Alert class sloop

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HMS Torch
HMS Torch
Class overview
Name:Alert-class sloops
Builders:Sheerness Royal Dockyard
Operators: Royal Navy
In commission:1894–1926
General characteristics
Type: Screw Steel Sloop
Displacement: 960 tons
Length: 180 ft (55 m)
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Draught: 12 ft (3.7 m)
Installed power: 1,400 horsepower (1,044 kW)[1]
Propulsion: Three-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engine; single screw[2]
Sail plan: As built
Barque rigged
After about 1900
Brigantine rigged
Complement: 107[1]
Armour: Protective deck of 1 in (2.5 cm) to 1.5 in (3.8 cm) steel over machinery and boilers.[2]
File:HMS Torch (1894) AWM A02550.jpeg
HMS Torch rigged as a brigantine circa 1900

The Alert class was a two-ship class of 6-gun[3] screw steel sloops [3] built for the Royal Navy in 1894.


Alert and Torch were constructed of steel to a design by William White, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction.[2] They were powered by a three-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engine developing 1,400 horsepower and driving a single screw.[2]

Sail Plan

The class was originally designed and built with barque-rigged sails, but both ships were re-rigged as brigantines before 1900 by removing the main yards.


Both ships of the class were armed with four 4-inch and four 3-pounder guns, and three machine guns.[1]


Name Ship Builder Launched Fate
HMS Alert Sheerness Royal Dockyard 28 December 1894 Lent to the civil authority at Basra in 1906, and sold to them in 1926 for use as a pilot vessel. She was broken up in 1949[3][4]
HMS Torch Sheerness Royal Dockyard 28 December 1894 Transferred to New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy on 16 August 1917 as Training Ship Firebrand.[5] Renamed Rama. Ran aground on 17 November 1924 and abandoned[6][3]

Operational Lives

Screw sloops of Alert's type had been obsolete for many years, but they remained ideal for patrolling Britain's far flung maritime empire.

HMS Alert

Alert served on the North America and West Indies Station, including a period in late 1902 and early 1903 when, under Commodore Montgomerie in HMS Charybdis, she enforced a blockade of the Venezuelan coast. During this period she captured the Venezuelan Zumbador. She was laid up for a time at Bermuda, but after 1910 served on the East Indies Station in the Persian Gulf, employed in the suppression of gun-running. She was sold to the civil authority at Basra in 1926 for use as a pilot vessel. She was broken up in 1949. [3][1]

HMS Torch

Torch joined the Australian Station in February 1897, serving in New Zealand waters in 1898 and 1899.[6] After a refit, she recommissioned at Sydney on 29 November 1913, and in August 1914 became part of the New Zealand Division of the Eastern Fleet. On 16 August 1917 she was transferred to the New Zealand Government as the Training Ship Firebrand.[5] She was sold, renamed Rama and fitted out as a refrigerated ship for the Chatham Islands fishing trade. While approaching the Chatham Islands on 17 November 1924 she struck an uncharted rock, and was beached and abandoned.[6]

See also