HMS Devastation (1871)

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
HMS Devastation in 1896.
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Builder: Portsmouth Dockyard
Laid down: 12 November 1869
Launched: 12 July 1871
Commissioned: 19 April 1873
Fate: Scrapped May 1908
General characteristics

9,180 tons standard

13000 tons maximum
Length: 285 ft (87 m) p/p 307 ft (94 m) o/a
Beam: 62 ft 3 in (18.97 m)
Draught: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Propulsion: As built: 2-cylinder Penn Trunk engine, 8 rectangular 30 psi (210 kPa) boilers, 6.640 ihp = 13.84 kts
From 1890: Triple Expansion, cylindrical boilers
Speed: 14 knots (26 km/h) maximum (following 1890 modernisation)
Complement: 410

As built :
Four 35 ton 12 in (305 mm) muzzle loading rifles
From 1890 :

Four BL 10-inch (254.0 mm) guns, six 6 pounder (2.7 kg), eight 3 pounders. Two 14 in Torpedo Launchers added 1879

HMS Devastation was the first of two Devastation-class mastless turret ships built for the British Royal Navy. This was the first class of ocean-going capital ship that did not carry sails, and the first whose entire main armament was mounted on top of the hull rather than inside it. For their first fifteen years, they were the most powerful warships in the world.

File:HMS Devastation (1871) 12-inch gun turret interior.jpg
An interior view of one of Devastation's two main battery turrets, showing a rear view of the turret's two 12-inch (305 mm) 35-ton muzzle-loading rifles.

Devastation was built in the 1870s, a time in which steam power was well established among the world's larger naval powers. However, most ships built at this time were equipped not only with a steam engine but also with masts for auxiliary power. The presence of masts also led to a tendency to mount gun turrets as broadsides. Devastation, designed by Sir Edward J. Reed, represented a change from this pattern when she was built without masts and when her primary armament, two turrets each with two 12-inch (305 mm) muzzle-loading guns, was placed on the top of the hull, allowing each turret a 280 degree arc of fire. The ship could attain a speed of 13.84 knots (25.6 km/h) and had a range of 5,500 nautical miles (8,850 km), each of which was considered good at the time. In 1891, the 12-inch guns were replaced with 10-inch breech-loading guns and she was refitted with new engines.

She was deployed to serve in the waters of the United Kingdom and the Mediterranean Sea. Later, she was refitted again and assigned to the First Reserve Fleet based in Scotland. The ship was broken up in 1908.

Popular Culture

File:HMS Devastation.jpg
heraldic crest used on stationery

HMS Devastation is familiar as the ship depicted on "England's Glory" matchboxes.

Her crest was also issued by publishers for use in Monogram and Crest Albums - a popular collecting hobby of the second half of the 19th century.


  • 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

Sandler, Stanley, "Emergence of the Modern Capital Ship (Associated University Pressed, Neward, Del and London, 1979)

es:HMS Devastation (1871)