June 09, 2009

The Wreck of HMS Victoria

When commissioned in 1890, HMS Victoria was one of the most powerful ships in the world. A test bed for several new technologies she nevertheless represented in some ways a technological and tactical dead end being intended to fight end on with an eye towards ramming. To that end her main armament was concentrated forward and consisted of two huge experimental 16.25 inch guns in a massive armored Coles turret.  There was also a very heavy secondary armament of 6 inch and smaller weapons as well as some torpedo tubes. Finally there was a massive armored ram below the waterline. All that armor and armament forward on a 10,000 ton ship meant that freeboard was low at the bow and the ship was considered best suited to the Mediterranean squadron. She was very well equipped as a flagship however and as such bore Admiral George Tryon's flag on 22 June 1893 when, off the coast of Syria, the Mediterranean fleet was engaged in maneuvers.

  A miscommunication via signal flags resulted in the battleship HMS Camperdown ending up on a collision course with Victoria. The Helmsmen of both vessels waited to get permission to change course, by which time it was too late to avoid a collision and Camperdowns fearsome ram pierced Victorias bow. Damage control efforts were hampered in part by Watertight hatches that were unable to be fully dogged due to paint and rust as well as bulkheads being pierced for ventilation and wiring. HMS Victoria sank in 13 minutes with the loss of 358 men including Admiral Tryon.

The Wreck  has now been found 500 feet beneath the Mediterranean.

Its in surprisingly good shape.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:13 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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