29th December 1860. HMS Warrior: First Ironclad.

HMS Warrior was built at the Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Company and with the later HMS Black Prince constituted in the 1860.s, the most powerful naval ships in the world.(1)

HMS Warrior.Getty Images.

HMS Warrior at launch. Getty Images.

It was Today that the 40 gun Warrior was launched in 1860, a steam-powered, armoured frigate and Name Ship of the Warrior Class which included The Black Prince.(2)

Though steam-powered, she was fully ship-rigged for world-wide cruising, and at 9,000 tons had 705 officers and men. However she never saw battle and with the Black Prince both were removed from the front line within ten years to training and reserve.

The two ships were built after a decade’s arms-race and in response to the French steam-powered warship, Napoleon of 1850, which effectively neutralized our wooden-walled ships.

An invasion scare was made worse with the arrival of the 1859 French Ironclad, Gloire, causing Queen Victoria to ask the Admiralty whether our navy was adequate for the task.


There were only three static docks which could receive Warrior: Portsmouth, Liverpool and Southampton, whilst a Floating Dock was needed to accommodate her at the western outpost of Empire at Bermuda.

Thus was the Campbell Patent Floating Dock, HMS Bermuda Floating Dock, the seventh vessel named after the colony, towed in 1869 by Warrior and Black Prince to the Islands. The wooden paddle frigate HMS Terrible acted a rudder on the voyage.(3)

Later the dock should have been sold for scrap to Germany, but World War I intervened, as a result it has been quietly disintegrating off Spanish Point, Bermuda ever since.

Floating Dock,

Floating Dock in 1860s.

Wreck today with cruise-liner in distance.

Wreck today with cruise-liner in distance.






Despite the inception of iron ships and steam power, naval vessels still maintained a pair of masts and yards as HMS Inflexible commissioned in July 1881, which was built to combat a new threat from the Italian Regia Marina, in the Mediterranean.

Completed at a cost of £812,000, it was captained by Captain Jackie Fisher, and was the first to be lighted by electricity and having underwater torpedoes.(4)

Inflexible showing Pole Masts fitted 1885 which replaced full-sail rig.

Inflexible showing Pole Masts fitted 1885 which replaced full-sail rig.

The masts and sails were used for training purposes and were removed after four years to be replaced by pole masts carrying signal flags and circular fighting top platforms.

Another feature was the ram which was regarded as a useful means of attack.

Having built ships to counteract the potential enemies of the French and Italians, later in the 19thc the Royal Navy Dreadnoughts were built to maintain supremacy against a new threat: the Germans.

The arms race is still a fact of life, but now more dangerous.

(1) The Black Prince was built by Robert Napier at Govan, Glasgow.

(2) Laid down on 25th May 1859.

(3) The Dock was built by the English Floating Dock Engineers, Campbell & Johnstone at Blackwall on the Thames and completed on 23rd June 1869. It was first towed by Agincourt and Northumberland to Madeira.

(4) Commissioned on the 5th July 1881 and completed on the 18th. Fisher was later First Sea Lord under Churchill.

Ref: wikipedia.org/hms_warrior_1860.

Ref: wikipedia.org/hms_black_prince_1861.

Ref: wikipedia.org/hms_inflexible/Pic Image.

Ref: scotsman.com/on-this-day-launch-of-warrior.

Ref: bermudaattractions.com/wreck/Pic Images.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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