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HMS Warrior (June 2009)

HMS Warrior (June 2009)
Photo of the ironclad HMS Warrior (1860) with the tide in.
Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Blackwall, London
Porsmouth, UK

 Demetrius Chryssikos
Demetrius Chryssikos club
HMS Warrior is a 40-gun steam-powered armoured frigate[Note 1] built for the Royal Navy in 1859–1861. She was the name ship of the Warrior-class ironclads. Warrior and her sister ship HMS Black Prince were the first armour-plated, iron-hulled warships, and were built in response to France's launching in 1859 of the first ocean-going ironclad warship, the wooden-hulled Gloire. Warrior conducted a publicity tour of Great Britain in 1863 and spent her active career with the Channel Squadron. Obsolescent following the 1871 launching of the mastless and more capable HMS Devastation, she was placed in reserve in 1875, and was "paid off" – decommissioned – in 1883.
She subsequently served as a storeship and depot ship, and in 1904 was assigned to the Royal Navy's torpedo training school. The ship was converted into an oil jetty in 1927 and remained in that role until 1979, at which point she was donated by the Navy to the Maritime Trust for restoration. The restoration process took eight years, during which many of her features and fittings were either restored or recreated. When this was finished she returned to Portsmouth as a museum ship. Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Warrior has been based in Portsmouth since 1987.
The launching of the steam-powered ship of the line Napoléon by France in 1850 began an arms race between France and Britain that lasted for a decade. The destruction of a wooden Ottoman fleet by a Russian fleet firing explosive shells in the Battle of Sinop, early in the Crimean War, followed by the destruction of Russian coastal fortifications during the Battle of Kinburn in the Crimean War by French armoured floating batteries, and tests against armour plates, showed the superiority of ironclads over unarmoured ships. France's launching in 1859 of the first ocean-going ironclad warship, the wooden-hulled Gloire, upset the balance of power by neutralising the British investment in wooden ships of the line and started an invasion scare in Britain, as the Royal Navy lacked any ships that could counter Gloire and her two sisters. The situation was perceived to be so serious that Queen Victoria asked the Admiralty if the navy was adequate for the tasks that it would have to perform in wartime. Warrior and her sister were ordered in response.
The Admiralty initially specified that the ship should be capable of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph), and have a full set of sails for worldwide cruising range. Iron construction was chosen as it gave the best trade-off between speed and protection; an iron hull was lighter than a wooden one of the same size and shape, giving more capacity for guns, armour and engines.
Chief Constructor of the Navy Isaac Watts and Chief Engineer Thomas Lloyd designed the ship.[5] To minimise risk they copied the hull design of the large wooden frigate HMS Mersey, modifying it for iron construction and to accommodate an armoured box, or citadel, amidships along the single gun deck, which protected most of the ship's guns. Ships with this configuration of guns and armour are classified as broadside ironclads.
The Warrior-class design used many well-proven technologies that had been used in ocean-going ships for years, including her iron hull, steam engine, and screw propeller; only her wrought-iron armour was a major technological advance. Naval architect and historian David K. Brown wrote, "What made [Warrior] truly novel was the way in which these individual aspects were blended together, making her the biggest and most powerful warship in the world." Being faster, better armoured and harder to hit than her rivals, she was superior to any existing naval ship. The Admiralty immediately stopped the construction of all wooden ships of the line, and ordered another eleven ironclads over the next few years. Jacky Fisher, who was the ship's gunnery lieutenant in 1863–64, later wrote that in spite of this, most people did not realise at the time what a significant change it would bring about: "It certainly was not appreciated that this, our first armourclad ship of war, would cause a fundamental change in what had been in vogue for something like a thousand years."
Although built in response to Gloire, the Warriors had a very different operational concept from the French ship, which was meant to replace wooden ships of the line. The Warriors were designed by Watts as 40-gun armoured frigates and were not intended to stand in the line of battle, as the Admiralty was uncertain about their ability to withstand concentrated fire from wooden two- and three-deck ships of the line. Unlike Gloire, they were planned to be fast enough to force battle on a fleeing enemy and to control the range at which a battle was fought to their own advantage. In contrast to Gloire's square profile, Warrior has a clipper bow, but she is twice as long as a typical clipper ship.
HMS Warrior is 380 feet 2 inches (115.9 m) long between perpendiculars and 420 feet (128.0 m) long overall. She has a beam of 58 feet 4 inches (17.8 m) and a draught of 26 feet 9 inches (8.2 m). The ship displaces 9,137 long tons (9,284 t) and has a tonnage of 6,109 tons burthen. The ship's length made her relatively unmanoeuvrable, making it harder for her to use her strengthened stem for ramming, an ancient tactic that was coming back into use at the time. The ends of the hull are subdivided by watertight transverse bulkheads and decks into 92 compartments, and the hull has a double bottom underneath the engine and boiler rooms.
The ship's crew comprised 50 officers and 656 ratings in 1863. The majority of the crew had to do physically demanding tasks; one such duty was the raising of the heaviest manually hauled anchors in maritime history. The day-to-day life of her crew differed little from those on the navy's traditional wooden-hulled vessels.
The majority of the crew lived on the single gun deck of the Warrior; these crewmen slept in hammocks slung from the sides and deck beams, with up to 18 men between each pair of guns. The officers berthed in the rear of the ship in small individual cabins; the wardroom was also the officers' mess. The captain had two spacious, well-furnished cabins.
Of the ratings, 122 were Royal Marines. As an experiment during the ship's first commission, all of Warrior's marines were from Royal Marine Artillery; subsequently some marine infantrymen were assigned as was the usual naval practice. The marines manned the aft section of guns and slung their hammocks between the crew's accommodation and the officers' cabins.
In August 1979 Warrior began her 800-mile (1,300 km) journey to her temporary home in the Coal Dock at Hartlepool for restoration as a museum ship. She arrived on 2 September 1979 and began the £9 million restoration project, largely funded by the Manifold Trust. The Maritime Trust decided to restore Warrior to her 1862 condition with the aim that no further major work would be necessary for the next 20 years. The first two years of the restoration were generally devoted to safely removing material added after her first commission, like the poop deck[67] and the 200 long tons (200 t)[68] of concrete decking. Intensive research was done to find detailed descriptions of the ship and her equipment as of 1862 to make the restoration as accurate as economically feasible. Sources included surviving official records, and the papers of those who had served on the ship during her active service. Bolt-holes and ridges in the paint gave clues to the location of some fittings and fixtures, and the sketch plans of Midshipman Henry Murray, found in Captain Cochrane's Letter Book, showed the locations of the armament, moveable fittings and stores.[69][Note 3]
Work on carving a replacement for Warrior's figurehead, which was destroyed in the 1960s, began in 1981 using photographs of the original as a guide. The 12-foot (3.7 m) work-in-progress was displayed at the 1982 London International Boat Show with the carvers still at work; it dominated coverage of the show. Before it was finished in mid-1983, the figurehead appeared on the BBC children's television programme Blue Peter. For much of 1984 it was displayed at the Main Gate of the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard. It was mounted on the ship on 6 February 1985.
Replacement of the ship's 86-foot-3-inch (26.3 m)-tall, 42-inch (1.1 m)-wide lower masts in wood was not feasible, so they were made of steel tube cut and welded to shape, with a ladder inside each mast to allow access to the platforms on the masts. The three masts and the bowsprit were stepped in place between September 1984 and February 1985.
Warrior's engines, boilers and auxiliary machinery were considered too expensive to rebuild, so replicas were built from sheet steel with a few components made from cast iron to duplicate the look of the real equipment. The replica engines can rotate slowly, using electrical power, to allow visitors to imagine how they might have looked in operation.
The Woolwich Rotunda Artillery Museum and the States of Jersey lent examples of Warrior's original primary guns, the muzzle-loading 68-pounder and the breech-loading 110-pounder, which were used as moulds for fibreglass replicas. The Armstrong guns were built with working breeches; they, and the muzzles of all the guns, had to be sealed to prevent people leaving rubbish in them. Little information was available on the wooden gun carriages despite extensive research, and a prototype had to be developed and tested before they could be built.
In 1985 a new berth beside Portsmouth Harbour railway station was dredged, and a new jetty constructed in preparation for Warrior's arrival in Portsmouth. The ship left Hartlepool on 12 June 1987 under the command of Captain Collin Allen and was towed 390 miles (630 km) to the Solent in four days. When she entered Portsmouth Harbour she was welcomed by thousands of people lining the town walls and shore, and by over 90 boats and ships.
She opened as a museum on
22 months ago.

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