HMS Melita was a Royal Navy Mariner-class composite screw sloop of 8 guns, launched in 1888 and commissioned in 1892. She was the only significant Royal Navy warship ever to be built in Malta Dockyard,[Note 2] She was renamed HMS Ringdove in 1915 as a salvage vessel and in 1920 was sold to the Falmouth Docks Company, which changed her name to Ringdove's Aid. She was sold again in 1926 to the Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association, renamed Restorer, and finally broken up in 1937, 54 years after her keel was laid.

Watercolour, 1896, by Gaetano Esposito
United Kingdom
NameHMS Melita
NamesakeMalta (Latin)
BuilderMalta Dockyard
Laid down18 July 1883[2]
Launched20 March 1888
Commissioned27 October 1892[1]
RenamedRingdove in December 1915
Reclassifiedsalvage vessel 1915
FateSold on 9 July 1920 to the Falmouth Docks Company
Merchant Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
  • 1920: Ringdove’s Aid
  • 1927: Restorer
IdentificationOfficial Number: 137212 (from 1921)[3]
FateBroken up in the second quarter of 1937
General characteristics
Class and typeMariner-class composite screw sloop
Tonnage554 GRT, 214 NRT (from 1921)[3]
Displacement970 tons
Length167 ft (51 m)
Beam32 ft (9.8 m)
Draught14 ft (4.3 m)[2]
Installed power850 ihp (630 kW)
  • 2-cylinder horizontal compound-expansion steam engine
  • Single screw[2]
Sail planBarque-rigged
Speed11+12 knots (21.3 km/h)
RangeApproximately 2,100 nmi (3,900 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)[2]

Construction edit

Launch of Melita

The last of six 8-gun Mariner-class gunvessels designed by Nathaniel Barnaby,[2] the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction, her hull was of composite construction; that is, iron keel, frames, stem and stern posts with wooden planking. She was fitted with a 2-cylinder horizontal compound expansion steam engine driving a single screw, which was also built in the Malta Dockyard.[2] She was rigged with three masts, with square rig on the fore- and main-masts, making her a barque-rigged vessel. Her keel was laid at a special slipway built for her on the Senglea side of French Creek, which was still known as the "Melita Slip" into modern times.[1] Although laid down on 18 July 1883,[2] work progressed slowly; the entire enterprise had been designed to employ the local workforce when the Mediterranean Fleet was absent, and the fleet's frequent presence caused work on the new vessel to be halted all too often.[1] She was launched as Melita, the Latin name for the Malta, on 20 March 1888 by Princess Victoria Melita, the twelve-year-old daughter of the Duke of Edinburgh who was Commander-in-Chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet.[1] The Army and Navy Gazette reported that

The launch of the Melita, sloop at Malta Dockyard must have been quite an event in the history of the island. Under the circumstances, it would be invidious to make any remarks about the length of time she has been building. Let us hope she will prove a staunch and useful vessel.[4]

By the time she was launched, her entire class had been re-classified from gunvessels to sloops[2]

Naval career edit

Melita was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 27 October 1892, nearly ten years after she was laid down.[1] During the 1890s she served in the Mediterranean,[5] recommissioning in October 1895, and again in October 1898.[1] While serving in Melita during this period Lieutenant (later Rear Admiral) Edward Inglefield invented the Inglefield clip for quickly attaching flags to each other - they are still in use in the Royal Navy today. In 1896 she served off the Sudanese coast, as part of the preparations for the reconquest of the Sudan.[6] While under Commander Ian M. Fraser she was as special service vessel at Constantinople when in November 1901 she was ordered to Devonport,[7] where she arrived in late December to be paid off 17 January 1902.[8]

Although it was stated by the Secretary to the Admiralty in Parliament that she would be sold,[9] instead she became a boom defence vessel at Southampton in May 1905. She was converted to a salvage vessel in December 1915, and swapped names with the Redbreast-class gunboat Ringdove, thereby becoming the sixth Ringdove to serve in the Royal Navy.[2]

HMS Melita

Civilian salvage vessel edit

Ringdove (ex-Melita) was sold to the Falmouth Docks Company on 9 July 1920, passing to Falmouth Docks & Engineering Company Ltd as Ringdove’s Aid the following year.[2][3] In 1923 she was fitted with a new engine made by Samuel White & Co. of East Cowes, Isle of Wight. This was a 2-cylinder compound steam engine of 1200 IHP, driving a new "washless" propeller.[10][11]

The ship was sold in 1926 to the Liverpool & Glasgow Salvage Association, which renamed her Restorer in 1927.[12][13]

Restorer was broken up in the second quarter of 1937.[14]

Notes edit

  1. ^ The rest of the class had 38cwt versions
  2. ^ Two 2-gun 94-ton schooners were also built by German of Malta in the 1850s

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Melita Historica New Series. 12(1998)3(323-330)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Winfield, R.; Lyon, D. (2004). The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815–1889. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-032-6. OCLC 52620555.
  3. ^ a b c Mercantile Navy List. London: Spottiswood, Ballantyne. 1 January 1923. p. 446. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  4. ^ Army and Navy Gazette, 24 March 1888
  5. ^ "HMS Melita at the Naval Database website". Archived from the original on 5 May 2006. Retrieved 11 September 2008.
  6. ^ Joslin, Litherland and Simpkin. British Battles and Medals. p. 181. Published Spink, London. 1988.
  7. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times. No. 36617. London. 20 November 1901. p. 10.
  8. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times. No. 36643. London. 20 December 1901. p. 5.
  9. ^ Hansard, Commons Sitting, 13 March 1905 vol 142 cc1199-200
  10. ^ "Washless Propeller: Feature of Falmouth Salvage Ship". Western Morning News. No. 19755. Plymouth: The British Newspaper Archive (subscription). 9 July 1923. p. 3. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Cornish Salvage Steamer". Western Morning News. No. 19757. Plymouth: The British Newspaper Archive (subscription). 11 July 1923. p. 3. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  12. ^ "The Salvage Association". Shipbuilding and Shipping Record. No. Volume 53, Part 1. 1939. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Notices". Western Morning News. No. 20968. Plymouth: British Newspaper Archive (subscription). 7 June 1927. p. 1. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  14. ^ "1137212". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 7 July 2009.

External links edit