HMS Melita (1888)

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HMS Melita
Watercolour by Gaetano D'Esposito (1858-1911)
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Melita
Builder: Malta Dockyard
Cost: £60,179[1]
Laid down: 18 July 1883[1]
Launched: 20 March 1888
Commissioned: 27 October 1892[2]
Renamed: HMS Ringdove in December 1915
Fate: Sold on 9 July 1920 to the Falmouth Docks Board
Career (UK) Merchant Navy Ensign
Name: 1920: Ringdove’s Aid
1927: Restorer
Operator: 1920: Falmouth Docks Board
1927(?): Liverpool and Glasgow Salvage Association
Fate: Broken up in the second quarter of 1937
General characteristics
Class and type: Mariner-class composite screw sloop
Displacement: 970 tons
Length: 167 ft (51 m)
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Draught: 14 ft (4.3 m)[1]
Installed power: 850 hp (634 kW)
  • 2-cylinder horizontal compound expansion steam engine
  • Single screw[1]
Sail plan: Barque-rigged
Range: Approximately 2,100 nmi (3,900 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)[1]
Complement: 126

HMS Melita was a Royal Navy Mariner-class composite screw gunvessel of 8 guns.[3] She was the only Royal Navy warship ever to be built in Malta, hence the name, which is the Latin name for the island. She was renamed HMS Ringdove in 1915 and sold as a salvage vessel to Falmouth Docks Board in 1920, when her name was changed to Ringdove's Aid. She was sold again in 1927 to the Liverpool and Glasgow Salvage Association, who changed her name to Restorer, and she was finally broken up in 1937, 54 years after her keel was laid.


File:Launch of HMS Melita.JPG
Launch of HMS Melita

Designed by Nathaniel Barnaby[1], the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction, her hull was of composite construction; that is, iron keel, frames, stem and stern posts with wooden planking. She was fitted with a 2-cylinder horizontal compound expansion steam engine driving a single screw, which was also built in the Royal Naval dockyard at Valetta, Malta.[1] She was rigged with three masts, with square rig on the fore- and main-masts, making her a barque-rigged vessel. Her keel was laid at a special slipway built for her on the Senglea side of French Creek, which was still known as the "Melita Slip" into modern times.[2] Although laid down on 18 July 1883[1], work progressed slowly; the entire enterprise had been designed to employ the local workforce when the Mediterranean Fleet was absent, and their frequent presence caused work on the new vessel to be halted all too often.[2] She was launched on 20 March 1888 by Princess Victoria Melita, the twelve-year-old daughter of the Duke of Edinburgh who was Commander-in-Chief of the British Mediterranean Fleet.[2] The Army and Navy Gazette reported that

The launch of the Melita, sloop at Malta Dockyard must have been quite an event in the history of the island. Under the circumstances, it would be invidious to make any remarks about the length of time she has been building. Let us hope she will prove a staunch and useful vessel.[4]

Her entire class were re-classified from gunvessels to sloops in November 1884 long before Melita entered service.


Melita was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 27 October 1892, nearly ten years after she was laid down.[2] and served in the Mediterranean in the 1890s,[5] recommissioning in October 1895 and again in the October of 1898.[2] While serving in Melita during this period Lieutenant (later Rear Admiral) Edward Inglefield invented the Inglefield clip for quickly attaching flags to each other - they are still in use in the Royal Navy today. She was ordered to Devonport in 1901 and although it was stated by the Secretary to the Admiralty in Parliament that she would be sold,[6] instead she became a boom defence vessel at Southampton in May 1905. She was reassigned to become a salvage vessel in December 1915, and swapped names with the Redbreast-class gunboat HMS Ringdove, thereby becoming the sixth Ringdove to serve in the Royal Navy.[1]


Ringdove (ex-Melita) was sold to the Falmouth Docks Board on 9 July 1920 and renamed Ringdove’s Aid. She was sold on to the Liverpool and Glasgow Salvage Association, which in 1927 applied her name to change her name to Restorer.[7] She was broken up in the second quarter of 1937.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Winfield, Rif; Lyon, David (2003). The Sail and Steam Navy List, 1815-1889. Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1861760326. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Melita Historica New Series. 12(1998)3(323-330)
  3. "Cruisers at battleships-cruisers website". Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  4. Army and Navy Gazette, 24 March 1888
  5. "HMS Melita at the Naval Database website". Retrieved 2008-09-11. 
  6. Hansard, Commons Sitting, 13 March 1905 vol 142 cc1199-200
  7. A Brief Outline of the Foundation and Development of HM Naval Establishment at Malta. Compiled at the request of Rear Admiral G.A. Ballard CB by W A Griffiths, 1917, Unpublished typescript in the National Library, Valletta
  8. ""1137212"" (subscription required). Miramar Ship Index. R.B. Haworth. Retrieved 7 July 2009.