HMS Swiftsure (1870)

HMS Swiftsure was the lead ship of the Swiftsure class battleships built in the late Victorian era. Her sister-ship was HMS Triumph.

HMS Swiftsure (1870).jpg
HMS Swiftsure sometime after she was converted to barque rig during an 1879-1881 refit.
United Kingdom
  • Swiftsure (1872-1901)
  • Orontes (1901-1908)
BuilderPalmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Jarrow
Laid down31 August 1868
Launched15 June 1870
Completed27 June 1872
FateSold for scrapping, November 1908
General characteristics
Class and typeSwiftsure class battleship
Displacement6,910 long tons (7,020 t)
Length280 ft (85 m)
Beam55 ft (17 m)
  • 24 ft 5 in (7.44 m) light
  • 26 ft 1 in (7.95 m) deep load
  • One-shaft Maudslay 2-cylinder HRCR
  • 6 boilers
  • 4,910 ihp
Sail planShip-rigged, sail area 41,900 sq ft (3,890 m2)
Speed13.75 knots (15.82 mph; 25.47 km/h) under power
  • Belt: 6–8 inches (150–200 mm)
  • Battery: 4–6 inches (100–150 mm)
  • Bulkheads: 4–5 inches (100–130 mm)

Service historyEdit

She was commissioned at Devonport in 1871, initially for trials with the Channel Fleet. She was found to be almost unbeatable as a performer under sail, being bested only by the wooden-hulled frigate Aurora. She relieved Defence in the Dardanelles in 1872, and remained in the Mediterranean until 1878.

At the Battle of Escombrera in 1873

She was notable present at Tessloniki in the aftermath of the Salonika Incident.[1] She paid off at Devonport and was given an extensive refit; being given a barque rig, torpedo equipment, a supplementary armament of 25-pounder breech loaders, and Admiral's Quarters to enable her to relieve Triumph as Pacific Station flagship, which she did from 1882 to 1885. She received new boilers at Devonport, and was then held in reserve until a second spell as Pacific flag from April 1888 until October 1890. She served thereafter in the reserve; in 1901 she became a stores hulk under the new name of Orontes. She was sold in 1908.

In the annual manoeuvres of 1893, Swiftsure asked permission from the Admiral to spread sail, as her engines were inadequate to generate the power required to produce the speed ordered. This was the last occasion in which a British battleship spread sail while travelling in company with a fleet at sea.

HMS Swiftsure during a passage from Honolulu to Esquimalt, 1883


  1. ^ Torunoğlu, Berke (2009). "Murder in Salonika, 1876 : a tale of apostasy turned into an international crisis": 67. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)