Our Paddle-Wheet Steam Navy
Our Paddle-Wheel Steam Navy


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'Theseus, late R.N.' on Our Paddle-Wheel Steam Navy in Colburn's United Service Magazine and Naval and Milatary Journal for 1859


OUR PADDLE-WHEEL STEAM NAVY
By Theseus, late R.N.

[1859, part I, pages 186-195]

Although, it will doubtless be upon the superiority of our Screw Steam Fleet, that England will chiefly have to rely in any future naval war, still, in considering our present strength as a naval power, it is necessary also to include the list of our paddlewheel steamers.

England has no occasion whatever to be ashamed of her paddlewheel steam navy, for some of them are the finest ships in the world of their class. It is only on account of the screw propeller having superior merits in regard to the purposes of war, that we have ceased to construct paddle-wheel steamers. It has indeed been asserted by a writer in a German periodical, that the French paddle-wheel steam frigates are superior to the English because they can carry guns on the main deck, and can also transport large bodies of troops. Our naval officers in the Black Sea thought very differently of the French steam frigates, and as to the carrying of troops, it is well known, that the French pack their soldiers as if they were sending pigs to a market, without any regard to their health and comfort. As regards the superiority of the English. over the American paddle-wheel steamer, it is only necessary to refer to Commodore Perry's work, describing the United States Expedition to Japan, where he particularly laments, that whilst the English steam sloop, Styx, was fitted with all the modern improvements and able to disconnect her paddle-wheels while under sail, the United States Government had neglected to furnish the Mississippi with those essentials. The first paddle-wheel steamer belonging to the Royal Navy appears to have been the Monkey, then called the Lightning, and purchased in 1821. The Comet was built by Mr. Lang, in 1822. In 1826, the Alban, a sailing 10-gun brig, was cut in half, lengthened, and fitted with paddle-wheel steam engines, by Sir Robert Seppings. The Confiance and Echo were similarly converted in 1827, and the African and Columbia in 1829. The Avon, then called the Thetis, was built at Harwich, by Graham, in 1825, and the Wildfire in 1826. All the above small steam vessels have been in constant employment ever since, and all of them, except the Columbia, are still in use, chiefly as steam tugs.

In 1832, the first steamers intended for war purposes were built, and the Dee, Rhadamanthus, Phoenix, and Salamander claim these honours. Mr. Lang built the Medea in 1833. All these vessels are still afloat, though the Phoenix and Salamander are quite rotten. Sir W. Symonds built the Gorgon in 1837, and the Cyclops in 1839, both intended to be steam frigates, but were found to be unable to carry any main-deck guns.

Then from 1839 to 1847, paddle-wheel steamers were rapidly-added to the navy. The screw propeller then superseded the paddlewheel; and but few paddle-wheel steamers were built between 1847 and 1852, when the Barracouta and the Valorous were the last launched from our Naval Dockyards.

Before we obtained a good model of a paddle-wheel steamer several very queer productions were built, as the Penelope, by Mr, Edye, and the Janus, by Lord Dundonald, &c.

In 1843, there was a great rage for building iron steamers, and no less than forty were ordered by the Admiralty before they ascertained whether iron was equal to wood for the purposes of war.

The finest and most powerful paddle-wheel steam frigate is the Terrible. The best model of a paddle-wheel steam sloop is the Barracouta, and the fastest paddle-wheel steamer is the Banshee.

Our paddle-wheel steamers were employed in the operations on the Coast of Syria, at the bombardment of Acre, in forcing a passage up the Rio de la Plata, in the Baltic, in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoff, and lastly, in the late operations in the Canton River. The paddle-wheel steamers that have been lost, are the Avenger, Thunderbolt, Birkenhead, Polyphemus, Tiger, Jasper, and Flamer.

Paddle-wheel Steam Frigates and Corvettes.— These ships carry from 6 guns up to 28 guns, and are always commanded by Captains. The frigates carry their principal battery on the main deck, whilst the corvettes have guns only on the upper deck. In the official Navy List, the paddle-wheel corvettes are called frigates, but this is an error which ought to be corrected.

 In Com.
for
Active Ser.
In Com.
for
Harb. Ser.
In Ord.Building.   Total   
Paddle-wheel Frigates639
Paddle-wheel Corvettes347
Total ...9716

Paddle-wheel Steam Frigates.— These ships may be divided into four classes.

1st Class.—
Retribution, 28 guns, 1,641 tons, 220 feet in length, and 40½ feet beam. Built at Chatham, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Was fitted at first with engines of 800 horse-power by Maudslay, but on being tried in the Experimental Squadron of 1846, it was found that she could not carry her main-deck guns sufficiently high out of water, and she was therefore put out of commission as being a failure. Sir B. Walker on becoming Surveyor of the Navy made sundry alterations in her fittings, and by removing her enormous horse-power engines, and substituting engines of 400 horse-power by Penn, he converted her into a useful steam frigate. This ship was formerly called the Watt. War services, Black Sea and Baltic. Complement 330 men. Captain, Charles Barker. Commissioned August 1856. Station, China.
Terrible, 21 guns, 1,847 tons, 226 feet in length, and 42½ feet beam. Depth of hold 27 feet. Built at Deptford, 1845. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 800 horse-power by Maudslay. Contract price of machinery £41,250. Armament, main-deck, 6 8-inch guns, 4 68-pounder long guns of 95 cwt each. Upper-deck, 4 8-inch guns, and 4 68-pounders on traversing platforms, 12-pounder cannonades, and 1 6-pounder brass gun. Average speed 11 knots an hour. War services, Black Sea. Complement 330 men. Captain, Fredrick Henry Hastings Glasse, C.B. Commissioned June 1858. Station, Mediterranean.

2nd Class.—
Penelope, 16 guns, 1,616 tons. Built as a 42-gun sailing frigate at Chatham, 1829. Plan, after Leda. Lengthened and converted into a paddle-wheel steam frigate at Chatham in 1842. Plan, Edye. Fitted with engines of 650 horse-power by Seaward. Average speed 9 knots an hour. War services, Lagos and Baltic. Station, third class steam reserve at Portsmouth.

3rd Class.—
Leopard, 18 guns, 1,435 tons, 220 feet in length, and 88 feet beam. Built at Deptford, 1850. Plan, Fincham. Fitted with engines of 560 horse-power by Seaward. Average speed 11¼ knots an hour. War services, Baltic and Black Sea. Complement 800 men. Captain, James F. B. Wainwright. Commissioned April 1857. Station, refitting at Devonport.
Odin, 16 guns, 1,326 tons, 212 feet in length, and 37 feet beam. Built at Deptford, 1846. Plan, Fincham. Fitted with engines of 560 horse-power by Fairbairn. Cost of machinery £24,080. Stows 445 tons of coal. Average speed 11¼ knots an hour. Armament 10 8-inch guns, 4 32-pounders, and 2 68-pounder guns of 95 cwt. War services, Baltic and Black Sea. Station, fitting for commission at Portsmouth.
Sidon, 22 guns, 1,328 tons, 211 feet in length, and 37 feet beam. Depth of hold 27 feet. Built at Deptford 1846. Plan, Sir Charles Napier. Fitted with engines of 560 horse-power by Seaward. The machinery is placed below the water line. Stows 700 tons of coal. Average speed 10½ knots an hour. War services, Black Sea. Station, first class steam reserve at Portsmouth.

4th Class.—
Furious, 16 guns, 1,286 tons, 200 feet in length, and 34 feet beam. Built at Portsmouth 1850. Plan, Fincham. Fitted with engines of 400 horse-power by Miller. Average speed 10 knots an hour. War services, Black Sea and China. Complement 240 men. Captain, Sherard Osborn, C.B. Commissioned March 1857. Station, China.
Magicienne, 16 guns, 1,255 tons, 200 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Depth of hold 24 feet. Built at Pembroke, 1849. Plan, Edye. Fitted with engines of 400 horse-power by Penn. Average speed 10 knots an hour. War services, Baltic. Complement 240 men. Captain, Nicholas Vansittart, C.B. Commissioned, May 1856. Station, China.
Valorous, 16 guns, 1,256 tons, 210 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1852. Plan, Edye. Fitted with engines of 400 horse-power by Penn. War services, Baltic and Black Sea. Complement 240 men. Captain, William Cornwallis Aldham, C.B. Commissioned August 1857. Station, West Indies.

Remarks.— The Terrible is undoubtedly the finest and most powerful of our paddle-wheel steam frigates, but at the same time she is also the most expensive. Total expenses, exclusive of fuel, £88 per diem. When under steam the cost for coals is £102 per diem. Annual total expense, including the cost of coals for 100 days steaming, £42,618. The Leopard is the next best paddle-wheel steam frigate. The Penelope has always been the opprobrium of die British Steam Navy. The other paddle-wheel steam frigates have all served some time in commission, and been found useful, but they are much more expensive, cannot sail so well, and would incur greater risk in action than screw steam ships of the same size. The Admiralty very wisely, therefore, discontinued the building of paddle-wheel steam frigates, and the Valorous launched in 1852, was the last one built. This will account for our not possessing paddle-wheel steam frigates of as large size as those belonging to the United States, who continued to build paddle-wheel steamers for four or five years after we had discontinued doing so. Their vessels have not, however, proved so efficient as ours have, as for instance the Powhattan, San Jacinto, and Susquehanna, were all built upon new theories instead of relying upon the results of experience. The Susquehanna is their finest vessel, and is of 2,4386 tons, 800 horse-power, and carries a few guns of large calibre.

Paddle-wheel Steam Corvettes.— There are seven ships of this description.

Centaur, 6 guns, 1,279 tons, 208 feet in length, and 37 feet beam. Built at Portsmouth, 1845. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 540 horse-power by Boulton and Wattt. Average speed 9½ knots an hour. War services, Baltic. Station, third class steam reserve at Devonport.
Cyclops, 6 guns, 1,195 tons, 195 feet in length, and 38 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1839. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 320 horse-power by Seaward. Average speed 8 knots an hour. War services, Syria and Black Sea. Complement 195 men. Captain, William John Samuel Pullen. Commissioned May, 1857. Station, Surveying service in the Red Sea.
Dragon, 6 guns, 1,296 tons, 208 feet in length, and 37½ feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1845. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 560 horse-power by Fairbairn. Average speed 10 knots an hour. Armament 2 10-inch guns, and 4 8-inch guns. War services, Baltic. Station, first class steam reserve at Sheerness.
Firebrand. 6 guns, 1,190 tons, 206 feet in length, and 37 feet beam. Built at Portsmouth, 1843. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 410 horse-power by Seaward. Average speed 9 knots an hour. War services, River Plate and Black Sea. This ship was formerly called the Beelzebub. Station, fitting for commission at Woolwich.
Gladiator, 6 guns, 1,210 tons, 208 feet in length, and 37 feet beam. Built at Woolwich, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 130 horse-power by Miller. Average speed 9½ knots an hour. War services, Baltic and Black Sea. Station, first class steam, reserve at Devonport.
Sampson, 6 guns, 1,297 tons, 208 feet in length, and 37½ feet beam. Built at Woolwich, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 476 horse-power by Rennie. War services, Lagos, Black Sea, and China. Complement 196 men. Captain, George Sumner Hand. Commissioned October, 1855. Station, China.
Vulture, 6 guns, 1,190 tons, 206 feet in length, and 37 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1843. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 470 horse-power, by Fairbairn. War services, Canton river and Baltic. Complement 196 men. Captain, Frederick Archibald Campbell. Commissioned June, 1856. Station, Mediterranean.

Remarks.— The Cyclops was the first of these steam corvettes built, and although she was then thought a fine ship, she is now looked upon as an old tub in these days of fast steaming. During the Crimean war she was employed as a troop ship under the command of the late Mr. Roberts, Master, R.N., who also had the satisfaction of towing the Bellerophon into action at the bombardment of Sebastopol. The Cyclops had one man severely wounded on that occasion. This steam vessel was commissioned in 1857 by Lieutenant Joseph Dayman, and employed in taking soundings across the Atlantic for the Telegraph Cable; she was then sent to the Red Sea under the command of Captain Pullen, to take soundings for the Red Sea Telegraph Cable, and has since bombarded Jeddah. The other paddle-wheel steam corvettes are very much alike, having all been built by Sir W. Symonds. The Dragon and the Sampson are the two best. These are very comfortable ships for officers to belong to, as they get large cabins and plenty of ventilation. In a broadside action these vessels would soon be crippled, and stand no chance against a screw ship of equal size, which would also carry more guns. In the bombardment of forts at a distance these paddle-wheel steam ships are said to be useful, but the Dragon, when bombarding the forts at Hango, got a good deal knocked about, without doing much injury in return. The remarks made upon the inutility of building large screw ships to carry only a few heavy guns, apply quite as strongly to the employment of paddlewheel steamers in actions at sea, and were considered quite sufficient by the Admiralty when they discontinued building paddle-wheel steam vessels.

Paddle-wheel Steam Sloops and Gun Vessels.— These steamers carry from four to six guns each, and are all commanded by Commanders, except the Medina and Vesuvius.

◄Table scrolls horizontally►
 In Commission
for
Active Service.
In Commission
for
Harbour Ser.
In Ordinary.Building.   Total   
P.W. Sloops.181533
P.W. Gun Vessels.22
Total.201535
 

Paddle-wheel Steam Sloops.— These ships may be divided into two classes.

1st Class.—
Argus, 6 guns, 975 tons. Built at Portsmouth, 1849. Plan, Fincham. Fitted with engines of 300 horse-power by Penn. Steams 10 knots an hour. Complement 165 men. Commander, Herbert F.W. Ingram. Commissioned June, 1858. Station, Mediterranean.
Barracouta, 6 guns, 1,048 tons, 198 feet in length, and 35 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1851. Plan, Committee of Reference. Fitted with engines of 300 horsepower by Penn. Steams 10½ knots an hour. War services, China. Station, is fitting for commission at Woolwich.
Basilisk, 6 guns, 980 tons. Built at Woolwich 1848. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 400 horse-power by Miller. War services, Baltic. Complement 165 men. Commander, George Augustus Phayre. Commissioned February, 1856 (turned over from the Rosamond). Station, West Indies.
Bulldog, 6 guns, 1,124 tons, 194 feet in length, and 39 feet beam. Built at Chatham, 1845. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 500 horse-power by Rennie. Steams 10¼ knots an hour. War services, Baltic. Station, is refitting at Portsmouth.
Buzzard, 6 guns, 997 tons, 195 feet in length, and 35 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1849. Plan, Edye. Fitted with engines of 300 horse-power by Miller. Steams 10 knots an hour. Complement 165 men. Commander, Francis Peel. Commissioned August, 1857. Station, S.E. Coast of America.
Devastation, 6 guns, 1,058 tons, 185 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Woolwich, 1841. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 400 horse-power by Maudslay. Steams 10 knots an hour. Complement 165 men. Commander, Charles Wake. Commissioned December, 1855. Station, West Indies.
Driver, 6 guns, 1,056 tons, 185 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Portsmouth, 1841. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power by Seaward. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, New Zealand and Baltic. Station, first class steam reserve at Sheerness.
Fury, 6 guns, 1,124 tons, 195 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Depth of hold, 21 feet. Built at Sheerness, 1845. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 515 horse-power by Rigby. Steams 10½ knots an hour. Mean load draught of water 16 feet. War services, Black Sea and China. Complement, 165 men. Commander, John Edmund Commerell, V.C. Commissioned July 1856. Station, China.
Geyser, 6 guns, 1,060 tons, 183 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1841. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power by Seaward. Steams 8½ knots an hour. This vessel is fitted with a bow-port on the main-deck which enables her to fire a 32-pounder straight-a-head while chasing. War services, Baltic. Station, third class steam reserve at Devonport.
Gorgon, 6 guns, 1,108 tons, 180 feet in length, and 37 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1837. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 320 horse-power, by Seaward. Steams 8½ knots an hour. This vessel is brig-rigged. War services, Syria, River Plate, Baltic and Black Sea. Has lately been employed in the Atlantic Telegraph Expedition. Station, refitting at Woolwich.
Inflexible, 6 guns, 1,122 tons, 195 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1847. Plan. Symonds. Fitted with engines of 378 horse-power, by Fawcett. Steams 9½ knots an hour. Armament, 1 68-pounder of 95 cwt, 1 10-inch gun of 86 cwt, and 4 32-pounder broadside guns. War services, Black Sea and China. Complement, 165 men. Commander, George Augustus Cooke Brooker. Commissioned July, 1856. Station, China.
Rosamond, 6 guns, 1,059 tons, 185 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Woolwich, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power, by Miller. Steams 9½ knots an hour. This vessel was formerly called the Infernal and the Eclair, and has been particularly unfortunate, as in three separate commissions, her crew have suffered severely from yellow fever. She is the only p.w. steam sloop ship-rigged. War services, Baltic. Station, third class steam reserve at Portsmouth.
Scourge, 6 guns, 1,124 tons, 195 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Portsmouth, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 450 horse-power by Maudslay. Steams 11 knots an hour. This vessel was originally fitted to carry a large mortar, on the plan of Lieutenant Julius Roberts, but she was subsequently altered to carry guns like the other p.w. steam sloops. Complement, 165 men. Commander, His Serene Highness Victor, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenberg. Commissioned June, 1858. Station, Mediterranean.
Sphinx, 6 guns, 1,058 tons, 195 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Woolwich, 1846. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 500 horse-power by Penn. Steams 10½ knots an hour. This vessel was nearly lost at the back of the Isle of Wight, in 1847. War services, Burmah, Baltic, and Black Sea. Station, fitting for commission at Portsmouth.
Spiteful, 6 guns, 1,050 tons, 185 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1842. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power by Scott and Sinclair. Steams 10 knots an hour. War services, Black Sea. Station, fitting for commission at Woolwich.
Stromboli, 6 guns, 970 tons, 185 feet in length, and 35 feet beam. Built at Portsmouth, 1839, Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power by Napier. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, Syria, Baltic, and Black Sea. Station, third class steam reserve at Portsmouth.
Styx, 6 guns, 1,057 tons, 186 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Sheerness, 1841. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power, by Seaward. Steams 9½ knots an hour. War services, Burmah. Complement, 165 men. Commander, Charles Vesey. Commissioned August, 1857. Station, West Indies.
Vesuvius, 6 guns, 976 tons, 185 feet in length, and 35 feet beam. Built at Sheerness, 1840. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power by Napier. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, Syria and Black Sea. Complement, 165 men. Commodore, Charles Wise. Commissioned April 1857. Station, West Coast of Africa.
Virago, 6 guns, 1,060 tons, 185 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Chatham, 1842. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 300 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Steams 9½ knots an hour. Complement, 165 men. Commander, M.B. Dunn. - Commissioned May, 1856. Home Station.
Vixen, 6 guns, 1,054 tons, 185 feet in length, and 36 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1840. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 280 horse-power, by Seaward. Steams 9½ knots an hour. Complement, 165 men (turned over from Salamander). Commander, Lionel Lambert. Commissioned February 1857. Station, Pacific.

2nd Class.—
Alecto, 5 guns, 800 tons, 175 feet in length, and 33 feet beam. Built at Chatham, 1839. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 200 horse-power, by Seaward. Steams 8½ knots an hour. War services, River Plate and Lagos. Station, Woolwich (lately returned from the coast of Africa).
Ardent, 5 guns, 800 tons. Built at Chatham 1841. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 200 horse-power by Seaward. Steams 8½ knots an hour. War services, Black Sea and Sea of Azoff. Complement, 135 men. Commander, John Halliday Cave. Commissioned November, 1857. Station, West Coast of Africa.
Hecate, 6 guns, 817 tons. Built at Chatham, 1839. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 240 horse-power, by Scott and Sinclair. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, Syria. Station, steam reserve at Woolwich.
Hecla, 6 guns, 817 tons. Built at Chatham, 1839. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 240 horse-power by Scott and Sinclair. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, Baltic. Complement, 135 men. Commander, Elphinstone, D’O. Aplin. Commissioned October, 1855. Station, West Coast of Africa.
Hermes, 6 guns, 830 tons. Built at Portsmouth, 1835. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 220 horse-power, by Maudslay. Steams 8½ knots an hour. War services, Burmah. Complement, 135 men. Commander, William E. Alphonso Gordon. Commissioned, June, 1855. Station, Cape of Good Hope.
Hydra, 6 guns, 818 tons. Built at Chatham, 1838. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 220 horse-power by Boulton and Watt. Steams 8½ knots an hour. War services, Syria. Complement, 135 men. Commander, Bichard Vesey Hamilton. Commissioned, June, 1858. Station, West Coast of Africa.
Medea, 6 guns, 835 tons. Built at Woolwich, 1833. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 350 horse-power, by Maudslay. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, Syria. Station, first class steam reserve at Portsmouth.
Medina, 4 guns, 886 tons. Built at Pembroke, 1840. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 312 horse-power, by Fawcett. Steams 9½ knots an hour. War services, Black Sea. Complement, 125 men. Captain, Thomas Abel B. Spratt, C.B. Commissioned, January, 1856. Station, surveying service, Mediterranean.
Medusa, 4 guns, 880 tons. Built at Pembroke, 1839. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 312 horse-power by Fawcett. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, Black Sea. Complement, 125 men. Commander, William Bowden. Commissioned, September, 1856. Station, West Coast of Africa.
Merlin, 4 guns, 889 tons. Built at Pembroke, 1838. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 312 horse-power by Fawcett. Steams 9 knots an hour. War services, Baltic. Station, refitting at Devonport.
Prometheus, 5 guns, 796 tons. Built at Sheerness, 1839. Plan, Symonds. Rebuilt at Woolwich, 1858. Fitted with engines of 200 horse-power by Seaward. Steams 8¼ knots an hour. War services, Lagos. Station, Woolwich steam reserve.
Salamander, 6 guns, 818 tons. Built at Sheerness, 1832. Plan, Seaton. Fitted with engines of 220 horse-power by Maudslay. Steams 7½ knots an hour. This vessel is quite rotten, and should be broken up. Station, Sheerness steam reserve.
Trident, 6 guns, 850 tons, 185 in length, and 31½ feet beam. Built of iron at Blackwall, by Ditchburn, 1846. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 350 horse power by Boulton and Watt. Steams 9 knots an hour. Complement, 125 men. Commander, Francis Arden Close. Commissioned, November, 1856. Station, West Coast of Africa.

Paddle-wheel Steam Gun-Vessels.

Recruit, 6 guns, 560 tons, 170 feet in length, 26 feet beam, 11½ feet depth of hold. Built of iron at Millwall, for the Prussian navy. Plan, Scott Russell. Fitted with engines of 160 horse-power by Russell. Obtained by the English Government, 1854. Her bow and stern are both sharp; she draws 7 feet of water. Armament, 2 68-pounder pivot guns, and 4 32-pounder broadside guns. War services, Black Sea and Sea of Azoff. This vessel was formerly called the "Nix." Complement, 80 men. Commander, Henry F. McKillop. Commissioned, January, 1855. Station, Mediterranean.
Weser, 6 guns, 560 tons. Built of iron at Millwall, by Scott Russell. Plan, of the same dimensions as the Recruit. Fitted with engines of 160 horse-power by Russell. Obtained from Prussia in 1854. War services, Black Sea and Sea of Azoff. This vessel was formerly called the "Salamander." Complement, 80 men. Commander, Charles Arthur Wise. Commissioned, January, 1855. Station, Mediterranean.

Remarks.— Some of our first-class paddle-wheel steam sloops are very fine vessels, more especially those which were built last, as the Argus, Barracouta, Buzzard, Fury, Inflexible, Scourge, and Sphinx. The Basilisk may be known by having her main-mast placed between her funnels, she is the worst ship Mr. Lang ever designed, and is almost as bad as the Rosamond, for becoming infected with yellow fever. Notwithstanding the constant remonstrances of naval medical officers, the Admiralty persist in employing the Basilisk on the West India station. If some member of Parliament was to move for returns of the names of our ships of war on board which yellow fever has broken out during the last 12 years, the number of men that have died of that disease, and the reports of the medical officers as to the causes of the outbreak, &c., it would prove useful, and at least draw attention to the carelessness of the Admiralty, in sending two ships (the Rosamond and Basilisk) a second time to the West Indies, which had previously been sent home from that station on account of the yellow fever carrying off a large portion of their crews. The Bulldog, Geyser, and Rosamond are said to be rotten, and it is to be hoped that they will be broken up. The Vixen has broken her main-shaft, and is also said to be rotten. She is ordered to return home, if she can be patched up sufficiently to round Cape Horn.

Of the second class of paddle-wheel steam sloops, only the Hecate, Hecla, Hermes, Hydra, Medea, and Salamander were built specially for war purposes. The Alecto, Ardent, Prometheus, and Trident were built as steam packets to carry the Mediterranean mails. The Medina, Medusa, and Merlin were also employed as steam packets between Liverpool and Kingstown, and afterwards in the Mediterranean. On private companies contracting for the mails, these vessels were strengthened, and fitted to carry a few heavy guns. They are now principally employed on the coast of Africa in preventing the slave trade. During the last few years the Alecto, Medusa, and Prometheus have been the most successful in capturing slavers. The Hecla obtained great notoriety at the commencement of the late war, when she was commanded by the celebrated Captain "Nemesis" Hall, and it is a great pity that this officer was not allowed to command her during the second campaign, as he would doubtless have seen more active service in her than in the old Blenheim, screw block ship. The Prometheus, one of the worst of this class of steam sloops, has lately been nearly rebuilt at Woolwich. She is quite out of date, and ought to have been broken up. It is to be feared that the Admiralty will now order the old Salamander to be rebuilt. The Trident is one of the celebrated batch of iron steamers, and is constantly getting out of order.

The Recruit and the Weser were originally owned by the Prussian government, but as the first Baltic campaign pointed out the great utility of small steam gun vessels to the English fleet, the Admiralty induced the Prussians to exchange these two steam gun vessels for the Thetis, an old 40-gun sailing frigate. Great complaints were made against the Admiralty at the time, for giving such a fine frigate as the Thetis, for two small iron steamers, but the results have fully justified the Admiralty in the course they pursued. The Recruit and Weser were found of great utility in the Sea of Azoff, and have been in constant commission up to the present time. While if we had still retained the Thetis, she would no doubt have remained in ordinary at Devonport, and at all events could have been of no effective use during the late war. The Recruit has lately been thoroughly repaired at Malta. It is a question to be considered, whether, as these two gun vessels proved so useful during the late war, it might not be possible to build some wooden vessels on their lines.

[1859, part I, pages 401-410]

Paddle-wheel Steam Vessels and Gun-boats.— Under this heading will be included those small steam vessels that are employed on active service, and which are not tenders or tugs only used for harbour duty. They are usually commanded by Lieutenants.

 In Com.
for
Ac. Ser.
In Com.
for
Har. Ser.
In
Ordinary.
Building.   Total   
P.W. Steam Vessels.13518
P.W. Gun-Boats.112
Total14 6 20

Paddle-wheel Steam Vessels.— These may be separated into four classes.

1st. Class.—
Antelope, 3 guns, 649 tons. Built of iron at Blackwall, by Ditchburn, 1846. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 260 horse-power, by Penn. Complement, 65 men. Lieutenant and Commander, John W. Pike. Commissioned December, 1856. Station, West Coast of Africa.
Banshee, 2 guns, 670 tons, 209 feet in length, and 27 feet beam.. Depth in hold 15 feet. Build at Greenhithe, 1847. Plan, Mr. Oliver W. Lang. Fitted with engines of 350 horse-power, by Penn. Average speed 18½ knots an hour. War services, Black Sea. Station, first class steam reserve at Woolwich.
Caradoc, 2 guns, 650 tons. Built of iron at Blackwall, 1847. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 350 horse-power, by Seaward. Average speed, 17½ knots an hour. War services, Black Sea. Complement, 65 men. Lieutenant and Commander, Charles M. Buckle. Commissioned, September, 1855. Station, Mediterranean.
Oberon, 3 guns, 650 tons. Built of iron at Blackwall, 1847. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 260 horse-power, by Rennie. War services, Black Sea. Complement, 65 men. Lieutenant and Commander, Prederick George Charles Paget. Commissioned June, 1858. Station, South East Coast of America.
Triton, 3 guns, 650 tons. Built of iron at Blackwall, 1847. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 260 horse-power, by Miller. War services, Black Sea. Complement, 65 men. Lieutenant and Commander, Robert Heron Burton. Commissioned October, 1857. Station, West Coast of Africa.

2nd Class.—
Firefly, 4 guns, 550 tons. Built at Woolwich, 1832. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 220 horse-power, by Maudslay, War services, Baltic. Station, refitting at Woolwich.
Tartarus, 4 guns, 523 tons. Built at Pembroke, 1836. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 136 horse-power, by Miller. Complement, 65 men. Commander, Arthur Lukis Mansell. Commissioned January, 1850. Station, surveying service in the Mediterranean.

3rd Class.—
Alban, 4 guns, 405 tons. Built as a 10-gun sailing brig at Deptford, 1825. Converted into a paddle-wheel steamer by Sir R. Seppings, 1826. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. War services, Baltic. Station, third class steam reserve at Portsmouth.
Coromandel, 4 guns, 450 tons. Purchased from the Peninsular and Oriental Company, in 1854. Was formerly called the Tartar. Has been found very useful during the late Chinese war. Complement, 60 men. Commander, Sholto Douglas. Station, Tender to the Calcutta flag ship, China.
Dasher, 4 guns, 260 tons. Built at Chatham, 1837. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 260 horse-power, by Seaward. Has been principally employed as a Mail Steam Packet. Complement, 60 men. Commander, Edward George Hore. Commissioned December, 1856. Station, Channel Islands.
Locust, 3 guns, 284 tons. Built at Woolwich, 1840. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Maudslay. War services, Baltic. Complement, 65 men. Lieutenant and Commander, John Bousquet Field. Commissioned March, 1855. Home Station.
Pluto, 4 guns, 365 tons. Built at Woolwich, 1831. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. War services, Lagos. Complement, 65 men. Lieutenant and Commander, Cortland Herbert Simpson. Commissioned December, 1856. Station, West Coast of Africa.
Porcupine, 4 guns, 382 tons. Built at Deptford 1844. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 132 horse-power by Maudslay. War services, Baltic. Complement, 65 men. Captain, Henry Charles Otter. Commissioned May, 1856. Station, Surveying Service Coast of Scotland.
Spitfire, 5 guns, 432 tons. Built at Deptford, 1845. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 140 horse-power by Butterley. War services, Black Sea and Lagos. Complement, 65 men. Lieutenant and Commander, William Cox Chapman. Commissioned October, 1857. Station, West Coast of Africa.

4th Class.—
Bloodhound, 3 guns, 378 tons. Built of iron at Glasgow by Napier, 1845. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 150 horse-power by Napier. War services, Lagos. Station, is ordered to be repaired at Woolwich.
Harpy, 1 gun, 345 tons. Built of iron at Blackwall by Ditchburn, 1845. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 200 horse-power by Penn. War services, River Plate and Black Sea. Station, Woolwich.
Jackall, 3 guns, 340 tons. Built of iron at Glasgow by Napier, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 150 horse-power by Napier. Complement, 60 men. Lieutenant and Commander, C.T. Cerjat. Commissioned July, 1854. Station, East Coast of Scotland.
Lizard, 1 gun, 346 tons. Built of iron at Glasgow by Napier, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 150 horse-power by Napier. War services, River Plate. Complement, 40 men. Lieutenant and Commander, Edward Eyre Maunswell. Commissioned, January, 1858. Home Station.

Paddle-wheel Steam Gun-boats.— There are only two steamers of this description.

Bann, 1 gun, 250 tons. Built of iron at Blackwall, 1857. Plan, Walker. Fitted with engines of 80 horse-power. She has a sharp bow and stern. Station, Woolwich Steam Reserve.
Brune, 1 gun, 250 tons. Built of iron at Blackwall, 1857. Plan, Walker. Fitted with engines of 80 horse-power. Complement, 35 men. Lieutenant and Commander, Edward F. Lodder. Commissioned, May, 1857. Station, Tender to Vesuvius, West Coast of Africa.

Remarks.— All these steam vessels, with the exception of those of the fourth class and gunboats, were formerly employed as mail steam-packets, either between the home ports, or on the Mediterranean station. Except the Banshee and Caradoc, none of them are at all remarkable for speed, and as they are also not of much use for warlike purposes, it would be advisable to supersede them as quickly as possible by screw steam vessels.

The Banshee and Caradoc belong to a batch of four steam packets that were built solely with the view of obtaining great speed. The Banshee carried off the palm. The Llewellyn and St. Columba were also found to be very fast, and were afterwards bought by the Holyhead Steam Packet Company. The Banshee and Caradoc were extremely useful in carrying dispatches from the Black Sea Fleet to Marseilles during the late Russian War. The Baltic Fleet was much inconvenienced by not possessing steam vessels of their great speed to carry dispatches, as the Princess Alice was found to be too small for this purpose. In any future naval war, priority of intelligence would be of the greatest importance to our Admirals commanding fleets at sea, and this could only be effected by our fleets having some fast steam dispatch vessels attached to them. Our war steamers average generally a speed of about 10 knots an hour, while the Banshee and Caradoc average from 16 to 18 knots an hour, and this extra speed might, on some emergency, prove of the greatest value. In order to be prepared for all contingencies, we ought to possess some fast steam vessels to be used solely for the purpose of carrying dispatches. The Antelope, Oberon, and Triton were built on the same lines, and like the other iron steamers have proved very costly. The Triton got into the thick of the fight at the bombardment of Sebastopol, and her commander, Lieutenant Henry Lloyd, was most severely wounded.

The Firefly and Tartarus have long been employed in the Surveying Service, on account of their light draught of water.

The Alban has nearly been used out, and has proved a very useful vessel ever since she was converted into a steamer. The Pluto is considered by the Admiralty to be a model African cruiser, as her average speed is 4 knots an hour, and she has never captured a single slaver by chasing. This redoubtable old tub has nevertheless served three commissions in succession on the coast of Africa. The Porcupine and Spitfire have been chiefly employed in the surveying service, and are very handy vessels of their class.

The fourth class, or as they are commonly called the "tin-pots," are all built of iron, and have been found very costly and inefficient steam vessels. The Bloodhound has lately returned from the Coast of Africa, and is ordered to be repaired at an estimated cost of £2,000. The Harpy, after nearly foundering on her passage from South America, was employed at Constantinople during the last war, and has lately been paid off on account of requiring extensive repairs. The Jackall is also undergoing repairs. The Lizard, since her first cruise to South America, has never been trusted out at sea, but employed at our home ports. Another of this iron batch of steamers, the Myrmidon, was lately found to be unseaworthy, while employed on the coast of Africa, and has been dismantled and laid up at Sierra Leone. The two paddle-wheel steam gunboats were built for the purpose of ascending the African rivers, but were found to draw too much water. They were then commissioned for service in the China Seas, but were reported as unfit for the long sea voyage. The Brune was subsequently sent to the coast of Africa along with the Vesuvius, and has been found of service.

During the first Baltic campaign, some of the old paddle-wheel steam packets, as the Cuckoo, Pigmy, Otter, Zephyr, &c,, were fitted out as gunboats, to meet the requirements of Sir Charles Napier. They were not of much use, however, and the screw gunboats are found to excel them in almost every particular, as to armament, speed, seaworthiness, &c.

Paddle-wheel Steam Store Ships, Yachts, Tenders, and Tug-Vessels.— These steam vessels are classed together on account of their being non-combatant, and being mostly employed for harbour service.

◄Table scrolls horizontally►
 In Com. for
Active Ser.
In Com. for
Harbour Ser.
In Ordinary.Building.   Total   
P.W. Store Ships3003
P.W. Yachts2406
P.W. Tenders010212
P.W. Tug-vessels018119
 532340
 

Paddle-wheel Steam Store Ships.—These vessels may be divided into two classes.

1st Class.—
Dee, 4 guns, 704 tons. Built at Woolwich, 1832. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 200 horse-power by Maudslay. Average speed is 8 knots an hour. Complement, 65 men. Master, and Commander, Thomas Charles Pullen. Commissioned November, 1854. Home Station.
Rhadamanthus, 5 guns, 813 tons. Built at Devonport, 1832. Plan, Roberts. Fitted with engines of 220 horse-power, by Maudslay. Complement, 65 men. Master and Commander, Frederick B. Sturdee Commissioned, October, 1857. Home Station.

2nd Class.—
• Steam Floating Factory.— Volcano, 3 guns, 720 tons. Built at Portsmouth, 1836. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 140 horse-power, by Seaward. Was converted into a smithery in 1854. War services, Lagos, Baltic, and China. Complement, 54 men. Master and Commander, John M. Hockley. Commissioned, March, 1857. Station, ordered home from China.

Paddle-wheel Steam Yachts.— These steam vessels are for the especial use of her Majesty, the Royal Family, and the Admiralty.
Victoria and Albert, 2 guns, 2,342 tons, 325 feet in length. Built at Pembroke, 1855. Plan, Walker, and O.W. Lang. Fitted with engines of 600 horse-power by Maudslay. Was formerly called the Windsor Castle. Complement, 145 men. Captain, Hon. Joseph Denman. Commissioned, March 1855. Station, Portsmouth.
Osborne, 1 gun, 1,040 tons, 198 feet in length, and 33 feet beam. Built at Pembroke, 1844. Plan, Symonds. Fitted with engines of 430 horse-power, by Maudslay. Was formerly called the Victoria and Albert. Complement, 105 men. Master and Commander, George Henry Kerr Bower. Commissioned, February, 1858. Station, tender to Hannibal, at Portsmouth.
Black Eagle, 1 gun, 540 tons, 155 feet in length, and 26 feet beam. Built at Limehouse, 1831. Lengthened, 1843. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 260 horse-power, by Penn. Was formerly called the Firebrand. Complement, 48 men. Master and Commander, John E. Petley. Commissioned January, 1858. Station, tender to Fisgard, at Woolwich.
Elfin, 1 gun, 111 tons, 103 feet in length, and 14 feet beam. Built at Chatham, 1849. Plan, O.W. Lang. Fitted with engines of 40 horse-power, by Rennie. Complement 25 men. Master and Commander, Alfred Balliston. Station, tender to Victoria and Albert, at Portsmouth.
Firequeen, 1 gun, 312 tons. Built of iron at Glasgow, 1847. Plan, Napier. Fitted with engines of 120 horse-power, by Napier. Purchased by the Admiralty, 1849. Complement, 30 men. Master and Commander, Frederick W. Paul. Commissioned January, 1858. Station, tender to Victory, at Portsmouth.
Vivid, 2 guns, 352 tons. Built at Chatham, 1849. Plan, O.W. Lang. Fitted with engines of 160 horse-power, by Penn. Was formerly employed as a mail steam-packet between Dover and Calais. Complement 35 men. Master and Commander, Henry W. Allen. Commissioned January, 1858. Station, tender to Fisgard, at Woolwich.

Remarks.— The Victoria and Albert is Her Majesty's own yacht, and is a perfect model for speed and comfort. Her average speed is about 18 knots an hour. The Elfin is tender to the Royal yacht, and is principally employed to carry despatches between Portsmouth and Osborne. The Osborne is the Admiralty yacht, her speed is about 15 knots an hour. The Black Eagle and Vivid are employed to carry Royal personages between Dover and the Continent. The Firequeen is the yacht for the Port-Admiral at Portsmouth. The Firequeen and Vivid both average about 14 knots an hour. The yachts designed by Mr. O.W. Lang, are built with diagonal planking.

Paddle-wheel Steam Tenders. These steam vessels are used to convey officers and men from port to port, and to perform other harbour duties.
Adder, 1 gun, 241 tons. Built 1827. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Was formerly called the Crocodile. Employed for 20 years as a mail steam packet. Second Master, James Minchin. Station, tender to Wellesley, at Chatham.
Advice, 1 gun, 240 tons. Built 1827. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Formerly called the Vixen. Was employed for 20 years as a mail steam packet. Second Master, Michael Raymond. Station, tender to Nile, at Queenstown.
Asp, 1 gun, 112 tons. Built 1825. Fitted with engines of 50 horse-power. Employed for many years as a mail steam packet at Portpatrick. Master-Commander, Daniel Hall. Station, Surveying Service, South West Coast of England.
Avon, 3 guns, 361 tons. Built at Harwich, 1825. Plan, Graham. Fitted with engines of 160 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Employed for many years as a mail steam-packet, and afterwards in the surveying service. Was formerly called the Thetis. Second Master, James Henry Lawrence. Station, tender to Impregnable, at Devonport.
Bee, 1 gun, 42 tons. Fitted with screw and paddle-wheel engines of 10-horse-power. Is employed for the instruction of Naval Officers studying steam at the Royal Naval College. Station, tender to Excellent, at Portsmouth.
Cuckoo, 8 guns, 234 tons. Built 1831. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Employed for many years as a mail steam-packet. War Services, Baltic. Station, third class steam reserve at Chatham.
Dover, 1 gun, 224 tons. Built of iron, at Birkenhead, 1843. Plan, Laird. Fitted with engines of 90 horse-power, by Forrester. Station, lent to the Colonial authorities, in the River Gambia.
Lightning, 3 guns, 269 tons. Built at Deptford, 1823. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Maudslay. War services, Baltic. Master, Benjamin Woolley. Station, tender to Saturn, Milford Haven.
Otter, 3 guns, 237 tons. Built, 1831. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 120 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Employed for many years as a mail steam packet. War services, Baltic. Station, third class steam reserve at Sheerness.
Princess Alice, 1 gun, 270 tons, 125 feet in length, and 20 feet beam. Built of iron at Blackwall, 1844. Plan, Ditchburn. Fitted with engines of 120 horse-power, by Maudslay. Employed for many years as a mail steam packet between Dover and Calais. Station, Woolwich.
Sprightly, 1 gun, 230 tons. Built, 1827. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Employed for 20 years as a mail steam packet. Master, George Allen, Station, Tender to Victory, at Portsmouth.
Wildfire, 1 gun, 186 tons. Built at Harwich, 1826. Plan, Graham. Fitted with engines of 75 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Employed for many years as a mail steam packet. Master, George Brockman. Station, Tender to Waterloo, at Sheerness.

Paddle-wheel Steam Tug-vessels.—
African, 295 tons. Built, 1828, Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 90 horse-power, by Maudslay. Station, Sheerness.
Bustler. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power. Bought, 1855. Station, Woolwich.
Comet, 238 tons. Built at Deptford, 1822. Plan, Lang. Fitted with engines of 80 horse-power, by Boulton and Watt. Station, Portsmouth.
Confiance, 295 tons. Built at Woolwich, 1827. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Maudslay. Master, William Martin. Station, Devonport.
Echo, 295 tons. Built, 1827. Fitted with engines of 140 horsepower. Master, J. Parker. Station, Portsmouth.
Fearless, 165 tons. Built, 1831, Fitted with engines of 76 horse-power. Station, Sheerness.
Hearty. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power. Bought, 1855. Station, Malta.
Kite, 300 tons. Fitted with engines of 170 horse-power. Built, 1835. Station, Bermuda.
Lucifer, 380 tons. Built at Liverpool, 1835. Fitted with engines of 180 horse-power. Station, Portsmouth.
Monkey, 212 tons. Built at Rotherhithe, 1821. Fitted, with engines of 80 horse-power. Master, George Syndercombe. Station, Woolwich.
Myrtle, 116 tons. Fitted with engines of 50 horse-power. Master, W.B. Bourchier. Station, Sheerness.
Pigmy, 227 tons. Built, 1827. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power, by Fawcett. War services, Baltic. Master, W. Johnson, Station, Portsmouth.
Pike, 111 tons. Fitted with engines of 50 horse-power. Station, Devonport.
Prospero, 249 tons. Built, 1829. Fitted with engines of 144 horse-power. Station, refitting at Devonport.
Redpole. Fitted with engines of 160 horse-power. Bought, 1854. Station, Gibraltar.
Thais. Iron steamer. Bought, 1855. Fitted with engines of 80 horse-power. Station, Devonport.
Wallace. Iron steamer. Bought, 1855. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power. Station, Portsmouth.
Widgeon, 164 tons. Built, 1837. Fitted with engines of 90 horse-power, by Seaward. Station, Woolwich.
Zephyr, 237 tons. Built, 1827. Fitted with engines of 100 horse-power. War services, Baltic. Station, Devonport.

Remarks.— The steam store-ships, Dee and Rhadamanthus, have been almost constantly in commission, and are now employed to convey steam machinery and boilers from Woolwich to the other dockyards, and owing to their great beam and strength are found to perform this service very well. The Volcano has proved to be of great use, since she was fitted as a smithery. When describing the Chasseur screw factory, some remarks were made advising the construction of 3 or 4 similar vessels; but as being more economical, the Admiralty might fit up, as floating factories, some of our old paddle-wheel steam sloops, as the Geyser, Hecate, &c. These latter would afford more space for the workshops, and would be better able to carry spare portions of machinery than small screw steamers.

The steam tenders and tug-vessels are very useful vessels, and are appropriated as follows: At Portsmouth, the Sprightly, Comet, Echo, Lucifer, Pigmy, and Wallace; at Devonport, the Avon, Confiance, Pike, Thais, and Zephyr; at Sheerness, the Wildfire, African, Fearless, and Myrtle; at Chatham, the Adder; at Woolwich, the Princess Alice, Bustler, Monkey, and Widgeon; at Queenstown, the Advice; at Milford Haven, the Lightning; at Bermuda, the Kite; at Malta, the Hearty; and at Gibraltar, the Redpole.

General Remarks.— In the concluding remarks made when finishing the details of "Our Screw Steam Navy," a hope was expressed that the facts there stated, would enable members of parliament successfully to interrogate the Lords of the Admiralty as to the present state and management of the Royal Navy. It is very gratifying therefore to find, that the Government intend to bring the present condition of the navy before the notice of Parliament. It is however, stated, that this is with the view of obtaining the consent of the House of Commons to a large increase in the expenditure for building new screw line of battle ships. It is further reported that Sir John Packington is frequently in consultation with Sir Baldwin Walker, as to the plans on which the new ships are to be built. A great deal depends upon these new designs, for if they simply increase the tonnage and weight of armament of the new ships as compared with the old vessels, which is the general mode that Sir B. Walker takes to make improvements, the new ships will cost more, and be of less effective use than their predecessors.

Her Majesty stated in her speech, that through the introduction of steam power, the British Navy had to be reconstructed. This may therefore be termed a very important period for the future career of our navy. For her own security, it is necessary that England should possess the largest navy in the world, and not only the most numerous but also the most efficient vessels. Complaints have often been made, that owing to the constant changes at the Board of Admiralty, no fixed plans have been laid down for the augmentation of the Royal Navy. One year, the Government, wishing to show economy, will cut down the navy estimates, and the next year perhaps, if a panic arises, will take advantage of it to largely increase the expenditure. The French proceed on a much wiser plan, for a commission met in 1850, and agreed to certain propositions, by which in ten years from that date the French Navy was to contain fifty screw line of battle-ships. And it has been by their adhering to this plan, and adding new ships every year to their navy, that they have raised a steam navy almost as large as our own.

Is there any reason why England should not follow a similar course? Could there not be appointed a Parliamentary Committee, or a Royal Commission, to consider this very important subject, and to determine as to the future augmentation of the navy? The House of Commons may agree this year to increased naval expenditure, for the probabilities of a European war are hanging over us. But next year perhaps, all these dark clouds may have blown over, peace may seem certain, and with the remission of the Income Tax in prospect, the members might compel the Government to cut down the estimates again. It would be more advisable, therefore, for a commission to agree to certain propositions, as to the minimum number and the class of ships that should be added yearly to the navy. These propositions would then be looked upon as sacred, and would doubtless be adhered to by whatever party that might form a government.

The newspapers and periodicals have lately contained plans from numerous persons, endeavouring to improve upon our ships of war. If sent to the Admiralty, they are always remitted to Sir B. Walker to put his veto upon them. Now it is the opinion of many naval architects, that Sir B. Walker is not always correct in his own plans, and that the large screw-ships he has lately designed for the navy will not prove efficient war steamers. This being the case, and as we are now about to reconstruct the British Navy, would it not be advisable to obtain the advice of other naval architects, besides Sir B. Walker, and his two assistant surveyors, before commencing an enormous outlay for new ships?

In designing a screw steam ship of war, there are a great many considerations to be taken into account, and if the most important of these were laid down, it might be a good plan to ask for competitive designs from other naval architects.

When we see the splendid sailing clippers lately built at our merchant dockyards, when we examine the magnificent screw-steamers belonging to our merchants, and when we further consider that the navy has often derived her greatest improvements in shipbuilding (as witness the Daring, built by White, of Cowes), from the merchant shipbuilders, there seems no reason to doubt but that some most valuable improvements might be suggested by these naval architects, if they were allowed to compete for some prize worthy of their ambition.

The proposal of seeking for competitive plans, will doubtless be a disagreeable one to Sir Baldwin Walker and his satellites, but when we consider the great importance of building our new ships of war on the most efficient designs, we must disregard the jealousy of a few individuals. The commission on Naval Architecture would be more likely to arrive at a correct determination after considering the proposals of many naval architects, than from simply overlooking the official statements of the Surveyor of the Navy.

It has been a frequent taunt against England, that she does not take advantage of the inventive faculties of her own countrymen, that the Government prefer retaining the steady red-tape system of its officials, to accepting the constant progressive improvements made by ingenious mechanics. If the Admiralty were to adopt the proposal of competitive designs, for the new ships about to be built, it would serve to stimulate all the energies of our shipbuilders, and would go far to show to other nations, that England was earnest in her determination to possess the most powerful steam navy, and that it was her intention for the future to encourage native talent.

The English public have got to be rather sceptical lately as to the manner in which the money voted for our dockyards is expended, they fear jobbery, which they have been told has been fostered by former Governments. Fortunately for the navy, it is now presided over by Sir John Packington, a statesman, whom all parties respect, and who will not sanction any jobbery. Still, when we consider the immense amount of official duty the First Lord has at present to perform, we think the task of determining how the steam navy is to be augmented, would be more satisfactorily performed by a Royal Commission than by the Board of Admiralty.


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