HMS Victoria (1887 - 1893) - Warship Wednesday
A weekly column looking at interesting naval ships from around the world.
HMS Victoria was built at Elswick on the River Tyne by Armstrong, Whitworth and Co. and launched in 1887.
She became flagship to the British Mediterranean fleet under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon.
While conducting naval manoeuvres on 22 June 1893 she was involved in one of the most notorious disasters to strike the Royal Navy.
Tryon, a strict disciplinarian well known for his love of precise naval manoeuvres, was conducting fleet exercises off the coast of Syria. He was steaming the fleet in two parallel columns, one of which he led in the Victoria, about 1,200 metres apart. This was a fatal mistake, as there was insufficient margin of error. The turning circle of one of these capital ships was a minimum of 600 yards. The columns were too close for what Tryon was trying to do. He ordered the columns to turn in towards each other, in order to turn the fleet around.
As the columns turned in Tryon at last realised there was a problem, but it was too late. Victoria collided with HMS Camperdown, leading the other column, and began taking on water. She listed gently at first, then suddenly capsized and sank
Although 357 crew were saved, 358 men were drowned, including Tryon. Standing on Victoria's bridge, his reported last words were "It's all my fault".
Fact: Tryon had been warned of the dangerous nature of the distance between the columns by several officers, but ignored the advice.
Fact: one of the survivors of the collision was John Jellicoe, later Admiral and commander of the British fleet at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.
Fact: Victoria was the first battleship to be propelled by triple expansion steam engines.
Fact: The wreck of HMS Victoria was found by divers in 2004. Unusually, for ship wrecks, Victoria's nose is embedded in the sea bed, her stern pointing almost vertical out of the mud. This is because her huge forward armament and her still turning propellers forced her down at great speed.
HMS Victoria (1887) Particulars
Launched: 9 June 1887 at Sir W. G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co., Ltd., shipyard at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England
Displacement: 11,020 tons
Length: 340ft (104 m)
Beam: 70ft (21.3 m)
Draught: 29ft (8.8 m)
Propulsion: Coal fired triple expansion steam engines, twin screws, 7,500hp
Speed: 16.75 knots (31km/h) maximum
Main armament: 2 x 16.25in (413mm) 110 ton Armstrong guns in a single forward turret
Secondary armament: 1 x 10in (254mm) gun, 12 x 6in (152mm) guns, 12 x6 pdr (2.7kg) guns, 6 x 14in (356mm) torpedo tubes
Armour: 18in (457mm) belt
Next week choose from:
SMS Emden: the infamous German commerce raider from WWI
USS Constitution: 'Old Ironsides', the heavy American frigate from the War of 1812
HMS Conqueror: 'Gotcha!' the sub that sank the Argentinean General Belgrano during the Falklands War
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