow, and contain an opening from each deck. Mr. Baker's system of ventilation will be fitted on board the Achilles for ventilating the engine-room and stokeholes, by which a uniform temperature of between 80 deg. and 90 deg. will be maintained. The Lords of the Admiralty have within the last few days directed Messrs. Penn and Co. to fix their telltale apparatus to the engines of the Achilles.
Th 13 August 1863Mr. O. Lang, the master-shipbuilder at Chatham dockyard, has within the last few days sent in a formal application to the Admiralty, requesting to be relieved of his appointment, and for permission to retire from the service. Mr. Lang is one of the most eminent shipbuilders in Her Majesty's service, and during his comparatively brief career as master shipbuilder has designed and superintended the construction of nearly all the finest and best of our modern vessels of war. He was the constructor of the Royal Oak, the pioneer of the squadron of ironclads which has turned out so complete a success. His step has created considerable surprise, not unmixed with regret. We have reason to believe, however, that Mr. Lang is firm in his intention to retire from the service, which, in consequence of some recent important appointments at the Admiralty, has become distasteful to him. It was yesterday announced at the dockyard that a reply had been received from the Admiralty accepting Mr. Lang's resignation, but requesting him not to quit the service until the completion of the iron frigate Achilles, the construction of which he has superintended up till now. It is probable that Mr. Lang's retirement will be followed by that of others at some of the dockyards.
Tu 25 August 1863Advantage has been taken at Chatham of the recent fine weather to lay the main and upper deck planking of the Achilles, and by this evening the entire surface of the upper, or weather, deck will be planked and caulked on the ordinary iron deck plates from end to end. The mechanics have been employed overtime for about a fortnight past in order that the entire deck might be completed before any change of weather sets in. The iron plating of all the decks is 5-16ths of an inch in thickness, with iron ties ? thick. Above this is laid the ordinary 4-in. oak planking on the main deck, and 4-in. deal planking on the upper deck. Several hundred mechanics are employed in completing the shot-and-shell-proof bulkheads which enclose the broadside batteries of 26 guns. In this portion of the frigate the 4 inch iron armour-plating is carried from five feet below the water-line to above the main deck to the bulwarks, by which arrangement the men working the guns will be entirely protected by 4½-inch armour-plates. This plating, however, will not be carried beyond the main deck in the other portions of the vessel, the sides of which will be protected by the ordinary inch-iron plates. By this arrangement there will be three distinct batteries on board the Achilles, but from the manner in which the centre battery will be protected by the armour-plating the gunners will be enabled to keep up a steady fire long after the guns in the other batteries may have been silenced. The centre, or midships, battery is now entirely completed and covered with the armour-plating, the only remaining portions of the exterior of the Achilles now waiting to receive the armour-plates being the stem and stern portions, but in consequence of the difficulty experienced in bending the plates the work proceeds but slowly. Yesterday Mr. Lang, the master-shipwright at Chatham, left the establishment on a month's leave of absence granted by the Admiralty, preparatory to resigning his present appointment, and the superintendence of the completion of the Achilles devolves on Mr. Moore, the principal assistant master-shipwright at Chatham dockyard.
Th 27 August 1863A number of workmen are now busily employed at Chatham dockyard in cutting away the solid granite sides at the entrance to No. 2 dock, in which the iron ship Achilles is under construction, in readiness for that vessel being floated out. As much as 2 feet 8 inches, or 16 inches on each side, will have to be cut away from the entire length of the solid wall on both sides the dock in order to admit of the Achilles being floated out without touching the sides.
We 2 September 1863A supply of the new description of 4-inch tapered armour-plates, which Messrs. Brown and Co., of Sheffield, have contracted to supply to the Admiralty for the stem and other parts of the iron frigate Achilles, 6,000 tons, building at Chatham, have arrived at that dockyard, and are now in the hands of the mechanics to undergo the boring, planing, and bending processes preparatory to their being affixed to those portion of the exterior of the Achilles for which they are destined. The plates, which are of the best possible description of rolled iron, are considerably larger than those used in plating the broadsides of the Achilles, the whole of the latter having been manufactured at the Parkgate Works, Yorkshire, by the same firm which supplied the plates required in building the Royal Oak. In their manufacture the "bloom" is rolled to an uniform thickness, and the tapering form afterwards given to the slabs of iron by the planing machines. This operation increases the cost of the tapered plates as much as 25 per cent. over the ordinary 4½-inch iron plates. It is apparent, however, that, in constructing an iron vessel, the chief merit of which will consist in its shot-resisting power, the whole of the plates should be as thick as it is possible to produce them. This point has not escaped the attention of the Admiralty, and in the construction of the Bellerophon and future iron vessels the tapering form will be given to the ship's planking on which the plates are laid, and not to the plates themselves. The minimum thickness to which each plate is planed is 3in., and these will be affixed to those portions of the exterior of the Achilles where it is scarcely possible a hostile shot will ever strike her. On the exposed portions of the Achilles the plates are 4½in. in thickness; but in the construction of the Bellerophon, which is to be immediately commenced at Chatham, plates of a thickness of 6in. will be used. The whole of the broadside plating of the Achilles has been completed, so that the entire broadside on both sides the frigate for a length of nearly 300ft. presents an unbroken surface of iron, the caulking of which can scarcely be detected. About 50 only of the stern plates remain to be fixed. As soon as the Achilles has been floated out of dock several hundred mechanics will be at the disposal of the Admiralty, and these will immediately commence the construction of Mr. Reed's new iron ship the Bellerophon, the dockyard officials being anxious to retain the services of the hired hands, who during the time they have been employed in the Chatham yard have attained remarkable proficiency in iron shipbuilding. A portion of the shipwrights will at the same time commence the ironclad wooden frigate Lord Warden, which is to be proceeded with simultaneously with the Bellerophon.
Fr 11 September 1863The massive screw shaft for the iron frigate Achilles was landed yesterday at the Centre-wharf, Chatham Dockyard, from one of the transports which had conveyed it round from the establishment of Messrs. John Penn and Son, Greenwich, who are making the 1,250-horse power engines for the Achilles. The screw shaft is one of the finest specimens of brass castings ever produced in this country, and it is finished and polished in the most perfect manner. Its gross weight is 3 tons, 8cwt., 2qrs., 3lb., and its diameter clear, 2ft. 2in. The mechanics are now boring the passage in which the shafting will be inserted. This operation, which has been some days in progress, will be completed during the present week.
Ma 14 September 1863Orders were on Saturday issued for 30 additional joiners to commence working on the iron frigate Achilles this morning, in order to hasten forward the completion of that vessel.
Tu 22 September 1863The foreplating of the iron frigate Achilles, building at Chatham, will be completed in the course of the present week, when, with the exception of a few plates required to be fixed beneath the stern, the whole of the exterior of the vessel will be incased in armour-plating varying from three inches to four-and-half inches in thickness carried to five feet below her water line. On board the same energy is being used in constructing the armour-plated and other bulkheads, together with the magazines, and shell-rooms, the latter of which are to be constructed of a size sufficient to contain 180 filled and 120 empty common 110-pounder Armstrongs, 50 filled and 50 empty common 20-pounder Armstrongs, 120 filled and 180 empty 110-pounder segment Armstrongs, 50 filled and 50 empty segment 20-pounder Armstrongs, and 25 boxes filled and 100 empty segment 12-pounder Armstrongs, and 25 boxes of filled and 100 empty of the 9-pounder segment Armstrongs The magazines are made to hold 456 whole pentagon cases of powder, and 75 metal-lined half-cases, together with charges of 440 8-inch or 68-pounder shells.
Fr 25 September 1863The Achilles is to be furnished with four masts, and, should the results of the experimental trials be satisfactory a similar rig will be adopted in future vessels of her size and class. The iron masts have been received at Chatham from the firm at Chepstow by which they were manufactured, and are now placed temporarily on board two of the sailing vessels in the ordinary until required to be shipped on board the Achilles. The foremast is 104ft. in length, and 2ft. 8in. in diameter; the second mast is 103ft. 6in. in length, and 3ft. 4in. in diameter; the mainmast measures 121ft. 5in., with a diameter of 3ft. 4in., and mizen mast 84ft., and 2ft. 2in. in diameter. All the masts are hollow, and will serve as ventilators between decks. The bowsprit is of wood, and is this respect differs from that of the Royal Oak, and other iron-clad ships, which have their bowsprits of iron. Its length is 37ft. 9in., and diameter 2ft. 8in. The main yard is 105ft. in length, with a circumference of 6ft. 3in., and the yard of the second mast is of the same dimensions. The fore main yard is 71ft. in length, and the cross-jack-yard of the mizen mast the same length. The spanker boom is exactly 70ft. in length.
Ma 28 September 1863Instructions have been received from the Admiralty directing the officials at Chatham to report to their Lordships as to the desirableness of adapting one of the screw gunboats, attached to the steam reserve at that port, for use as a steam-tender in conveying the mechanics and workpeople to and from the dockyard to the iron frigate Achilles, when she has been removed to Gillingham Reach.
The Lords of the Admiralty have reconsidered their determination of effecting a decrease in the number of the mechanics and other workmen employed in Chatham dockyard to the number it was announced, of over 1,000 hands. A telegram was received at the dockyard on Saturday directing the officials and heads of departments to report if it were advisable to make any reduction in the present strength of the establishment, and if so, to state the lowest possible number of workmen in each branch that should be discharged, the proposed reduction being confined to the hired mechanics, artisans, boys and labourers. The officials of the dockyard are opposed to any considerable reduction at present, the work on hand taxing to the utmost the resources of the establishment; indeed, for some time past, the mechanics employed on the iron frigate Achilles have been working extra hours, and yet there are still several months' work to be accomplished before she will be ready to proceed to sea. It certainly is surprising that with the anxiety manifested to have this vessel completed as early as possible their Lordships should select the present moment for effecting a reduction of one fifth of the establishment. The officials, in their reply, recommended that no considerable number of the dockyard hands should be discharged until the Achilles is completed, or, at all events, floated out of dock, by which time the Lords of the Admiralty will have made up their minds as to the commencement of the other iron vessels proposed to be laid down at Chatham.
Th 1 October 1863Yesterday a party of 100 additional mechanics and shipwrights were removed from the other vessels in progress at Chatham dockyard, and placed upon the iron frigate Achilles in order to hasten forward the completion of that vessel, From the energy with which the work of completing her is being pushed forward, little doubts are entertained that she will be ready for floating out of dock some time before the end of the present year.
We 7 October 1863The Lords of the Admiralty have abandoned the intention of again despatching the iron paddlewheel steamer Recruit, 6, 150-horse power, to sea, her performance on the occasion of her last trial trip having proved that she is not adapted for a long voyage, and have decided on converting her to a tender for conveying the mechanics and other workmen at Chatham to and from the dockyard to the iron frigate Achilles, which, on being undocked, will be removed to the entrance of the harbour, at Gillingham-reach, where she will be completed for sea. The officials at Chatham Dockyard are to report to the Admiralty whether they consider the Recruit to be adapted for the proposed service.
Tu 13 October 1863The iron frigate Achilles, under construction at Chatham, is to have her bottom covered with Hayes's composition to prevent fouling before being undocked. At the request of the Admiralty, Mr. Hayes and Mr. Crispin are to inspect the bottom of the iron steamer Recruit, to which both their compositions were applied before the incrustations and accumulations on the bottom of that vessel are removed.
Th 15 October 1863The Achilles, which was begun about the same time as the Warrior, is the least forward of any, and nothing can more completely exemplify the disadvantage under which the Admiralty labour in endeavouring to compete with private firms in the construction of these iron frigates than the costly dilatoriness shown in the building of this single man-of-war at Chatham, which even now is not so much advanced as any of the new armour ships ordered last year.
Ma 19 October 1863As regards shipbuilding, we are now, of course, mainly engaged upon the "fleet of the future." We are constructing ironclads, both in the Royal yards and in the yards of private builders, on various models and various principles. On Thursday last, however, we were told that, whereas instead of an addition of five of these ships to our ironcased squadron during the present year we should see a contribution of one only, the most backward vessel of any is the Achilles, which our dockyard authorities commenced building at Chatham about the time that the Warrior was first taken in hand. At Portsmouth a still more important specimen was in course of construction. It is not much that we shall learn from the Achilles, which, at the best, will only be an improved type of the Warrior class. But the Royal Sovereign, which was to have been afloat by Christmas next, will teach us a lesson of the greatest consequence. She represents the conversion of an old line-of-battle ship into a "turret" or "shield" ship, and her promoters believe that she will excel in power and utility any ironclad yet launched. We are constantly told that our naval artillery is at present inferior to that of other maritime States, that our vessels must be mounted with far heavier guns, and that such guns can only be carried in turrets. We, do not say that these propositions are yet established. They may be sound or otherwise, but it was at any rate highly desirable to make an experiment, and by the launch of the Royal Sovereign that experiment was to be made. This launch, however, is now postponed till March; so that we must wait at least five months longer for the necessary information.
Th 22 October 1863The mechanics employed in the smithery at Chatham dockyard are now engaged in forging the first portion of the stem for Mr. Reed's new iron frigate Bellerophon, the next vessel to be commenced at Chatham, as soon as the iron ship Achilles is out of hand. The stem will be composed of three immense pieces of iron, and will be the largest forgings of the kind ever attempted at Chatham dockyard, the stem and stern portions of the Achilles having been manufactured by a private firm. In order to afford greater facilities for the work, and to meet the increased demand made on the establishment since the introduction of iron shipbuilding, the smithery is to be considerably extended, and, in addition to another large and powerful steam hammer, some new furnaces of an improved kind are to be forthwith erected. The object of the Admiralty in having the principal forgings for the new iron ship made in Chatham yard is to prevent a repetition of the delays which were experienced in the early stages of the construction of the Achilles, caused chiefly by the long time occupied by private firms in producing similar forgings for that ship. With the same object in view the form of the forgings for the Bellerophon have been greatly simplified under the personal direction of the Chief Constructor of the Navy, who has sent an Admiralty draughtsman to Chatham dockyard, where he has been engaged for some time in the preparation of the detailed drawings of the various parts of the new ship, in order that every practicable improvement may be made in carrying out the designs for her construction. There can be little doubt that this arrangement will tend greatly to facilitate the progress of the Bellerophon, and thus reduce the time and labour expended upon her construction. It will also, it is to be hoped, be the first step towards putting an end to those changes and alterations which have hitherto been so frequently made by the Admiralty during the building of new ships at Chatham and the other dockyards.
Fr 30 October 1863The building of the new iron war frigate Bellerophon, which has just been commenced at Chatham Dockyard, wil inaugurate a now era in iron shipbuilding, the Lords of the Admiralty having for the first time admitted the importance of having the vessels of our future iron fleet constructed on what is termed the double-bottom, or unsinkable principle, by which a complete revolution will be effected in the mode of constructing iron vessels of war. The use of iron as a material for ships for the Royal navy has hitherto not been an unquestionable success. The Warrior and our other iron ships have proved themselves marvels of strength, but the disadvantages which have been experienced by their officers and crew in other respects are so serious that the iron-plated wooden frigate Royal Oak, which was lately built and sent to sea from Chatham, is unquestionably at present the most popular ship, with both officers and men, in the iron-plated Channel squadron. One of the principal defects of the iron ships is the rapid fouling of the bottoms, and the information which has come to us respecting the late cruise of the Channel Fleet shows that this evil is now more fully felt than ever among those who know how important a quality speed will henceforth become in our war ships. That the Admiralty are fully alive to the magnitude of this defect is evinced by the avidity with which they seize upon any invention submitted to them which offers a good prospect of ultimate success in preventing this serious evil. The chief defect, however, which has hitherto been experienced in our iron and iron-clad ships is the, until now, insurmountable difficulty experienced in rendering them a fit place for some hundreds of officers and men to pass two or three years of their life. Unlike a wooden vessel of war, the bottom of an iron ship is so weak - in comparison with its other parts - and so liable to injury, that unless the ship is divided internally into numerous independent compartments or chambers, a comparatively slight touch of a rock, or other such injury below water, would expose her to the risk of almost instant destruction. It has, therefore, hitherto been found necessary to divide the Warrior, the Achilles, and our other iron-cased ships, into short lengths, or sections, by means of water-tight bulkheads, running across them internally, the number of these in the Achilles being nearly 20, extending from the bottom up to the deck on which the guns are placed. In addition to these transverse bulkheads there are many others in various parts of the ship, so that the whole interior is divided into some scores of separate compartments, into any of which the sea may be admitted, by accident or design, without affecting to any great extent the floating properties of the ship. The value of this system of constraction as a means of security is obvious, but on the other hand it is attended by enormous disadvantages, the chief of which undoubtedly consists in the division of an iron ship into a number of isolated tanks, or air-tight wells, in which there is little or no ventilation. This serious disadvantage has engaged the earnest attention of the Admiralty, and numerous appliances have been introduced into the iron ships with the object of securing the best light and ventilation possible, but with results far from satisfactory. This unfortunate defect has hitherto been considered irremediable, not only in the ships already built, but also in those proposed to be constructed; and so strongly has this consideration pressed upon naval men that there is little doubt it goes a considerable way towards accounting for the great aversion which most of them undeniably feel towards the general introduction of iron into the navy. Happily, however, in the new iron-cased ship Bellerophon, which is now in hand at Chatham, the grave defects adverted to will, if not absolutely removed, be reduced to a minimum. Curiously enough, the remedy for this evil, which has presented such a serious impediment to the general use of iron in Her Majesty's service, has been brought about by officials who have been generally supposed, as now appears, erroneously, to exert all their influence in favour of the continued and exclusive construction of wooden ships, Admiral Robinson, the Controller of the Navy, and Mr. Reed, the new Chief Constructor, being, it is presumed, chiefly responsible for the design of the Bellerophon. In the designs for this vessel, for which the ironwork is now being prepared in Chatham Dockyard, the minute subdivisions of the interior of the ship have been altogether avoided, chiefly by the conjoint adoption, under new circumstances and with sitable modifications, of two inventions, both of which have already been separately used with great success - namely, the double bottom, which has proved of such immense value in the case of the Great Eastern, and the "unsinkable principle," which has been applied by Mr. Lungley, of Deptford, to the two Cape mail steamers, the Briton and the Roman. Throughout the entire central portion of the Bellerophon, in which the engines, boilers, magazines, &c., are placed, the bottom of the ship will be double, the inner and outer bottoms, or huIls, being placed from three to four feet apart, in order that there may be ample space between for cleaning and painting both as often as may be desirable. As this space between the two bottoms will not be required for use, it will be divided into numerous water-tight compartments in the usual manner, and will consequently form a series of buoyant cells, any one or more of which may be injured without the sea being admitted to the others or to the ship. Beyond the central portion of the vessel, at either end, Mr. Lungley's plan will be introduced, the lower deck being used as an interior bottom, and the space below it made available for stowage by means of iron water-tight trunks, rising above the water-line. It is this combination of water-tight trunks with water-tight decks - the former being intended as a means for entering below the latter - which constitutes what is known as "Lungley's unsinkable principle," by aid of which not only is the division of the vessel into water-tight compartments accomplished without obstructing ventilation, but the vertical trunks themselves form, as will be readily understood, ventilating apparatus of the best possible kind. In addition to what has been already described, the Bellerophon will be constructed with water-tight internal walls, completing the double bottom, and thus will, in fact, be made a double ship from end to end. With this system of construction the necessity for internal bulkheads is almost entirely done away with, since no ordinary injury could in any way jeopardize the safety of a ship so built. In the Bellerophon, however, it has apparently been determined that no possible precaution shall be spared to render her secure from any accident whatever, and she is accordingly to be furnished with some few bulkheads of the ordinary kind, but these will be so placed as not to interfere with the free and ample circulation of air throughout the ship, so that it may be fairly anticipated that the new frigate, which, with her heavy armour and powerful armament, will certainly possess more formidable offensive and more perfect defensive powers than any iron ship yet built, will at the same time prove the most healthy and comfortable vessel of her kind. The principle now for the first time introduced into the navy will, there is little doubt, be carried out in the construction of troop and passenger ships, for which the system is even more completely adapted.
Sa 31 October 1863As the time approaches for undocking the iron frigate Achilles, 35, 1,250-horse power at Chatham, increased exertions are being used by the officials, so that no delay may be experienced in completing and equipping her for sea immediately afterwards. The whole of the broadside plating which protects her midship battery has been completed for some time, and is now being cleaned down preparatory to receiving the final coating of paint. In this portion of the Achilles the armour-plating is extended to her upper-deck, which, again, is plated with iron varying from 5-16ths to 5-8ths of an inch in thickness, to protect the gunners on the maindeck from the effects of shell and molten metal. The midship's battery is protected at the stem and stern by armour-plated bulkheads, rendering the central portion of the main deck to all intents a shot and shell proof battery, the guns in which may still be employed long after those on the other parts of the main deck have been silenced. Beyond the armour-plated bulkheads the 4½-inch armour-plating is not carried any higher than the main deck floors. With the exception of some 20 plates to be fixed to the counter and buttock of the stern portion of the frigate, the entire plating is completed. This portion of the work, however, proceeds but slowly, in consequence of the extreme nicety required - first in cutting the slabs of iron to the exact shape of the stern of the vessel, and afterwards fitting them in their place, both operations requiring the greatest possible care. In order to lessen, as much as possible, the tendency to roll, which, more or less, characterizes the whole of our iron ships, the Achilles has been built flatter on the floor than was the case with the Warrior and Black Prince. In addition, she has been furnished with two iron bilge pieces, running nearly the entire length of the vessel, and placed about midway between her keel and water-line. These, there is little doubt, will have considerable effect in lessening any tendencies to roll which she may exhibit when at sea. With regard to the remarks which have been made respecting the time spent in building the Achilles, a few facts will prove, perhaps, that her construction has occupied a shorter period than that of the Warrior, with which she has been unfavourably compared. The Admiralty records show that the Warrior was commenced in the month of May, 1859, and, according to the contract, was to be ready to receive her engines in 11 months from that date, and to proceed to sea in three months afterwards. Instead, however, of being ready by the time specified, the Warrior did not leave the Thames until the month of October, 1861. She then proceeded to Portsmouth, where she remained a considerable time before being finally ready for sea; thus only a few months short of three years were employed in her construction and equipment for sea. In the case of the Achilles the order to begin to build the vessel, together with the sheer draught, arrived at Chatham Dockyard from the Admiralty on the 19th of April, 1861, at which date not a single piece of the vast machinery afterwards required had arrived at the dockyard. In addition to this the best portion of a year was lost in the erection of the requisite factories, sheds, workshops, &c., for carrying on the construction of an iron vessel of vast size, the first of the kind ever attempted at either of the Royal dockyards. Within about a month, however, after the commencement of the Achilles - namely, on the 30th of May, 1861 - an Admiralty order arrived at Chatham for commencing the iron-plated frigate Royal Oak, and, as she was required to be completed and sent to sea before the Achilles, all the available force of the dockyard was placed on her, while the machinery erected for the Achilles was devoted, almost exclusively, to the preparation of the armour-plates for the Royal Oak, which was completed and launched in little more than a year from being commenced, and despatched to sea from Chatham at the beginning of the present year. Had not the Achilles been consequently delayed in order to complete the Royal Oak, the former vessel would have been out of hand and despatched to sea at least 12 months since. The first armour-plate was fixed on the broadsides of the Achilles on the 5th of February last, so that in little more than eight months she will have been entirely plated from stem to stern, whereas, in the case of the Warrior, the armour-plating is carried only for some 200ft. along each broadside, leaving nearly double the number of plates to be bolted to the exterior of the Achilles to those placed on the sides of the Warrior. Taking into consideration the superior quality of the work in the Achilles as compared with that in the Warrior, the former is as much superior to the latter as the Warrior was to the Mersey, the Orlando, and other fine frigates of their day. An announcement has been received from Messrs. Penn and Sons that the whole of the machinery for the Achilles will be ready by the middle of December.
Sa 7 November 1863A numerous party of mechanics were to be employed the whole of last night on board the iron screw frigate Achilles, at Chatham dockyard, in fitting the first portion of the shaft for the screw propeller, in which operation they were engaged the whole of yesterday and up to a late hour the previous night. The shaft was landed a few days since at the dockyard by means of the floating sheers. Its weight is between 19 and 20 tons, and it is considered one of the finest pieces of forging ever sent out from the establishment of Messrs. Penn and Sons, Greenwich, who are making the engines and machinery for the Achilles.
Tu 10 November 1863A number of rolled armour plates of a new description have been received at Chatham dockyard, supplied by Messrs. Chapman and Co. The new plates, specimens of which have been tested in the usual manner to ascertain their condition, are intended for the stern portion of the Achilles. Already there are four kinds of plates on the exterior of the Achilles, supplied by as many different firms. The broadside plates were manufactured at the Parkgate Iron Works, by Messrs. Beale and Co.; those on the port and starboard bows, where they are required to be tapered to suit the form of the vessel, by Messrs. Brown and Co., of Sheffield; and a few of the plates manufactured for the Government by the Thames Ironworks Company have likewise been used as required. The only part of the Achilles which is not yet encased in armour is the stern, on which about 20 more plates are required to be fixed to complete the work. Owing, however, to the difficulty attending this operation, from the peculiar rounded shape of the stern, the work of plating this portion of the vessel will occupy a much greater time. The date fixed for launching, or rather undocking, the Achilles is the 26th of December.
We 11 November 1863By the extraordinary exertions of a numerous party of mechanics and labourers, who have been employed day and night on the work, the massive screw shaft for driving the propeller of the iron-frigate Achilles, at Chatham dockyard, has been successfully fixed in its place without accident of any kind. The principal portion of the machinery will be fitted on board by Messrs. Penn and Son before the vessel is undocked. The four iron masts arrived at Chatham some time since from the establishment of Messrs. Finch and Co., Chepstow, by whom they were manufactured.
Ma 16 November 1863The iron paddle-wheel frigate Recruit, 6, 150-horse power will be floated out of No. 3 dock at Chatham during the approaching spring tides, and placed at moorings in the harbour, where she will remain for some time, in order that the merits of the several antifouling compositions with which her bottom has been coated may be thoroughly tested. During the time the Recruit has been in dock her bottom has been scraped and cleaned, and the whole of the former compositions with which both sides were covered removed. A portion of the starboard side, from the stem to the starboard sponson, has been payed over with a new anti-fouling composition submitted to the Admiralty by Mr. Wilson, whose invention, it is alleged, has been tried on the bottom of several of the iron West India steamers with very satisfactory results. The remainder of the starboard side is coated with Crispin's composition, formerly placed on the bottom of the same vessel. The whole of the port side is covered with the composition of Mr. Hay, the Admiralty chymist, who has received instructions from the Admiralty to operate on the bottom of the iron frigate Achilles, before she leaves the dock in which she is approaching completion, at Chatham Dockyard. An order had been received from the Admiralty for one of the sides of the Recruit to be covered with Redman's anti-fouling mixture, but it was afterwards rescinded.
We 18 November 1863A considerable portion of the granite sides at the entrance. to No. 2 dock at Chatham has been cut away in order to allow of the Achilles being floated out without hanging at the sides. The remainder of the dock entrance will be cut away on the removal of the caisson, which will be taken from its present position about a fortnight before the time fixed for undocking the iron frigate. This arrangement will entail considerable labour on the dockyard officials, who, together with a staff of workmen, will be required to attend at the dockyard both day and night, as the Achilles will float on the rise of each tide, and will afterwards require shoring up every time she is so lifted.
Th 19 November 1863When the Chief Constructor of the Navy …
Tu 1 December 1863The last of the plates with which the exterior of the iron frigate Achilles is covered was successfully fixed in its place yesterday afternoon, and the vessel is now encased throughout in armour-plates from stem to stern, the number of plates being 338, and their aggregate weight upwards of 1,000 tons. The plates vary in thickness from 4½in. on the broadsides to 3in. at the stern. On Saturday Mr. E.J. Reed, the chief constrictor of the navy, visited Chatham Dockyard, accompanied by Mr. R. Abethell, from the Admiralty, and spent some time in inspecting nearly every part of the Achilles. The frigate is so far advanced in her construction that she will be in all respects ready to leave the dock on the 24th inst., provided there is sufficient water to float her out on that date.
Tu 8 December 1863The work of cutting away the granite sides of the dock at Chatham in which the Achilles has been constructed is being rapidly pushed forward by a body of workmen under the direction of Messrs. Foord and Sons, in order that no delay may be experienced in having everything completed for floating the iron frigate out of dock on the 24th inst. A party of workmen have arrived at the dockyard from the engineering establishment of Messrs. Penn and Sons, Greenwich, in order to commence fitting the screw machinery on board the Achilles before she is undocked.
Th 10 December 1863Considerable progress has been made in fitting the heavy portion of the screw machinery on board the iron steamer Achilles, at Chatham dockyard, in anticipation of that vessel being floated out of dock. The heavy metal castings for the screw propeller arrived at the dockyard from the establishment of Messrs. Penn and Sons, Greenwich, last week, and yesterday the mechanics commenced fitting them on board. The Achilles will be fitted with engines of 1,250-horse power (nominal), but, in reality, capable of being worked up to three times that power. Her screw is four-bladed, and the screw boss is the finest casting of its kind ever landed at the dockyard. Its finish is in every respect as perfect as is possible to be obtained in a work of the kind. The diameter of the boss is 3ft. 9in., and its total weight is 3 tons, 19 cwt. 1 qr. 15 1b. The inner diameter in which the screw shaft revolves is 1ft. 10in. Each of the screw blades is 10ft. 6in. in length, by 6ft. in width at their widest part, and their total weight, exclusive of the borings, is 15¾ tons, the weight of each blade being as nearly as possible 3 tons 4 cwt. As some apprehension exists as to there being a sufficient depth of water to enable the Achilles to be floated out of dock on the date named for that event, only a small portion of the heavier parts of the machinery will be placed on board during the time the iron frigate remains in dock. It Is computed that fully six months work will remain to be effected on board after the Achilles is afloat before she can be in all respects completed and fit to proceed to sea.
Fr 18 December 1863By direction of the Lords of the Admiralty, the squadron of gunboats attached to the first division of the Chatham steam reserve are to be surveyed, and a report made by the dockyard officials whether one of the number could not be altered and fitted as a steam tender, to be used in conveying the work people and mechanics to and from the dockyard to the Achilles, on that vessel being undocked and placed at moorings at the entrance to the harbour, then to be completed for sea. Should it be found practicable to use one of the gunboats for this service she will be employed instead of one of the Medway Company's steamer, which the Lords of the Admiralty had originally intended hiring for that duty.
Th 24 December 1863Yesterday an unsuccessful attempt was made at Chatham dockyard to launch the iron frigate Achilles. It was originally intended to launch the vessel to-day, but, as it was thought that the operation might interfere with the Christmas holyday of the workmen, the day was subsequently altered, with the consent of the Admiralty, to the 23d inst. On Tuesday the tide in the harbour was one of the highest known at Chatham for several years past; and had it been possible to remove the caisson at the entrance to the dock, and to cut away the projecting granite sides of the dock within the time, the Achilles might have been floated out at noon without the least difficulty. During the whole of Tuesday night several hundred workmen were employed in completing the necessary arrangements for the launch, and in removing the ponderous caisson which held back the water from entering the dock. By midnight the tide had again risen to a great height, in consequence of the strong northerly wind, and at that time there were 24 feet of water in the dock. After rising a few inches higher, the Achilles was lifted from the blocks and floated. It was found that she drew 20ft. 2in. aft, and exactly 20ft. forward, showing that she was on a nearly even keel. At this time she had 2ft. of water clear between her outer keel and the blocks, and she could thus have been removed from the dock without any difficulty had the work of cutting away the projecting sides at the entrance been completed. As it was, she was allowed to settle down again on the blocks, and the operation of shoring her up had to be effected to await the rising of the tide at noon yesterday. During the night the wind veered round from the north to the southward, from which direction it blew rather strong during the morning. This, it was feared, would have the effect of keeping back the tide, which proved to be correct, as at the time of high water, a few minutes before noon yesterday, there were only 21 feet of water in the dock, the tide rising no higher than 18 feet 6 inches above the blocks, or nearly two feet less than was required tod float the vessel. In anticipation of the attempt being successful, the number of visitors to the yard was very large. Shortly before the hour fixed for the launch Rear-Admiral R.S. Robinson, Controller of the Navy, with Rear-Admiral E.G. Fanshawe, Captain J.K. Hall, C.B., commanding the Steam Reserve, and other officials, arrived at the dockyard, and went over the vessel, the visitors to the yard being admitted to every part of her. The Adder, Bustler, Monkey, Sheerness, and Locust steamers were in attendance with their steam up to assist in towing the Achilles out of dock as soon as she was found to float. The whole of the hands employed on the ship were ordered to remain in the dockyard all last night, as an effort would again be made to undock the Achilles at 1 o'clock this morning, should there be a sufficient rise of the tide to allow of that operation being successfully carried out.
Fr 25 December 1863As stated in The Times of yesterday, the attempts made at noon on Wednesday to launch the iron frigate Achilles were unsuccessful, in consequence of the tide not rising sufficiently high in the dock to float a vessel of her tonnage and dimensions. Shorty after 11 o'clock p.m., she was found to be afloat, and, after waiting some short time longer for the tide to rise sufficiently high to enable her to clear the blocks, Mr. Lang, the master-shipbuilder, gave directions for her to be hauled out of the dock in which she has been constructed into the harbour. Five steamers, which had been in waiting some hours, with their steam up, immediately took-her in tow; and, the capstans being at the same time manned, the Achilles was successfully floated out of dock into the stream. As soon as she had cleared the dock a mishap occurred which created the greatest alarm for the safety of the ship. Near the entrance of the dock there is a bank of mud and sand, and in consequence of the length of time the Achilles has been in dock, and the impossibility of removing the caisson this bank had increased in extent. At the moment the Achilles cleared the dock the tide, which at that part of the harbour is always of great force, caught her broadside, and forced her round on the sandbank, where she grounded. At this time the tide had ceased flowing, and the most lively fears were entertained that with a falling tide it would be impossible to ease her off. Notwithstanding the united exertions of the five steamers, the Achilles at first defied all attempts to move her, and it was only by the exertions of several hundred men, who manned the capstans in the floating sheer-hulk, in the middle of the harbour, and the full steaming of the tugs that she was ultimately got safely off the bank and moored alongside the Chatham hulk. The Achilles is the first of the large iron vessels, destined hereafter to take a conspicuous part in our future navy, which has been built at a Royal dockyard - the whole of the squadron of ironclads now afloat, including the Minotaur, Warrior, Black Prince, Defence, &c., having been built for the Government at private establishments. This experiment, therefore, on the part of the Admiralty of constructing iron vessels at the public dockyards is watched with the keenest interest. Notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, the Achilles has been built more expeditiously - everything taken into consideration - than any of the squadron of ironclads which have preceded her. The order for building the Achilles, together with the sheer draught and drawings, arrived at Chatham dockyard in the month of April, 1861. It was not, however, until the September following that the first iron-plate for the vessel was laid in the dock, the interval between having been taken up in preparing and firing the enormous machines required for bending, slotting, and otherwise preparing the armour-plates and other portions of the iron work for a ship of the dimensions of the Achilles - not a single machine for iron shipbuilding being at that time in the dockyard. Shortly after the commencement of the Achilles active operations on that vessel were, in a measure, suspended, in consequence of an order from the Admiralty for the construction of the iron-clad frigate Royal Oak, which was built, completed, fully equipped, and sent to sea from Chatham in 18 months. The first armour-plate was bolted to the sides of the Achilles on the 5th of February last, and since then she has received upwards of 1,200 tons of armour-plating, the Achilles being the first iron vessel launched with the whole of her armour-plating complete from stem to stern. The dimensions of the Achilles are slightly in excess of the Warrior, while her length is only a few feet below that of the Minotaur, recently launched from the yard of the Thames Ironwork Company. She is 38Sft. 9in. in length, 58ft. 3½in. in breadth of beam, and her burden is 6,080 tons. Instead of being covered with armour-plating only on her broadsides, as is the case with the Warrior, Black Prince, and Defence, the Achilles carries her shield-plates right round the ship, from stem to stern, the total number of armour-plates bolted to her sides being 336. Notwithstanding the additional 500 tons of plating she carries, as compared with the Warrior, she has a light, buoyant appearance in the water, and, although her displacement is calculated at nearly 10,000 tons, her launching draught was only 20ft. and a few inches. The whole of her broadside plates are 4½in. in thickness, and are of rolled iron, from the Parkgate Works, Yorkshire. Towards the stem and stern the plates have a tapering form, until a minimum thickness of 2½in. is obtained. The plates under the counter and buttock are of this thickness, and were manufactured by Messrs. John Brown and Co, Atlas Works, Sheffield. The operation of bending the plates to fit this portion of the exterior of the frigate was attended with considerable difficulty, in consequence of the peculiar shape of the rounded stern, and taxed the skill and ingenuity of all concerned. For a length of 200ft. on each broadside the armour-plates are carried up to the floor of the fighting or weather deck An armour-plated bulkhead, one of which is placed fore and aft, runs across the gun deck, and consequently encloses this portion of the vessel; in which nearly the whole of the guns are placed, as a shot-proof battery, the armour-bulkhead preventing the fire from an enemy's guns raking the vessel fore and aft. On each side, fore and aft of the armour bulkheads, the armour-plates are only required to be carried as high as the floor of the main deck. The Achilles is pierced to carry 46 guns on her main deck, with four Armstrong pivots fore and aft on her weather deck, but it is probable that her armament will not exceed, in the aggregate, 34 guns. Her port-sills, which are enclosed with gun-metal lids, are very small, their dimensions being 3ft. 8in. by 1ft. 11in. On the inside they are embrasured, which will enable the guns to have a play of at least 90 deg. in each direction. At her load draught of water her port-sills will be 9ft. 6in. above the water. The Achilles is constructed with two horizontal keels overlapping each other, with a vertical keel 3ft. 6in. in depth, and a box keelson, 2ft. 6in. deep above the watertight bottom. This form of construction, while it lessens the chance of accidents to her bottom, will also enable water ballast to be added so as to alter the vessel to any trim, should that hereafter be necessary. The Achilles is constructed on a two-feet flatter section than the Warrior, which enables her engines and boilers to be placed lower in the vessel. This will very materially lessen any attempts to roll which will be still further prevented by two bilge keels, 12ft. apart, running the whole length of her broadsides, on each side of the hull. In solidity of parts and strength of materials the Achilles is believed to surpass every iron ship yet constructed, no expense either of time, labour, or outlay having been spared by the Admiralty to render her in all respects perfect. In proof of the enormous strength with which every portion of the mass of iron and timber which form her hull have been put together it may be mentioned that on being launched the most accurate tests failed to detect any "break," even to the minute fraction of an inch, in her. For a length of 220 feet, her sides are 3 feet 1 inch in thickness, which is made up of 14 inches of iron rib-framing, the iron skin plates three quarters of an inch in thickness at the stoutest part, 18 inches of teak-timber planking, and finally the 4½in. armour-plates. In the remaining portions of the stem and stern the thickness of the sides gradually lessens, until a minimum thickness of 1ft. 11in. of iron and teak is obtained. The large iron ribs are each 3ft. 8in. apart, and between these are numerous smaller frames, the whole of which are riveted to the vertical keel. Binding the whole together in one solid mass of iron work are 12 longitudinals, six on each side, running the entire length of the vessel. Additional strength is also obtained by means of the iron deck beams, which carry the iron deck plates. On the main deck the beams are 1ft. 4in. in thickness, on the lower decks 1ft. 3in., and on the upper deck 12½in. All the decks are exceedingly lofty, the height from the lower deck to the main deck being 9ft. 2in., deducting breadth of deck beams, that from the main to the upper deck 7ft. 10in., and the height from the floor to the lower deck beams 21ft. At present it is undecided whether she will be fitted with a rifle tower on her upper deck. In order to move such an enormous mass through the water at a speed of at least 14 knots, equal to 16 statute miles per hour, the Achilles is to be supplied with engines of 1,250 (nominal) horse power; but, in reality, capable of being worked up to double that force. Her engines are being now fitted on board by Messrs. John Penn and Sons. Her screw is four bladed, and in consequence of there being no screwwell to the Achilles it will not be possible to lift the propeller during the time the vessel is not under steam. She will be fitted with four masts, and, as these are intended to be square-rigged, the Achilles will spread an enormous extent of canvas to the wind, although it is probable that her rig will detract from her steaming qualities as much as a knot an hour. There is stowage on board for about 1,000 tons of coals, which will be about sufficient for ten days' consumption, constant steaming. The stem of the Achilles projects but a short distance beneath the water, so that it is not probable she will ever be used as a steam ram. Shortly before the top of the flood yesterday the Achilles was taken in tow by the Adder, Bustler, Locust, Monkey, and Sheerness steamers, and removed to the moorings prepared for her near Folly Point, at the entrance to the harbour. With eight men at the wheel she was found to answer her helm quickly, and altogether was as manageable as a vessel of ordinary dimensions. The Achilles is to be prepared for sea with all despatch, but at least four months will elapse before she will be ready to hoist the pennant.
Tu 29 December 1863Arrangements have been entered into by the Lords of the Admiralty with the proprietors of the Medway Company's steamers for two of their vessels - the City of Rochester and the Alma - to be employed, in conjunction with the steam tender Adder, in conveying the mechanics and workpeople employed on the iron frigate Achilles to and from the dockyard at Chatham to Gillingham, where the Achilles is being completed for sea. By this arrangement 1,340 of the workmen can be conveyed to and from the dockyard at the same time - namely, 560 in the Adder, 400 in the City of Rochester, and 380 in the Alma. During the time the Achilles is stationed at Gillingham, Assistant-Surgeon J.A. Yule, M.D., of the Cumberland, 24, is to be in constant attendance for the purpose of giving immediate attention to any of the workmen who may meet with an accident.
Fr 1 January 1864Yesterday Mr. J. Stansfeld, M.P., the junior Lord of the Admiralty, accompanied by Mr. H.W.R. Walker, the auditor of dockyard accounts, commenced the official inquiry into the system of management and other matters connected with the dockyard and naval establishments at Chatham, preparatory, it is understood, to some important changes being shortly introduced into the management of the Royal dockyards. Mr. Stansfeld, who arrived at the dockyard on Wednesday, was occupied during the day in visiting, in company with Capt. Stewart, C.B., superintendent of the dockyard, the various establishments into the management and working of which he instituted numerous inquiries. All of them had more or less reference to the important question of labour, the economization of which throughout the whole of the dockyards appears to be one of the leading objects sought to be attained by this commission of inquiry. It is exactly in this direction that the greatest reform is needed. There is no one in the least degree acquainted with the system at present followed in the public dockyards, as compared with private establishments, who can fail to be struck with the paramount necessity existing for some sweeping alterations, in order to produce results more commensurate with the vast outlay required for their support. During Wednesday Mr. Stansfeld visited the iron frigate Achilles, fitting for sea, on board which there are upwards of 1,000 mechanics and other hands employed, and personally inspected the arrangements made for the due supervision of that large body of workmen. Yesterday he devoted his attention to the system of management at each of the principal departments of the dockyards, with the heads of which he held lengthened conferences. It is understood that the investigation at Chatham will extend over several days.
We 6 January 1864Instructions have been received at Chatham for the iron frigate Achilles, 1,250-horse power, to be brought forward with all despatch and fitted for the first division of the steam reserve, in readiness for immediate commission.
A serious accident occurred on board the iron frigate Achilles, at Chatham, on Monday evening, by which a mechanic employed on board that vessel named Simon Sherwood was killed, and another man seriously injured. Since the Achilles has been removed from Chatham dockyard down the harbour it has been customary for the workmen employed on board to be conveyed from the vessel to the dockyard every evening in three steamers employed exclusively in that duty. On Monday evening at dusk the workmen were preparing to leave the vessel, and were covering over the openings from the upper deck into the hold with tarpaulin and planks, when from some cause which does not appear easy of explanation one of the heavy planks was improperly secured, and before the men had left the vessel it fell from the deck to the bottom of the frigate, striking in its descent the deceased and a negro named Campbell, also employed on board, both of whom were preparing to leave their work. the plank also slightly injured some of the other workmen, who were crowding up from below, but the chief injuries were inflicted on Sherwood and Campbell. Both of the sufferers were immediately placed on board a steamer and conveyed to the dockyard, from which they were conveyed to Melville Hospital, but Sherwood died almost immediately after his admission, his head having been severely injured. The wounds sustained by Campbell were a compound fracture of one of the legs, which yesterday rendered an amputation of the limb necessary. A day or two previously a fatal accident occurred on board the same vessel to a workman named Monk, who overbalanced himself as he was in the act of taking off his coat to commence work, and was precipitated to the bottom of the vessel. A third accident befell a lad named Caddy, working on board, on Monday, who received concussion of the brain from a fall, and is not expected to survive.
Th 7 January 1864The difficult operation of fitting the iron mast on board the Achilles was successfully accomplished yesterday by means of the massive floating sheers, which were towed down from the dockyard to Gillingham Reach for that purpose. The iron masts are the largest ever constructed for a vessel of war, and were manufactured at the Bridge Works, Chepstow, by Messrs. Finch and Heath, who have supplied the whole of the masts to the iron and iron-clad vessels already built. The Achilles will be the first vessel, in the British navy to carry four masts; but even with this advantage each of her masts will be 100ft. apart, or considerably further distant from each other than in the ordinary line-of-battle ships. From the success which has attended the use of iron masts in the navy it is probable that in a short time wooden masts even in wooden vessels of war will entirely disappear, their advantages over the ordinary kind of mast making their general adoption a paramount consideration. Experience has shown that iron masts last much longer than wooden, that they are lighter and stronger, that they serve as valuable ventilators, and are also better conductors of electricity. If they are shot away and fall overboard they will immediately sink, instead of floating alongside and fouling the screw, as is the case with wooden masts. The mainmast of the Achilles weighs no less than 21 tons 12 cwt.; its length being 121ft. 9in., diameter 3ft. 4in, and length of head from hounds 20ft. The weight of the second fore mast is 19 tons 2 cwt., its length 103ft., diameter 3ft. 4in., and length of head from hounds 20ft. The foremast weighs 15 tons 18 cwt., its entire length 103ft. 10in., diameter 2ft. 8in., and length of head from hounds 13ft. The mizenmast is 84ft. in length, its weight 8 tons 12 cwt., diameter 26in., and length of head from hounds, 13ft. The diameter of the main and second fore masts at the head is 30in. in each, that of the foremast 24in., and of the mizenmast 19½in. Each mast is formed of three curved plates half an inch in thickness, which form the skin, or outside shell of each, the joint where the vertical edges of the plates meet being so formed that the outsides of the mast show no ridges. Under each of the vertical joints three strong tie-irons are placed, to which are riveted the plates forming the mast, the rivets on the outside being counter-sunk, or let in flush, the exterior of the mast consequently presenting a round and perfectly smooth surface. The masts are parallel from the heel to the hounds, where a horizontal plate is introduced which is made to carry the top, and this plate facilitates the reduction of the size of the mast from the hounds to the cap. Where the shrouds pass over the masts the plates are double to resist the extra strain and wear. In the transmission of the iron masts from Chepstow to Chatham considerable difficulty was experienced. From Chepstow they were conveyed by special train to Brentford, where it was necessary to ship them in barges, which conveyed them safely to Chatham, where they were landed at the dockyard.
Mr. E.J. Reed, the Chief Constructor of the Navy, paid a lengthened visit to Chatham dockyard on Tuesday, and was occupied till late in the afternoon in his official duties at that establishment, his visit relating chiefly to the progress made in fitting the iron frigate Achilles, on board which he spent a considerable time. Mr. Reed devoted some time to the examination of the steering apparatus just completed, and from the trials made during the inspection there is every probability that it will work satisfactorily. Whether or not the apparatus will answer when tested at sea remains to be proved, but it appears exceedingly doubtful whether a vessel of the vast size of the Achilles, covered as she is from end to end with some 1,300 tons of armourplating, will ever be made to steer handily or answer her helm rapidly. In this respect the Royal Oak, previously built, and the new iron-clad frigate Bellerophon, now in hand, each of which is some 100ft. shorter than the Achilles, undoubtedly possess a great advantage. As was fully anticipated, Mr. Reed strongly objected to the underwater scuppers which have been fitted to the Achilles, and there is little doubt that they will now be dispensed with. The absurdity of fitting a vessel like the Achilles with scuppers of that description was pointed out some months since in The Times, and the positive danger that would undoubtedly arise from their continuance urged upon the authorities. Still, however, they were permitted to remain, but it is satisfactory to find that means will now he taken to render them safe and reliable by closing them in with thick wrought-iron plates. It is to be hoped that the mistake in this respect will not be perpetrated in the iron vessels now in progress. The want of proper accommodation for the large number of workmen - upwards of 1,200 - who are now employed without intermission on board the Achilles during this inclement weather engaged the attention of Mr. Reed, and measures will at once be adopted to place at their disposal one of the sailing vessels attached to the ordinary, which will be fitted up as a receiving hulk for the men, and supplied with plenty of hot water and other conveniences, so as to enable them to wash themselves before leaving their work. Before quitting the iron frigate Mr. Reed investigated the causes of the numerous accidents which have recently occurred on board. It would seem that most of them might have been avoided had proper precautions been observed, and the officials on board were therefore requested to urge upon the workmen the necessity of exercising the utmost care in the various operations on which they were employed.
We 13 January 1864Yesterday the War department transport Marlborough sailed from the Ordnance-wharf, Chatham for Woolwich, with the slides which had been originally intended for the guns of the iron frigate Achilles, the Lords of the Admiralty having decided on fitting that vessel with a different description of armament from that originally intended. The Achilles is pierced to carry 46 guns on her main deck, and four guns on her upper deck, although it is probable her armament will not exceed 32 guns, but these will be of the heaviest possible calibre.
The workmen connected with the works' department at Chatham Dockyard are busily occupied in pile driving and making the necessary preparations for the construction of a dam at the entrance to No. 2 basin to facilitate the operation of fixing in its place the new iron caisson which is being prepared for fitting at the entrance to the dock. As soon as the caisson has been fixed the keel of Mr. Reed's new frigate Bellerophon will be laid down in the dock, which is the same as that in which the iron frigate Achilles was built. The heavy forgings for the Bellerophon have been for some time in hand in the smithy, and large quantities of plate and angle iron have been received at the dockyard, so that no delay whatever is expected to take place in the commencement of the new iron frigate when the dock is ready. The Bellerophon, it is believed, will be afloat in a little more than year after being commenced.
Tu 19 January 1864The huge condensers and cylinders for the iron frigate Achilles, 35, 1,250-horse power, fitting at Cbatham, have arrived at the dockyard from the establishment of Messrs. John Penn and Sons, the firm employed to supply the engines and machinery for the Achilles, and yesterday the mechanics employed on the vessel since her removal from the dockyard to the entrance of the harbour completed fixing the boilers, cylinders, and condensers on board. The cylinders are the largest ever constructed for a vessel of war, each weighing between 29 and 30 tons. The two condensers weigh 23 tons 5 cwt. each, and the 10 boilers nearly 22 tons each. The whole of the heavy portions of the machinery has been shipped on board without accident of any kind by means of the floating masting shears, which have been towed down to Gillingham for that purpose. The work of completing the Achilles and fitting her for sea is being carried forward with the greatest possible energy, the number of mechanics employed on board daily being upwards of 1,000.
In consequence of the removal of the floating factory iron ship Chasseur to Chatham, to be employed as a workshop for the Achilles, directions have been forwarded to Sheerness for the miillwright's shop in that dockyard to be vacated by the workmen who until recently have been employed there, In order that the factory may be turned over for the use of the officials and workmen belonging to the steam reserve.
Sa 20 February 1864The Lords of the Admiralty have decided on abolishing the office of master rigger at Chatham dockyard, recently rendered vacant by the compulsory retirement of Mr. Degee - the officer who was in charge of the iron frigate Achilles on the occasion of her being allowed to get on a bank when in the act of being undocked - and have directed that the rating of master rigger shall be borne at Sheerness only, and that of foreman of riggers at Chatham. Under this arrangement the salary of the master rigger at Sheerness is increased to 200l. per annum, while the new foreman of riggers at Chatham dockyard will receive 150l., instead of 200l. per annum as heretofore.
Sa 5 March 1864The Achilles, 35, 1,250-horse power, fitting in Chatham harbour, has had her machinery and engines fitted on board, and will get up steam at her moorings for the first time to-day for the purpose of testing the working of her machinery.
Ma 7 March 1864The iron frigate Achilles, 6,1070 tons, 1,250-horse power (nominal), having had the whole of her engines and machinery fitted on board, got up steam for the first time on Saturday, at her moorings in Chatham harbour. The trial, which was under the superintendence of the leading members of the firm of Messrs. John Penn and Sons, by whom her engines were manufactured, was in the highest degree satisfactory. With the screw propeller disconnected the engines averaged 70 to 75 revolutions per minute, the boilers giving an abundance of steam, and the whole machinery working with the greatest smoothness and regularity. The engines were kept working for some time to enable the dockyard officials - Capt. Stewart, C.B., Mr. Baker, chief engineer at Chatham yard, and Mr. Moore, first assistant master-shipwright - to report upon the result of the preliminary trial of the machinery. There is still work to be done in the way of fitting and completing the Achilles before she will be ready for the pendant, and however sanguine the Admiralty officials may be, there is little doubt that the summer will be far advanced before she will be ready to take her maiden cruise. The Achilles now waits instructions from the Admiralty relative to the trial of her engines at the measured mile, Maplin Sands.
We 23 March 1864The work of completing the iron-cased frigate Achilles 1,250-horse power, fitting for sea in Chatham harbour, proceeds as rapidly as circumstances will permit, but there is still work remaining to be completed on board which will occupy several months before she will be anything like ready to proceed on her maiden cruise. A considerable delay has taken place in fitting the plates and tramways for the guns on the main deck, in consequence of the armament for the Achilles having been altered from that originally intended, necessitating the return of most of the gun-plates and curbing to the Royal Arsenal for alteration. After various changes, the armament for the Achilles has been at length definitively decided upon, and she is now intended to be supplied exclusively with the new 100-pounder smooth-bore wrought-iron guns, 20 of which she will mount on her main deck. At present this is the only portion of her armament decided upon, but it is probable that she will carry, in addition, one, if not two, of the 300-pounder Armstrongs. From the demand now made on the Royal Gun Factory for the supply of the new naval 100-pounder it is stated at Chatham that the summer will be very far advanced before the Achilles can receive her armament and be ready to proceed to sea.
Ma 4 April 1864The Lords of the Admiralty have given directions for Gisborn's electric engine-room telegraph to be fitted on board the iron frigate Achilles, at Chatham, the report of the working of the apparatus on board the Royal Oak, in which vessel it was fitted, having been exceedingly satisfactory. The inventor is also to fix a mechanical telegraph, from the engine-room platform to each of the stoke-holes.
Th 7 April 1864Yesterday Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir F.W. Grey, K.C.B., one of the Lords of the Admiralty, visited Chatham Dockyard, accompanied by Rear-Admiral R.S. Robinson, the Controller of the Navy, and was occupied some hours in the inspection of the principal vessels building and fitting at that establishment, and in the transaction of other official business. In the early part of the day he went over the Bombay, 67, 400 horse-power, in No. 3 dock, where she has been lying several months for the purpose of undergoing the necessary alterations and fitments to adapt her for a flagship. She is now completed, and to-day will be floated out of dock fully rigged and equipped, with most of her officers and a considerable number of her crew on board. Passing along the slips on which are lying a squadron of wooden vessels of various sizes and in different stages of progress, Admiral Sir F.W. Grey visited the shed under which the Lord Warden, ironclad, is building, which, with the exception of the Bellerophon, is the only new vessel on which there is a single hand now employed at Chatham Dockyard. Notwithstanding the brief period which has elapsed since the keel of the Lord Warden was laid down, the vessel is now well in frame, although the number of hands employed on her is necessarily limited in consequence of nearly every workman being required to complete the fitting of the Achilles. In the afternoon, accompanied by Rear-Admiral Robinson, Capt. Stewart, C.B., Mr. Thornton, master-shipwright, and the other officials, he embarked on board the City of Rochester and steamed out to the Achilles, which is being fitted for sea. During the interval which has elapsed since the vessel was visited by any of the members of the Admiralty considerable progress has been made in getting her ready for sea, although there is much to be effected before she can take her departure from the harbour. The whole of her machinery and engines have been fitted, and she is getting well forward with her rigging, most of her lower rigging being now set up in its place. After spending some time in the inspection of the iron frigate Admiral Grey returned to the dockyard, and, having transacted official business with Captain-Superintendent Stewart, returned to the Admiralty.
Fr 29 April 1864

Trial Of The Iron Frigate Achilles.

The first of the official trials of the iron frigate Achilles, in reality the pioneer of the squadron of ironclads to be constructed solely by the Admiralty, and not like the Warrior, Minotaur, Northumberland, and others of our iron fleet, by private shipbuilding firms, took place at the Maplin Sands, near Chatham, yesterday. Since her launch, or rather formal floating out of dock, at Chatham on the 24th of December last, about 1,000 hands have been constantly employed on her, in order to complete her for sea; but, notwithstanding the unremitting exertions of those employed on her, so enormous is the quantity of work still remaining to be executed, that several months must elapse before the public may expect to hear that she is fairly ready to be despatched on her maiden cruise. Since her launch the Achilles has been lying in the harbour at Folly Point, where the depth of water at all times of the tide enables a vessel of her draught to float without any fear of straining.
The Achilles got up steam at an early hour yesterday morning, and by 9 o'clock the whole of the officials under whose supervision the trials were to be made were on board, including Vice-Admiral Sir C. Talbot, K.C.B., Captain W.K. Hall, C.B., of the Cumberland, 70, guardship of the Steam Reserve; Mr. T. Baker, chief engineer at Chatham dockyard; Mr. W. Rumble, principal inspector of machinery afloat; Mr. Thornton, and. Mr. Moore, principal master-shipwrights at Chatham, under whose superintendence the Achilles has been built; Captain Lord John Hay, C.B., who is to command the Achilles, and other officers. The frigate was navigated from Folly Point to the Nore by Mr. W. Blakey, second master, and Queen's pilot at Chatham, and was afterwards handed over to Mr. Hilyard, master, of the Cumberland, 70, who had charge of the vessel during her trial of speed. The engines were in charge of Mr. Wigzell, from the establishment of Messrs. Penn and Sons, Greenwich, the manufacturers. Just before the frigate started Admiral Drummond, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, and Admiral Fanshawe came on board. After some slight delay in weighing the anchor by the auxiliary 40-horse power engine, it was at length stowed away in its place, and the vessel's head was laid for the trial ground. At this time the Achilles was drawing 22ft. 7in. forward and 23ft. 9in. aft, with her screw immersed 4ft. The total displacement of the frigate was calculated to be 9,500 tons. When fairly under way the height of the lower portion of her gun ports from the water was found to be 12 feet amidships. The wind at the time was blowing moderately from the eastward, with a force of 3, and everything was favourable for the trial. The quantity of coals on board was 100 tons; cables and other stores, 50 tons ; water, crew, &c., 400 tons. By 12 a.m. the Maplin Sands were reached, and the Achilles was at once placed on the mile for the purpose of going through the most important portion of her day's duty. At this time the boilers were emitting an abundance of steam, the vessel was in excellent trim, the water smooth, and everything in the ship's favour. Six runs were first made at full speed, with the following results - 1st run - time, 4 min. 45 sec.; speed, 12·632 knots; revolutions of engines, 46 ; pressure of steam, 26; vacuum, 25; - 2d run - time, 3 min. 42 sec.; speed, 16·216 knots; revolutions of engines, 46; pressure of steam, 25; vacuum, 25; 3d run - time, 4 min. 51 sec. ; speed, 12·371 knots ; revolutions of engines, 46½; pressure of steam, 25½; vacuum 25½; 4th run - time, 3 min. 40 sec.; speed, 16·363 knots; revolutions of engines, 47; pressure of steam, 26; vacuum, 25; 5th run - time, 4 min. 49 sec.; speed, 12·456 knots; revolutions of engine, 47; pressure of steam, 26; vacuum, 25; 6th run - time, 3 min. 43 sec. ; speed, 16·143 knots; revolutions of engines, 46½; pressure of steam, 26; vacuum, 25; The first means of the above figures give the average speed as 14·424,14·293, 14·367, 14·409, and 14·299 knots; and the second means 14·358, 14·330, 14·388 and 14·354 knots, the mean of means, or true speed of the ship, being 14·357 knots, or upwards of 16 statute miles, per hour. Taking these figures, it will be seen that the Admiralty have every reason to be proud of the first of the iron ships built at either of the dockyards, as she has proved herself to be the fastest of the ironclads now afloat. The above figures, however, only show what speed the Achilles has attained at her light draught, but form a very fair criterion of what she will do at her deep-sea draught, when it may be safely affirmed that she will still further surpass every other vessel afloat in her steaming qualities. At the trial yesterday two causes operated to prevent a greater speed being attained - namely, the fact that the blades of her screw were upwards of a foot out of the water, and also that the bottom of the frigate was foul from the length of time she has been lying in the Medway. When the latter cause has been removed and the screw immersed to the required depth with the vessel at her deep-sea draught, there is little doubt that the Achilles will attain a speed of 15 knots per hour, in which case she will be the fastest vessel belonging to the Royal Navy. During the trial yesterday at full power the frigate carried a rather formidable wave under her bow, but from her form of construction this was thrown off, and offered no impediment to the ship's progress through the water. The water thrown up in her wake was very considerable, owing to the circumstance of the screw not being sufficiently immersed. At the close of the full-boiler trials the vessel's head was laid for the Margate-roads, while five of the boilers were cut off to allow of her being tried at her half-boiler power. This accomplished, the frigate's head was again laid for the Maplin Sands, when two runs were taken over the mile, with the following results:- First run,- time, 5 min. 39 sec.; speed, 10·619 knots; revolutions of screw, 38; pressure of steam, 25lb.; vacuum, 27½. Second run, - time, 4 min. 34 sec.; speed, 13·138 knots; revolutions, 37; pressure of steam, 23½lb.; vacuum, 27½. The mean speed at half-boiler power was 11·878 knots per hour, the Achilles thus maintaining her high character when tried under half-boiler power. During the time she was on her trial the engines worked with wonderful smoothness, steadiness, and regularity. Although in a wooden vessel the movement of such enormous engines would have caused the greatest vibration, in the Achilles their action was scarcely perceptible. During the time the frigate was turning to make her third run over the mile she came into collision with a brig which was lying across her bows, when the frigate's starboard quarter caught the bow of the brig and carried away her bowsprit, besides causing some other damage.
The Achilles is steered by the old gun-room tiller, which has been again adopted by the Admiralty in consequence of the absence of the screw-well hitherto found on board our large screw steamers. This gives an enormous advantage in steering a vessel of the vast size and tonnage of the Achilles, and this was apparent during the trials yesterday, when the vessel answered her helm as sensitively as a cutter. It is evident, however, that much remains to be done in the mode of steering our large vessels of war, as yesterday it required 16 men to bring the helm over either to port or starboard. Although we continue to construct vessels of the size of the Achilles and Warrior, yet no improvements appear to have been made to increase their steering powers, the same method being practically in use which was employed half a century since. At the close of the speed trials some experiments were made in turning the circles and half-circles with the following results:- The approximate area of the rudder immersed in the water was 135ft.; the time occupied in getting up the rudder with eight men at the wheel was, to starboard, 1 min. 45 secs., to port, 1 min. 50 secs. ; turns of wheel, to starboard, 3½, to port, 3½. The time occupied in making the half-circle at full-boiler power was to starboard 3 min. 25 secs., to port, 4 min. 40 secs.; the revolutions of engines were 46. The time occupied in making complete circle at half-boiler power, with 15 men at the wheel, was 6 min. 15 sec., and the time occupied in getting up the wheel 2 min. 30 secs. The diameter of each of the circles was 900 yards as calculated by the ingenious invention of Mr. Martin, assistant-master shipwright, by which the diameter of all circles can be most accurately measured at sea. This diameter is considered a fair one for the size of at vessel of the Achilles class.
The average temperature during the trial was:- On deck, 49 deg.; in engine-room, forepart, 98 deg., middle part, 107 deg., and aft, 102 deg.; forward stoke-hole, fore-part 80 deg., middle 92 deg., and after part 98 deg.; after stoke-hole, fore-part 76 deg., middle 102 deg., and after part 96 deg. By direction of the Admiralty, Mr. Gisborne's patent electric telegraph has been fitted on board the Achilles, the first vessel to which the invention has been applied, and the instantaneous manner in which the messages were transmitted from the bridge to the engine-room, and its admirable working, proved the great value of the invention.
At the close of the trials yesterday the Achilles steamed up the Medway and took up her former moorings at Folly Point, Admiral Drummond having left the frigate at the Nore, and embarked on board the Lizzard paddlewheel steamer, which landed him at Sheerness.
Sa 30 April 1864In the notice of the trial trip of the Achilles, which appeared in The Times of yesterday we omitted to mention that, among those present were, Mr. Penn and Mr. Matthew, of the firm of John Penn and Sons, and Mr. John Dinnen, inspector of machinery.
Ma 11 July 1864The following appointments have been made at the Admiralty:- Capt. E.W. Vansittart, to the Formidable [flagship at the Nore], for service with the Achilles, vice Lord John Hay, C.B., superseded at his own request.
Sa 16 July 1864In order to encourage the mechanics and other hands employed on the Achilles, 20, 6,121 tons, 1,250-horse power, fitting for sea at Chatham, to use every possible exertion in hastening forward the internal fitments of that frigate, Capt. W.H. Stewart, C.B., superintendent of the dockyard, has issued a Minute to the officers and workmen directing that every possible exertion may be used, and stating that it will afford him great pleasure to bring under the special notice of the Lords of the Admiralty any of the officials or workmen who may distinguish themselves by extraordinary zeal or exertions on board the ironclad frigate in completing her for sea. A special order has also been received from the Admiralty, directing that additional gangs of workmen and mechanics are to be placed on the Achilles, who are to be employed until 9 p.m. each evening until further orders. No pains or exertions are to be spared to complete the Achilles for sea by the end of the present month. Notwithstanding the extraordinary efforts which are now being made at Chatham to get the Achilles out of hand, it is probable that some considerable time will elapse after her completion before her guns, which are now being specially manufactured for her at the Royal gun factory, are ready to be put on board. According to existing orders received at Chatham - which, however, are liable to important alterations - the Achilles will be armed exclusively with the new 100-pounder smooth-bore wrought-iron gun, throwing spherical steel shot, with a minimum charge of powder of 25lb.
We 3 August 1864The utmost exertions are now being used by the whole of the departments at Chatham dockyard in hastening forward the completion of the iron frigate Achilles, 20, 6,121 tons, 1,250-horse power, Capt. Vansittart, in order that she may be ready to be commissioned and leave Chatham harbour by the last week in the present month. To encourage the junior officials and workmen to exert themselves a "minute" has been issued by Capt. Stewart, C.B., superintendent of the dockyard, in which he states that he shall have much pleasure in favourably mentioning to the Lords of the Admiralty any of the workmen employed on the Achilles who may particularly distinguish himself by his energy and zeal. Although the Achilles is ordered to be ready to leave Chatham by the 25th inst., some considerable time will afterwards elapse before she is ready to take her first cruise, there being still much work to be completed on board in the way of fitting an iron vessel of her magnitude for sea. The Achilles is to be furnished exclusively with the 100-pounder 6½ ton smooth-bore gun, but no portion of her armament has yet arrived at Chatham from the Royal gun factory.
Fr 5 August 1864The first of the 100-pounder 6¼ smooth-bore guns has been received from the Royal gun factory for the ironclad frigates Research, 4, 200-horse power, and the Enterprise, 4, 160-horse power. The armament for the iron frigate Achilles, 1,250-horse power, which is to be furnished exclusively with the same description of gun, is daily expected at Chatham. Notwithstanding the disparaging statements which have been made as to the alleged smallness of the battery in the Research and the Enterprise, both those vessels now carry the largest guns of any ship in Her Majesty's service, with, of course, the single exception of the Royal Sovereign, which is some four times their size. Were the guns on board the Enterprise and the Research worked by other than manual labour not the slightest complaint would be raised as to the smallness of the batteries in each of those vessels. In the opinion of all officers whose views on the subject are worthy of consideration the present mode of working large guns by the old system of tackles and handspikes is a disgrace to the age, and, unless some simple and easily workable mechanical arrangement can be adapted for the monster 12-ton and 15-ton 300-pounder and other guns with which it Is intended to arm our future ironclad vessels of war, it is believed that the working of these guns will prove a practical impossibility.
We 10 August 1864A number of the workmen employed on the iron frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, at Chatham, have again commenced working extra hours, and are now employed each evening until 9 o'clock p.m., by order of the Admiralty. In anticipation of the mechanics employed on the iron-clad frigate Lord Warden, building at Chatham Dockyard, being required to work additional hours during the approaching autumn, the Admiralty have given directions for the necessary gasfittings to be erected at the slip on which the ironcased ship is under construction. The Achilles is expected to be entirely out of the hands of the dockyard officials by the close of the present month, when the mechanics still engaged on her will be transferred to the Bellerophon and Lord Warden, both of which will, it is believed, be completed and afloat by the end of the ensuing year. The Achilles commenced shipping her sails from the dockyard yesterday.
We 24 August 1864The Admiralty paddle-wheel steam yacht Enchantress, 250-horse power, on board which their Lordships slept on Monday night after their inspection of Sheerness Dockyard, got under weigh at an early hour yesterday morning, and arrived in Chatham harbour shortly after 9 o'clock. The paddlewheel steam tender Otter, after embarking Capt.-Superintendent W.H. Stewart, C.B., Mr. Thornton, principal master shipbuilder, and other officials at the dockyard pier, steamed out of the harbour to meet their Lordships, who commenced the duties of the day by the inspection of the iron-clad frigate Achilles, 20, 6,121 tons, 1,250-horse power, which is moored a short distance out in the harbour below the dockyard. On proceeding on board the members of the Board were received by Capt. Vansittart, and by him conducted over the various portions of the frigate. Only a comparatively small amount of work, and that chiefly in the way of fittings, now remains to be effected on board, and there appears to be every probability that the Achilles will be completed and ready to leave Chatham in the course of next month. Owing to the length of time she has been lying in the harbour - a period of about nine months - her bottom has become exceedingly foul, which will necessitate her being docked for the purpose of having the barnacles, sea-weed, and other marine incrustations removed before she can proceed on her trial cruise. No dock is now available to receive her at Chatham, and it will consequently necessitate her removal to Portsmouth for that purpose. After spending about an hour on board the Achilles, Mr. Childers and the other members of the Board engaged in the inspection re-embarked in the Enchantress with the intention of paying a visit to St. Mary's Island, for the purpose of inspecting the extensive works now in progress for converting the whole of the island, comprising an area of upwards of 300 acres, or rather more than three times the space occupied by the existing dockyard, into basins, graving docks, building slips, &c., to meet the growing requirements of Chatham dockyard as an iron shipbuilding establishment.
Tu 30 August 1864The first instalment of the naval 100-pounder 6¼-ton smoothbore wrought iron guns arrived at Chatham yesterday, from the Royal gun factory, Woolwich, in the War Department transport Bomarsund, Mr. Spicer master, which went alongside the Ordnance-wharf to await orders from the War-office as to the landing of the guns. According to arrangements previously made, the guns were intended for shipment on board the ironclad frigate Achilles, 6,121 tons, 1,250-horse power, which is to be armed exclusively with the 100-pounders; but, in consequence of that vessel not being ready to receive them for some days to come, the guns were yesterday unshipped from the Bomarsund, and landed at the gun-wharf to prevent the transport being unnecessarily detained. In consequence of this misunderstanding between the Naval and War Department authorities the guns, after being landed at the Ordnance-wharf, will be reshipped in the course of a few days and conveyed down the harbour to the Achilles, this arrangement - or, more properly speaking, want of arrangement - entailing additional labour and responsibility on the part of the War-office officials at Chatham. The Bomarsund also brought a number of gun-carriages and other stores, and these, as well as the 100-pounders, were landed by mean of No.7 crane, the steam cranes erected at the gun-wharf not being used on this occasion to land guns of the weight of the 100-pounders. The Bomarsund will proceed from Chatham to the Nore this morning, for the purpose of receiving the guns from the screw steam frigate Forte.
Th 1 September 1864The War Department transport Marlborough arrived at Chatham yesterday from Woolwich, having on board the second instalment of the 100-pounder 6¼-ton smooth-bore guns for the ironclad frigate Achilles. 20, 1,250-horse power, making 16 of the new description which have arrived for that vessel from the Royal Gun Factory. The Achilles not being ready to receive her armament for some days to come, the Marlborough was berthed alongside the ordnance-wharf, and, according to orders issued yesterday, will not land the guns at the gun-wharf, owing to some defect having been discovered in the largest crane, which would render it unsafe to attempt to land guns of the weight of the 100-pounders by its means. It should here be remarked that a couple of what were then considered powerful steam cranes were erected at the ordnance-wharf about two or three years since, at great expense, but as the 95 cwt. 68-pounder guns were then considered by the authorities to be the largest and heaviest kind which would ever be in use in the British service, the cranes in question were only constructed to lift up to 5 tons, so that they are practically useless for landing the present description of ordnance, the present requirements of the services necessitating cranes to lift from 15 to 20 tons each.
Ma 5 September 1864The 100-pounder smooth-bore wrought iron 6¼-ton guns for the Achilles, which arrived at the Ordnance-wharf, Chatham, a few days since from the Royal gun factory, will be reshipped on board one of the War Department transports to-day, for removal to the iron frigate, and will be placed on board to-morrow. It was originally intended to arm the Achilles exclusively with the 100-pounder smooth-bore guns, but according to orders since received at Chatham, she will only mount 16 of the description of gun named, the remainder of her armament being composed of the naval 110-pounder 84cwt. Armstrong rifled guns. No arrangements have as yet been made on board for receiving any of the 300-pounder 12-ton Armstrongs, and from the circumstance of none of her ports having been enlarged and no alteration made in her gun-plates and curbing, the intention to place one or more of the 300-pounders on board the Achilles appears to have been abandoned - at all events for the present.
Tu 6 September 1864By direction of the Admiralty, about 100 of the mechanics and lads employed on the iron frigate Achilles, 30, at Chatham, will be discharged from the dockyard at the close of the present week, their services being no longer required, in consequence of the Achilles being very nearly completed. In the discharge of the number of hands ordered care will be taken to get rid of the least efficient and steady of the men.
The War Department transport Bomarsund, Mr. Spicer, master, left the ordnance-wharf at Chatham yesterday, and dropped down the harbour to the Achilles, with the first portion of upwards of 1,000 of the solid spherical 100-pounder shot for that frigate.
We 7 September 1864The 100-pounder smooth-bore guns which arrived at Chatham from the Royal gun factory in the War Department transports Marlborough and Bomarund, for the iron frigate Achilles, have been landed at the Ordnance-wharf, and will not be shipped on board the Achilles for some days, the delay being occasioned by the fracture of the chain at the largest crane used in shipping the guns, and the necessity for procuring another of a stronger description.
Fr 9 September 1864The paddlewheel steamer Adder, 2, 100-horse power, Master-Commander W.J. Blakey, having undergone a complete repair to both hull and machinery, has resumed her station at Chatham as tender to the flagship Wellesley, 72, at that port, and is now employed almost exclusively in conveying the officials and workmen to and from the dockyard to the iron-clad frigate Achilles at Gillingham Reach. During the time the Adder was in the shipwrights' hands she was fitted with Lumley's patent rudder, which by direction of the Admiralty had been previously applied to the paddlewheel steamer Otter, 2, employed in Chatham harbour to test the value of the invention when fitted to steamers required for river service. The results of the trials made with the patent rudder on board that vessel have been in the highest degree satisfactory, and such as to justify the Admiralty in directing the application of the principle to other steamvessels. In a crowded and somewhat confined harbour like that at Chatham it is obviously most essential that steamers should be able to answer every touch of their helm instantaneously, while, on the other hand, the steamer should be capable of being steered under such circumstances that the helm should possess the maximum amount of power over the vessel with a minimum amount of resistance, both of which essentials are secured in the patent rudder. The experimental trials made during the last few days with the Adder show that vessels fitted with Lumley's rudder possess steering advantages not possessed by those furnished with the ordinary description of steering apparatus.
Sa 10 September 1864The War Department transport Marlborough yesterday went alongside the Ordnance-wharf in Chatham harbour and shipped seven of the large 100-pounder wrought-iron smooth-bore 6¼-ton guns, together with a number of light Armstrong guns, with which she afterwards dropped down the river to the iron-clad frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250 horsepower, which will receive the remainder of her armament in the course of a few days.
Ma 12 September 1864A considerable number of the hands hitherto employed on board the ironclad frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, completing for sea at Chatham, have been withdrawn from that vessel, and placed on the other ships building and fitting, in consequence of most of the work in the way of fitting, &c., on board the Achilles being now completed. During the last few days the Achilles has been visited, by special permission of the Admiralty, by Mr. King, the head of the engineering department of the United States' Navy, who spent a considerable time on board the frigate, over which be was conducted by the principal officers of the yard. At the termination of his visit Mr. King expressed his unqualified admiration of everything he had witnessed on board the Achilles, and frankly admitted that there was no vessel of the same class or description in the Federal navy which would bear any comparison with her, while in the opinion of this gentleman she even surpassed the ironclads Minotaur, Agincourt, and Northumberland, all of which he had inspected. Such disinterested testimony as that given by Mr. King is the more valuable when it is remembered that the Achilles is the first of the squadron of ironclads built at the Royal dockyards. In consequence of the length of time which the Achilles has been lying in Chatham harbour her bottom has become exceedingly foul, notwithstanding Its having been coated with one of the numerous so called anti-fouling compositions. She will accordingly require to be docked and her bottom cleansed before she proceeds on her first cruise.
Th 15 September 1864The following appointments were made yesterday at the Admiralty: - Capt. E.W. Vansittart, now additional of the Formidable, to the Achilles, commissioned
Fr 16 September 1864The whole of the 100-pounder wrought-iron smooth-bore guns with which the iron-clad frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, will be armed have been despatched from the Chatham gun-wharf to that vessel in the War Department cutters employed on that duty. Although the Achilles originally figured in the Navy List as a 40-gun frigate, her armament has since been cut down to 20 guns, the whole of which were to have been of the new kind of 100-pounders. Within the last few days, however, the authorities at Whitehall have again decided on some alterations in the armament of the Achilles, and, instead of the iron frigate carrying 20 of the 100-pounders, in accordance with previously received orders at Chatham, it is now intended that she shall mount only 18 of that description of guns, the remainder of her complement of guns being made up, according to existing intentions, of several of the 100-pounders which are to undergo the process of rifling. The decision of the Admiralty not to place any of the 300-pounders on board the Achilles has created considerable surprise in naval circles, especially when it is considered that in any future naval engagements in which our ironclads will take part every other description of armament, with the exception of the 300-pounder and 600-pounder guns will be comparatively ineffective against armour-plated ships.
Sa 17 September 1864The iron-clad frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, commissioned at Chatham on Thursday afternoon by Capt. E.W. Vansittart (January 9, 1856), is to have a complement of 705 officers and men, for which number she is to be at once stored. She will be ready to receive her Royal Marines and Marine Artillery on board on Monday next, as soon as the exact detail of her number have been received at head-quarters from the Admiralty. The work of fitting the frigate for sea has proceeded very rapidly, during the past few weeks, and there is comparatively little in the way of dockyard fittings remaining to be executed on board. Steam was got up in her boilers a few days since, under the direction of Mr. J. Leys, the chief engineer, when the whole of the machinery was found to work satisfactorily. As already reported in The Times, the bottom of the Achilles has become exceedingly foul from the length of time she has been lying in Chatham harbour, which will necessitate her being docked immediately she reaches Portsmouth.
Th 22 September 1864The seamen and marines for Her Majesty's ironclad frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, preparing for sea at Chatham, are berthed on board the receiving-ship Gloucester, 50, in Chatham harbour, until the Achilles is ready to receive them. The detachments of Royal Marine Artillery have joined from head-quarters, Portsmouth, and those from the Light Infantry companies have been selected from the Woolwich battalion. The Achilles is expected to be ready to take her departure from Chatham in about a fortnight, when she will proceed direct to Portsmouth.
Fr 23 September 1864In accordance with instructions received at Chatham from the Admiralty, the whole of the smiths and joiners employed on the Achilles, ironclad frigate, and the Cadmus, 21, 400-horse power, commenced working extra hours yesterday, in order that both these vessels may be completed with as little delay as possible.
Between 300 and 400 of the crew for the Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, have arrived at Chatham from the Steam Reserve at Portsmouth and Plymouth, and the remainder of the ship's complement will join that frigate in the course of the ensuing week. Yesterday the paddlewheel steamer Fearless, Master-Commander W. Taylor, tender to the Cumberland, 70, Capt. W.K. Hall, C.B., arrived at Chatham with a number of men, chiefly for the engineer department, for the Achilles. During the time the iron frigate is at Chatham her officers and crew are berthed on board the receiving ship Gloucester, 50, in Chatham harbour. Owing to the length of time the Achilles has been lying in the river her bottom has become exceedingly foul, and the examination of her hull by one of the professional divers has resulted in the discovery that the whole of her bottom is completely covered with marine insects, barnacles, and seaweed, some of the last being as much as two feet in length. The bottom of the Achilles, it may be remarked, was coated over with the Hay "anti-fouling" composition before the frigate was undocked, and as she has been lying some nine months in Chatham harbour, a pretty correct estimate may be formed of the state the bottoms of our ironclads will be in if detained only for a very short period in tropical waters. In the case of the Achilles, fully two knots an hour may be deducted from her speed if sent to sea in her present condition.
We 28 September 1864The iron frigate Achilles, 20, 6,121 tons, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, will only receive a portion of her officers end crew at Chatham, the remainder of the ship's company joining on the frigate arriving at Spithead. It was originally intended not to commission the Achilles until she arrived at Portsmouth, but as it was essential that she should be completed and sent to sea before the winter, it was considered that a portion of her officers and crew, as well as the whole of her Marines, should join to hasten the work of fitting her.
Sa 1 October 1864The iron-clad frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, is now ordered to be ready to take her departure from Chatham harbour on the 14th inst., and to proceed to Portsmouth, where she will receive her final orders as to her ultimate movements. In anticipation of her departure by the period stated, all is bustle and activity on board, the dockyard officials exerting themselves to the utmost to have the frigate completed before she leaves the Medway. In accordance with Admiralty orders, she has commenced to take on board her stock of coals, but the supply at present at Chatham and Sheerness is altogether insufficient. On Thursday she had shipped 300 tons, which exhausted the entire supply from the coal ships in the river. About 150 tons were despatched on board from the dockyard yesterday, but about double that quantity will still be required to complete the necessary quantity. The Achilles is now completely rigged, and most of the work being completed on board, with the exception of the numerous fitments still required to be executed, the frigate presents an imposing appearance. Yesterday about 100 seamen arrived and joined the Achilles from the Formidable, 84, flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir C. Talbot, K.C.B., Commander-in-Chief at the Nore.
Tu 4 October 1864The iron frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250 horse-power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, has received orders to take her departure from Chatham on Monday next for the Nore. After remaining there a few days to adjust her compasses and to complete her coaling-up, she will proceed to Plymouth for the purpose of being docked, for the customary examination of her bottom and valves before proceeding to sea. It was originally intended for the Achilles to proceed to Portsmouth, but in consequence of there being no dock at liberty at that port in which she can enter, the order has been received at Chatham for Plymouth to be the port at which she is to call. From the exceedingly foul state of the bottom of the iron frigate, from her lengthened stay in Chatham harbour, where the water appears to have more than an ordinary effect on iron ships' bottoms, the work of removing the accumulations below her water-line will occupy some time. It is stated at Chatham that the Achilles will make her first cruise to the Mediterranean, looking in at Lisbon for a short time. No time, however, will be lost in despatching her to sea, Capt. Vansittart, as well as the officers generally, being anxious to fall in with the equinoctial gales in order to severely test her sailing and steaming qualities, which, it is confidently predicted will surpass those of any other vessel composing the iron-clad squadron. The 110-pounder Armstrong shot and shell were shipped on board from the Ordnance-wharf yesterday.
Th 6 October 1864With the exception of a few hands to complete a trifling amount of work still remaining to be executed on board the Achilles at Chatham, the whole of the mechanics and artisans will leave that vessel to-day. She will then be handed over to her officers and crew in all respects fully equipped, and ready to take her departure for sea in the early portion of the ensuing week, as previously announced in The Times. The officers and crew, who have been berthed on board the Gloucester, 50, in Chatham harbour, during the time the Achilles has been fitting, will join to-day, and from the amount of work to be done on board in the way of cleaning up after the ten months during which the frigate has been in the dockyard mechanics' hands her crew will not join an hour too soon. With about 500 tons of coals on board the Achilles is on a nearly even keel, but if the approaching run from Chatham to Plymouth Sound is to be taken as a kind of experimental trial cruise as to what she is likely to do at sea, it will be necessary to give her a better trim, and bring her two feet down by the stern. It should, however, be taken into consideration by those who are keenly watching the approaching performance of the Achilles that as much probably as two knots per hour must be allowed in her rate of speed in consequence of the state of her bottom.
Tu 11 October 1864Yesterday the officers, seamen, and Royal Marines belonging to the iron frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, who have been berthed on board the sailing frigate Gloucester, 50, in Chatham harbour, during the time the ironclad vessel has been fitting for sea, were turned over to the Achilles, the paddlewheel steamers Adder and Otter being employed in the work of conveying the officers and seamen from the one vessel to the other. Only a few mechanics now remain employed on board the iron ship, nearly the whole of the workmen having again resumed their duties at the dockyard, the ironclad frigates Lord Warden and Bellerophon employing the whole resources of the establishment. The Achilles was to be ready to take her departure from Chatham to-day; but late yesterday it was announced that she was not likely to get away from her moorings until to-morrow or the following day, when, according to existing arrangements, she proceeds to the Nore. There she will remain for a few days for the adjustment of her compasses and other matters, proceeding thence to Plymouth for the customary docking before leaving for her first cruise.
We 12 October 1864The War Department steamer Balaclava, Mr. W. Pellett commander, having shipped a full cargo of guns, carriages, shot, platforms, &c., for Devonport and Portsmouth, went down to the powder buoy off Woolwich Arsenal yesterday, and took in the complement of powder and ammunition for the supply of Her Majesty's iron steamship Achilles at Devonport. Among her items of cargo the Balaklava shipped the 300-pounder smooth-bore gun which was injured in the practice on board the gunnery-ship Excellent, and sent to Woolwich to be resighted and repaired. Four other guns of the same calibre, each having a rifled bore, are lying on the shipping wharf in Woolwich Arsenal, and are destined for Her Majesty's ship Scorpion.
We 19 October 1864The Achilles, 30, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, iron-clad frigate, has been inspected at the Nore by the Vice-Admiral Commanding-in-Chief, and, having had her compasses adjusted and in all respects been made ready for sea, will take her departure from the Medway this morning for Plymouth, there to be docked for the purpose of having the marine deposits on her bottom removed, and her valves overhauled and examined, after which she will take a short cruise, probably with the Channel squadron. She leaves Chatham under-manned, and considerably short of her complement of blue-jackets, but it is probable she will pick up the remainder of her crew at Devonport, although the old difficulty of manning the vessels fitting and to be fitted for sea is just now causing considerable anxiety at the Admiralty, from the apparent scarcity of A.B.'s and ordinary seamen, and the eagerness with which they are entering the American navy. The Achilles was inspected yesterday by the officials connected with the master-shipbuilder's department at Chatham Dockyard, and Mr. A. Moore, principal assistant master-shipwright, Mr Baker, chief engineer, Mr. Penny, foreman, under whom the Achilles was built, together with a number of shipwrights, will proceed round in the iron frigate from Chatham to Devonport, in case anything should transpire requiring their attention on board. On the occasion of the Achilles making her recent run from Chatham to the Nore and back to her moorings in the Medway her machinery worked with remarkable ease and steadiness, the six after-boilers used generating an abundance of steam. After her preliminary run the frigate turned round and steamed up to her moorings in the river, taking them up with as little difficulty as a yacht. So easy was the working of the engines and machinery that the fact of the vessel being under way was scarcely perceptible to either officers or men. The Achilles has received her powder and cartridges from the magazines at Upnor for her 110 pounder and other rifled guns, the ammunition for her 100 pounder smoothbore guns being supplied from the Woolwich arsenal, none of the latter description of cartridges being at present kept in store at Chatham.
Tu 1 November 1864The ironplated iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, left Sheerness or the Nore on Wednesday, the 19th of October, and arrived in Plymouth Sound on Tuesday, the 25th. During her passage down Channel she encountered severe weather, and took shelter in Torbay. This is her first trip at sea, and being one of an entirely new class of ships of large dimensions, 6,121 tons, and carrying four masts, her performance has been watched with considerable interest. Mr. Moore, assistant master shipwright, and Mr. Penny, superintendent of fittings, from Chatham Dockyard, Mr. Wigzell, of the firm of Messrs. John Penn and Son, who supplied her engines, and Mr. Robinson, from the department of the Surveyor of the Navy, were on board. The results of the trip were not entirely satisfactory, but this refers chiefly to the difference of speed at the contractor's trial and in the Channel. The officers speak well of her seagoing qualities, and all on board are hopeful that the cause of the loss of speed under steam will be found out and remedied. On the 21st, by plunging during a severe gale, the Achilles carried away her jibboom and her whiskers (two stout spars projecting at right angles from either bow). She also took in several heavy seas at the bow ports, and it was in consequence determined to run in for Torbay. Here she arrived on Saturday, the 22d, and dropped her starboard anchor, but having drifted with her full broadside to the wind, the chain, fifty fathoms of which were out, broke, and recourse was then had to the port anchor. The vessel, however, was kept under steam all the time she continued in the roadstead. On Monday the lost chain was fished up. On Tuesday morning, the 25th, in weighing the port anchor with the steam capstan, it snapped off near the junction of the shaft with the flues, both of which were left below. The diameter of the shafts of the anchors of the Achilles is nearly the same from the ring to the flues. Formerly anchors were made with shafts increasing in their diameter as they approached the flues - an arrangement which would strengthen what has proved to be the weakest part of this ship's broken anchor. The Achilles arrived at Plymouth at 3 30 p.m. on Tuesday, and, having discharged her powder, was assisted on Wednesday afternoon by the Medusa, Confiance, and Scotia into Hamoaze. The Medusa, which has engines of 312-horse power, went purposely from Sheerness to be at her service, On Thursday the Achilles was placed in the south basin of Keyham steamyard, where the new "hog" for scouring the bottoms of iron ships was tested, under the superintendence of Mr. Robinson, from the Admiralty, Whitehall, by the help of the ship's diver. This hog is an enormous brush of birchbroom, about five feet long by three feet broad. Its back consists of a frame of wood 16 inches thick, having round the edge a groove, into which is inserted a rope with iron thimbles attached to each of its four sides, to receive the guides by which the hog is moved under water. The system is much practised at Malta. In the present instance the experiment was not considered very satisfactory. Some shellfish were brought up, but the hog could not detach those which were on and near the "lands," or projecting strakes of the Achilles. On Saturday she was placed in dock No. 3, or the Queen's dock, recently lengthened to 430ft. It will be recollected that the ship measures 380 ft. from stem to stern, or 392ft. over all. Her draught aft was 26ft. 3in.; the depth of water in the dock was 28ft, Her engines are of 1,250-horse power nominal, and at the contractor's trial were worked up to 5,067 horses; in the Channel 3,200-horse power only could be attained, the pressure of steam being occasionally 26lb., and the revolutions 40 per minute, against 46 on the trial. The speed first attained, and which at the time gave great satisfaction, was 14½ knots, but during the passage to Plymouth, although an especial effort was used on one occasion, very little over 10 knots was produced. Scotch and Welsh coals mixed were used. The trim of the ship, her greater immersion, and the foulness of the bottom may account for a loss of from two to three knots, but what remains puzzles all concerned. After her repairs in dock the Achilles will be removed into Hamoaze, where several experiments will be made in reference to her line of flotation, centre of gravity, &c., under the superintendence of Mr. Nathaniel Barnaby, the second assist.-constructor at Whitehall. At the contractor's trial the ship was 15in. by the stern; her immersion now is 2ft. more, and she has about 30,000 superficial feet under water. Soon after leaving the Nore it was discovered that she was too much by the head, some of her weights were moved aft, and the coal in the fore bunkers was reduced as speedily as possible. The armament on her main deck is 16 100-pounder smooth-bore Armstrongs, weighing 6½ tons each, and on the upper deck four 110-pounders. On the passage, when going ahead, the screw revolved 73,500 times; when backing and performing other evolutions not accounted for it is calculated that the revolutions were 26,500, making a total of 100,000. The screw is considered very powerful. It was occasionally out of water to a small extent, but the "rest" was not great, because the screw is provided with four blades. The Achilles dipped very quickly. In a fresh gale there is little motion; but she did not answer so well in a rolling sea. She has been ten months afloat, chiefly in the Medway, and it was expected that much weed and quantities of large shell-fish would have been found on her bottom. When she got into a rough sea large patches of barnacles were washed off; some were removed in Keyham basin by the hog, and as the water was pumped out of the dock the crew, as usual, cleaned her sides, but as soon as the dock was dry, and those parts untouched could be surveyed, it became apparent that no extensive fouling had occurred. There was comparatively no weed, but she was well studded with barnacles, upon rough patches of which muscles of no great size had here and there become attached; the starboard counter was the worst place. On the blades and boss of het brass screw many barnacles were quartered, and this would undoubtedly retard its revolutions. The Achilles was paid over at Chatham with Mr. Hay's composition, which was much rubbed off at her high-water line by the stages and floating factories alongside her for many months after she was undocked. The line of flotation was, of course, gradually raised as she received her engines, armament, &c. In addition to this, the several coatings of red lead applied previously, in November and December, were scarcely dry enough to receive varnishes without being further softened; but in other parts the composition adheres firmly, especially where it was placed directly on the iron. The bottom of the ship is, however, generally speaking, not much corroded. Green's composition is to be now applied. The crew of the Achilles, all told, would be about 755 men. On departure from Sheerness she was 180 short, of all descriptions; since she has been at Plymouth she has obtained 160 men from the receiving ship, Canopus, 8, Capt. Charles H. May, in Hamoaze. Out of 75 men engaged in the engineer's department 64 only were effective in the stokehole. During the height of the gale 27 stokers were unfit for work at one time, chiefly through sickness, occasioned by her liveliness. Such an amount of prostration is very unusual, but may be accounted for chiefly by the fact that many of the stokers are unseasoned men. The ship is considered a great credit to the country, her frame appears to be perfectly firm, and did not give one inch in the dock, and the engines are in excellent condition. The fittings of the ship, which were executed at Chatham, are very satisfactory. The crew are a fine body of men, and are well conducted. By recent Admiralty order a diver is appointed to every ironclad ship. In consequence of the limited pay, these men are mere divers; it would seem to be more economical to increase the pay and thus secure the services of a class of men capable of stopping a leak or of performing other mechanical duties which might prevent the delay of a ship, or the necessity of incurring the cost of placing her in dock.
Sa 12 November 1864The following is the list of the vessels of the Royal navy which will be armed, and are now being armed, with the new description of 300-pounder and other guns in course of issue. The figures after each vessel specify the number of guns of the description mentioned she will carry. To mount the 12-ton 300-pounders:- Bellerophon, 10; Royal Sovereign, 5; Minotaur, 4; Scorpion, 4; Wiveren, 4; Prince Albert, 4; Agincourt, 4; and Northumberland, 4. To be armed with the 6½-ton guns:- The Achilles, 20; Black Prince, 20; Warrior, 20; Lord Warden, 20; Lord Clyde, 20; Royal Oak, 20; Prince Consort, 20; Royal Alfred, 20; Caledonia, 20; Ocean, 20; Minotaur, 18 ; Agincourt, 18; Valiant, 16; Zealous, 16; Hector, 16; Defence, 10; Resistance, 10; Endymion, 6; Mersey, 4; Orlando, 4, Pallas, 4; Favourite, 4; Research, 4; Enterprise, 4; Amazon, 2; Viper, 2; and Vixen, 2. To mount the 64-pounder muzzle-loader:- The Bristol, 12; Melpomene, 12; Liverpool, 12; Severn, 12; Arethusa, 12; Phoebe, 12;. Shannon, 12; Octavia, 12; Constance, 12; Sutlej, 12; Undaunted, 12; Impérieuse, 12; Aurora, 12; Leander, 12; Bacchante, 12; Emerald, 12; Phaeton, 12: Narcissus, 12; Forte, 12; Euryalus, 12; Topaz, 12; Newcastle, 12; Liffey, 12; Immortalité, 12; Glasgow, 12; Clio, 8, North Star, 8 [laid down 1860, cancelled 1865]; Racoon, 8; Challenge[r], 8; and Menai, 8 [laid down 1860, cancelled 1864]. The following will be supplied with the 64-pounder breech-loaders:- The Scout, 8; Rattlesnake, 8; Cadmus, 8; Scylla, 8; Barossa, 8; Jason, 8; Charybdis, 8; Wolverine, 8; Pylades, 8; Orestes, 8; Pearl, 8; Pelorus, 8; Satellite, 8; Acheron, 4 [laid down 1861, cancelled 1863]; Shearwater, 4; Valorous, 4; Furious, 4; Bittern, 4 [laid down 1861, cancelled 1863]; Magicienne, 4; and Columbine, 4. A supply of the 6½-ton smooth-bore 100-pounder wrought iron guns has already been received at Chatham, and it is understood that the first supply of the 300-pounder rifled 12-ton Armstrong gun may shortly be expected at the Ordnance wharf.
Fr 18 November 1864Notwithstanding the numerous descriptions of what are termed "anti-fouling" mixtures which have been submitted to the Admiralty, no discovery appears yet to have been made of a preparation for effectually preventing the accumulations of animal and vegetable matter over the hulls of iron vessels. Although the bottom of the iron frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, was coated over before her launch with the anti-fouling composition of Mr. Hay, the Admiralty Chymist, so foul had the bottom of that vessel become while lying in Chatham harbour, preparing for sea, that in the run round from Chatham to Devonport her speed fell off more than three knots per hour from her steaming rate on the occasion of her official trial at the Maplin Sands. When docked at Devonport the bottom not only was foul, but many of the plates were left completely bare of composition, and white corrosion had in many instances eaten away the plating to a depth of from one sixteenth to a tenth of an inch. The basis of most of the anti-fouling compositions hitherto tested is naphtha in various modified forms; but it has been recently ascertained by Mr. Gishorne, the inventor of the electric telegraph signals which are being fixed on board various vessels of war, that a preparation of mercury when applied to the iron plates of a ship's bottom is much more efficacious. He asserts that this preparation not only effectually prevents the least accumulation of animal or vegetable matter, but at the same time preserves the iron from oxidation. The results of the experiment already made with the invention are deemed so conclusive of the value of the discovery that orders have lately been received at Chatham directing that Mr. Gisborne's preparation be applied to the bottom of the new iron-clad frigate Valiant, 24, 800-horse power, now lying in the Medway. Should the results at all approach what are claimed for the invention, the Admiralty will direct its use in all iron ships now in the navy. Instructions have been given by the Admiralty for no less than seven coats of Green's anti-fouling composition to be applied to the bottom of the Achilles, at an expense of nearly 1,000l., and the work is now being executed. A portion of the hull has also been set apart for the trial of Gisborne's mercurial anti-fouling composition, so that its effects may be compared with those of the other mixture, and a rigid comparison of the two made. Already Mr. Gisborne's invention has been so far adopted by the mercantile marine, and its effects, as shown on the bottoms of the iron vessels to which it bas been applied, are in the highest degree satisfactory. By direction of Capt. W.R. Mends, C.B., the Gisborne anti-fouling preparation is to be used on the bottoms of the whole of the vessels belonging to the transport service, of which department of the navy that officer is the director.
Sa 26 November 1864The iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, having been repaired in No. 3 dock at Keyham, was removed on Thursday afternoon, and is now in the stream in Hamoaze.
Fr 2 December 1864The repairs of the iron screw steamship Achilles, 20. Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, having been completed, she is under orders to be removed from Hamoze into Plymouth Sound.
We 7 December 1864The iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, is prevented from leaving Plymouth Sound for a cruise in the Channel in consequence of Capt. Vansittart's presence as a member of the Court-Martial on Com. Broad now sitting on board the Royal Adelaide, in Hamoaze, and which is not likely to be concluded before to-day.
Ma 12 December 1864The iron screw steamship Achilles, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, arrived at Spithead on Saturday morning from Plymouth. On anchoring she exchanged salutes with the Victory, flagship of Admiral Sir M. Seymour, C.B., Commander-in-Chief.
Tu 13 December 1864The Achilles, iron frigate, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, is ordered to be tried in the usual manner over the measured mile in Stokes Bay, near Portsmouth. This will give a reliable result of the ship's actual rate of speed at her seagoing draught of water, the only condition at which a ship's trial can be made to render it of any value. Yesterday Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, G.C.B., Port Admiral and Naval Commander-in-chief at Portsmouth, embarked on board the Sprightly steamer, which conveyed him to Spithead, where he visited and officially inspected the Achilles. The ship, with her four square-rigged masts, has an extremely ugly and crowded appearance aloft, as seen from a distance.
Th 15 December 1864

The Achilles.

The Iron frigate Achilles, 20 guns, 6,079 tons, 1,250-horse power of engines, Captain E. Vansittart, commenced her official trials in her sea-going trim yesterday, at Portsmouth, with her runs over the trial-ground at the measured mile in Stokes-bay, with full-boiler power, and in making her circles - also under full power. A gunboat left the harbour at 8 30 a.m., for Spithead, with the officials on board to conduct the trial, the latter comprising Commander Brett, of Her Majesty's ship Asia; Messrs. Ward and Murdock, of the Steam Factory and Steam Reserve Departments; Messrs. Brain and Elliott, Assistant Master Shipwrights; &c. On the officials reaching the ship she at once steamed out from the anchorage to clear her fires in readiness to enter upon the mile. It was nearly 11 a.m., however, before the ship commenced her first run, owing to a difficulty experienced with her coals. The ship's draught of water was 25ft. 6in.forward, and 26ft. 10in. aft. She was not quite complete in all her stores, although the deficiency was but trifling, and she had 560 tons of coal in her bunkers, when she could have stowed 760 tons. The wind was moderately fresh, about 4 in strength, from E.N.E., with smooth water. The engines drive a four-blade Mangin screw, the blades being fixed at equidistant intervals round the boss on the shafting, the diameter of the screw being 24ft. 6in. and its pitch 25ft. 5in. The engines are of precisely the same power as those of the Warrior - 1,250-horse' made from the same patterns and by the same eminent makers, Messrs. Penn. The ship's midship section is stated to be precisely the same as the Warrior's; in fact, she is a second Warrior, both in hull and engines, with the single but important exception that she is an Admiralty "improvement" on the Warrior, inasmuch that the Achilles has had her bilges pulled out a little, her floor also slightly lengthened forward, her armour plating carried up to her main deck above the water-line round her bow and stern, her hull being also minus figurehead and quarter galleries, and four masts put into her in lieu of the ordinary three. With these supposed improvements, it might reasonably have been expected that the Achilles would yesterday have beaten the Warrior in point of speed at the measured mile, but the contrary was the result, and the Warrior still retains her proud position as the fleetest ship under steam in Her Majesty's navy. The following are the results of the Achilles runs yesterday:-


No. of Run.
Time.
m.s.
Speed of ship
Knots.
Steam
Lb.
Vacuum.
Inches.
Rev. of
Engines
1 4 15 14·220 22½ 26 49½
2 5 6 11·764 23 25 49
3 4 3 14·815 23½ 25½ 49½
4 5 8 11·668 22 26 48½
5 3 56 15·254 23 25½ 49¾
6 5 16 11·392 23½ 25 50
7 3.50 15·652 23 25 50
8 5 19 11·285 23 26 50

Throwing the two first runs out of calculation, the remaining six give the ship a speed of knots of 13·419. To appreciate the exact value of this result we must refer to the ship's trial at light draught off the Maplin Sands in April last, and the Warrior's trial in her seagoing trim in October, 1861. The Achilles on her light trial drew 22ft. 6in. of water forward, and 23ft. 9in. aft, or a mean draught of 23ft. 2in., and she attained a mean speed in her six runs over the measured mile of 14·357 knots. The Warrior, in her deep seagoing trim in October, 1861, drew 25ft. 6in. of water forward, and 26ft. 5in. aft, giving a mean draught of 25ft. 11½in., and she attained a mean speed in her six runs over the measured mile of 14·354 knots. The Achilles yesterday had thus a mean draught of water of 3ft. in excess of her draught on her light draught trial in April last, and a mean draught of 2½in. in excess of that of the Warrior in October, 1861. Two and a half inches mean excess of immersion must necessarily have its due effect on a ship's speed at the measured mile; but it will not account for the knot difference in speed, for it cannot be really called less, between the Achilles and the Warrior, and the cause must, therefore, be looked for elsewhere. This cause may not possibly be found attached to any one point of difference between the two ships, but rather to several causes, the most prominent of which are - the substitution of a four-bladed "Mangin" screw in the Achilles for the two-bladed "Giffiths" of the Warrior, and the extra weight imposed on the bows of the Achilles by the forward, or bow mast (as the ship has four masts there is a difficulty in naming them, so as to be understood clearly by the reader), and her topgallant forecastle. A ship cannot be loaded with impunity over its bows when sent on a trial of speed over the measured mile any more than a racehorse could be sent over the course at Newmarket with a heavy weight suspended round its neck. The Achilles has, however, been thus unwisely weighted, and in her trial of yesterday she paid the anticipated, and, indeed, unavoidable, penalty in a commensurate loss of speed, if we attribute the greater portion of her loss to this cause and not to the change of screw alone, which may be fairly done. After the runs had been concluded over the trial ground in Stokes-bay, the ship was tested in her turning powers in making circles with the following results:-
To Port.- Half circle made in 4min. 21sec.; full circle, 8min. 36sec.; angle of rudder, 25·5; turns of wheel, 3; men at wheel, 21; time in getting up helm, 1min. 4sec.; revolutions of engines, 47.
To Starboard.- Half circle made in 4min. 4sec.; full circle, 7min. 56sec.; angle of rudder, 25·5; turns of wheel, 3; men at wheel, 18; time in getting up helm, 1min. 40sec.; revolutions of engines, 44.
The next step, and the final experiment of the day, was to test the engines in their working to signal, which gave the following satisfactory results:-
Engines stopped from time of moving telegraph on the quarterdeck bridge in 19 sec., started ahead in 6 sec., and from that position started astern in 16 sec. The engines made 13·250 revolutions during the day, and their indicated power during the runs over the measured mile was, as near as possible, 5,000 horse. The temperatures taken during the first and last runs were-

When taken. On deck. Engine-room. Fore stokehole. Aft stoekhole.
1st run 48 70 84 63 94 92 114 116 125 118
6th run 48 74 88 65 90 104 118 123 130 128

Of the engines no particular description need be given, as they are counterparts of those of the Warrior, and they did their work quite as satisfactorily yesterday as the Warrior's did on the day of her trial. More than this cannot be said in their favour, for the simple fact that it would be impossible to award them a higher meed of praise. They were in sole charge throughout the day of the chief engineer of the ship, Mr. J. Lays. Messrs. Penn were represented on board by Mr. Matthews, a member of the firm. As regards the ship herself and her general appearance, at a distance she looks with her four masts a very bad imitation of the Great Eastern, and this appearance will not be improved until the bow mast is take out of her and her foremast proper is removed some fifteen or twenty feet forward of its present position. The forward or bowmast, with its square rig, is not only an eyesore to the ship's general appearance and retards her speed under steam, as was proved in yesterday's trial, but it is also all but useless when the ship is under sail, for if the wind is well aft the beam its canvass is not wanted, and if the wind is at all short, or on the bow, its canvass can not be made use of, for its yards cannot be braced up sharp, owing to the lead of the stays and other gear. This mistake in the ship's rig, however, cannot be justly laid on the Admiralty, as it must be fresh in the minds of every one who pays attention to such matters that the majority of people, naval officers included, were smitten with the idea that our long ships required more than three masts; and this idea was cherished and promulgated right and left without perhaps due consideration being given to the effect such an addition to a ship's masting would have upon her balance when under sail. The Achilles is the first vessel we have treated in this way, and, as her efficiency has been seriously impaired, the sooner we revert in her case to the wisdom of our forefathers the better for the ship. The hull of the Achilles when seen in close proximity has a fine bold appearance, with a handsome sheer well out of the water at her line of ports, a clean round stern, and a very handsome bow, over which project her light bowsprit and jib-boom. In board she has a fine roomy upper deck with a topgallant forecastle, the latter very much in the way when work is going on under the direction of the officer in charge forward, and should be taken out of the ship with the bow mast. The general fitting of the upper deck have been executed in a manner that reflects the highest credit on the officials of Chatham Dockyard. Among the most noticeable of these fittings is a brass standard counter, with a dial which gives the direction of the engines and the number of revolutions they are making, and a very cleverly executed light line of railway between and round the funnels, for transporting the ashes when hoisted up from below. The ship's armament on the upper deck consists of four 110-pounder breechloading Armstrong guns. The main-deck fittings have been executed with the same care and efficient arrangement as those of the upper deck. On the main deck the ship carries 16 smooth-bore guns (coil-built Armstrongs) of 9·22 inch calibre, throwing round shot of 100lb. weight. These are the guns which have been, as a compliment to his Grace the Duke of Somerset, as First Lord of the Admiralty, termed the "Somerset" gun, and certainly they possess good smashing powers for smoothbores when firing steel shot with their full powder charges. On deck and below the ship is in excellent order, and a great amount of work must have been expended by her captain and officers to have got her and her crew into their present condition during the comparatively short time the ship has been in commission.
To-day the ship will make her trial with half-boiler power, weather permitting.
Fr 16 December 1864The official trial of the iron frigate Achilles was concluded yesterday at Portsmouth with her half-boiler power trials of speed at the measured mile in Stoke's-Bay, and her tested time in making circles to port and starboard. The same officials conducted the trial yesterday as on the fullpower trial of the previous day, and the conditions of wind and weather were also equal. The runs over the measured mile gave the following results: 1st run, 5min. 10sec., 11·613 knots; 2d run, 5min. 49sec., 10·315 knots; 3d run, 4min. 55sec., 12·203 knots; 4th run, 6min. 4sec., 9·890 knots. The mean speed of the ship was 11·131 knots. The tested time in making the circles gave these results:- To Port. - Time in getting helm up, 1min. 9sec.; angle of rudder, 28 deg.; turns of wheel, 3·5; men at wheel, 14; half circle made in 5min. 17sec. ; full circle ditto, 10min. 37sec.; revolutions of engines, 37. To Starboard. - Time in getting helm up, 1 min. 32 sec.; angle of rudder, 27·5 deg.; turns of wheel, 3·5; men at wheel, 14; half circle made in 5min. 14sec.; full circle ditto, 10min. 3sec.; revolutions of engines, 37. Continuing our comparison of the Achilles with the Warrior, in our report of the full-boiler power trial of the Achilles, in The Times of yesterday, it will be found that the difference between the two ships in speed is about the same at half as at full boiler power, the Warrior at half-boiler power having realized a speed of 12·186 knots against the Achilles yesterday of 11·131 knots. It must also be mentioned that the Warrior had a greater amount of stores and coals on board than the Achilles at her trial, and also that the Achilles' safety valves were loaded to 25lb., when the Warrior's were only loaded to 22lb. There are, however many things, attendant circumstances, connected with the trials of both ships that must be carefully considered to satisfactorily account for the defeat of the new Warrior -for so the Achilles must be considered - by the old one, and the most prominent of these undoubtedly are the 2½in. extra immersion of the new ship, the exchange of a two-bladed Griffith screw for a four-bladed Mangin, and the great weight and "drag" thrown upon her really beautiful bows by her bowmast and topgallant forecastle. These are matters that must be attended to at once, and we trust the Admiralty will admit the necessity of doing so. Reference was made in our report of the Achilles full power, in The Times of yesterday, to the very superior manner in which the general metal fittings of the ship's decks had been executed. It is but justice to a very efficient officer to state that they have been done under the superintendence and after the designs of Mr. T.P. Baker, chief engineer of Chatham Dockyard. The ventilation of the ship has also been arranged by him, and the general flow of fresh air throughout the ship below is, apparently, as perfect and comprehensive as it could possibly be in a ship of the Achilles class.
We 21 December 1864The iron frigate Achilles, Capt. E. Vansittart, weighed her anchor yesterday morning at Spithead, and proceeded under easy steam to Cowes Roads, where she will remain during the stay of Her Majesty and the Royal family at Osborne, or until relieved by another ship. No orders have yet been received at Portsmouth relative to the Achilles' subsequent movements; but it is reported that she will make her first cruise under her present conditions of rig and draught of water, and with her four-bladed Mangin screw. In a ship like the Achilles the screw is a fixture, and the result of the screw being four bladed is that whenever she is under sail alone two of the screw blades must be standing out at right angles to the vessel's course, impeding her way through the water and damaging her steering power. A trial of the Achilles at sea, however, with her four-bladed screw may furnish some very valuable data to the Chief Engineer of Her Majesty's Navy; but, to make the data still more valuable, the Achilles second cruise should be made with our acknowledged best form of screw - the two-bladed improved Griffith. The blades could be fixed in a vertical position when the ship is under sail alone, and would thus not impede the ship's way through the water or damage her steering properties. There is another and equally forcible argument for a trial of the two-bladed Griffith. It is that the Warrior's Griffith developed the full power of that ship's engines on her trial, while the Achilles' Mangin has not developed the full power of her engines; and yet both ships' engines were made from the same patterns.
Fr 23 December 1864In consequence of some leaks having been discovered in the ironclad frigate Achilles, 20, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, one of the officials from Chatham dockyard, under whose superintendence she was built, is ordered to proceed to Portsmouth for the purpose of discovering and making good the defect.
Th 29 December 1864The Achilles, 20 gun iron frigate, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E. Vansittart, yesterday attempted a second trial of her speed with full boiler power over the measured mile in Stokes Bay, near Portsmouth, but broke down in the midst of her last run from an accident to her propeller. Every care had been taken to steam the ship over the trial ground on terms equally favourable with those under which the Warrior made her trial, 40 tons of hand-picked Nixon's Aberdare coals having been sent off to the ship from the dockyard, and stokers from the steam factory to take special charge of her fires, the trim of the ship being also altered some four inches less by the stern than on the previous trial. Under these favourable circumstances the speed of the ship in the first six runs nearly approached that attained by the Warrior on her trial, the mean of the six runs yesterday having given the Achilles 14·240 knots. This result is a very considerable gain over the 13·419 knots of her former trial; it also exceeds the trial speed of the Black Prince, but still it did not quite reach the 14·354 knots of the Warrior. To give the ship a chance of doing this, however, the usual six runs over the mile were yesterday extended to eight, and it was while the ship was doing her eighth run that an extraordinary noise under her stern, with a rush of water in the screw alley, an accelerated speed of the engines, and a decreased speed of the ship, gave the customary warnings that something was seriously the matter with the propeller. The engines were immediately eased, and the ship was taken slowly back to Spithead, where she was anchored and a diver sent off to examine her propeller and ascertain the exact nature of the damage. It is believed that one, If not two, out of the four blades of her propeller are broken off, and that very possibly her stern tubing is damaged. The most serious part of the matter is that Portsmouth, owing to the alterations now being made in the steam basin and docks of the yard, has no dock in which the Achilles can be placed to remove her screw or repair any damage that may have been caused by the accident.
Ma 2 January 1865The screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, attended by the paddlewheel steam-vessel Medusa, arrived In Plymouth Sound at 10 yesterday morning. She will probably go into the North or Queen's Dock at Keyham, as the New Long Dock at Devonport, in which she was last placed, is now occupied by the Prince Consort.
Ma 16 January 1865The propeller of the Achilles weighs about 17½ tons. The blades or fans, which are twisted in the usual way, weigh each 3 tons 3 cwt.; the boss of the propeller is 4ft. in diameter, the blades are 10ft. 3in. long; the entire diameter of the propeller is consequently 24ft. 6in. The whole is composed of hard gun-metal, and was manufactured by Messrs. John Penn and Son. It will be remembered that during the late trial of speed at Portsmouth, two of the blades of the screw were broken off and it is chiefly in consequence of this casualty that the Achilles is now in dock at Keyham. She was visited soon after her arrival at Plymouth, by Admiral Robinson, Controller of the Navy, and last week her machinery was inspected by Mr. Wright, who belongs to the Engineering Department at Whitehall, and by Mr. Knight, from the firm of Messrs. Penn and Son. The two blades broken off are next each other. In both cases the fracture is close to the axis or boss; in what was previously considered the strongest part of the blade. The blade here is about 2ft. 3in. wide, and is in its centre at this part 9in. thick, diminishing or tapering to the outer edges, ana decreasing in thickness to the end of the blade. The fractures do not appear to have arisen through any defect in the castings, but simply from the blades not being strong enough to resist the enormous pressure, when the engines, which are of 1,250-horse power nominal, were worked up to a power estimated at about 6,704 horses. Two new blades are at Keyham, but it is very doubtful that with the experience obtained the Lords of the Admiralty will permit the Achilles to go to sea provided with blades similar to those previously in use. This doubt will be resolved into a certainty when it becomes known that the two blades remaining on the boss are not in working condition. The outer end of one is more than 12in. out of its position, the inclination being towards the ship. This defect was so much increased when the screw was in full operation that the upper part of the blade struck repeatedly against the under part of the ship's counter, and in order to stop the grinding it became necessary to reduce the revolutions of the engines to 32 per minute. This blade has a crack or fissure near its base exactly in the same position as the fractures in the broken blades, and it astonishes everyone to think how the blade continued attached to the boss. Under these disadvantages, the Achilles made nine or ten knots an hour going from Portsmouth to Plymouth, working only four of her ten boilers. It now becomes necessary to note the fact of the great flexibility of the blades of the screw of the Achilles, notwithstanding their size and weight, and the hardness of the metal of which they are composed. If our information is correct, the flexibility is greater than has ever before been found to prevail in any screw propeller. It is partly owing to this peculiarity that the blade last alluded to struck against the ship's counter when she was put on a high speed. Engineers, in describing the action of the screw in steamships, use the term "negative slip" as that amount of speed which exists in excess of the estimated speed attributable to the screw. When the ship is going faster than the screw there is a negative slip. The Achilles, under steam, has exhibited an unusual amount of negative slip, which is now attributed to the extraordinary flexibility produced in the blades by the great power of her engines. There is another point of interest connected with the blades, and that is in their mode of being fixed to the boss. On the boss, which is globular, there are four circular flats to receive the bases of the blades. The flange of the blade is fastened to the circular flat by 13 screws of about 2½ inches diameter each, and the flange in the case of one, if not both, of the blades remaining, has been loosened, notwithstanding the number and strength of the screws. These screws are in two ranges, and it is the outer screws which become loose. The fourth blade is in consequence 2½ inches out of position. This deficiency of holding power will form a subject for the grave consideration of the Government engineers. The propeller of the Achilles has sometimes been described as Maugin's, which is patented, and is much used in the French navy. It is, however, an Admiralty four-bladed screw, the blades of which are equal in size and are equidistant from each other. The boss when taken off on Saturday was found to be uninjured; the aperture is also perfect. The officers continue their full confidence in the condition of the ship and her engines. It is to be regretted that the composition, a new one in the Navy (Green's), which was placed on her bottom in November last at a cost of 900l. for the purpose of preventing corrosion has not been entirely successful. Patches of rust already exist, and water appeared to have gathered in some places under the paint. The season of the year was unpropitious for drying the composition, especially on the bottom of a ship in dock, where ventilation is so much obstructed.
Fr 24 February 1865Three of the iron screw steamships belonging to the Channel squadron are now in dock at Devonport. The Achilles, 20, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, was placed in No. 3 dock at Keyham, on the 11th January, partly in consequence of the loss of one of the blades of her propeller. The new propeller, which will have blades of greater strength, is not yet fitted. Some alterations have been made to her after stern post, apparently with a view to carrying off the water more readily when the ship is in motion. Her bottom is being recoated with Hay's composition, which operation is nearly complete. The dock shores were shifted on Monday in order that the spots which they covered might be properly coated. The Black Prince, 41 Capt. Lord Frederick H. Kerr, was placed in the Prince's dock, Devonport, on the 15th inst. Her starboard watch had leave from the 16th to the 19th, and the port watch from the 20th to the 23d inst. The shaft of her engine has been launched out to examine the condition of the "thrust bearing," which is in very good order. The bottom of this ship was completely painted with Hay's composition in November, 1863, and partially so in May, 1864. About the middle of December, while at moorings in Hamoaze, her starboard side was "hogged;" that is, her bottom was cleaned by a large brush moved by rope guys. When in dock this side was found to be nearly clean, and on the port side there was comparatively very little weed, and but a few small mussels. Some corrosion has taken place on her bottom, especially from the line of flotation to 10ft. below, which is the part most exposed when she rolls at sea. It may have commenced through the friction of a deeply-laden vessel (such as a collier) lying alongside. Some such cause as this has apparently been in operation, as the composition is rubbed off chiefly on that part between the mainmast and the foremast, which is that usually occupied by vessels lying alongside. However, since she has been in dock, owing probably to exposure to the atmosphere, the effects of corrosion have been exhibited more or less below, from the keel upwards. The pits in some places may be a quarter of an inch deep. There is considerable rust on the keel. The Defence, 11, Capt. Augustus Phillimore, was placed in No. 1 dock at Devonport on the 14th inst. The ship is in good order and will require no important alterations; her officers still consider her "a good sea boat." In November, 1863, her bottom was thoroughly coated with Peacock's and Buchan's composition; in June, 1864, it was retouched. She has been lying in harbour for the last four months, during which she was hogged. When docked it was found that some short weed, about an inch long, and a few small shell fish were attached, but this was chiefly in quarters out of the run of the sea. She is now receiving another coat of the same composition. Some corrosion exists below the water-line.
Th 2 March 1865A Court-Martial was held at Plymouth on Tuesday, on board the Royal Adelaide guardship, in Hamoaze, to try John Powell, a cooper, serving on board the Achilles, 26, iron screw ship, on a charge of theft, having stolen some tea and sugar out of the bread-room. The prisoner pleaded "Guilty," and the Court sentenced him to be imprisoned for six months in the Naval Prison at Lewes, then to be dismissed Her Majesty's service,
Fr 3 March 1865The iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, having had her bottom cleaned and coated with Hay's composition, and having been supplied with a new propeller in substitution of the one which was broken, was removed yesterday from the long dock in Keyham steamyard and placed in the basin. She will probably be removed into Hamoaze to-day, and may go into the Sound to-morrow or Monday.
Fr 17 March 1865Admirals Sir Frederick Grey and R.S. Robinson, with other members of the Board of Admiralty, are expected to arrive at Portsmouth this morning and visit that portion of our ironclad fleet now lying at Spithead and in Portsmouth harbour, and a few hours cruise may possibly be taken by them off the Isle of Wight. The ships now lying at Spithead comprise the iron frigate Achilles, 20 guns, 1,250-horse power, Capt. E.W. Vansittart; the Black Prince, 40 guns, 1,250-horse power, Capt. Lord Frederick Kerr; the Royal Sovereign, 5, iron-cased turret ship, Capt. A.C. Key, C.B., temporary (of Her Majesty's ship Excellent); the Liverpool, 34, wooden frigate, 600-horse power, Capt. R. Lambert; and the Niger, 10, screw corvette, 400-horse power, Capt. Byng. The Royal Sovereign steamed out of Portsmouth harbour to Spithead yesterday morning, where she anchored near the other vessels lying there. The Edgar, a wooden screw liner, is in Portsmouth harbour fitting for her Lisbon voyage; and the Hector, iron frigate, Capt. G.W. Preedy, is also there.
The iron frigate Achilles, 20 guns, 1,250-horse power, of engines, Capt. E.W. Vansittart, made her final trial over the measured knot course in Stokes Bay, near Portsmouth, on Tuesday, with her new four-bladed propeller, which has recently been supplied to her at Devonport. The ship drew 25ft. 11in. Forward and 26ft. 11in. aft. She was supplied with "Royal Yacht" coal for the trial. This is of the kind known as Nixon's Aberdare, from the 4ft. lower seam, and from its superior quality was supplied to the Warrior on the day of her trial. The Achilles' new screw was of the same diameter and pitch as the one she broke during her last trial over the course in Stokes Bay. Plenty of steam was generated, and the results of the trial may be stated to be as follows: - Mean speed of the ship in six runs over the mile with full boiler power, 14·322 knots; mean speed in four runs with half boiler power, 12·049 knots; indicated horse power of the engines, as developed on the indicator diagrams, 5,724; pressure of steam in boilers, 26·16lb.; pressure of steam in cylinders, 25·34lb. The speed of our three largest ironclads that have yet been placed under trial is relatively thus:- Warrior, full power, 14·354 knots; Achilles, ditto, 14·322; Black Prince, ditto, 13·584. According to these figures, therefore, the Warrior still maintains her position as the fastest ship in Her Majesty's navy by about 32 thousandths of a knot in excess of the Achilles' speed. The hull of the Achilles has a mean immersion of about 3in. in excess of the hull of the Warrior, and this excess will fully account for the slight difference in speed between the two ships. Both vessels have engines made from the same patterns by Messrs. John Penn and Sons, and the detailed working out of the trials gives an astonishing similarity in the results attained by the power exerted by the engines in comparison with the area of each ship's midship section.
Sa 18 March 1865Yesterday morning, in accordance with previously understood arrangements, the majority of the members of the Board of Admiralty arrived at Portsmouth from London, and embarking on board the Royal Sovereign turret ship, at Spithead, took a short cruise in the Channel, south of the Isle of Wight, accompanied by Her Majesty's ships then lying at Spithead, and witnessed some evolutions under steam and gunnery. The fleet at Spithead, which consisted of the Achilles, Black Prince, and Defence iron-clad broadside-gun frigates, the Royal Sovereign iron-cased turret ship, and the Liverpool, latest improved class of wooden screw frigate, had steam up and cables hove in shortly after 9 a.m., in readiness for their Lordships' arrival. The wind was moderate from S.S.E., with the barometer steady at 30·3. At half past 10 the Fire Queen steam yacht was seen from on board the ships of the fleet to be coming from between the points of Portsmouth harbour to Spithead with the flag of Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, G.C.B, the Naval Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth, flying from her main, and very shortly the party on board of her were transferred from the Fire Queen to the Royal Sovereign, consisting of Admirals Sir Frederick Grey, Drummond, Eden, Frederick, and Fanshawe; with Mr. Romaine, C.B., and Capt. Hall, R.N., secretary to the Duke of Somerset (from the Admiralty); accompanied by Admirals Sir Michael Seymour, G.C.B., Sydney Colpoys Dacres, C.B., and George Elliot, Capts. Caldwell, C.B., Preedy, C.B., F. Scott, C.B. and Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, and a number of other naval officers out of uniform, and also by Capt. Pigeaud, Naval Attaché to the Imperial French Embassy in London. Capt. Astley C. Key, C.B., of Her Majesty's ship Excellent, received the members of the Admiralty and the officers by whom they were accompanied on the deck of the Royal Sovereign, as her commander pro tem. The anchors of the fleet were soon afterwards weighed, and the ships steamed slowly out by the eastern channel as they secured their anchors, the Royal Sovereign leading, as the flagship of the Admiral commanding; the four-masted Achilles came next, the Black Prince third, the Defence fourth, and the Liverpool last. The Lords of the Admiralty present had, therefore, for their immediate personal observation under steam three distinct classes of our broadside gun ironclads, our most powerful turret ship, and the latest improved model of the 34-gun wooden frigate. The ships continued on their course, with the steam tender yachts Fire Queen and Sprightly in attendance on the port beam of the line, until 20 minutes past noon; when the headland of Dunnose opened out well on the starboard beam of the fleet, and the course was changed from S. and by W. to W, so as to bring the wind and sea abeam and get as much roll as was possible out of the turret ship while working her turrets and guns. There was found, however, to be neither wind nor sea enough to effect her, placed as she was, in the slightest degree, and the direction of the course was therefore again changed by signal to W. and by S. to some distance further off the land. There the breeze freshened a little, with a somewhat heavier sea. The Royal Sovereign's speed was slowed, her crew beat to quarters, turrets were manned, upper deck bulwarks thrown down, and other preparations made for action, and all being ready the turrets were turned by that portion of the crew at the winch handles below, and the guns sighted and laid in various directions to exhibit the turrets' capabilities of revolving and the time occupied in laying the guns in various directions. There was nothing new or particularly interesting in any of these proceedings, excepting the fact that the work necessarily took a longer time in each instance than it did on similar occasions of trial when the ship was in commission under Capt. Osborn's command. This was owing to the fact that the greater part of the men yesterday (who had been lent from the Excellent) had never before been engaged in working turrets and their guns. While the Royal Sovereign was lying thus the four broadside ships steamed past and close alongside her in line, and it was evident that had they been in reality approaching the ship in this manner as enemies every ship would have been sunk by the guns of the turret ship before they could have brought their broadside guns to bear upon her deck or turrets. The Achilles was a strong illustration in point, as she steamed up for the Royal Sovereign's port quarter with only eight guns in battery on either side of her hull, the foremost guns being on a line with her forward funnel. It was also remarkable that all the ironclads exhibited a greater lateral motion, or "roll" than the Royal Sovereign under full steam, and that while the Defence plunged her bows into the water and threw a wave up to her hawsepipes the Liverpool rode with greater ease than any of the others. There was a want of both wind and sea to test satisfactorily, as a matter of comparison, the working of the different ships' guns in a roll of a seaway, for no roll to speak of existed, and preparations were therefore made for target firing, the Royal Sovereign commencing from her three foremost turrets at 1,800 yards' range, with 150lb. round shot and 40lb. charges of powder, firing to starboard; and then with circling round the target and firing from the same guns at short range. Guns, turrets, and fittings worked with ease, and the concussion felt on the ship's upper deck was generally allowed to be less than the concussion ordinarily felt on a ship's main gun deck from the firing of ordinary 68 or 100 pounders. The Lords of the Admiralty present and the officers accompanying them were on the ship's upper deck during the time of the firing, some being on the platform round the funnel casing, and others walking the deck itself on the leeward side from the fire. The practice from the turret ship having been brought to a conclusion signal was made to the fleet to close on the Admiral and open fire from their port batteries on the target at 600 yards as they steamed past. The Royal Sovereign led off with two shots from her foremost turret guns, and was followed by the Achilles from her 9·22-inch or 100-pounder smooth bore coil built guns, and the other ships by their mixed batteries as they came up. The effect was magnificent, and the Lords of the Admiralty saw much to suggest reflection in the brilliant scene before them. There was a costly squadron of five ships, each perhaps superior as a ship to all others of the same class in foreign navies, and yet only one of these carried guns that would even under the most favourable circumstances pierce any one of the other's sides. If, however, the naval display of yesterday was intended to settle any of the disputes in the contest of "turret versus broadside ships' batteries," an old partly plated hulk or target would have afforded more satisfactory results. The target fired at was a small "pole" target, sent afloat with a flag on the top of the pole, and it is remarkable that it was not hit in any instance by the fire of the fleet. After the firing had been brought to a conclusion the fleet returned to Spithead in the order they left, and again anchored there. The Lords of the Admiralty, on leaving the Royal Sovereign, took the opportunity of visiting the other ships as they came to an anchor. On returning to Portsmouth their Lordships visited the Malacca and other ships in the harbour, and afterwards dined at Hirst's Portland Hotel, Southsea.
The Royal Sovereign is ordered to undergo an ordeal of some 12 or 14 days' experimental work outside the Isle of Wight under the direction of Capt. A. C. Key, C.B., of Her Majesty's ship Excellent, when her gunnery capabilities will be fully and practically developed under every possible condition. As on this officer's report must depend in a great measure the matured opinion of the Admiralty respecting the turret principle, it is satisfactory to hear it remarked on all sides that the conduct of such an important matter could not have been placed in more able or impartial hands.
A. patented compass, the invention of Commander Arthur, of Her Majesty's ship Excellent, was tried on board the Royal Sovereign during the cruise, and attracted much attention from several of the Lords and the officers on board. It is for registering a ship's course at sea on lined and prepared paper, working on a cylinder by clockwork, the direction of the ship's head being taken and marked by an indicator pencil every two minutes and a half. It can be placed in any part of the ship where there is no local attraction, and does not require being placed with the ship's compass.
Th 20 April 1865The remaining portion of the Channel Squadron, consisting of the Black Prince, Capt. Lord F. Kerr, the Prince Consort, Capt. O. Wiles; and Defence, Capt. Phillimore, left Portland Roads on Monday evening at 8 p.m. to join the Edgar (flagship of Admiral S.C. Dacres), off Portland, after which they proceeded down Channel en route to Lisbon. The Achilles (ironclad), Capt. Vansittart, will join the squadron off Plymouth.
Ma 22 May 1865The iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, left Plymouth on Saturday for a cruise.
Th 8 June 1865The iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, was placed alongside the sheer hulk in Hamoaze on Tuesday, and had her bow mast taken out. Yesterday morning she was taken to Keyham-yard, preparatory to going into the basin to be docked and have defects made good. It is understood that she will be tried first with her remaining three masts in their present position. Should it be found necessary to shift them considerable time must be expended in that operation.
Fr 9 June 1865The iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, was placed yesterday in the south basin at Keyham steam-yard, to undergo repairs.
We 28 June 1865The iron screw steamship Achilles, 20, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, left Plymouth Sound yesterday morning, for Portland, to join the Channel squadron, and make experiments of her sailing qualities now that she has been relieved of her bowmast and bowsprit. This mast, which was iron, weighed 14 tons, and the entire weight of mast, iron bowsprit, and all the gear attached, including a bridge across the deck, is estimated at 40 tons. The relief from such a weight forward will, it is expected, make her more lively at sea, and at the same time will admit of the increase of her armament in the bows. The alterations have, of course, involved the necessity of considerable modification of her staysails and other sails before the mast. If the removal of the bowmast proves advantageous, the positions of the present foremast and of the mainmast must be altered. Her main-deck wheel has been removed to a compartment below, out of the reach of shot.
Tu 25 July 1865The Lords of the Admiralty arrived at Portland on Saturday afternoon from Plymouth and were received with the customary salutes from the Channel Fleet in the Roads. After visiting the fleet they proceeded to Weymouth on board the Trinculo gunboat, and after a short sojourn reembarked on board the Admiralty yacht Enchantress and proceeded to the eastward on Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock. The Enchantress arrived at Portsmouth at a late hour on Sunday evening from Plymouth and Portland. Their Lordships disembarked from the yacht at the dockyard yesterday morning, and returned to London by the 11 a.m. train. She afterwards sailed for the eastward to be in attendance upon the Board during the forthcoming annual visit of inspection (so-called) to the different Royal naval ports.
Her Majesty's ironclad screw steamship Prince Consort, 35 guns, Capt. George O. Willes, C.B., and the ironclad screw frigate Achilles, 20 guns, Capt. Edward W. Vansittart, arrived in Portland Roads on Sunday last from Plymouth to rejoin the Channel squadron.
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Th 7 September 1865The ships composing the Channel fleet at Spithead, consisting of the Edgar (flag), Achilles, Black Prince, Prince Consort, Hector, Defence, Research, and Trinculo gun vessel, have filled up with coals, stores, and provisions, and are under orders to sail for Portland and a cruise westward. The Salamis, despatch vessel, requires sundry repairs, which may probably detain her a short time at Spithead after the departure of the fleet.
Sa 16 September 1865Her Majesty's crew frigate Achilles, Capt. Vansittart, forming one of the Channel fleet which sailed from Portsmouth on the 12th inst., having been separated from them on Wednesday in a fog which prevailed the entire day, brought up in the anchorage without Falmouth harbour, and remained on Thursday.
Tu 12 December 1865We are gradually approaching a question of vital importance to the efficiency of the Navy. Our ironclad fleet has recently been strengthened by successive additions, exhibiting an enormous increase of defensive power, until at length we possess a vessel which may be expected to resist even a shot of 600lb. The Hercules, one of Mr. Reed's ships, is completely proof against a 300-pounder, and will be so plated along her water-line as to repel a ball of twice that weight. All this time, however, we have made little or no advance in the way of offensive armament. Even the 300-pounder gun is not actually received into the service, so that our progress is on the side of the ships alone. For this there are good reasons. We can make ships carry armour more easily than we can make them carry cannon. The sides of a man-of-war are now as thick as the walls of a feudal castle, and yet the vessels are as fleet and buoyant as ever; but when it comes to mounting heavy guns upon these batteries we soon find ourselves checked. It was thought a few years ago that the 68-pounder was about the heaviest piece that could be successfully carried and worked in a ship's broadside. This gun weighed 95 cwt., or about 10,000lb., and the Americans are still of opinion that a gun of 12,000lb. represents the maximum of size admissible under such circumstances. Of course, they have far heavier guns in use, but they carry them in turrets, and so, it is said, must we. This proposal, however, opens another question. It is proved that very heavy cannon, can be worked in turrets, but it is not proved that turret ships can be made seaworthy or commodious vessels. Moreover, we have got some magnificent ironclads constructed on the broadside principle, and if these cannot, by some means or other, be made to carry batteries of effective strength, they must either be reconstructed or be lost to the service altogether. So it becomes of infinite importance to ascertain by practical experiment whether guns above a certain weight can or cannot be carried in our first-rate ironclads, and what are the limits imposed upon us in this arrangement. Great professional authorities have asserted that any gun which can be carried in a turret can be carried in a broadside, but the contrary opinion has also been strongly defended, and is very widely entertained. Nothing, it is obvious, can solve this question but experiment, and the experiment, we are glad to say, will commence this morning.
The Minotaur is, or, at any rate, is intended to be one of our finest ironclads. She was designed as an improvement on the Warrior herself, and it happens that she may be soon, beautifully modelled, in the South Kensington Museum. But it is still a question whether this noble ship can carry such guns as would be required to render her battery effective, and, accordingly she will put to sea to-day to make trial of her capacities. A Report which we publish in another column will explain the conditions of her trip. She takes out three guns of the new pattern, each weighing 12 tons, and throwing a 300lb. shot, and each of those pieces is mounted on an experimental carriage. The trial, therefore, will be competitive in one sense — that is to say, each carriage will be carefully tested, and the advantages or disadvantages of the several patterns will be compared and balanced. But it cannot be dissembled that the experiment will have another and a more comprehensive aspect. It is possible that the Report may be unfavourable to all the patterns together, and that the capacity of a man-of-war to carry 300-pounders in broadside may be left doubtful still. In that event we shall find ourselves in a strange dilemma, for it will appear as if really good ships and really good guns are not to be obtained at once, and as if we must sacrifice either the vessel to the armament or the armament to the vessel.
That these new 12-ton guns can be carried in turrets is beyond a doubt, but then it has never been ascertained whether turret ships can be made good seagoing vessels. We have reason to believe, on the other hand, that the Minotaur is as good a vessel as an ironclad can be, but then we do not know that she can carry 12-ton guns. If she fails to do so, we shall have to invert the experiment, and send out a turret ship to see whether she is seaworthy and habitable. The Americans have furnished no information on this point, unless, indeed, the fact itself may be thought to convey some intelligence. They have a large fleet of ironclads, built almost exclusively on the turret principle, but not one of these vessels have they ventured to send to sea. Only just now have they decided on making the attempt with the latest and most satisfactory of their specimens. The MonadnockExternal link was the last Monitor launched, and so pleased was Admiral Porter with her performance that he declared he could take her across the Atlantic. She is now selected to accompany three wooden frigates to the Pacific, and there reinforce the United States' squadron in those waters, so that we may, perhaps, learn something from the history of her cruise. With this exception, however, the Americans have allowed it to be inferred that their turret ships are floating batteries, but nothing more.
Many — indeed, most — American ships carry 8-ton, or, as they are called, 11-inch guns, but they are mounted on pivots. This was the gun with which the Kearsarge sank the AlabamaExternal link, and which did such good service in other actions of the war. We could mount such guns on pivots too, but that principle would only bring us round to the turret in the end, for a turret gun is a pivot gun protected. The truth is, the artillerists have overtaken the naval architects, for they have been allowed more unbounded scope for their designs. In guns, we have got to a 600-pounder; in ships, we have not got beyond a broadside vessel. Mr. Reed has produced several novelties, and with at least the merit of despatch. He is of opinion, too, we believe, that his ships can carry these new guns, but that has not yet been proved. What ought to have been proved long ago, but is still left uncertain, is whether a kind of vessel which we know can carry cannon of any weight can also lodge a crew comfortably, and be in all respects a safe and commodious cruiser. It is possible, certainly, that the Minotaur may relieve us from the trouble of instituting this inquiry, by demonstrating the capacities of a broadside vessel to do all that is necessary; but in a matter so important we might as well have had the two strings to our bow. As it is, the qualifications required to make a really good man-of-war are divided between two classes of vessels. The Minotaur represents a fine seagoing ship; the Royal Sovereign represents a formidable floating battery. We are now going to try whether the Minotaur cannot be made to carry the Royal Sovereign's guns; but we ought also to have tried whether a Royal Sovereign could not be built with the seagoing capacities of the Minotaur.
It must not be forgotten that this ship which is now to be thus tested represents the first and most powerful class of our new fleet. The powers of Mr. Reed's vessels remain still to be shown, but at present the Minotaur herself, the Agincourt, the Northumberland, the Achilles, the Black Prince, and the Warrior are our six first-rates. These are the specimens in which our ironclad fleet surpasses the fleets of other countries, and it is, therefore, of no slight importance to discover, if possible, some method of arming them with the most powerful guns known. The experiments now to be commenced will illustrate the question for us, though they will not exactly decide it. It will be discouraging if the results tell against all the gun-carriages alike, but still the resources of our inventors may not have been exhausted in those three models. All we know at present is that before our best ships can carry the best guns some new mechanism must be devised. The approaching experiments will represent the first essays in this direction, but, whatever the result, we should be very sorry to regard them as the last.
Fr 14 February 1868OUR IRON-CLAD FLEET. — A return likely to be called for annually has been laid before Parliament, giving an account of our iron-clad fleet built, building, or ordered. The return, which is dated the 30th of August, 1867, contains a list of 31 ships then completed, 13 of them wholly armour-clad, and 18 partially. They are: — The Black Prince, 32 guns; Warrior, 32; Defence, 16; Resistance, 16; Achilles, 26; Hector, 18: Valiant, 18; Minotaur, 26; Agincourt, 26; Northumberland, 26; Royal Oak, 24; Prince Consort, 24; Caledonia, 24; Ocean, 24; Royal Alfred 18; Zealous, 20; Bellerophon, 15; Lord Clyde, 24; Lord Warden, 18; Penelope, 11; Pallas, 8; Favourite, 10; Research, 4; Enterprise, 4; Waterwitch, 2; Vixen, 2; Viper, 2; Royal Sovereign, 5; Prince Albert, 4; Scorpion, 4; Wivern, 4. Twenty-one of these ships are of more than 3,000 tons each. Six other ships were at the date of this return building; two to be wholly armour-clad, and four partially; the Hercules, just launched; the Monarch, 6 guns, to be launched in June; the Captain, 6, the Repulse, 12, to be launched in April; the Audacious, 14, in December; and the Invincible, 14, in March, 1869. All these six ships exceed 3,700 tons. Another, the Bellona, is ordered [and apparently later cancelled]. Lastly, there are the four wholly armour-clad batteries launched in 1855 and 1856, the Erebus, Terror, Thunderbolt, and Thunder; the three first of 16 guns, and the last 14, their tonnage ranging from 1,469 to 1,973. The first cost of the 31 iron-clad ships completed amounted in the whole to 7,284,294l. This includes fittings, but the accounts for some of the latter ships are not yet closed, and this sum does not include incidental and establishment charges. These last indirect charges, calculated in accordance with the recommendation of the Committee on Dockyard Manufactures, add about 35 per cent. to the gross direct charges for labour and materials expended upon each ship in the financial year 1864-65, about 51 per cent. for 1865-66, and the year 1866-67 is for the present estimated to show the same ratio of 51 per cent. These indirect charges have amounted, on the Bellerophon, to no less than 114,372l.; Lord Warden, 104.292l., with a further addition to follow: Royal Alfred, 69,999l., also liable to some addition; Lord Clyde, 66,964l.; Pallas, 61,076l. The most costly of the ships have been the Minotaur, 450,774l.; the Agincourt, 446,048l., both of them with unsettled claims for extra payment; the Northumberland, 433,130l., with the accounts not yet closed; the Achilles, 444,590l.; and the Hercules, estimated at 401,000l. Further sums have to be added to the cost of these ships for dockyard, incidental, and establishment charges.
Fr 26 March 1869

THE CHANNEL SQUADRON.

A report from Rear-Admiral Warden on the cruise of the Channel Squadron in June last has been laid before the House of Commons. The weather was too exceptionally fine to be favourable to the development of the qualities of the ships under trial. The squadron comprised eight ships. Rear-Admiral Warden reports.—
"Of all these the Bellerophon is the readiest and most easily handled under steam, and she has the most powerful battery under the thickest armour. Under sail she is slow and stows a small quantity of fuel, but is very economical in expenditure. Her principal defects as a fighting ship I consider to be, that the guns in her battery are placed too close together; the absence of upper deck armament, and the want of fire in the line of keel, under armour, as well as the inefficiency of the bow-gun, which is on the main deck. I do not believe that in chase of an enemy's ship she could, by any possibility, fire her bow-gun, the projecting bow helping the sea to roll up to, in, and on her main deck, flooding it and compelling the closing of the port. On one occasion, 30th of June, when steaming head to wind 5½ knots (force of wind 6), in reply to the signal, "Can you fight bow-gun?" the answer was "Yes, with closing the port occasionally." The absence of upper deck armament is, I presume, to be accounted for by the fact that the ship, as originally designed, was not intended to have any upper deck, and as is was an afterthought, it was not prepared to carry guns.
“The next class to be noticed is the Prince Consort and Royal Oak. They were built to serve a particular purpose, at what was considered a critical period. They were generally viewed as a makeshift, and being merely wooden line-of-battle ships cut down and armoured, they are not likely to be repeated. Nevertheless they have good qualities; they are armoured throughout, are powerful ships, handy under steam, from being short with good speed, and do sufficiently well under sail. Their consumption of fuel is very great. They roll very much, and so deeply that I am of opinion, now that ironclad ships are taking the place of wooden line-of-battle ships, it is worthy of all consideration whether it is not advisable to make them coastguard ships after putting them in a state of thorough repair in every respect; they might then last for years. Under existing circumstances, if they are much at sea, it is not to be expected that they will be worth repair at the expiration of their present commission.
"I now come to the Defence and Pallas. The former is a very handy ship under sail, especially with her screw raised, is very economical in her expenditure of fuel, but an indifferent performer under steam. A proof of it may be found in the fact that on the 30th of June, when practising evolutions, force of wind 5, squadron steaming 5½ knots, head to wind with a slight easterly swell, when she lost her station some little distance, she was utterly unable to regain it, although she was making 54 revolutions by signal. On her trial at the measured mile, in March, 1862, 62 revolutions gave her a speed of nine knots, according to the official record. In fact, she never did get into her place, and the evolution was not completed. As the experiments now taking place on board the Pallas are to be made the subject of special report, I need not further advert to them in this place, nor do I think it necessary to say more about that ship, as her qualities are sufficiently well known; and I do not suppose there is the least probability of a second ship of the same class being ever built.
"The Minotaur, the Achilles, and the Warrior are three very noble ships. The last named, however, I look upon as the least valuable of the three — her unarmoured ends, exposure of steering wheel, her rolling propensities (as compared with the other two), are defects which are not compensated for by any good qualities superior to theirs. The first and second, notwithstanding their great length, which of necessity carries with it some disadvantages, have many great qualities. They steam at high speed; the Achilles is, under sail, everything that could be expected in an armoured ship unable to raise her screw; and no doubt the Minotaur would do equally well if she were masted in the same way, which I consider she ought to be the first favourable opportunity. The Minotaur is more heavily armed than the Achilles, having four 12-ton 9-inch guns on the main deck, and two 6½-ton guns on the upper deck, which fire in a line with the keel, under the protection of armour, being the only ship in the squadron which possesses this advantage, and is armoured throughout, having 5½ inch plates, tapering to 3½in. These are great advantages over a ship in other respects so nearly alike, but in the great and all-important point of the capacity for fighting their guns, they are both alike, rolling as nearly as possible to the same extent, which is a minimum as compared with other ships; and in this respect of steadiness of platform upon which to fight their guns, I believe they stand out unrivalled and unsurpassed by any ship which has ever been built. Believing as I do, that this invaluable property of steadiness is due to the form of the ships, and the proper distribution of the weights on board them, and not to be attributed to their great length, this question has constantly forced itself on my mind — viz., it is not possible to build a broadside-ship, heavily armed, adequately protected, of such a length as to secure sufficient speed, and to be at the same time a handy ship, and of such a shape and form as to roll as little as the Minotaur and Achilles? Unless this question can be answered positively in negative, I have a full conviction that it ought to be attempted, so long as broadside-ships continue the most important and formidable part of our navy.
"My own idea of the proper theory of ironclad ships is this, that they should always be built of iron, be armoured throughout, be as heavily armed as possible, and possess bow and stern fire, at least to the same extent as the Lord Warden and Lord Clyde. Perhaps the time has arrived when the enormous increase in the power of artillery, and the increased weight and thickness of the armour-plates, which have become necessary to resist the projectiles now in use, render the carrying out of this theory of ironclad ships impracticable. If this be so it would seem to follow that if guns are to be used of such a weight that the whole length of the broadside cannot be made use of to carry them, and the space which they occupy is too great to admit of their being protected by a thickness of armour capable of resisting the shot which will be brought against them, it seems to follow, I say, that the turret-ship is a necessity. Guns of any weight can be placed in turrets, armour of almost any thickness can be carried round them, and it will then only be necessary to protect the water-line with a belt, as heavy and as thick as the ship can bear. These conditions carried out, it remains, of course, that the turret-ship should be constructed so that she should be a habitable and comfortable ship for the officers and men, with a sufficiency of sail power to enable her to meet the varied requirements which are usually made on a British man-of-war. The question again naturally arises. Is it impossible to build such a ship? The conditions above-stated, which seem to render a resort to turret-ships inevitable, seem also to point out that, in the broadside-ship, armour-plating will eventually have to be given up everywhere, except at the water-line and at the bow and stern, to protect guns firing in a line with the keel. In ships built completely of iron with guns as heavy as they are capable of carrying, protection must be reduced to a minimum, and shot and shell be allowed to find their way through and through the iron fabric, perhaps with less damage to ship and life than if they had been checked in their progress by armour-plating.
The subject of 'ramming' I approach with great diffidence. It is one which exists principally in the region of speculation. I am not one of those who think that in the next naval war ramming will rank before artillery as a mode of attack; but I believe firmly that it will play a very important and formidable part in all future engagements. Possibly some naval actions will be decided by the independent and energetic action of some individual captain seizing the fortunate moment and the right opportunity for running his enemy down at a high speed. It is as clear as anything can be that so long as a ship has good way on her, and a good command of steam to increase her steam at pleasure, that ship cannot be what is called 'rammed'; she cannot even be struck to any purpose so long as she has room and is properly handled. The use of ships as rams, it appears to me, will only be called into play after an action has commenced, when ships, of necessity, are reduced to a low rate of speed, probably their lowest. I therefore apprehend that it would be consistent with prudence and good tactics always, when going into action to hold in reserve a portion of the squadron or fleet (and that whether the force was large or small, whether the enemy were numerically superior or otherwise) to act as rams; and when the action had commenced, and noise and smoke and fire were doing their work, the reserve to be brought into play to act independently, as circumstances might require. For this purpose ships must be made capable of playing their part, and strengthened on purpose to perform such duty, and the form of bow which I believe best calculated to deal the hardest blow, and carry with it the greatest amount of destruction, is the straight upright stem of the Achilles or the slightly curved one of the Minotaur, rather than the projecting prow of the Bellerophon and others of a similar form. The result of the experience gained when the Amazon 'rammed' a small steamer in the channel is not encouraging. I believe also on this subject, as well as on very many others connected with naval warfare, that the first great action at sea between ironclad squadrons or fleets will dissipate and cast to the winds many of our preconceived opinions and theories, disturb many of our prejudices, and throw an entirely new light on the whole subject."

Th 8 April 1869The Navy Estimates have now been all voted, and the moral of the whole discussion appears to be that in shipbuilding, as in every other matter, there is no such thing as finality. It seems but a few days — it is less than twenty years — since we heard of the launch of the French steamship NapoléonExternal link. That politic innovation of our powerful neighbour sealed the death-warrant of the sailing man-of-war. It seems but yesterday — it is just eleven years — since we heard that the French were constructing four ironclad frigates. From that day to this it has been one breathless struggle among our naval architects to adapt to the conditions of modern warfare the ancient type of broadside cruiser. The American War introduced to the seas a still greater novelty. Just as the necessity of carrying plates of iron over the side of a fighting ship, in order to exclude the terrible projectiles of modern science, forced us to banish from the service the beautiful old three-decker with her 120 guns, so, again, the increasing power of rifled and unrifled artillery moved our ingenious brethren beyond the Atlantic to lower still further — even to the water's edge — the sides of their armoured vessels. It was a wrench to the minds of sailors to accept as inevitable the new motive power and wall of defence which steam and armour-plating have supplied to our men-of-war. But how much greater is the dislocation of old ideas and associations if we are to banish from the line-of-battle ship masts and sails and fixed portholes altogether, reducing to a minimum the ship's side which has to be armoured, and placing amidships a few big guns in revolving turrets, which will sweep round the compass in search of the enemy, and never expose their portholes to the fire of his breech-loading small arms except when the revolving gun is ready to fire too! Is this the last result of modern science? Is this the conclusion to which experiment has driven us? If so it be, away with sentiment and idle lamentation. As wisely deplore, with the popinjay lord who moved the wrath of Hotspur [in Shakespeare's 'Henry IV Part 1'], the introduction of "villainous saltpetre" as grieve over the final departure from the Naval Service of the poetry of form and all the giddy pleasure of the eyes. "The old order changeth, yielding place to new." There is no finality in war. We are about to build such vessels as the British Navy has never seen. The House of Commons has voted the money, in spite of Mr. Corry's opposition, by a majority of three to one, and nothing remains for our constructors but to hurry the experiment to a conclusion.
Let no man think that, in any arguments or comments of ours which may have contributed to this result, we have been unjust to our naval architects. We know well the difficulties with which they have contended, and we rejoice to acknowledge that in several instances, and notably in Her Majesty’s ships Achilles, Minotaur, Bellerophon, and Hercules, they have attained a surprising amount of success. No one deplores more than we can do the necessity, if it be a necessity, that the most powerful class of our men-of-war should be forced to rely for motive power on steam alone. Obviously it will add largely to the cost of their maintenance in commission, and set limits to the services to which they can be applied. But, if the power of modern artillery is so far increased that the armour carried by these formidable and costly vessels will not exclude the shells which in the day of trial would certainly destroy their crews and burn or sink their hulls; if the power of the guns is still on the increase, and new metals and forms of construction may possibly add to their deadly effect, at the same time that it is impossible, without increasing the size of broadside ships beyond all reasonable proportions, to clothe them with iron-plating of sufficient defensive power, — there is but one conclusion. We must choose another type to carry the necessary armour. We must give to these warlike engines, the enormous cost of which, even in a wealthy Empire, must set some bounds to their number, defensive properties corresponding in some degree to their offensive force. We cannot trust the fortunes of England to ships which an hour's fighting may destroy, if there is a stronger type of fighting vessel, and other nations are likely to possess it.
All shipbuilding is a compromise. In merchantmen speed must be sacrificed to stowage, or stowage sacrificed to speed. If time be an object, it is gained by the addition of steam power, but the weight of the engine and its fuel is so much taken away from the cargo the ship can carry. In a man-of-war the problem is more complicated, in proportion as steadiness of platform for the firing of rifled cannon, and strength of armour as a protection to the sides, become necessary elements in the construction. The form which is the best adapted for speed is that which, by its length, needs the greatest weight of armour; and if, with Mr. Reed, we deliberately choose the slower form of hull, the balance must be redressed by the employment of more powerful engines, which weigh several hundred tons more, and so detract from the weight of coal and armour which the ship can carry. Again, the carrying of armour on the side of the ship aggravates largely her rolling propensities, and this at the very time when we wish, above all things, to secure a higher measure of steadiness than sufficed in the days of Nelson. Guns of precision need a steady platform for precise firing; the same guns necessitate that armour-plating which makes the broadside ship more unsteady than before. It is in the vortex of these conflicting elements that our naval constructors have whirled around. The wonder is, not that they have done so little, but that they have succeeded in doing so much. They have attempted the impossible. A steady broadside ship of moderate dimensions, carrying powerful guns well out of water, and clad in armour which shells from similar guns will not be able to pierce, with a high rate of speed and coal enough for an ocean passage, is an impossibility; and the sooner this truth is recognized the better it will be.
Mr. Childers is acting boldly and wisely in attempting the solution of a difficult problem. Can we, by a radical change in the form of hull, secure in a large degree what hitherto our ironclads have failed to attain? He would be a bold man who would predict with assured confidence the success of the experiment. But there is abundant evidence to justify the trial, and much ground for hope of its ultimate success. The only nations which have tried the experiment at all before us are the United States and Russia, and both of them believe in its feasibility. The Americans, since the conclusion of their great war, have reduced their naval expenditure to such a point that they can indulge no longer in experimental shipbuilding. With an annual outlay of 3,500,000l. sterling for the entire Naval Service, the construction of ironclads and the maintenance of foreign squadrons are together incompatible. They are leaving to European Powers the complete solution of the difficulty; but during the continuance of the war they applied themselves to it with their characteristic energy and accessibility to new ideas. They laid down at least ten distinct classes of turret-vessels with low freeboard — that is, with sides rising above the waterline not more than one or two feet — ranging in size from the SanduskyExternal link class, of 450 tons, to the DictatorExternal link, of 3,250 tons. The larger craft were intended for ocean service, but have never been tried; we believe they are still unfinished. The smaller were intended for coast service only, but two of these, the MonadnockExternal link and MiantonomohExternal link, have respectively rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Atlantic, and the general opinion of American seamen who have tried them is strongly in their favour. But it must always be remembered that these ships were not intended for ocean service. Their tonnage was not, as Mr. Childers is reported to have said, 3,300 tons, but 1,564 tons. They are far smaller than any seagoing ironclad we have afloat. The Pallas of our Navy is 2,372 tons, and the Penelope 2,998 tons, and these are the smallest of our broadside ironclads with any pretensions to cruise at sea. Our sailors have yet to learn the buoyant and steady properties of the low-lying vessel which carries her guns on a platform amidships. The Russians and Americans, so far as they have tried the experiment, assure us that much has yet to be learnt, while that which has been learnt surpasses all expectation. It would be anticipated that the sea would wash over a platform lying so low. It is found, on the contrary, that though the wave often laps over the side, the ship immediately rises to it, and the water rarely reaches the turret. During the attack on Fort Sumter in the American War, while the transports from stress of weather had often to run for safety, the Monitors lay like ducks upon the water, dry and seaworthy, and were never disabled from firing their guns. The ships we are about to construct [Devastation, Thunderer] are not to lie so low. They are to be of 4,400 tons, and to have a freeboard of four and a half feet. They are to carry two turrets, each covered with 14-inch armour, and their sides will be covered with 12-inch armour. Their guns will be the most powerful afloat, and they will have no masts or rigging to interfere with their fire. Our strongest broadside ships, the Hercules and the Bellerophon, exhaust their coal at full speed in less than three days. The new ships are designed to steam at full speed for ten days, so that they may lie in port, awaiting, if so it be, the declaration of war, and steam at a moment's notice in any weather direct to their destination. The crew of the new ships will be so small that we shall save in men if we spend in coal, and there will be an upper deck between if not above the turrets, on which the crew will move secure and dry. For defensive and offensive power such ships must be unrivalled; we trust that time will prove their performance on the ocean, in steadiness and capability for lengthened voyages, to be all or more than their projectors anticipate.
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