HMS Cleopatra (1878)

For other ships with the same name, see HMS Cleopatra.
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Cleopatra
Builder: John Elder & Co Govan[1]
Yard number: 209[1]
Launched: 1 August 1878[1]
Name: HMS Defiance III[1]
Renamed: 1922[1]
Fate: Sold for scrap to S Castle, Millbay, July 1931[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Comus-class corvette
Displacement: 2,380 long tons (2,420 t)[1]
Length: 225 ft (69 m)[1]
Beam: 44 ft 6 in (13.6 m)[1]
Draught: 19 ft 6 in (6 m)[1]
Propulsion: Sail, engines by Humphrys, Tennant & Co.[1]

HMS Cleopatra was a Royal Navy Comus-class screw corvette built in 1878.


Planning for six metal-hulled corvettes began in 1876;[2] these became the Comus-class corvettes and[3] were designed for long voyages away from coaling stations.[2] Given a metal hull,[3] its frame was composed of iron or steel.[4] Its hull had copper sheathing over timber beneath the waterline, but that timber simply served to separate the iron hull from the copper sheathing so as to prevent electrolytic corrosion.[5] The timber extended to the upper deck; it was in two layers from the keel to 3 ft (.9 m) above the water line, and one layer above.[6]

It was fitted with 3-cylinder compound engines with one high-pressure cylinder of 46 inches (1,200 mm) diameter being flanked by two low-pressure cylinders of 64 inches (1,600 mm) diameter. The bow above the waterline was nearly straight, in contrast to that of wooden sailing ships. It had stern galleries, similar to older frigates, but the ports were false, and there were no quarter galleries.[7] Boats were carried both amidships and at the stern.[8] Cleopatra flew a barque or ship rig of sail on three masts, including studding sails on fore and mainmasts.[9]

Between its two complete decks was the open quarterdeck, on which the battery was located. Under the lower deck were spaces for water, provisions, coal, and magazines for shell and powder. Amidships were the engine and boiler rooms. These were covered by an armoured deck, 1.5 inches (38 mm) thick and approximately 100 ft (30 m) long. This armour was about 3 ft (90 cm) below the lower deck, and the space between could be used for additional coal bunkerage. The machinery spaces were flanked by coal bunkers, affording the machinery and magazines some protection from the sides. The lower deck was used for berthing of the ship's company; officers aft, warrant and petty officers forward, and ratings amidships, as was traditional. The tops of the coal bunkers, which projected above deck level, were used for seating at the mess tables. The living spaces were well-ventilated and an improvement over prior vessels.[10]

Service history

Cleopatra was used as a training cruiser in 1902, when she was under the command of Commander Charles Lionel Napier. She visited Jersey in June 1902.[11]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "HMS Cleopatra". Clydebuilt Ships Database.
  2. 1 2 Osbon (1963), p. 194.
  3. 1 2 Archibald (1971), p. 43.
  4. Osbon (1963), pp. 195, 196.
  5. Lyon (1980), pp. 35–36.
  6. Osbon (1963), p. 196.
  7. Osbon (1963), p. 195.
  8. Archibald (1971), p. 49 (drawing).
  9. Harland, John H. (1985), Seamanship in the Age of Sail, p. 172. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis. ISBN 0-87021-955-3.
  10. Osbon (1963), pp. 195–98.
  11. "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36794). London. 14 June 1902. p. 9.


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