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Appendix F

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Esquimalt Naval Base

by
Frederick V. Longstaff

The Victoria Book & Stationery Company, Ltd.
Victoria, B. C. 1941

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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 p172  Chapter VIII

Descriptions and Illustrations

Because the number of illustrations is strictly limited, it has been difficult to make a selection where there are so many interesting and important photographs from which to choose. The plan decided upon is to give, as far as possible, a picture of each of the main classes of older ships and vessels which have used the harbour of Esquimalt and to insert them in chronological order. Further to give one picture of the class from outside and one of a deck view. In some cases the deck view is not that of the same vessel as the outside view. Later it may be possible to publish an album of pictures of the succession of ships, groups, and the dockyard, together with a short description of each subject. The B. C. Archives have a huge collection of glass negatives and prints of the above subjects, taken by professional photographers, the late Mr. A. H. Maynard of Victoria, Mr. J. W. Jones of Esquimalt, Mr. Harold Fleming and Mr. Edgar Fleming of Victoria, each of whom have sold the author some fine prints of ships.

Much help has been received from Mr. George McGregor, a pioneer tugboat and scow owner, who is an endless source of information about the ships and vessels of the Imperial Navy, its coaling and its big repairs on the Pacific Coast.

The author has a small collection of photographs, obtained from the above gentleman, and some of his own taken from as far back as 1911.


[image ALT: a tightly packed informal group of about eighty men in 19c summer sailor uniforms, most of them wearing broad-rimmed Panama-type hats. Three ranks of them stand in slightly curving lines behind each other, with nearly twenty standing on top of some tall structure hidden behind them, and another dozen seated in front. They are British sailors. Further details are given in the caption on the webpage.]

Frontispiece. A group of typical sailors and Marines taken in 1888, on the third class cruiser Hyacinth while at anchor in harbour of Honolulu about Christmas time. Then beards were the fashion and the Ratings made their own sennit grass hats. The cruiser was the third of the name, was composite built of 1,420 tons and one screw of 940 horsepower. She could sail well being barque rigged and had the usual solid high bulwarks. She was commissioned by Captain J. W. Brackenbury, C. M. G., on 27th January, 1886, at Devonport for the Pacific Station. The Cormorant lay within a cable's length of her during Christmas festivities.


[image ALT: rrr. It is captioned on the webpage.]

The earliest ship to be illustrated, Plate I, is Her Majesty's frigate Tribune, fifth of the name, and she was  p173 remarkable in several ways. She was launched at Sheerness in 1853, of 1,370 tons, 300 horsepower, mounted 31 guns and had a complement of 300, being a typical wooden screw steam frigate of the transitional period in which both the outgoing reign of sail and the incoming reign of steam were represented. That period, though short, not lasting longer than ten years from 1853, was an important one, as besides forming an epoch in naval history it was productive of some of the most beautiful specimens of naval architecture. The Tribune was one of the fifteen 6th Rates designed by Captain Sir William Symonds, C. B., F. R. S., Surveyor of the Navy from 1832 to 1847. She was launched as a sailing frigate but later converted to a screw and had the usual fine lines which were one of the main features of Sir William's work. Her war service included the Second Chinese War, taking part in the action in Escape Creek, and the battle of Fatsham Creek (Canton River), in which one of her officers was killed. She was at the first bombardment of Sebastopol. After several years service in the Mediterranean and the North Sea under Captain Hon. S. T. Carnegie (who commissioned her on 14th May, 1853) she was taken over by Captain Harry E. Edgell on 13th August, 1855, for the Pacific Station. Her fourth Lieutenant was Francis Marten Norman, who in 1902, as a retired Commander, wrote a book on the commission entitled "Martello Tower in China and the Pacific, 1856‑60." Proceeding round Cape Horn Tribune called at Valparaiso and then at Arica, at which port she protected British interests during the revolution proceeding in that Peruvian town. During January, 1857, the frigate paid a visit in the interests of law and order (representing the U. S. A. as well as Britain) to the Chinchas Islands, where guano (Huano native word meaning dung) was being loaded into ships (1846‑72). Returning to Callao, Admiralty Orders for the frigate to proceed to China were received on the 10th March, 1857. The Tribune left Callao the next day for Hong Kong, calling at Honolulu and reaching the British port on the sixtieth day of the voyage from the Pacific coast. A large portion of her crew was employed in boat expeditions and in the land operations against the Chinese on the Canton River. In October, 1858, Captain Edgell was appointed a Second Class Commodore and hoisted his broad pendant in Her Majesty's screw 51‑gun frigate Chesapeake, on the East Indies Station. He was succeeded in the Tribune by a  p174 Post Captain thirty-three years of age, Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, who had just arrived from England, and the frigate was his first independent command, (though he had been seven years on half‑pay). Yet he had every detail, low and aloft, at his finger-ends, and not only revealed himself as an organizer, a disciplinarian, a leader of men, but a "sailor‑man". The frigate returned to Hong Kong where she refitted and shipped 164 Marines for British Columbia. She sailed for Vancouver Island, calling at Nagasaki on 30th December, 1858, and arrived at Esquimalt on 13th February, 1859, where she found Her Majesty's wood screw 21‑gun corvette Satellite, Captain J. C. Prevost. The Tribune carried out many jobs on the B. C. coast, including guard ship at the San Juan Island post of the U. S. Army. Proceeding under sail for Valparaiso she passed round Cape Horn and arrived at Portsmouth in July, 1860, where she went out of commission.

After being nearly two years "in Ordinary" the Tribune was brought forward and commissioned on the 13th March, 1862, at Portsmouth by Captain Lord Gilford (afterwards the Earl of Clanwilliam) who was one of the finest of seamen, and he made his ship one of the smartest in the Service. Nothing would induce him to use steam. The Tribune again rounded Cape Horn and so reached her Station on the Pacific Ocean. She made several visits to Valparaiso, Callao, Panama and Vancouver Island. During her commission she carried Midshipman Lord Charles Beresford on her books from December, 1865, until the following February, when he was transferred to the 51‑gun sailing frigate Sutlej, Captain Trevenen P. Coode, who was Flag-Captain to Rear-Admiral John Kingcome. During June, 1864, Tribune was aground in the Fraser River at a bend just inside the mouth, and at that time she was probably drawing 19 feet 2 inches abaft and 17 feet 6 inches forward. The Colonial newspaper of those days contained a full detail of the salvage. On 11th August, 1864, Rear-Admiral Kingcome and Rear-Admiral Denman exchanged salutes from their respective flagships, the Sutlej and the 6‑gun paddle sloop Devastation, Commander J. W. Pike, of 1,058 tons and 400 horsepower engines.

The Tribune, after being much in the news on the B. C. coast, finally sailed from Esquimalt on 10th December 1865, and anchored at Spithead on Sunday 6th May, 1866, according to the private log of Midshipman J. D. Nicholls,  p175 now in the library of the writer. The frigate disappears from the Navy List in 1866.


[image ALT: rrr. It is captioned on the webpage.]

Plate II is an early photograph of the main or gun deck of the Satellite, a wooden corvette which served on the station from 1856 to 1860. Reliable records state that the first vessel bearing the name Satellite was built in 1806. Then came a vessel of which few particulars are available. In 1826 an 18‑gun sloop, the third of the name, was built at Pembroke and served many commissions up till about 1850. In 1856 a wooden sailing corvette with auxiliary screw, and the subject of our illustration, was built at Devonport. She was the fourth of the name and was armed with 21 muzzle loading cast iron smoothbore guns with quoin elevators and mounted on truck carriages, all of which are shown on Plate II, which is looking forward from aft. She displaced 1,402 tons and her engines developed only 400 horsepower. The Satellite, Wolverine of 1,703 tons, and Charybdis of 1,506 tons, were the largest wooden corvettes ever built for the Royal Navy, and were very fast under sail. It was the Charybdis, in bad repair in 1882, which was offered to Canada as Naval Reserve training ship and arrived at St. John, N. B., on the 26th July, 1882, from Plymouth. Her rigging and gear were found to be rotten, and hence she was refused acceptance and was returned to the Navy at Halifax in the same year, all of which is described in the Halifax newspapers. In these corvettes the hammocks were stowed in a trough along the top of the high bulwarks which was covered with long canvas aprons. Observe the iron cannon balls stowed round the hatch combings, as well as the temporary nature of the conning platform abaft the compass, which at that period was anything but standard. The brass rods of the platform are secured by means of butterfly nuts. There is a stand of the old fashioned boarding pikes around the base of the mainmast and that of the foremast; these weapons were also to be found in H. M. survey vessel Egeria as late as 1910 while on this Station. The uniforms of the Ratings shown in Plate II were probably all made by the men themselves, their trousers, jumpers and caps. The corvette was commissioned at Devonport on the 30th September, 1856, by Captain James C. Prevost for the Pacific Station. He was later the first British Commissioner for the settling of the San Juan boundary dispute. The Satellite arrived at Esquimalt on the 13th of June, 1857, and, with the exception of one cruise to San Francisco in April, 1858,  p176 for provisions and stores, was employed for upwards of three years in the waters around Vancouver Island. The Officers and Ratings of the Satellite saw the rise of the settlement from a Hudson's Bay Company trading centre to that of the busy capital of the Colony of Vancouver Island and the free port of entry for the growing stream of men lured by the gold mines of Cariboo. Her main duty was being guard ship at San Juan Island from the time it was first occupied by the United States troops until the time of the joint occupation with the Company of the Royal Marine Light Infantry. The Satellite finally left Esquimalt on the 30th of July, 1860, for home, and arrived at Devonport on the 13th of January, 1861. She served two more commissions, one on the South East Coast of South America, one on the East Indian Station and is last shown in the Navy List for 1877.

The fifth vessel of the name Satellite was built at Sheerness in 1881, as a composite screw corvette of eight guns, 1,420 tons, 1,110 horsepower and was commissioned in 1883 by Captain C. B. Theobald for the Pacific Station. The corvette had on board Midshipman Bertram M. Chambers, who retired in 1926 as an Admiral and wrote an interesting booka in which he devoted much space to this station. The Satellite spent her time in making cruises up and down the whole Pacific Coast, and Sub‑Lieutenant Chambers has much to say about the social life on Vancouver Island. The corvette sailed to Hong Kong where she was recommissioned in July, 1886, by Captain A. H. Alington, and proceeded home to Sheerness at the end of 1889.


[image ALT: rrr. It is captioned on the webpage.]

Plate III shows a group of officers, in the uniforms of about 1871, on the quarterdeck of the sloop-of‑war Reindeer of 7 guns, 953 tons and engines of 200 horsepower. The senior officer, a Commander, in the centre of the group is probably Commander W. R. Kennedy, as he does not wear any medals, for Commander Nares wore the China war medal. Note the name of the ship on the cap ribbons of the Ratings. The Reindeer was a composite built vessel launched at Chatham in 1860, with her engines by Messrs. J. and G. Rennie. She served on the Pacific Station from 1866 until about 1874, and saw much patrol service on the B. C. coast, being commissioned by Commander Edward Nares on 27th October, 1866, at Chatham. Nares had served as a Lieutenant in the China war of 1857, in the flagship Calcutta, and  p177 was awarded the China medal, retiring as a Captain in 1873. The sloop returned to Portsmouth from Esquimalt in the spring of 1871, where she was recommissioned for the Pacific by Commander William R. Kennedy on the 10th August 1871, and proceeded round Cape Horn to Esquimalt. Commander Charles V. Anson succeeded Kennedy on 20th June, 1874, and the Reindeer returned in the autumn of 1875 to Sheerness, where she was paid off. She was sold out of the service in 1877.


[image ALT: rrr. It is captioned on the webpage.]

Plate IV shows a picture of the gun vessel Sparrowhawk lying off the old Naval hospital, now much enlarged and named H. M. C. S. Naden. This Sparrowhawk, the third of the name, was launched at Chatham in 1855, was armed with 4 guns, displaced 676 tons and had engines of 200 horsepower. She was commissioned by Commander Edwin A. Porcher at Chatham on 4th March, 1865, for the Pacific Station, having recently completed one on the East Indies Station. During her patrol duties in 1866 she struck a rock in Cunningham Passage, near Port Simpson, after which the rock was named Sparrowhawk. After doing nearly three years on the B. C. coast, the gun vessel was recommissioned at Esquimalt in August, 1868, by Commander H. W. Mist. Her Surgeon, Peter Comrie, had a strange duty in May, 1869, at Hesquiat: to examine the bodies of the crew of the wrecked lumber laden barque John Bright, bound from Port Gamble to Valparaiso. About the same time Sparrowhawk had another important but sad duty: on 17th May, 1869, she sailed from Victoria with Governor F. Seymour and Mr. J. Trutch for Metlakahtla and the Queen Charlotte Islands, where the former investigated accusations and counter accusations of the Naas and Tsimshean Indians, which he settled. The Governor's health had been failing for some time and this additional fatigue aggravated his attack of dysentery. His condition became worse when the gun vessel sailed for the south and he died when off Bella Coola on the 10th June. The Sparrowhawk arrived at Esquimalt on the 13th, and the body of the Governor was buried in the Naval Cemetery. The coast and inlet patrol duties were of such a routine order that few records exist outside the Ship's Log, or the files of the Indian Department. The vessel was sold out of the service in 1872, for $20,000 and her engines were taken out at Moodyville lumber mill on Burrard Inlet and installed on the mill, where they were in use  p178 as late as 1909. As a sailing vessel the ex‑gun vessel made two or three voyages to China with lumber, and was eventually lost in a typhoon in the China sea.

Sparrowhawk, the third of the name, has a special interest as she was an antecedent of the Corvettes and Minesweepers of today. The rakish little vessel was the successor to the gun‑boat Forward (2 guns) and Grappler (3 guns), which arrived at Esquimalt in July, 1860, under the escort of the 25‑gun frigate Termagant, from Woolwich. The two gun‑boats of 233 tons and 60 horsepower were found so useful for Indian and other patrol duties on the coast of Vancouver Island that more of the class were eventually sent out. It is interesting to note that these two vessels came from amongst the large number built in 1855 for service in the shallow Russian waters of the Baltic, to work ahead and inshore of the British line of battleships. All their engines were made by Penn and were of 60 horsepower only.

It is important to remember that there was a Sparrowhawk the fourth on this coast, namely the early torpedo boat destroyer with twin screws, four funnels, low forecastle, of 300 tons and 6,200 horsepower, giving a speed of 30 knots. There were two destroyers, the other being the Virago, and both were built in 1895 by Laird of Birkenhead, with a complement of 58 and coal capacity of 80 tons. These two left Devonport in September, 1897, for the Pacific Station, being escorted by the Phaeton and Leander and arriving at Esquimalt in January, 1898. They were on the Station for six years and then proceeded to the China Station.

Let us continue the list of gun vessels, which were increasing in size, doing patrol duties in B. C. waters and forming a link with the Minesweepers of today. The twin screw gun vessel Boxer, of 465 tons, shallow draft and composite built, was similar in appearance to the Sparrowhawk and first arrived in Esquimalt early in 1869, direct from Chatham.

The Rocket, a twin screw gun vessel of 584 tons, arrived at Esquimalt in 1874, having been commissioned at Sheerness by Lieutenant C. R. Harris in September of that year. She was recommissioned at Esquimalt in 1878 and continued the usual coast and Indian patrols until she left the Station for Sheerness in 1882 to pay off. The screw gun vessel Myrmidon, of 877 tons, was  p179 commissioned in October, 1872, by Commander the Honourable Richard Hare at Sheerness, and arrived at Esquimalt on 2nd July, 1873, having come up under sail in 41 days from Callao. In June, 1875, she proceeded from Esquimalt to Seymour Narrows to bring down the crew of the U. S. S. Saranac wrecked on Ripple Rock. In 1877 the Myrmidon returned round Cape Horn to Sheerness, where she was paid off. In 1881 the sloop Kingfisher, of 1,130 tons, came out to Esquimalt and carried out the same duties as her predecessors, having been commissioned at Sheerness by Commander R. H. Thornton in August, 1880, for the Pacific Station, and in 1884 she returned home to pay off. In 1887 the sloop Espiegle, of 1,130 tons, came to Esquimalt, having been commissioned at Devonport by Commander A. C. Clarke in August, 1887, and in 1891 she returned home to pay off.

In 1889 the gunboat Pheasant, of 755 tons, came to Esquimalt, having been commissioned at Devonport in May, 1889, by Lieutenant T. Hadley. She was recommissioned at Esquimalt in November, 1891, October, 1894, and October, 1897, returning home in 1901 to pay off. In 1902 the steel sloop Shearwater, of 980 tons, came out to Esquimalt having been commissioned at Chatham by Commander C. H. Umfreville on 24th October, 1901, and recommissioned several times until the Great War in 1914. The sloop Algerine came to Esquimalt in 1908 from Hong Kong. For particulars see Appendix E.

In 1914 the Department of Naval Service went in for small steel minesweepers of trawler design and ordered the Malaspina, of 850 tons, to be built on the Clyde, and she was used for Fishery Patrol duties. In 1918 the Naval Department had the three minesweepers Thiepval, Givenchy and Armentieres, of 136 tons each, built on the Clyde. On the 13th August, 1919, the Givenchy was loaned to the Department of Fisheries, and after many years of service under the blue ensign was returned to the Canadian Navy on 15th April, 1939. In 1938 four Admiralty pattern minesweepers were built for Canada, the two on the Pacific coast being the Nootka by Yarrows and Comox by Burrard Drydock, 460 tons, and they were taken over by the Canadian Navy from their builders on 25th November, 1938, in Royal Roads.

Between the years 1923 and 1939 the two vessels Thiepval and Armentieres spent most of their time taking young ratings for short training cruises in B. C. waters,  p180 the subjects being steering, boating, anchoring, lookout and heaving the sounding lead. The ratings were provided by the R. C. N., R. C. N. R. and R. C. N. V. R. These notes only give a brief outline of the varieties of vessels which have carried out patrol duties in B. C. waters from 1865 until 1939.


[image ALT: rrr. It is captioned on the webpage.]

Plate V displays a group of Officers, Ratings and Marine Light Infantry on the quarter deck of the gun vessel Rocket, taken in B. C. waters. The Captain is Lieutenant V. B. Orlebar and the civilian gentleman is Mr. A. C. Anderson, of the Fisheries Department. This vessel built at Poplar in 1868, was the fifth of the name since 1805. She was composite built (iron frames covered with wood), 427 tons and twin screw engines of 632 horsepower. Commissioned at Sheerness on 9th October 1874, by Lieutenant C. R. Harris for the Pacific Command, she proceeded round Cape Horn to Esquimalt, where she made her headquarters for inspection trips by the new Superintendent of the Indians, Dr. I. W. Powell, to visit their Reserves. She was recommissioned at Esquimalt on 25th July, 1878, by Lieutenant V. B. Orlebar, when she continued her trips to Indian Reserves.

During the summer of 1877 her guns shelled the Indian village of Kimsquit, north of Bella Coola, and destroyed it, under the impression that natives had been concerned in the massacre of the crew of the United States mail steamer George S. Wright in January, 1873. On her way south from Sitka with the mails the George S. Wright called at the small way point of Kluvok, after which the steamer completely disappeared and only a few very small fragments were ever found. (For details see Lewis & Dryden, p204). The Rocket proceeded home to Chatham in the winter of 1882‑83, and was paid off, being sold out of the Service in 1888.


[image ALT: rrr. It is captioned on the webpage.]

Plate VI shows frigates and corvettes of the Detached Squadron lying in Esquimalt harbour in 1879, where they remained from 5th until 28th May, under the command of Rear-Admiral G. T. Phipps Hornby. The wooden armour clad ship Zealous, Rear-Admiral A. Farquhar, C.‑in‑C. Pacific Station, was supported by the corvette Charybdis, Captain Algernon McL. Lyons, the gun vessel Sparrowhawk, Commander H. W. Mist, and the gun vessel Boxer, Lieutenant F. W. Egerton. The ships of the visiting squadron had the chequered appearance, the gun deck level  p181 outside being painted white and the port-lids black, the rest of the hull black, this being sometimes called "Nelson-fashion". The local vessels had their hulls all black, which was kept smart and clean by constant oiling, not painting. During this year the Charybdis had her bow injured, and to effect its repair it was placed in a ship-made cofferdam (or three-sided box) the work of his First Lieutenant Frederick A. Sargeant. This was the same Charybdis which in September, 1881, went to Halifax to serve as the drill ship for the first Canadian Naval Reserve. Rear-Admiral G. T. Phipps Hornby had only been promoted to flag rank on 1st January, 1869, and was soon afterwards given command of the "Detached Squadron for Particular Service" (Official title). The number of ships in the squadron remained at six, but the individual ships were exchanged at some of the ports of call. The squadron sailed from Plymouth on the 19th of June, 1869, and after many calls in the southern hemisphere arrived at Esquimalt on 5th May, 1870, and was composed of the following ships:

Liverpool — (flagship), 30‑gun frigate, Captain J. O. Hopkins.

Liffey — 30‑gun frigate, Captain J. O. Johnson.

Endymion — 21‑gun frigate, Captain E. Lacy.

Phoebe — 30‑gun frigate, Captain J. Bythesea.

Scylla — 16‑gun corvette, Captain F. A. Herbert.

Pearl — 17‑gun corvette, (from China) Captain J. F. Ross.

All the ships had auxiliary screw engines of from 400 to 600 horsepower. The objects of the world cruise were: "To teach officers and men, to elicit smartness, both in appearance and execution, by competitions." The Rear-Admiral issued detailed orders to ensure that full advantage was taken for every officer and rating to obtain as much training and experience as possible. Here are a few of the orders:

"3. My orders are minute, but it is only by attention to minutiae that we can teach the young officers thoroughly.

"4. That the first requisite for improvement is to know your own deficiencies and wants; and these can be — as regards ships — more easily seen by outsiders than by ourselves.

"5. I have ordered a signal to be filed by which we can ask one another the appearance of our own ships.

 p182  "6. This may always be used by semaphore from ship to ship, and the senior of two adjacent ships should call a junior's attention to a yard not squared, a rope towing overboard, etc.

"7. In so doing, it is not to be considered that one man is finding fault with another.

"8. Captains to make officers of watches trim upper yards, not to be relieved until the relief has been round to see everything right, and not to take charge without calling the Captain if the ship is not in station. Officers of watch to make and reduce sail in minute proportions and to watch the compass narrowly. Officers of watch to keep ship in station and to carry on. If any of them are bad their names will be shown.

"9. To converse with them, to see if they understand the principle of a station bill, the principle on which manoeuvres are executed, and generally on the current events of the cruise.

"12. To watch midshipmen when boat sailing, and encourage them."

"Precision under sail will lead to precision under steam, which otherwise cannot be learnt without great expense. I am myself anxious to learn — always ready to discuss all questions — my own orders as much as anything else — with the captains, and wish to give every information. But my great wish, and I trust the hope of every captain, is that we may be able to do the country good service by training a large body of young officers in a good school."

The Detached Squadron and the Charybdis sailed at 7:30 A.M. on Saturday, 28th May, 1870, from Esquimalt for the Sandwich Islands, Valparaiso, Falkland Islands and home. It was estimated the officers and men of the squadron spent nearly $140,000 while in port of Esquimalt. The squadron arrived at Plymouth on 15th November, 1870, and the ships were all inspected by the C.‑in‑C. at Devonport, Admiral Sir Henry J. Codrington, K. C. B. Soon afterwards the Rear-Admiral took leave of the officers and men drawn up at the Keyham dockyard gates. "It was a parting much felt on all sides, this separation of old comrades, who had been so intimately associated for so many months, and who would soon be scattered to the four quarters of the globe. A farewell it was also to wooden ships, to sails and yards, to the old navy of  p183 Anderson's time. Henceforward came the era of steam and iron, of torpedoes and electricity; of what is called science versus the keen observation which gained every advantage possible to be taken from wind and weather, and which used to be called seamanship." (The Biography of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Geoffrey Phipps Hornby, by Mrs. F. Egerton, 1896).b


[image ALT: rrr. It is captioned on the webpage.]

Plate VII is a photograph of the quarter deck and the poop of the wooden armour clad ship Zealous, showing a group of all the officers sometime between 1867 and 1870. The lady on the poop is the wife of Rear-Admiral Honourable G. F. Hastings, C. B. Note the variety of cut of the frock coats with large number of buttons. There were many officers over the establishment, being as the Navy List states "Additional for disposal".

The Zealous, the second of the name, was begun about 1860, as an oak 91‑gun ship and launched at Pembroke about 1864. She was cut down and plated with 4½ inch armour, provided with engines and boilers, etc. Her hull weighing 3,067 tons carried only 3,055 tons of armour, armament, engines, coal, and equipment of all kinds. The engines were of 800 horsepower. Her armament consisted of 20 guns, each 6½ tons weight. The hull was 252 feet in length, 58 foot beam, draft forward 24′6″, draft aft 26′, and barque rigged. She was commissioned at Devonport on 13th September, 1866, by Captain Richard Dawkins, and there were four nephews of Admiral Hastings serving on the ship. She came out to Esquimalt round Cape Horn and Valparaiso. She was recommissioned at Panama on 25th January, 1870, by Captain F. A. Hume, and the old crew, proceeding homewards by train across the Isthmus, passed the new crew at a siding. Rear-Admiral Arthur Farquhar was appointed to the Station on the 1st November, 1869, and he took Lieutenant S. H. Rickman for his flag Lieutenant. (The writer met Commander S. H. Rickman at Seaford, Sussex, in 1918.) The Zealous returned home in the autumn of 1872, being relieved by the Repulse.


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Plate VIII shows the iron central battery screw ship Triumph, sixth of the name, which was launched at Jarrow on Tyne in 1871. She displaced 6,640 tons, had engines of 3,500 horsepower, coal capacity of 550 tons and a speed of 12.6 knots. This family of experimental third class battleships consisted of the Audacious, Iron Duke, Vanguard, Invincible, Triumph and Swiftsure. The loss of the Vanguard  p184 by collision with the Iron Duke on 1st September, 1875 left five. The whole class was built for ocean going purposes, but the Triumph and Swiftsure alone were sheathed with wood and coppered for service in distant seas. Within six years of completion four of the ships, the Triumph, Audacious, Invincible and Iron Duke required heavy repairs to the boilers and engines; one reason given for these defects was that the engineers had been changed too often. The Triumph was the first case of copper sheathing being applied to an iron ship, and in 1878 she was fitted with one of the first self-adjusting arc lamps, for searchlight projectors.

The Triumph, a Portsmouth ship, spent two commissions on the Pacific Station, 1878‑82 and 1885‑88, covering two periods when important defence measures were being forced by circumstances on the Dominion Government. She was commissioned on 1st May by Captain R. Bradshaw, who was succeeded by Captain F. G. D. Bedford on the 2nd December, 1878, and in the Bay of Panama by Captain A. H. Markham on 8th October, 1879. She cruised the whole distance from Cape Horn to Esquimalt several times and on her way home met the Swiftsure outward bound at Punta Arenas on 2nd August, and the Triumph reached Spithead on the 2nd October, 1882, and was paid off on 13th October following. After undergoing a large repair she was commissioned by Captain Henry Rose on 1st January, 1885, and proceeded to Esquimalt. During March and April, 1885, on the coast there was the scare of war with Russia, which revived the interest of B. C. voters in Colonial Defence works at Esquimalt and Victoria. Rear-Admiral Sir M. Culme-Seymour was the Commander-in‑Chief and he was present at the opening of the Esquimalt drydock on 20th July, 1887. For most of her time on the Station Triumph's hull was painted white, as much of her cruising was in tropical waters.

Rear-Admiral Heneage came via the C. P. R. and took over the command about the 9th of November. In August, 1888, the Triumph was ordered home to Portsmouth, on being relieved by the Swiftsure.

The Triumph put in many years of service as a harbour ship under several names. In 1901 she was commissioned at Devonport as depot ship for Torpedo Boat Destroyers, and about 1904 her name was changed to Tenedos, as tender to Halcyon. In 1906, she was moved to Chatham where she became Tenedos I, becoming part of  p185 the establishment for training Boy Artificers. In 1912, Tenedos I was employed in a similar capacity at Devonport as Indus IV, and about 1918 Indus IV was removed from the harbour establishment and was not shown again in Navy List.


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Plate IX. Her Majesty's screw sloop Cormorant, tenth of the name, has an interesting record of service, and is still in commission at Gibraltar, flying the flag of the Rear-Admiral. She was launched at Chatham in 1877, and has to date a total of 64 years' service. In her more active days she was a survival of the sailing navy in that she had top‑gallant and royal yards on her fore and main masts, with studding sails fitted to her lower yards, topsail yards and top‑gallant yards. She was composite built. There were fourteen sister ships in this class, Dragon, Espiegle, Gannet, Kingfisher, Miranda, Mutine, Osprey, Pegasus, Pelican, Penguin, Phoenix, Wild Swan and Doterel, which latter vessel was blown up on 26th April, 1881, in the Straits of Magellan, with a loss of 143 lives. Their armament was originally two 7‑inch 90‑cwt. rifled muzzle loading guns, and four 64‑pounders. Length of hull 170 feet, beam 36 feet, draft of water 15 feet 3 inches, displacement 1,130 tons, horsepower 950, crew of 138 officers and ratings, single screw engine by Humphreys and speed 11.81 knots. Her ordinary coal capacity was 100 tons, but an extra 50 tons could be carried, and her three boilers had a steam pressure of 60 pounds. She was a beautiful vessel, a black hull with a swan or clipper bow and fully rigged bowsprit with nettings. Her one buff funnel was rather squat. Her boats were carried on the modern iron davits and the lower rigging leading to the projecting chains outside the bulwarks. On either side of the bow was a large gun port for a bow chaser, but this was made to close when at sea. She was also fitted with a raised poop which gave better accommodation for the officers.

The Cormorant was first commissioned at Chatham on the 2nd July, 1878, by Commander James Andrew Thomas Bruce (promoted Admiral, 1907) for duty on the Australian Station. In 1879, white men were being murdered in the New Hebrides, and a boat's crew belonging to the British trading vessel Mystery had been massacred. The Cormorant was one of the five vessels under Commodore John Crawford Wilson (who flew his broad pendant in the Wolverine) which proceeded to the Islands and punished the natives. She went home in the autumn of 1882, to pay off and her  p186 Home Port was changed to Portsmouth. In April, 1884, she was brought forward and given a skeleton crew under Navigating Lieutenant George A. C. Webb and Boatswain C. Baker, and in September Chief Engineer W. J. Harding was appointed to her.

In 1885, on 26th May, the Cormorant was commissioned by Commander Edmund T. S. Nicolls (who died about the end of 1889), with Lieutenant Charles Edmund Kingsmill on 5th June, 1885, Lieutenant Edmund Radcliffe Pears on 4th July, 1885, and Navigating Lieutenant G. A. C. Webb. Young Kingsmill afterwards became Admiral Sir C. E. Kingsmill (retired in 1917), and was appointed Director of the Naval Service of Canada. Young Pears also reached flag rank and became a Vice-Admiral retired in 1919. Both these officers spent some of their retired life in or near Victoria, B. C. The Cormorant proceeded to the Pacific via Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso and Callao and so along the coast north to Esquimalt. While on the coast she carried out much police work among the Indians. She is best known as being the first vessel to use the new drydock at Esquimalt, which event took place on the 20th of July, 1887, and in a photograph (by Mr. A. H. Maynard) the third class armoured battleship Triumph is seen in the back ground in a suit of white paint, being newly arrived from the tropics. In the autumn of 1889 the Cormorant, under Commander Nicolls, returned home to Portsmouth to pay off and in the following December is shown at Gibraltar as tender to Goshawk, a gunboat of 430 tons, which flew the flag of the Senior Officer. In July, 1892, the gunboat Bramble succeeded the Goshawk as Senior Officer's ship at Gibraltar with Cormorant as tender. The turn of the old Cormorant came in the new century, when on 1st June, 1900, she was commissioned as flagship of the Admiral Superintendent of Gibraltar Dockyard, and on her books were shown the Officers on the Island of Ascension. New books were opened on the 1st of June, 1909, and these continued through the Great War, 1914‑18, when much expansion took place at this the senior overseas Base of the Navy. A second set of books was opened on the 1st July, 1918, and these are the current ones in use. While she was still a tender to the ship of the Senior Naval Officer at Gibraltar her engines, masts and bowsprit were removed and a standing awning was rigged. In a picture taken in 1926, a main lower mast with a signalling topmast is shown as she lies alongside the dockyard in one of the basins. In the same years the British Columbia  p187 Historical Association, through the Maritime Standing Committee, carried on Correspondence with the Senior Naval Officer and presented a photograph of the vessel entering the first drydock at Esquimalt in 1887, together with a history of all the ships of the name. These records have been framed by the officers and hung up outside the Wardroom.


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Plate X shows Her Majesty's second class cruiser Amphion, the fourth vessel to bear that name. She was designed as the pioneer steel cruiser in the Navy (former vessels had been iron) and was built at Pembroke in 1883. She had two sisters, Arethusa and Leander, both built at Glasgow in 1882. The Amphion displaced 4,300 tons, had twin screw engines (in separate engine rooms) of 5,000 horsepower, giving a speed of 16.5 knots, and during her first commission carried one second-class torpedo boat on her port bulwarks. Her lines were fine and sharp, but masts and sails were fitted for passages across distant oceans. She was first rigged as a barquentine, with yards only on foremast. The cruiser served three commissions on the Pacific Station, in 1888, 1897 and 1900. The yards on foremast were probably removed after her 1888 commission, and the torpedo boat was removed at end of the first commission as its hull was frequently damaged, owing to its thin plating being dented when being hoisted out or in. The Amphion had a crew of 297, and a coal capacity of 1,000 tons, which gave a distance of 10,000 miles at 10 knots. Her main armament was ten 6‑inch quick firing guns. After being in Reserve at Devonport she was commissioned on 11th December, 1888, by Captain Edward G. Hulton, and one of the Sub‑Lieutenants was Robert Falcon Scott, later to command the Antarctic ship Discovery.

The photograph on plate X was taken during this commission, 1888, judging from the presence of yards on the foremast. It was also at this period that the cruiser hit the rocks of Kellett Bluff on 6th November, 1889, when her keel was badly damaged. The Amphion was again commissioned on the 7th January, 1897, by Captain Frank Finnis at Devonport for the Pacific Station, where she relieved the third class cruiser Satellite (composite built and barque rigged). After completing her second commission on the Pacific Station she returned to Devonport to pay off. She was commissioned for a third time for the Pacific Station on 20th September, 1900. by Captain J.  p188 Casement at Devonport, and there is a detailed account of her passages and visits in "Log Series" No. 11, (published by Westminster Press, London, in 1904).c This third commission was full of special incidents: She relieved her sister ship Leander, meeting her at Montevideo; then called at Callao, and was at Panama during the fighting of a civil war in January, 1901. At San Diego on 29th of January news came of the death of Queen Victoria. After the squadron, consisting of the Warspite, Amphion, Icarus, Condor, Egeria and Virago, had spent Dominion Day, 1901, in Burrard Inlet, the vessels on 6th July proceeded on a cruise round the north end of Vancouver Island and spent two days in Forward Inlet, part of Quatsino Sound. The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York arrived by train at Vancouver on 30th September, and embarked on the Empress of China. The naval vessels escorted the Empress of China on her way to Victoria the next day and the Royal Party landed at Rithet's Wharf while the Phaeton and Amphion dressed ship and fired salutes and the former also manned her yards.

When the torpedo boat destroyers Virago and Sparrowhawk proceeded to China (after serving six years at Esquimalt) in April, 1903, they were escorted by Amphion to Honolulu, where the cruiser Amphitrite took over that duty to Hong Kong. At the end of 1903 the Amphion was ordered home to Devonport and was relieved by the second class cruiser Bonaventure, Captain R. G. Fraser. In 1904, the Amphion was on the sale list at Devonport.


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Plate XI shows what was probably the last gathering in Esquimalt Harbour of all the ships on the Pacific Station, and the photograph was probably taken during May, 1904. The names of the ships in the picture from left to right are: Egeria, Commander J. F. Parry; Bonaventure, Captain R. G. Fraser; Grafton, Commodore J. E. C. Goodrich; Shearwater, Commander A. T. Hunt; Flora, Captain G. J. Baker. About this year the use of battleship grey paint had begun on warships, and it had evidently reached Esquimalt. All the ships except the Egeria had twin screws, and the cruisers had engines of from 10,000 to 7,000 horsepower.º

Here are a few more details of the ships: Egeria, sloop, 940 tons, built at Pembroke, 1874, employed on survey duty; Bonaventure, second class cruiser, 4,360 tons,  p189 built at Devonport, 1892; Grafton, first class cruiser, 7,350 tons, built at Blackwall, 1892; Shearwater, sloop, 980 tons, built at Sheerness, 1900; Flora, second class cruiser, 4,360 tons, built at Pembroke, 1893.


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Plate XII shows the sloop Algerine alongside the naval coaling wharf at Esquimalt on her arrival from Hong Kong, on 25th June, 1908. Her sails are loosed for drying. See Appendix E for further details of this war torn sloop-of‑war.


Thayer's Notes:

a Salt Junk: Naval Reminiscences, 1881-1906 (London: Constable & Co. Ltd., 1926).

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b p156 f.

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c The Commission of H. M. S. Amphion, Pacific Station, 1900‑1904. The Log Series No. 11 (London, Westminster Press, 1904).


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Page updated: 23 Jun 17