HMS Temeraire (1876)

For other ships with the same name, see HMS Temeraire.
Name: HMS Temeraire
Builder: Chatham Dockyard
Laid down: 18 August 1873
Launched: 9 May 1876
Completed: 31 August 1877
Fate: Broken up, 26 May 1921
General characteristics
Type: Battleship
Displacement: 8,540 long tons (8,677 t)
Length: 285 ft (87 m)
Beam: 62 ft (19 m)
Draught: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Sail plan: Brig-rigged, sail area 25,000 sq ft (2,300 m2)
Speed: 14.65 knots (16.86 mph; 27.13 km/h)
Complement: 580
  • Belt: 5.5–11 in (140–280 mm)
  • Barbettes: 10-inch (250 mm) fore, 8 in (200 mm) aft
  • Battery: 8 in (200 mm)
  • Bulkheads: 5–8 in (130–200 mm)
  • Deck: 1–1.5 in (25–38 mm)

HMS Temeraire was an ironclad battleship of the Victorian Royal Navy which was unique in that she carried her main armament partly in the traditional broadside battery, and partly in barbettes on the upper deck.

Design and construction

One of Temeraire's 25-ton disappearing muzzle-loading rifles photographed in its raised, or firing, position.
Depictions in the 1888 edition of Brassey's Naval Annual of Temeraire's disappearing gun in its loading and firing positions.

She was built at Chatham, on a slipway adjoining that on which HMS Alexandra, who would precede her into service by some seven months, was being built. She was designed at a time when the shortcomings of the traditional broadside battery - limited axial fire, low command, inactivity of half the guns in single-ship duels, heavy crew and difficulty in working the guns in seaway - were stimulating designers to develop improvements in artillery deployment.

Her armament was partly conventional, being deployed on the broadside, and partly experimental; she was the first British ship to be equipped with guns in barbettes located on the midline on the upper deck. Indeed, she was the first British ship with barbettes of any kind. The foremost barbette was located ahead of the foremast, and had a field of fire ahead, extending to well abaft the beam on both sides. To achieve the same degree of freedom of fire from the after barbette the mizzen mast was deleted, and the after barbette placed aft of the mainmast. Temeraire and Alexandra were the only British battleships ever to carry guns of 11-inch (279 mm) calibre.

The design of the barbettes was itself unique, being one of the few ships to have been equipped with disappearing guns. On firing, the recoil of the gun caused it to drop below deck level; this allowed re-loading without the exposure of the gun crew to aimed enemy fire. After loading, the gun was rotated by a hydraulic system back into the firing position. While this system was effective, it was slow and expensive and was never repeated.

The suppression of the mizzen mast resulted in Temeraire being the largest ship ever to sail with brig rig, that is, with sail carried on only two masts. She was known during her life as "the Great Brig".

Service history

She was commissioned at Chatham in 1877 for service in the Mediterranean, where she spent the next fourteen years with the exception of the winter of 1887-1888, when she was with the Channel Fleet. She was with Admiral Geoffrey Hornby through the Dardanelles in 1878, and remained in the vicinity of Constantinople for a year thereafter. After recommissioning at Malta in 1881 she was present at the bombardment of Alexandria (1882), firing 136 11-inch (280 mm) shells and 84 10-inch (250 mm). Captain Compton Domvile was in command 1884-87, when she served on the Mediterranean Station. She paid off at Portsmouth in 1887, and then returned to the Mediterranean for her final three years of active service. On 3 October 1890 HMS Temeraire became the last ship of the Royal Navy to stand into harbour under sail alone at Suda Bay, Crete. With her crew handling sails and sheets, just as they had done under Nelson, Anson, Rodney and Howe, the fleet watched as she took five hours to slowly beat into harbour. HMS Temeraire was paid off at Devonport in 1891.

She was in the Reserve Fleet until 1893, when she was downgraded to Fleet Reserve. She was dockyard Reserve in 1901, and in January the following year it was announced that she would be removed from the effective list of navy ships.[1] Captain Arthur William Edward Prothero was appointed in command on 16 July 1902, when she was commissioned as depot ship for the Devonport Fleet Reserve.[2] In 1904 she became part of the Indus stoker training establishment, and was renamed Indus II. In 1915, under the new name of Akbar, she was transferred to Liverpool as a reformatory ship. During the First World War she served as a depot ship, and was finally sold 26 May 1921.


  1. "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36658). London. 7 January 1902. p. 8.
  2. "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36822). London. 17 July 1902. p. 9.


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