HMS Challenger (1858)
Painting of Challenger by William Frederick Mitchell
|Launched:||13 February 1858|
|Decommissioned:||Chatham Dockyard, 1878|
|Fate:||Broken for scrap, 1921|
|Displacement:||2,306 long tons (2,343 t)|
|Length:||200 ft (61 m)|
|Beam:||40 ft (12 m)|
|Draught:||15 ft (4.6 m)|
|Propulsion:||Steam, 1,200 hp (900 kW) and sail|
|Range:||68,890 nmi (127,580 km) (see article)|
|Armament:||21 guns (all but 2 were removed)|
As part of the North America and West Indies Station she took part in 1862 in operations against Mexico, including the occupation of Vera Cruz. Assigned as the flagship of Australia Station in 1866 and in 1868 undertook a punitive operation against some Fijian natives to avenge the murder of a missionary and some of his dependents. She left the Australian Station in late 1870.
She was picked to undertake the first global marine research expedition: the Challenger expedition. To enable her to probe the depths, all but two of the Challenger's guns had been removed and her spars reduced to make more space available. Laboratories, extra cabins and a special dredging platform were installed. She was loaded with specimen jars, alcohol for preservation of samples, microscopes and chemical apparatus, trawls and dredges, thermometers and water sampling bottles, sounding leads and devices to collect sediment from the sea bed and great lengths of rope with which to suspend the equipment into the ocean depths. In all she was supplied with 181 miles (291km) of Italian hemp for sounding, trawling and dredging.
The Challenger carried a complement of 243 officers, scientists and crew when she embarked on her 68,890 nautical mile (127,670 km) journey. Despite the great success of the Challenger Expedition, the Challenger suffered an ignominious fate. She was commissioned as a Coast Guard and Royal Naval Reserve training ship at Harwich in July 1876.
She was paid off at the Chatham Dockyards in 1878 and remained in reserve until 1883, when she was converted into a receiving hulk in the River Medway, where she stayed until she was sold to J. B. Garnham on 6 January 1921 and broken up for her copper bottom on 1921. Nothing, apart from her figurehead, now remains. This is on display in the foyer of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. The United States Space Shuttle Challenger was named after the ship
- HMS Challenger (1858).jpg
- Bastock, pp.47-48.
- Space Shuttle Challenger at the Kennedy Space Centre website.
- Bastock, John (1988), Ships on the Australia Station, Child & Associates Publishing Pty Ltd; Frenchs Forest, Australia. ISBN 0867773480