HMS Shah (1873)

For other ships of this name, see HMS Shah.
Shah at anchor
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Shah
Namesake: Shah of Persia
Owner: Royal Navy
Builder: Portsmouth Dockyard
Laid down: 7 March 1870
Launched: 10 September 1873
Completed: December 1875
Commissioned: 14 August 1876
Out of service: December 1904
  • Converted to Coal Storage Hulk C.470
  • Sold 19 September 1919
  • Wrecked in Bermuda 1926
General characteristics
Type: Unarmored steam frigate
Tonnage: 4,210 bm
Displacement: 6,250 long tons (6,350 t)
Length: 334 ft (101.8 m) (p/p)
Beam: 52 ft (15.8 m)
Draught: 25 ft 7 in (7.8 m)
Installed power: 7,480 ihp (5,580 kW)
Sail plan: Ship rig
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Range: 6,840 nmi (12,670 km; 7,870 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 600

The first HMS Shah was a 19th-century unarmoured iron hulled, wooden sheathed frigate of Britain's Royal Navy designed by Sir Edward Reed. She was originally to be named HMS Blonde but was renamed following the visit of the Shah of Persia in 1873.

Building Programme

The following table gives the build details and purchase cost of the Shah and the other two iron frigates: Inconstant and Raleigh. Standard British practice at that time was for these costs to exclude armament and stores. (Note that costs quoted by J W King were in US dollars.)

Ship Builder Maker
Date of Cost according to
Laid Down Launch Completion BNA 1887[1] King[2]
Hull Machinery Total
Inconstant Pembroke Dockyard John Penn & Son 27 November 1866 12 November 1868 14 August 1869 * £138,585 £74,739 £213,324 $1,036,756
Raleigh Chatham Dockyard Humphrys, Tennant & Co. 8 February 1871 1 March 1873 13 January 1874 * £147,248 £46,138 £193,386 $939,586
Shah Portsmouth Dockyard Ravenhill 7 March 1870 10 September 1873 14 August 1876 £177,912 £57,333 £235,245 $1,119,861

*Date first commissioned.[3][4]

Her complement was 469 officers and men, 46 boys and 87 marines.


As at 1888, Shah's armament consisted of two 9-inch rifled muzzle-loading guns, sixteen 7-inch 6½ ton rifled muzzle-loading guns, eight 5-inch breech-loading guns, 3 quick-firing guns, twelve machine-guns and four torpedo launchers.[5]

Service career

She was only in service for three years, as the flagship of the British Pacific Station under Admiral de Horsey. She fought an action, the Battle of Pacocha, in company with the corvette HMS Amethyst on 29 May 1877 with the Peruvian armoured turret ship Huáscar which had been taken over by rebels opposed to the Peruvian Government and, it was feared, could be used to attack British shipping.

The armoured Huáscar proved virtually impenetrable to the British guns, but the two unarmoured British ships had to keep clear of the Huáscar’s turret guns. In the course of the action the Shah fired the first torpedo to be used in anger, although it missed being outrun by Huáscar. During her time as flagship she also visited Pitcairn Island. On her voyage home she was diverted to South Africa to assist in the Anglo-Zulu War. On 24 October 1879 some of her crew were paid off at Portsmouth and Shah was placed in the fourth division of the Steam Reserve.[6]

In December 1904 the ship was converted to a coal storage hulk and renamed C.470. The hulk was sold on 19 September 1919, and subsequently wrecked in 1926 at Bermuda.[7]

According to some sources (primarily Danish) the ship was eventually sold to a Danish salvage company (Petersen & Albeck, Copenhagen) in 1934 and subsequently towed to Copenhagen, where the ship was dismantled. Parts of the Teak wood interior was later used as floor planks at the Royal Castle in Graasten in 1936.

Her masts survive. Being iron; they were deemed to be a lighter, more durable, replacement for HMS Victory's masts in her preserved state, in the early 20th-century.

There is a monument to the ship's crew men in Victoria Park, Portsmouth.


  1. The Naval Annual 1887, p286-295
  2. King, Warships and Navies of the World, p203.
  3. HMS Inconstant
  4. HMS Raleigh
  5. Brassey's Naval Annual 1888, Page 284, "Unarmoured Ships"
  6. "Naval". The Cornishman (69). 6 November 1879. p. 3.
  7. Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.


External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/2/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.