Thursday, July 27, 2006
HMS Warrior - Britain's finest warship
It’s quite possible that when HMS Warrior was launched at Blackwell in 1860, the event may have been witnessed by an old seadog who had served under Nelson on the Victory.
Imagine his amazement at the changes which had taken place in ship design and construction in only 50 years.
From wooden hulled fighting ships like HMS Victory to an iron framed, armour plated warship equipped with both sail and steam and driven by a propeller. The Warrior could sail before the wind under her 48,400 sq foot of sail or head into the wind, its 10 boilers and four furnaces operating at searing temperatures to power its huge engine.
Its two massive funnels were telescopic and could be cranked down when steam was not required.
Its four 5.6 ton anchors at both bow and stern, each needed 100 men on a capstan to raise them.
It’s 4 wheeled helm (as in the picture) which at times needed 16 men to hold the ship on course.
A speed of 13 knots under sail and 14.5 in steam.
A crew of 700 men now dressed in the uniform of the Royal Navy.
But perhaps most of all to its fighting power:
Twenty six 68 pounder muzzle loading guns
And ten breech loading 110 pounders.
Stepping on the Warrior’s deck, and wandering through the massive ship, is like taking a step back in time.
Having the opportunity to do that is thanks to the Warrior Preservations Trust and the men who rescued her from the scrap yard on more than one occasion in her life.
Sadly, HMS Warrior’s days of glory were few.
By 1870 masts and yards had become obsolescent.
She had served as Britain’s finest warship for only 10 years.
For the next 100 years she found service only at the bottom end of the maritime ladder.
But in 1979, with her hull still intact, she was taken to Hartlepool for restoration. Eight years later, surrounded by a flotilla of small ships, the newly restored warship was towed to the Royal Naval dockyards at Portsmouth, where she stands today – a tribute to the shipbuilders of the mid 1800s.
Photo: M. Muir – The Warrior’s mighty helm