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HMS Black Prince (1861)
|► The Royal Navy||Browse mid-Victorian RN vessels: A; B; C; D; E - F; G - H; I - L; M; N - P; Q - R; S; T - U; V - Z; ??|
|Type||Ironclad broadside frigate|
|Launched||27 February 1861|
|Builders measure||6109 tons|
|Ships book||ADM 135/46|
|Note||Laid down as Invincible.|
1903 = Emerald.
1910 = Impregnable III
|Snippets concerning this vessels career|
|17 June 1862|
- 20 September 1864
|Commanded by Captain James Francis Ballard Wainwright, Channel squadron (second in command)|
|20 September 1864||Commanded by Captain Frederick Herbert Kerr, Channel squadron|
|7 May 1866||Commanded by Captain John Corbett, flagship at Queenstown|
|9 September 1868|
- 6 September 1871
|Commanded by Captain Alexander Crombie Gordon, Coast Guard, Greenock (replacing Lion), (and, May 1869 cruise of the Reserve Fleet)|
|6 September 1871||Commanded by Captain Edward Lacy, Coast Guard, Greenock (and 1873 cruise of the Reserve Squadron)|
|29 July 1875||Commanded by Captain Thomas Bridgeman Lethbridge, flagship of Rear-Admiral Lord John Hay, then (1 Jan 1877) Rear-Admiral Augustus Phillimore second in command, Channel squadron|
|27 April 1878|
- 23 December 1878
|Commanded (until paying off at Portsmouth) by Captain Duke of Edinburgh, Mediterranean|
|1910||Renamed Impregnable III|
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|We 4 September 1861||'The Proposed New Iron Frigates'.|
|Tu 3 December 1861||'Our Iron-Clad Frigates'.|
|Fr 21 February 1862||It 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.|
|Ma 11 August 1862||'Our Iron-Cased Fleets'.|
|Ma 1 June 1863||Her Majesty's ships of war, now at Spithead consist of the Black Prince, 40 guns, screw iron frigate, Capt. Wainwright; Defence, 18 guns, screw iron frigate, Capt. Phillimore; Racoon, 20 guns, screw woodlen corvette, Capt. Count Gleichen, and Orontes, screw iron troopship, Capt. Hire.|
|Th 19 November 1863||When the Chief Constructor of the Navy …|
|Sa 12 November 1864||The 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 24 February 1865||Three 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.|
|Fr 17 March 1865||Admirals 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 1865||Yesterday 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 1865||The 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.|
|Tu 15 August 1865|
|Th 7 September 1865||The 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.|
|Tu 12 December 1865||We 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 Monadnock 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 Alabama, 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 1868||OUR 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.|