HMS Bellerophon (1865)

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File:HMS Bellerophon (1865).jpg
HMS Bellerophon as she appeared when completed in 1866.
Career (United Kingdom) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Bellerophon
Builder: Chatham Dockyard
Laid down: 28 December 1863
Launched: 26 April 1865
Commissioned: 11 April 1866
Fate: Broken up 1922
General characteristics
Displacement: 7,551 tons
Length: 300 ft (91 m)
Beam: 56 ft 1 in (17.09 m)
Draught: 22 ft 9 in (6.93 m) light
26 ft 6 in (8.08 m) deep load
Propulsion: One-shaft Penn trunk
I.H.P.= 6,521
Ship-rigged, sail area 23,800 sq ft (2,210 m2)
Speed: 14.17 knots (26 km/h)
10 knots (19 km/h) under sail
Complement: 650

10 × 9-inch (230 mm) muzzle-loading rifles
5 × 7-inch (180 mm) muzzle-loading rifles
4 × saluting cannon
Ten BL 8-inch (203.2 mm) Mk III guns
4 × 6 in (152 mm) breech loaders
6 × 4 in (102 mm) breech loaders

2 × torpedo carriages
Armour: Belt 6 inches (150 mm) amidships
5 inches (130 mm) fore and aft
Battery 6 inches (150 mm)
Bulkheads 5 inches (130 mm)
Upper deck 0.5 inches (13 mm)
Main deck under battery 1-inch (25 mm)

HMS Bellerophon was a Victorian central battery ironclad battleship of the Royal Navy; she was a major step forward in design technology as compared to previous classes in terms of engine power, armament, armour, hull design and seaworthiness.[citation needed]

In this ship, designed by Sir Edward Reed, the power-to-weight ratio was increased; the long rows of guns on the broadside were replaced by a small number of guns, centrally placed, of the largest possible calibre; the armour was increased in thickness but reduced in length, and a sharp beak ram was combined with a classical style plough bow.

For the first time since the construction of HMS Warrior the basic method of construction of her hull was altered. The usage of longitudinal girders to impart strength and resistance to the hull was discarded, and a "bracket frame" system devised by Nathaniel Barnaby was adopted. This system allowed for the inclusion into the ship of a double bottom, with clear survival implications if damaged, while at the same time allowing for a saving in weight so that 100 feet (30 m) of the hull of Bellerophon weighted 1,123 tons, as against 1,303 tons for 100 feet (30 m) of HMS Black Prince. This double bottom had the added advantage of allowing the engine to be carried higher, raising the centre of gravity of the whole ship and making her thereby a steadier gun platform.[citation needed] Unlike earlier classes, Bellerophon's bow and stern had a "U" shaped profile, giving increased buoyancy at the ends noticeably absent in some earlier battleships.[citation needed]

Bellerophon carried the first balanced rudder in Royal Navy service. Full helm could be applied by eight men in about 27 seconds, whereas in HMS Warrior it took forty men 90 seconds to perform the same manoevre.[citation needed]

She was the first ironclad to carry the 9-inch (230 mm) muzzle-loading rifle, and the only broadside ironclad to have the entire muzzle-loading armament replaced by breech-loaders.[citation needed]

Service history

She was commissioned at Chatham, and served in the Channel Fleet until 1871. She collided with HMS Minotaur in 1868 with minimal damage. She served with the Mediterranean Fleet from 1871 to 1872, and then paid off for refit. She was flagship on the North America station until 1881. An extensive refit, including new boilers and new armament was followed by a further period on the North America station until 1892, when she paid off at Plymouth. She was re-commissioned as port guardship at Pembroke until 1903. Bellerophon was converted into a stokers' training ship in 1904, and re-named HMS Indus III. When sold in 1922 she had completed 56 years service.


  • Roger Chesneau and Eugene M. Kolesnik, ed., Conway's All The Worlds Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1979), ISBN 0-85177-133-5

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