HMS Gladiator (1896)

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HMS Gladiator was a second class protected cruiser of the Royal Navy, launched on 8 December 1896 at Portsmouth, England. [1] She was an Arrogant-class cruiser rated at 5,750 long tons (5,840 t) displacement, with a crew of 250 officers and men. She had three distinctive stacks amidships with a conspicuous bridge well forward.


Raising of HMS Gladiator

During a late snowstorm off the Isle of Wight on 25 April 1908, Gladiator was heading into port when she struck the outbound American steamer SS Saint Paul. Visibility was down to 800 yd (730 m), but the strong tides and gale force winds required both ships to maintain high speeds to maintain steerage.

Lookouts on each vessel saw the approaching danger off Point Hurst. The American ship attempted to pass to the port side, the standard procedure in such a situation. Lacking room for the maneuver, Captain William Lumsden choose to turn the opposite direction, ensuring a collision. Both ships attempted to slow but both were exceptionally heavy (the Saint Paul was built for conversion in wartime to a cruiser). They hit at about 3 kn (3.5 mph; 5.6 km/h). The Saint Paul struck Gladiator just after her engine room.

The glancing blow ripped open the sides of both ships. The British warship foundered at once, while the American was able to remain afloat and launch lifeboats. Several men were also saved by Royal Engineers from nearby Fort Victoria. A total of 27 sailors were lost [2], but only three bodies were recovered.[citation needed]

Gladiator then settled into shallow water and was salvaged five months later. The hulk was deemed un-repairable and she was struck off the lists of duty and sold for her scrap value. A court of inquiry reprimanded Capt. Lumsden in July 1908.


  1. The Times (London), Wednesday, 9 December 1896, p.8
  2. IoW Council History of Fort Victoria

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