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HMS Minotaur (1863)

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NameMinotaurExplanation
TypeBroadside ironclad frigate   
Launched12 December 1863
HullIron
PropulsionScrew
Builders measure 
Displacement10690 tons
Guns36
Fate1922
ClassMinotaur
Ships book
NoteLaid down as Elephant.
1904 = Boscawen t.s.
1906 = Ganges.
1908 Ganges II
Snippets concerning this vessels career
DateEvent
8 April 1867Commanded by Captain James Graham Goodenough, Channel squadron
6 September 1871Commanded by Captain Robert Gibson, flagship of Rear-Admiral Geoffrey Thomas Phipps Hornby, Channel squadron
6 August 1875
- 9 August 1877
Commanded by Captain Lord Walter Talbot Kerr, flagship of Rear-Admiral Frederick Beauchamp Paget Seymour, Channel squadron
8 June 1885
- 22 July 1885
Commanded by Captain John Arbuthnot Fisher, evolutionary squadron
Extracts from the Times newspaper
DateExtract
Tu 3 December 1861'Our Iron-Clad Frigates'.
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.
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'.
Ma 11 August 1862'Our Iron-Cased Fleets'.
Th 19 November 1863When the Chief Constructor of the Navy …
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.
Th 24 August 1865

THE VISIT OF THE FRENCH FLEET TO PORTSMOUTH.

The preparation for the entertainments to be given by the naval, civil, and military authorities at Portsmouth to the officers of the French fleet progresses very satisfactorily. The ballroom in course of construction, under the supervision of the superintending civil engineer of the dockyard, in the quadrangle of the Royal Naval College, is already partially floored and roofed in, and will be handed over to the upholsterers and decorators on the 26th inst. - that is, three days before the arrival of the fleets at Spithead from Brest, so that ample time will remain to complete all the details. The approaches to the Naval College are exceedingly good, with a wide semicircular drive for the arrival and departure of carriages. The entrance hall of the College is very spacious, and will, when properly decorated, form a most appropriate vestibule to the ballroom. The latter is being constructed, as we have already stated, in the quadrangle of the College, and is 107ft. in length by 55ft. in breadth, clear of all the upright timbers. Its height is 20ft. to the plates of the roof and 36ft. to its apex. Right and left of the ballroom from the entrance the supper tables will be arranged in the College rooms, access being gained to the latter from the ballroom by temporary broad flights of steps. At the opposite end of the ballroom to the entrance a temporary opening has been made into the College gymnasium, which will be elegantly decorated and fitted with refreshment buffets. The ballroom itself will be made to represent a vast tent, whose roof and walls are composed of the tricolour of France. The apex of the roof of this tent, and the plate line, will be marked with a gold cable four inches in diameter, to relieve the somewhat monotonous outline which would otherwise predominate. Banks of shrubs and flowering plants will be placed round the base of the hall and its approaches, while rich trophies of arms and flags will decorate the walls. Seven devices in gas will also occupy positions on the walls, and 40 candelabra of four wax lights each have also been provided for the same purpose. From the roof of the hall will hang massive chandeliers with wax lights. The orchestra is set back from the ballroom, and will not, therefore, detract from the space given. It will be a noble room; but still, with even its unusual size, the question remains, is it sufficiently large for the occasion? We ourselves doubt it, for accommodation should have been provided for thousands where it is now only being provided for hundreds. There is every probability of the "crush" at the Admiralty Ball at Portsmouth being greater even than that recently experienced at the ball given in honour of our flag at the Hôtel de Ville, Cherbourg.
On board Her Majesty's ships in Portsmouth Harbour all are eager to do a something, no matter how trifling, that may render any chance visit of their French brethren one of mutual and hearty good feeling, On board the Duke of Wellington there are, as yet, none of those extraordinary arrangements visible by which her decks will be transformed from their grim sternness of the present to the dazzling splendour they are intended to assume. Although not visible on board, however, all necessary provisions are made, and under the energetic direction of Capt. Seccombe, who bears a wonderful reputation for taste and general management in such matters, the final issue of the arrangements on board the Duke is certain to be successful. It has been suggested by some fastidious people that a ship bearing some other name than that of the military opponent of the Great Napoleon might have been selected by our Admiralty for the occasion. This, however, is sheer nonsense. Old rivalries in arms are now forgotten by both nations, or only remembered as so many pages in history which two peoples, formerly endeavouring to the uttermost to destroy each other, may now study together and with mutual benefit. Besides, is not the ship an old companion in arms of the Imperial navy, carrying as she did the flag of a British admiral in company with one bearing the tricolour of an admiral of France on the waters of the Baltic Sea? On board no ship here or elsewhere will the officers of the French navy receive a heartier welcome than on board the Duke of Wellington. Turning to the military portion of the coming fêtes, and which will necessarily be restricted, owing to the limited stay of the fleets at Spithead, if for no other cause, every precaution is being taken to render whatever manoeuvres may be decided upon by the authorities as effective as possible. Amid all this note of preparation and bustle in the naval and military camps, the civil element is not silent. A working committee, with the Mayor, Mr. R.W. Ford, at its head, is energetically employed in making complete the preparations of the citizens for the entertainment of our honoured guests. Nearly 1,500l. has already been sent in to the committee to meet the necessary expenses, but a total of 2,000l. is required for the purpose, which, however, will no doubt in good time be forthcoming. It is a most gratifying proof of the good feeling entertained by all classes to read in the subscription list the names of many county families and others living at a distance from Portsmouth. Their money has been handed in no doubt from a feeling that the entertainment of the officers of the French fleet at Portsmouth is a national rather than a local question, and that too great honour could not well be done to the guests of the occasion.
The "Governor's Green" where the civic entertainments will be given, is, as its name implies, a large and nearly square plot of green sward, and is admirably situate for the purpose. It is in close contiguity to the main street of the town, and has unusually wide approaches for entrance and exit. On two sides it is bounded by the sea face of the town ramparts, and on the others by the garrison church, monastery wall, railways, &c. The entrance to the Green from the Grand Parade will be under a triumphal arch, which, if only executed as designed, will produce a striking effect and be a credit to all concerned. Triumphal arches are, however, generally speaking, very ticklish matters to deal with. They may turn out exceedingly well, or they may prove to be excessively ridiculous, and it would therefore be unwise to venture on any prophecy relative to the one at Portsmouth. The triumphal arch passed through, the Governor's Green is fairly entered upon, and in the immediate front and on the right of the visitor, under the elm trees, on the fortifications, and by the line of railings alluded to, will be lofty poles, with bannerets, connected with festoons of evergreens and lit up by night with gas in opaque shades. On the left of the entrance are the buildings and marquees in which the entertainments, consisting of a déjeuner, promenade concert, and ball, will take place. A decorated porch of entrance leads into the first hall or apartment, circular in form, and 80ft. in diameter. From this an ante-room leads to another apartment, 140ft. in length by 40ft. in breadth. This latter is but a continuation of the main apartment in which the déjeuner will be given, a permanent building 100ft. in length by 50ft in breadth, presenting a broad vista of 240ft. in length. All will be brilliantly illuminated with gas, and decorated with choice flowering plants, evergreens, arms, and flag trophies, &c. The committee have ample space to work upon, even for the display of all the art enthusiasm available in or around Portsmouth, and there can be no doubt that all the ornamentation will be effective, in good taste, and to the entire satisfaction of both friends and guests.
The programme, so far as it has been settled at present between Admirals Drummond and Eden at the Admiralty — the two official lords on duty in town — and Admiral Sir Michael Seymour at Portsmouth, has been somewhat modified since Tuesday last, and until the Duke of Somerset and the lords now at Brest return to Portsmouth the programme will remain subject to still further modifications. At present the intentions of the Admiralty, so far as they can be ascertained, are to give a dinner on board the Duke of Wellington on the evening of the 29th, the night of the arrival of the fleet. On the following day a dinner to about 100 will be given in the ball-room of the Royal Naval College. On the next day, the 31st, a review of the troops will take place on Southsea-common in the morning, and in the afternoon and evening the civic authorities and inhabitants will entertain the French Minister of Marine and officers of the French fleet in the Governor's Green. On the 1st of September Sir Michael Seymour gives a private dinner at the Admiralty-house, and the ball and supper take place afterwards at the Naval College. Beyond this nothing definitive is known. With the Duke of Somerset and Lord Clarence Paget at the end of one set of telegraphic wires at Brest, the two lords at the Admiralty who are supposed to have the sole arrangement of the coming festivities, and with Sir Michael Seymour as the target for both parties to fire their messages at, it is impossible to say what may be the precise length or breadth of the ultimate official programme. The dockyard, arsenal, and other public establishments will, as is usual with us, be open to the inspection of the French officers every day of their stay at the port, and some return in this respect will, therefore, be made for the extraordinary courtesy and kindness shown to English officers and civilians when going over Cherbourg dockyard during the recent visit of the fleets there. The dockyard of Portsmouth could almost be stowed away in one of the basins of Cherbourg yard, and therefore, if judged by its area only, must appear contemptibly small in the eyes of Frenchmen. The stores and workshops of Portsmouth yard are all pigmies, also, compared with those of Cherbourg; but the machinery in the factory of Portsmouth yard is immeasurably superior in every respect to that in Cherbourg yard, as are also the steamhammer and forges of the smithery. The new foundry, also, is worthy of our reputation as a people that are "workers in metal;" and the pattern shop is unrivalled in any country for its collection of engineering patterns. Of iron ships there are a few that may well pass muster — the ironcased frigate Royal Alfred, fitting for carrying, 12-ton guns on her broadside; the Valiant, iron frigate, in No. 10 dock, completing for commission; the Wivern and Scorpion, Captains H. Burgoyne, V.C., and Commerell, V.C., both double-turreted ships, and each fitted to carry four 12-ton guns, at a maximum draught of water of 12ft.; the Helicon, paddle despatch-vessel, in the bow of which the officers of the Magenta and Solferino may recognise the "beak" of their own ships; the Mersey, wooden frigate, the largest and finest of her class ever constructed; and lastly, though not least important, the iron frigate Minotaur, with her beautiful hull and machinery and most abominable style of rig. To the officers of the French fleet this ship, as she now lies in dock, will be an object of great interest, and the dock also in which she lies, the only dock we have fit to show a stranger, exhibits itself also at the same time under the best possible conditions in having on its blocks one of the largest ironclads in the world. Although, therefore, Portsmouth yard is small and ill-arranged, it yet contains ships and material which will interest our visitors, and upon which we shall be glad to receive their criticism while endeavouring to return the courtesy they themselves have exhibited to us under similar circumstances.
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.
Tu 12 December 1865

HER MAJESTY’S SHIP MINOTAUR.

The iron frigate Minotaur, 6,621 tons, 1,250-horse power, Master Frank Inglis, under the command pro tem, of Captain F.A. Herbert, and manned by the crew of the Royal Sovereign, with supernumeraries from the Steam Reserve, went out of Portsmouth harbour yesterday afternoon and anchored at Spithead, where she will take in her ammunition and be swung to ascertain the deviation of her compass prior to starting for Portland on her trials of competitive 12-ton broadside gun carriages. The trials will be under the direction and superintendence of Captain A.C. Key, C.B., commanding Her Majesty’s gunnery ship Excellent. Portland roads will be made the anchorage ground on her return from each day's trial until their conclusion, when she will return to Spithead and await further orders from the Admiralty. The trials were originally intended to have been made with four carriages and slides; but one, designed by Sir William. Armstrong, not having been yet been received from Elswick, they will be confined to the following three:—
1. The Admiralty wooden pattern carriage and slide, fitted with eccentric rollers and other improvements suggested by Captain Key. The training gear is that of Mr. Cunningham ("Patent-topsail CunninghamExternal link," as he is termed in the Navy), and is precisely similar in every respect to the training gear fitted to the 12-ton broadside gun-carriage on board the Excellent, when it is spoken of as the most simple and yet efficient means of training heavy guns yet devised. It consists of a single port chain made fast on each side of the rear end of the slide, and leading thence by two single blocks on each side of the gun and its carriage, by the waterways to a crab winch fixed on the deck, entirely out of the way of the guns crew in working their gun in rapid firing, and also from its position not liable to injury from concussion on the ship's side being struck by an enemy's shot.
The weight of the carriage is 39 cwt. 2 qrs. 4 lb.; the weight of the slide, 38 cwt. 2 qrs. 8 lb. — total weight of carriage and slide, 78 cwt. 0 qrs. 12 lb.
The principal, or, perhaps, more correctly speaking, the only recommendation this carriage possesses is its antiquity. Its objectionable features are the absence of an easily worked running in and out gear, and the presence of all the inherent defects and weaknesses of a wooden gun-carriage when applied to mounting ordnance of such exceptional weight as guns of 12 tons. Captain Key's improvements have, however, so effectually reformed the character and power of the carriage and its slide that it will now act as a most excellent test for comparison with the results obtained by the new pattern iron carriages and their slides.
2. The Woolwich Arsenal, or Colonel Shaw’s iron carriage and slide. This carriage has single sides, strengthened with its iron framing. The compressor is a large iron clamp athwart the bottom of the carriage, and grasping the flanges of the slide. The gun’s running in and out gear is a flat endless chain, working over tooth-wheels at each end of the slide, worked by small hand-wheel levers at the rear of the slide. The slide is constructed of double T-iron. The training gear has been fitted under the superintendence of Mr. W. Lynn, assistant to Mr. Murray, the Superintending Engineer of Portsmouth dockyard. It consists of a cast-iron bracket fitted with a chain pinion, and fixed on the ship's side midway between the gunports. Upon the under side of the deck, directly below this bracket between the ship's beams, a transverse piece of shafting is fixed, having a chain wheel on one end and a bevel wheel on the other, the motion to the shafting being given by means of an endless chain between the chain wheels on the bracket on the gun-deck and the similar wheel on the transverse shafting below. The bevel wheel at the other or inner end of the transverse shafting gears with a similar wheel upon a short upright spindle which passes through the deck, and there is capped by a small chain wheel. Round this wheel an endless chain passes, attached to the slide of the gun-carriage, and to a single block on the opposite side of the carriage. The weight of the carriage is 34 cwt, 0 qrs. 2 lb.; the weight of the slide, 43 cwt. 3 qrs. 18 lb.; total weight, 77 cwt. 3 qrs. 20 lb. The main features of recommendation of this carriage and slide are lightness combined with strength, the acknowledged correctness of the principle on which it has been built, and the ease with which all its parts can be got at and repaired in the event of temporary injury during action without the delay of dismounting the gun. Its features of weakness are — a possible too great lightness of metal to stand without damage the shock from the discharge of a 12-ton rifled gun, a faulty application of the compressors, and an absolute want of leverage power over the running in and out gear from a want of larger pinions and wheel levers. All this would be remedial in another carriage built on the same principle.
3. Iron carriage and slide designed by and made under the superintendence of Commander Scott, Her Majesty's ship Research. This carriage has double, or box girder, sides of immense strength, and is filled in with wood to absorb the vibration of the iron if struck by the enemy's shot. The gun is run in and out by endless chains, similar to Colonel Shaw's carriage, worked by powerful pinions and hand-wheel levers, holding great control over the gun. The compressors are composed of three tapered balks of timber lying parallel with each other in the bed of the slide. From the bottom of the carriage four iron plates descend and fit in between these balks; through the sides of the carriage and through the upper edges of these plates are fixed right and left-handed screw levers, worked by wheel levers on each side, the whole forming a fourfold compressor of tremendous power. The slide is of equal strength and massiveness with the carriage. It is built on the box-girder principle, and traverses on raised metal racers, with hollow-soled trucks on Colonel Colquhoun's plan. The training gear forms part of the carriage and slide; a longitudinal shaft running under the slide is fitted with pinions at either end, and works in a rack-way upon the deck next the fore-and-after racers. The gun runs in and out and trains, apparently, with great facility. Another means of training is fitted to this gun, which, however, is only a copy of Mr. Cunningham's plan. The weight of the carriage is 2 tons 6 cwt, and of the slide, 3 tons 12 cwt., giving a total weight of 5 tons 18 cwt.
The chief apparent recommendations of Commander Scott's carriage and slide are the ease with which all its parts can be worked, and its evident ability to carry its gun and withstand the shock of its discharge. Its objectionable features in its present form are its evident cost of manufacture, weight of metal, and the objectionable metal rackway laid down on the ship's deck next to the raised metal racers. All these objections are, of course, removable in any second carriage and slide made on the same plan.
The forthcoming trials on board the Minotaur are of the highest importance. If our ironclads can, by the mechanical aid of improved carriages, carry guns of 12-tons' weight on their broadsides, they will not only do what the ships of no other naval Power have yet attempted, but also what some of the moat distinguished officers in the American navy have but just declared, as the result of their recent experience, to be altogether impracticable. In the "Report of the Secretary of the United States' Navy in relation to Armoured Vessels," printed by order of Congress, and containing all the official reports and documents on the subject received by Mr. Gideon Welles up to March 30, 1864, Rear-Admiral Goldsworthy, the officer quoted, says, in his "Opinion of Ironclads," sent in to Mr. Secretary Welles, and dated March 24, 1864,—
"According to my impressions, a gun of 12,000lb., fired with a normal charge of 21lb. of powder, is about the heaviest that can be used to advantage in the broadside ports of any vessel whatever."
After recommending that a gun of this weight should be made and fully tested and reported on, the Rear-Admiral adds:—
"I am fully aware that the New Ironsides has now on board still heavier guns and of larger calibre, carried broadside-wise — guns of 16,000lb. in weight and 11 inches in calibre — but I am not aware that either they or their carriages, which occupy, unavoidably so much space, have been subjected continuously, in action or at sea, to the effect of the use of solid shot, with charges of powder approaching one-fourth the weight of the projectiles. The test, no doubt, would prove palpably excessive in many respects. In all the actions of this vessel off Charleston, the rule with her, as I understand, was loaded shells with corresponding charges; and if she ever has resorted to solid shot with a large increase of charge, I am uninformed of the fact."
Our own opinion on this subject is very well expressed by Captain A.C. Key, in his official Report to the Admiralty on the smooth water trials conducted by him of the turrets and guns of the Royal Sovereign, and dated July 11, 1865. Captain Key says, at page 3 of his Report:—
"No practical reasons exist why a heavy gun should not be worked on a broadside with the same security as in a turret, and I am satisfied that there is no difference in this respect."
Captain Key at the time was writing of 12-ton guns, and he here appears to accept this as the maximum weight of the gun to be fought through a ship's broadside port — that is a gun weighing 26,880lb., in contradistinction to Admiral Goldsworthy's opinion that 12,000lb. must be the maximum weight. The American Admiral, no doubt, meant his gun to be fought under extreme conditions of weather and the ship's motion, and, unless the Minotaur be subjected to these conditions during her trials of these new iron carriages, her cruise will prove valueless, and American opinion, in the main, be found correct. Whatever may be the final results of the apparently interminable "Battle of the Guns," the Admiralty by their selection of the 12-ton coil-built gun have made that weapon, for the present, the maximum of size and calibre for the broadside armament of the iron-clad ships of Her Majesty’s navy, should the Minotaur's cruise prove the soundness of Captain Key's opinion. In their incomplete state, as smoothbores of 10·5-inch calibre, five of these guns have been now for some time in the turrets of the Royal Sovereign, four in those of the Scorpion, three on board the Minotaur for trials of carriages, and there are also understood to br somewhere about 200 more at Woolwich waiting the 9-inch rifled steel tubes with which it has been determined to fit them. One rifled gun of the same weight, imperfect however in some part of its bore, is also on board the gunnery ship Excellent for drill purposes. When a sufficient number of the guns at Woolwich have received their steel tubes they will be exchanged for their smoothbore brethren at present on board the Royal Sovereign, Scorpion, and Minotaur, and the formal entry of the gun as part armament of Her Majesty’s navy may then be considered to have been effected. Turret ships, such as we have even at present, can certainly carry and work a much heavier gun than one of 12 tons, and will doubtless receive them when we can procure them. Our present difficulty lies in providing carriages fitted with such mechanical aids as shall enable us to mount and fight such guns efficiently through broadside ports, and to meet this several inventors have come forward with carriages and their slides, and gear for running the gun in and out under sufficient control and all the conditions of the ship's movements at sea, for training quickly and steadily to any given angle, and for elevation, depression, &c. Preliminary trials have been made with both iron and modern carriages on board the Research and Minotaur, and valuable data have been deduced; but the first of a series of really comprehensive, competitive trials will commence on board the Minotaur, under Captain Key's direction, during the present week, in the generally rough waters off the Bill of Portland.
We 13 December 1865The Minotaur, iron frigate, Capt. A. Herbert, pro tem., is ordered by the Admiralty to remain at Portsmouth until a change in the weather offers a fitting opportunity for a satisfactory trial of the 12-ton broadside gun-carriages she has on board. At present the barometer is steady at an unusual height, with the wind at N.E., and perfectly smooth water along the English land in the Channel. Under such circumstances there can be no prospect of the Minotaur meeting with weather sufficiently rough for the requisite trials in the Channel, and to trust her out of its limits would not be prudent in her present condition. Tn the meantime, therefore, unless fresh orders are given, the frigate will watch for the desired Channel gale from her moorings in Portsmouth harbour.
Fr 15 December 1865

THE MINOTAUR.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.


Sir,- I have read with much interest your leading article of the 12th inst. upon the coming trials of the Minotaur to try working the first 12-ton guns that have been carried outside the Isle of Wight in a broadside ship. I agree with you that this is a subject of momentous importance to the country, and sincerely hope that the experiments may prove sufficiently satisfactory to utilize these ships and save our pockets.
But in a question of so much importance we must not content ourselves with a 6,000-ton ship merely carrying to sea these 12-ton guns, but we must be thoroughly satisfied that, under all and the most disadvantageous circumstances, those guns can be efficiently fought at sea. I have no doubt that 12-ton guns can be carried by 6,000-ton ships, loaded, fired, and run in and out by using appliances similar to those I have so successfully used for turret guns, but modified to meet the requirements of the broadside gun, to which I have offered to fit my appliances.
When comparing the turret and broadside system, I must ask your readers to bear in mind that carrying a 12-ton gun in a 6,000-ton ship is one thing, but fighting it effectually in all classes of vessels is another.
It will be found, by reference to my former letters and publications, that the great merit claimed for my inventions is the power of carrying and fighting efficiently the heaviest ordnance on a minimum tonnage with a maximum speed. Truly, you remark that no real sea-going turret-ship has yet been built.
The Royal Sovereign, although she could go wherever her coal could carry her, and lodges her crew most comfortably, is not one, and I can only regret that my endeavours to persuade the Admiralty to build one sea-going experimental ship to compete with Mr. Reed's numerous ones should have hitherto failed. It has to be remarked that the Scorpion and Wivern, although not designed by Messrs. Laird, Brothers, for sea-going cruisers, but built for a special purpose, have proved themselves, beyond all expectations, very good sea boats - the Scorpion having worked her guns and made excellent practice when steaming full speed round a target in a seaway, and I believe that if the improvements proposed by Captains Commerell and Burgoyne for those two little vessels are completed we shall possess two of the most formidable and comfortable sea-going ironclads in the world, considering their tonnage and light draught of water. I can only regret that Captain Burgoyne, who has so thoroughly gone into the matter, and whose proposals are most valuable, should be sent off to the West Indies, instead of being allowed to carry them out.
Again, referring to the minimum tonnage, it must be remembered that these vessels are under 1,900 tons, drawing only 16ft. 4in. water, with an offensive broadside of four 300-pounders, against the Minotaur of 6,000 tons, 27ft. draught of water, but only carrying four, or a broadside of two, 300-pounders, besides her smaller guns. I feel confident that if either of these little vessels with their present captains (curiously, both V.C.'s), and their crews of only 170, all told, were to meet this Minotaur with her 700 men, they would not hesitate to engage her, and if in a seaway with a certainty of making the Minotaur haul down her colours or sinking her.
In the first place, the Scorpion or Wivern would bring four 300-pounders to bear against her two on each broadside; but mark, the Minotaur represents a target of 8,800 square feet, with numerous open port-holes, while these little vessels' hull proper (for their poops and forecastles may be knocked away without interfering with their fighting powers) present a target of only 1,140 square feet; and, remember, a shot between wind and water will sink her as readily as the Scorpion or Wivern. And this is not all. The gunners in one case have to look through a contracted port, so filled up by the gun that when the ship is rolling and firing against a moving object it would be almost impossible to get a shot; while the captain of the turret has a clear range of vision above all, to take advantage of the other ship's roll, besides a much larger range of training for the guns, enabling these vessels to place themselves in the best position for steadiness, with regard to the sea, when the Minotaur, to bring one of her large guns to bear at all, might be obliged to place herself broadside on to the swell, when her rolling might prevent her working her guns, or, at all events, give her comparatively diminutive adversary an undeniable and fatal advantage.
It may be said these vessels are inferior to the Minotaur in speed; truly, so they are; but as they can bring four heavy guns to bear against the Minotaur's two, they would not wish to run away; and the Minotaur's speed would not avail her unless she wished to do so. Here, again, let me ask impartial judges to bear with me while I explain the advantages inherent to the turret principle for speed. Now, to carry even 12-ton guns at all on the broadside, entailing one on each side, you cannot do with less than 60 feet beam, and as high speed can only be obtained by a certain proportion of length to beam, you then, as in the case of the Minotaur, must have a vessel 400 feet long and 6,000 tons burden, while the Scorpion and Wivern, with only 40 feet beam and 228 feet in length, carry and fight the 12-ton gun with ease; so, to give those vessels the same proportion of breadth to length for speed as the Minotaur, you need to lengthen them only 38 feet; but, mark, their beam is sufficient to work turrets carrying 600-pounders. Fancy, then, a vessel only 264 feet long carrying four 600-pounders against these monsters, carrying only two 12-ton guns of a side.
The MonadnocExternal link, we hear, is going to the Pacific, and although I do not admit that the American turret system can be compared with mine for sea-going purposes, let me ask what vessels have we out there that can cope with her in open fight with her 15-inch guns and low sides? Wherever these Monitors manage to get, we should have vessels of equal fighting powers that can be sent to meet them; and for this reason I have so long and so earnestly tried to persuade their Lordships to build one experimental sea-going turretship, from which in case the time ever should come that we want them we may have learnt what vessels are best adapted and most economical, not only to carry but to fight the heaviest ordnance in any part of the world where England's honour and trade have to be protected.
In conclusion, let me ask why should we build vessels of 6,000 tons to carry broadside guns when turret ships of half the size can do the work?
I have the honour to be, your obedient servant,
Cowper P. Coles.
Madeira Villa, Ventnor, Dec. 13.
Tu 2 January 1866The Minotaur iron frigate had her fires lit yesterday morning, preparatory to steaming out of Portsmouth harbour for Spithead and Portland, on her experimental gun-carriage testing cruise. Suddenly, however, on the steam reaching about 12lb. pressure in the boilers, one of the condensers was discovered to be seriously cracked. Steam was then let down, and, for some days at least, the Minotaur cruise must be deferred. Let the damage be less or greater than is now anticipated, it is not improbable that the Minotaur may not now be despatched on this cruise at all, as with the accident to one condenser an examination will necessarily follow into the condition of both, and this may lead to the substitution of another vessel, especially as there happens to be a very suitable one available in the Bellerophon, Capt. E. Tatham, ordered round to Portsmouth from the Medway to complete her trials of speed at the measured mile in Stoke's Bay. The accident to the Minotaur's condenser is just one of those accidents likely to occur to a ship's machinery which no ordinary precautions would apparently have prevented, and for which, therefore, no person or department can now well be blamed. In addition to the three 12½-ton guns mounted on their competitive carriages the Minotaur has also received since our notice of the ship, with the guns and carriages, in The Times of the 12th ult., one 6½-ton 7in. rifled wrought-iron muzzle-loading gun, mounted on a wooden carriage and slide of the ordinary Admiralty pattern, for experimental firing. A report upon it will be drawn up by Capt. A.C. Key, C.B., altogether independent of his report on the competitive 12½-ton competitive gun carriages. This 6½-ton gun is the weapon known a short time since as the Frederick gun, we presume as a compliment to Rear-Admiral Frederick. It is, however, in fact, the Woolwich manufactured wrought-iron coil gun fitted with a seven-inch steel tube, rifled on what is known as the Woolwich system. It has been adopted by the Admiralty as the gun of minimum calibre for the broadsides of our ironclads under the new system of armament, as the 12½-ton gun is at present fixed upon as the maximum weight for broadsides. In accordance with these arrangements the Warrior will carry 32 of the 6½-ton guns, but none of the 12½-ton guns; the Royal Alfred her formidable complement of ten of 12½ tons and four of 12½ [sic; I assume this should be '6½'] tons. The Minotaur, according to present arrangements, will only carry four of the 12½-ton guns on her broadsides, the remainder of her armament being composed of the 6½-ton guns. This apparent disproportion between the armaments of the converted wooden ship Royal Alfred and the massively iron-built Minotaur is owing to the fact that the broadside ports of the latter are only built to carry four of the larger guns, the remainder having been constructed for the smaller, and a reconstruction of the ports could only now be effected at immense cost and sacrifice of time.
Th 8 February 1866The Minotaur, iron frigate, weighed her anchor at Spithead on Tuesday morning, and, steaming outside, off the east end of the Isle of Wight, made practice from her 12½-ton guns, returning again to Spithead in the afternoon.
Fr 9 February 1866The Minotaur, ironclad, Capt. Herbert (pro tem.), has been continuing her trials up to yesterday, at the conclusion of which she went into Portsmouth harbour, and was placed alongside the new jetty at the dockyard.
Ma 26 February 1866The Gun-Carriage Competition.-Although we dissented from the employment of any one officer to decide upon the best means of mounting our heavy guns In broadside ships, the expenditure necessary to prepare so valuable a vessel as the Minotaur for the trials of the four competitive plans seemed to us justifiable, believing as we did that these trials would be conducted at the mouth of the Channel in a sufficiently heavy sea, and at the same time to try the vessel's ability to carry and fight the heavy guns proposed for her new armament under every circumstance of wind and weather. Although disappointed in these reasonable hopes, it is said that the trials prove that of the four plans tried Commander Scott's has alone been equal to the task of holding both gun-carriage and slide securely, and of enabling its crew to work their gun with quickness and safety. This is, however, a great step; and, having got so far through the experiments (obtaining comparative data), which only need for completion the trial of Sir W. Armstrong's carriage against Commander Scott, we hear there is a proposal to delay the competition, by removing the guns and fittings to some other smaller vessel, under consideration, which, if carried out, must have the effect of nullifying what has been already effected at such considerable cost, and of indefinitely postponing the rational issue of the trials - viz., the obtaining the very best broadside gun-carriage. But we still hope the experiments will be at once pushed to their legitimate issue, and finally finished in Her Majesty's ship Minotaur, in the presence of those who are responsible to the country for their due completion. - Army and Navy Gazette.
We 28 February 1866Orders have been received at Portsmouth dockyard by the Admiralty to complete the iron frigate Minotaur in her fittings for commission, irrespective of any future trials of the competitive gun-carriages, provision for which has been otherwise arranged. These future arrangements for the trials of the gun-carriages are understood to be the substitution of the Bellerophon for the Minotaur, and the Admiralty, in this change of ship, appear to have been guided by sound common-sense views in the endeavour to render the results of such important competitive trials as complete and exhaustive as may be possible. The Minotaur with her enormous bulk of hull - upwards of 6,600 tons - could never be given on any one of her recent trips into the Channel any motion exceeding an easy lateral swing of 10 degrees each way, which is useless for proving the comparative merits of broadside gun-carriages and their slides intended to mount 12½-ton guns It was found impossible to attain the necessary degree of quick lurching motion with the Minotaur in mere Channel waves, but with the Bellerophon - a vessel nearly 2,400 tons less in the size of her hull - it may be attained. The question will then be settled beyond possibility of doubt or cavil. There are also other reasons in favour of the trials being completed in the Bellerophon rather than in the Minotaur. The latter vessel is greatly deficient in space between the only ports she has fitted for fighting 12½-ton guns through, and she is also somewhat deficient in height between decks and elevation of her ports for such ordnance The Bellerophon has none of these defects. On the contrary, her battery and its ports have been expressly built and fitted for working the guns, and afford ample space for a trial of any mechanical appliances fitted for working them. She is also fitted with training gear designed by Mr. E.J. Reed, Chief Constructor of the Navy, which possesses the great advantage of being all fixed and worked on the deck below the battery, and therefore secure from danger in action, as well as not encumbering the gun deck. It also possesses the serious disadvantages of being very complicated in its parts, of great weight, and excessively costly, looking at it in relation to the simple end for which It has been designed; the training of heavy ordnance being the least of the difficulties that have to be met with and overcome in its adoption on the broadsides of our ships of war. Mr. Reed's plan being fitted, however, on board the Bellerophon will now have to stand its competitive trial with Commander Scott's gear as fitted to his carriage, with Mr. Lynn's gear as fitted to the Woolwich carriage, and with the gear of Mr. Cunningham as fitted to the Admiralty pattern wooden carriage. The iron carriage of one of the guns on board the Minotaur, and which was constructed in the Woolwich Arsenal, has been returned to Woolwich from the ship to be fitted with a different system of compressors, and when completed will be sent back to Portsmouth for trial in the Bellerophon. Sir William Armstrong's iron carriage, which has been manufactured at Elswick, is also expected to arrive at Portsmouth during the present week, and will enter the lists against the other carriages in the trials on board the Bellerophon. This carriage from Elswick is spoken of very favourably from its appearance, but any peculiar features of construction it may possess will be seen in a truer light when it stands on the deck of the Bellerophon in company with its rivals -- the Scott and the Woolwich Arsenal iron carriages and the Admiralty pattern wooden carriage. There can be no disputing the fact that with the cruises of the Bellerophon will commence the real trials of the iron gun carriages, the Elswick carriage only then entering upon the scene, and the Woolwich carriage having been virtually disabled on board the Minotaur by the inefficiency of the compressors. The trials will be of the highest importance, and their results will be watched with eager interest by all who study and value the efficiency of the Navy. For the fulness and impartiality with which they will be conducted the professional standing and reputation of the officer intrusted with their supervision - Capt. Astley Cooper Key, C.B., Governor of the Royal Naval College, and commanding the gunnery ship Excellent - are ample surety.
Fr 9 March 1866The Minotaur, screw, iron frigate, Master Frank Inglis, is having her outfit continued alongside Portsmouth dockyard. The coal bunkers of the ship are being filed up to their full capacity; the cupola furnace has been taken out of the ship and an auxiliary steam boiler shipped and fixed in the space vacated by the cupola, and a stern gallery is being constructed round the line of the stern windows of the admirals cabin. The Minotaur is nearly three months ahead of the Agincourt in her outfit, and it is, therefore, not unlikely that she may finally be selected as the flagship of the present Secretary of the Admiralty [Lord Clarence Edward Paget] on his assuming the command of Her Majesty's ships in the Mediterranean. The Minotaur and Agincourt, when armed with the new seven and nine inch rifled guns, will be unrivalled in speed and power of attack and defence among the broadside gunships of war of all nations.
Th 29 March 1866On Tuesday evening Mr. E.J. Reed, the Chief Constructor of the Navy, delivered a public lecture, by invitation of the committee of management, at the Mechanics' Institute, Chatham, on "The Construction of Ships to resist Shot and Shell." Besides the members of the institute and general public a large number of the principal naval and military officers connected with the port and garrison were present. After some introductory observations Mr. Reed proceeded to explain the manner in which the sides of the earliest of the vessels composing the ironclad squadron were constructed to enable them to resist the passage of shot and shell, instancing successively the Warrior, Minotaur, Lord Warden, and Bellerophon, each representing a different type of the iron-plated squadron. With regard to the trials which had taken place at Shoeburyness to test the resisting powers of targets constructed on the principle of the vessels named, it had recently been urged at a scientific meeting that the tests hitherto insisted upon were far too severe, the targets being subjected systematically to trials which would never be equalled in actual warfare, where the firing would be irregular, at greater distances, and with various degrees of obliquity. The Admiralty had, however, considered it the wisest course to find out the worst effects which could possibly be produced upon their ships, and in this respect they had acted most judiciously, while the results would prove that our officers and men would, in time of war, have the greatest confidence in their ships, and go into action with a degree of daring fully equal to that which in other times and under other circumstances won us the naval honour and renown we had so long enjoyed. After alluding to the form of construction of the Warrior, in which were embodied two subordinate but nevertheless important components - viz, the double skin plating above and below the line of ports and the external stringers upon the iron frames below the ports - Mr. Reed described the construction of the Minotaur, and the surprising nature of the results obtained in the experimental trials made on the Minotaur target, which differed from the Warrior mainly in the reduction of the wood backing, with an increase of equivalent weight in the armour. A single layer of 9-inch teak, with armour of 5½ inches thickness, formed its component parts, the frames and skin plating remaining about the same. For a long time it was supposed that this target had proved much inferior to that of the Warrior. while the departure from the system adopted in the Warrior was repeatedly condemned. Subsequently, however, the important fact was discovered that the wrong powder had been used in the trials against the Minotaur target, it having been ascertained that what was known as 2 A powder had been used with two out of the three rounds of 150lb. cast-iron spherical shot fired from the 10½-inch gun at the target, the effect of which was found to be to raise the striking velocity of the shot from 1,620 feet to 1,744 feet per second. This circumstance consequently invalidated all the comparisons which were made at the time of, and after, the trial, subsequent trials having proved the Minotaur, Agincourt, and Northumberland to possess far greater strength than had been at first supposed. Mr. Reed then passed on to consider the Bellerophon and the experiments made on the Bellerophon target, the principal feature in which consisted in extending throughout its entire structure the double skin plating and the external stringers previously introduced. By their adoption many important advantages were secured, the combined horizontal and vertical 10-inch frames, connected by the double skin of three quarter inch iron, constituting an enormously strong and rigid structure. After alluding to a variety of details connected with the Bellerophon and the leading features which rendered her superior to any of the ironclads which preceded her, Mr. Reed next gave some interesting details respecting the Lord Warden, and the improvements made in her construction. The most striking of these was the device of solidifying the frame in the wake of the armour, the chief advantage being that the frame of the ship was thus rendered solid, and the inside of the vessel fitted with a thickness of 2 feet 7 inches of solid timber behind the 4½-inch armour plating. Another important feature introduced in the Lord Warden and the Lord Clyde was the additional 1½ inch of iron placed between the frame and the outer planking of the ship, to prevent the passage of shell - the most important thing to guard against in the case of a wooden armour-plated vessel. Such a contingency was not thought possible at the time the Warrior was designed, but the improvements effected by Mr. Whitworth and Sir W. Armstrong demonstrated most clearly that shells could be made to penetrate the iron armour of armoured ships. It was therefore decided to give the sides an additional thickness of iron plating, and the results of the experimental trials subsequently made proved the soundness of the principle, the shells fired against the targets so constructed failing to pass through them. A similar plan was also to be adopted in the construction of the Hercules, which would carry a thickness of nine inches of armour-plating for several feet above the water-line, with a backing of teak varying from 12 inches to 16 inches. The Hercules would, however, be rendered still more capable to resist the passage of shot and shell through her sides by the addition of a double wood backing, supported by a second series of frames and skin plates The result of the improvements in the construction of the Hercules had been fully anticipated in the experimental trials recently made on the Hercules target at Shoeburyness, where it was only penetrated by two 600-pounder projectiles, each fired with 100lb. charges, both missiles striking upon the same spot, leaving no doubt whatever that the Hercules herself would be proof against any shot fired from any gun in the world. Mr. Reed, before terminating his address, briefly described the Monarch, double turret ship, about being commenced at Chatham Dockyard, and concluded by describing the several experiments made at Shoeburyness on the various descriptions of armour-plates and targets, the particulars of which have been given on various occasions in The Times.
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.
Sa 28 November 1868That portion of the Channel Squadron which left Plymouth Sound on Thursday for Lisbon, consisted of the Minotaur, Defence, Penelope, Bellerophon, and Northumberland. The Warrior shipped her powder yesterday (Friday), and will follow shortly. The Helicon and Pigeon will probably leave to-day with despatches for the Admirals.
Tu 1 December 1868Her Majesty’s ship Helicon will sail from Devonport tomorrow morning, and will convey despatches for the Channel Squadron, consisting of the Minotaur, Bellerophon, Penelope, Northumberland, Defence, and Pallas.
Fr 2 September 1870Our Malta correspondent, writes under date of Valetta, August 26:-
"By the arrival of the Peninsular and Oriental Company's packet Nyanza on the 21st inst, intelligence has been received of the Mediterranean Squadron under the command of Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, K.C.B., to the 17th inst. The squadron, consisting of the Lord Warden, Caledonia, Royal Oak, Prince Consort, Bellerophon, and Columbine, arrived at Gibraltar on the 12th inst., and completed with coal on the same day. The Lord Warden and Caledonia, being finished coaling, put off from the Mole and moored in the inner anchorage. On coming to an anchor off the New Mole a slight collision occurred between the Prince Consort and Bellerophon. The former touched the quarter of the latter, caring away the quarter davits of the Bellerophon and snapping off her own jibboom. Early on the morning of Monday, the 15th inst., the Channel squadron was sighted from the Gibraltar signal-staff, and soon afterwards made its appearances coming round the point under sail; then furling sails it steamed into the anchorage off the New Mole. The squadron consisted of the Minotaur, bearing the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Hastings Yelverton, K.C.B..; Agincourt, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral Henry Chads; Northumberland, Monarch, Hercules, Inconstant, Captain, and Warrior. By noon on the 17th all the ships had completed coaling, and were ready for sea. The combined Mediterranean and Channel Squadrons, under the supreme command of Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, were expected to put to sea on the 19th for the long talked-of cruise. There were at Gibraltar besides the above-mentioned ships, the Bristol, training vessel, Captain T.W. Wilson; the Trinculo and Porcupine Staff Captain Calver. The latter vessel proceeded into the Mediterranean on the 16th inst. to prosecute a survey of the sea-bottom, in the interests of science. She may soon be expected at Malta. The Bristol was to join the combined squadrons during the cruise. When the Mediterranean squadron was off Algiers on the 8th inst., the Psyche proceeded into that port, rejoining the Flag the same night. She went on to Gibraltar on the following day, and again met the Commander-in-Chief on the 11th inst., with the mails. His Excellency the Governor of Gibraltar has been pleased to allow the gates of the fortress to he opened, when required during the night, for the use of officers of the various ships - a privilege hitherto not conceded, but one which is fully appreciated by the whole squadron. The following is a list of the appointments and charges made since my last letter … [omitted] … Her Majesty’s ironclad ship Defence, 16, Capt. Nowel Salmon, V.C., was unexpectedly ordered off by telegraph on the 20th inst. Her destination was kept secret, but is variously rumoured to be Tunis, Palermo, and Gibraltar. I think that it is not impossible she has gone to Civita Vecchia, for the protection of British residents at Rome, and to offer a refuge to His Holiness the Pope end his Ministers, should the course of events render such protection desirable or necessary. Her Majesty's despatch vessel, Antelope, 3, Lieut.-Commander J. Buchanan, arrived here on the 25th inst. from Constantinople, seven days. The surveying schooner Azov, Lieut.- Commander Moore, which had gone out on hydrographic science, has returned into port."
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