first earl jellicoe

Throwback Thursday: The Sinking Of HMS Victoria 1893

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W. Fred Mitchell Wikipedia Image One
Drawing of HMS Victoria 1887
Author: William Frederick Mitchell
Wayback Machine Echo
Image Credit: Wikimedia

I certainly like her name! ~Vic

One-hundred, thirty years, ago, today…

[The] HMS Victoria was the lead ship in her class of two battleships of the Royal Navy. On June 22, 1893, she collided with [the] HMS Camperdown near Tripoli […] during maneuvers and quickly sank, killing 358 crew members, including the commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. One of the survivors was executive officer John Jellicoe, later commander-in-chief of the British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland.

Victoria was constructed at a time of innovation and rapid development in ship design. Her name was originally to be Renown but, this was changed to Victoria while still under construction to celebrate Queen Victoria‘s Golden Jubilee, which took place the year the ship was launched. Her arrival was accompanied by considerable publicity. She was the largest, fastest and most powerful ironclad afloat, with the heaviest guns. Despite the ship’s many impressive features, compromises in the design meant that she proved less than successful in service.

Hammersfan Wikimedia Image Two
Scale Model As Launched In Elswick 1887
Discovery Museum
Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
Image Credit: Hammersfan
May 18, 2015

A detailed model of the ship was exhibited at the Royal Navy exhibition in 1892 and another in silver was given to Queen Victoria by the officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines as a Jubilee gift.

The ship was nicknamed The Slipper (or when with her sister ship, [the] HMS Sans Pareil […] The Pair of Slippers) because of a tendency for her low fore-deck to disappear from view, in even slight seas, especially as a result of the low forward deck and raised aft superstructure…the two ships [had a] humorously perceived resemblance to the indoor footwear.

Wikipedia Summaries

In clear, sunny weather, off the coast of Syria…

Royal Navy Photo Image Three
HMS Camperdown’s Bow Damage
Source: Royal Navy
1893
Image Credit: Wikimedia

The officer in command, Vice Admiral Sir George Tryon, was a fearsome martinet with a reputation as a master of complicated ship handling. He had an elaborate plan for bringing his fleet to anchor, providing onlookers a spectacle of precision maneuvering. [Ten] battleships of the Mediterranean fleet were drawn up in two parallel columns, 1200 yards apart, heading directly away from port out to sea. Tryon then ordered a crash 180-degree turn in succession. The intention, apparently, was for each pair of ships…in order…to turn inwards and create a breathtaking view of the ships’ wakes fanning out, while the ships came about, only 400 yards from each other, [then proceeding] in the opposite direction from their original course, heading towards the land. Then, the ships were to turn 90 degrees to form one column and anchor in unison.

[The] Victoria capsized just 13 minutes after the collision, rotating to starboard with a terrible crash, as her boats and anything, free fell to the side and, as water, entering the funnels, caused explosions when it reached the boilers. With her keel uppermost, she slipped down into the water, bow first, propellers still rotating and threatening anyone near them. Most of the crew managed to abandon ship, although those in the engine room never received orders to leave their posts and were drowned. Those who escaped had to contend with the suction from the sinking ship. A circular wave spread out from it which repeatedly drew down those in the water. All manner of items broke loose from the ship as it sank and came shooting up among the men. Onlookers watched as the number of live men in the water steadily reduced.

[On August 22, 2004], the wreck of the Victoria was discovered by Lebanese-Austrian diver Christian Francis, aided by British diver Mark Ellyatt. She was found in [460 feet] of water off the coast near Tripoli […] and was located using sonar. The most amazing aspect of the wreck is that, unlike all others, she sits vertically with about two thirds of her above the sea bed. The upright position is assumed to have been caused by the huge weight of her fore guns, which would have dragged her down, bow first. The wreck has already been declared a war grave and an exclusion zone has been imposed around her, while the English and Lebanese authorities determine her legal status.

World History Project
Colin Harris

Additional:
H.M.S. Victoria (City of Art/Web Archive/12-03-2014)
Portsmouth City Centre/HMS Victoria (Memorials & Monuments In Portsmouth/Web Archive/08-24-2015)

Maritime Horrors

Christian Francis Finding HMS Victoria