HMS Agamemnon (1852)

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HMS Agamemnon
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Agamemnon
Ordered: 1849
Cost: £141,299
Launched: 22 May 1852
Completed: 1852
Maiden voyage: Sea trial in Stokes Bay, 3 May 1853
Fate: Paid off 1862; sold out of service 1870
General characteristics [1]
Type: Steam two-decker line-of-battle ship
Tonnage: 3,085 tons
Displacement: 4,614 tons
Length: 230 ft 3 in (70.18 m) (overall)
193 ft 3 in (58.90 m)(keel-line)
Beam: 55 ft 4 in (16.87 m) (extreme)
Draught: 22 ft 8 in (6.91 m) (forward)
23 ft 11 in (7.29 m) (aft)
Depth of hold: 24 ft 6 in (7.47 m)
Propulsion: 600 nhp Penn engine, 2,268 ihp (1,691 kW)[2]
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Fore mast: 61 ft (19 m) × 37 in
Main mast: 67 ft (20 m) × 40 in
Mizzen: 51 ft 6 in (15.70 m) × 27 in
Speed: 11.243 knots (20.8 km/h; 12.9 mph) under steam[2]
Complement: 860
Armament: 91 muzzle-loading smooth-bore cannon
Gun deck: 34 × 8 in/65 cwt
Main deck: 34 × 32-pdr/56 cwt
Upper deck: 22 × 32-pdr/45 cwt, 1 × 68-pdr/95 cwt

HMS Agamemnon was a Royal Navy 91-gun battleship ordered by the Admiralty in 1849 in response to the perceived threat from France by their possession of ships of the Napoléon class. She was the first British battleship to be designed and built from the keel up with installed steam power, although, due to the inefficiency of steam engines of the period, it was expected that she would spend much of her time travelling under sail power. She therefore carried a full square rig on three masts, in common with large sailing warships of the period.[3]

Launch of HMS Agamemnon, May 22, 1852.

She carried an armament of muzzle loading smooth-bore cannon, as usual for warships at this time, on two decks. She was completed in 1852.[4]

She was not the first British battleship to be completed with steam power; HMS Sans Pareil, a pre-existing square-rigged second-rate, was converted to ancillary steam power (retaining her rig) and completed in 1851.[5]


The ship is named after Agamemnon, the King of Mycenae, who led the Greek forces in the Trojan War.



Agamemnon was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet and served in the Crimean War as flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons. She participated in the bombardment of Sebastopol on 17 October 1854 and the shelling of Fort Kinburn, at the mouth of the Dnieper river, in 1855.

Transatlantic cable

In 1857 the government fitted out Agamemnon to carry 1,250 tons of telegraphic cable for the Atlantic Telegraph Company's first attempt to lay a transatlantic telegraph cable. Although this initial cable attempt was unsuccessful, the project was resumed the following year and Agamemnon and her US counterpart USS Niagara successfully joined the ends of their two sections of cable in the middle of the Atlantic on 29 July 1858.[6]

See also


  1. Lambert, "Battleships in Transition", p124.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lambert, Battleships in Transition, the Creation of the Steam Battlefleet 1815-1860 page 124.
  3. Parkes "British Battleships"
  4. Parkes "British Battleships"
  5. Parkes "British Battleships"
  6. Parkes "British Battleships"


  • Lambert, Andrew Battleships in Transition, the Creation of the Steam Battlefleet 1815-1860, published Conway Maritime Press, 1984. ISBN 0 85177 315 X
  • Parkes, Oscar British Battleships, first published Seeley Service & Co, 1957, published United States Naval Institute Press, 1990. ISBN 1-55750-075-4

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