HMS Phaeton (1883)

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The Phaeton's sister ship Leander in 1897
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Phaeton
Ordered: 1880 [1]
Builder: Napier, Glasgow [2]
Laid down: 14 June 1880 [2]
Launched: 27 February 1883 [2][3]
Commissioned: 20 April 1886 [2][4]
Decommissioned: 28 April 1903 (as sea-going warship) [5]
Out of service: 1913
Renamed: TS Indefatigable 1913
Reinstated: 1941 as Carrick II
Fate: Sold for breaking up 1947 [2][3]
General characteristics
Class and type: Leander-class second-class partially protected cruiser
Displacement: 4,300 tons (4,400 tonnes) load.[2][3]
Tons burthen: 3,750 tons (B.O.M.).[6]
Length: 300 ft (91.44 m) between perpendiculars.[2]
315 ft 96.01 m) overall.[2][3]
Beam: 46 ft (14.02 m).[2][3]
Draught: 20 feet 8 inches (6.30 m) aft, 19 feet 6 inches (5.94 m) forward
with 950 tons (970 tonnes) of coal and complete with stores and provisions.[7]
Propulsion: Sails and screw. Two shafts. Two cylinder horizontal direct acting compound engines, 12 cylindrical boilers, 5,500 IHP.[2][3]
Speed: 16.5 knots designed [2]
17-18 knots after funnels raised [2]
Range: 11,000 nmi at 10 knots.[2]
725 tons coal normal, 1000 tons maximum = c. 6,000 nmi at economical speed.[8]
Complement: (1885): 275 [7][9]

10 x 6-inch Breechloading guns
8 1-inch Nordenfelt guns
2 5-barrel and 2 2-barrel 0.45-in machineguns

4 above water torpedo dischargers.[7]
Armour: 1.5 in (40mm) steel armoured deck (with sloped sides) over 165 ft.[2][8]
1.5 in (40mm) gun shields.[2][8]
Notes: Carried 2 second class torpedo boats.[7]
Carried 7-pdr and 9-pdr boat guns and field guns.[7]

HMS Phaeton was a second class cruiser of the Leander class which served with the Royal Navy.


She was built by Napier in Glasgow, being laid down in 1880, launched in 1883 and completed in 1886.[10]

Acceptance Trials

"The Phaeton has been tried in the Solent. At the previous six hour' full power trial of the Phaeton there was a difficulty experienced in maintaining steam from want of draught in the stokeholds. (Only the Leander of this class has been fitted with fans for forced draught.) The funnels were afterwards raised from 60 ft (18 m) to 68 ft (21 m) (the same height as those of the first-class cruisers), while the space between the firebars was increased. The effect of these changes at the trial was very marked, the engines being provided with an abundance of steam without their being any necessity for resorting to the blast. The trial was intended to have been for six hours, but during the eleventh half hour, the expansion gear of the starboard engine heated and snapped, and the run was brought to a premature close. As, however the machinery worked without any hitch of any kind, and was developing power largely in excess of the Admiralty contract, it was agreed by the officers superintending the trial to accept the means of the five hours as a sufficient test of performance. These afforded the following data: Steam in the boilers, 85.35 lbs [588.5 kPa]; vacuum, 25.3 in (640 mm) starboard and 24.8 in (630 mm) port; revolutions, 100; mean pressures, starboard, 43.7 and 11 lb. [301 kPa and 76 kPa] and 43 and 11.7 lb. [300 kPa and 81 kPa] port; collective horsepower, 5,574.88 ihp (4,157.19 kW) or nearly 600 horses [450 kW] beyond the contract. The mean speed registered by runs on the measured mile was 18.684 knots (34.603 km/h), which was remarkable, notwithstanding her light draught. The coal consumption did not exceed 2.39 lbs. per unit of power per hour [1.45 kg coal per hour per kiloWatt]."[11]

However by September 1886, it was decided that "due caution was not observed in certain particulars by those responsible for taking over the engines of the Phaëton from the contractors. The several officers concerned have been censured by the Admiralty, and the chief engineer has been removed from the ship."[12]

Sea-going career


The December 1885 Navy List lists her as at Chatham, with her commissioned and warrant officers borne in the Pembroke as follows:[13]

Post Name Date of appointment
Lieutenant (N) William Way 29 July 1885
Chief Engineer Charles Ware 22 September 1885
Gunner William I. Gale 1 November 1885
Boatswain William Blunt 13 December 1883
Carpenter John Lakey 16 January 1883

In the 1880s, what normally happened with a ship was, "the staff necessary for the efficient maintenance of the machinery is supplied by the Steam Reserve, and when orders are received to commission the ship the men who have been employed upon her are as far as possible selected to compose her engine-room staff. In the case of the Phaëton the men who had been so employed had, from various causes, been drafted away before the order was received to commission her, with the exception of three stokers who formed part of her staff. None of the accidents that subsequently occurred in the ship can be attributed to this cause."[12]


The Phaeton was commissioned at Chatham by Captain William H.C. St. Clair, on 20 April 1886.[14] Initially she was listed as on particular service. On 25 May 1886, the Phaeton had an accident with a four-barrelled Nordenfeld gun whilst the crew were at quarters and engaged at target practice. The Nordenfeldt gun had been in use, and the crew of seamen who had been engaged in firing it handed it over to a crew of Royal Marines whilst charged, instead of removing the case of cartridges. The Marine crew were engaged in training the gun fore and aft, when someone touched the lever and fired the gun, which swept the deck, at that time crowded with men, four of whom were wounded. At least four cartridges were in the gun, and the bullets went through two iron beams, and two of the ship's bulkheads. The wounded men were not struck by bullets; they were hit by splinters from the bulkheads. At the time of the occurrence the Phaeton was about a hundred miles from Plymouth, for which port she made, and on arrival at Plymouth on 27 May three of the wounded were sent to the Royal Naval Hospital for treatment:[15]

  • Allen, Able seaman, superficial neck wound ;
  • Shaddick, William, boy, contused wound over spine ; and
  • Gray, severe injuries to face, with loss of front teeth.[15]

In addition the steam steering gear broke down on 25 May.[15] The Phaeton left Plymouth on 27 May to continue her cruise.[15] By June 1887 was serving in the Mediterranean.[16]

In her initial months of service, the Phaeton suffered from a series of break-downs of her engines. For instance in one accident a piston-rod broke due to a manufacturing defect, and when it broke, cracked one of the cylinders.[12]

The January 1887 Navy List listed her commissioned and warrant officers as follows:[14]

Post Name Date of appointment
Captain William H.C. St. Clair 23 November 1886
Lieutenant (G) Robert S. Lowry 20 April 1886
Charles S. Elliot 20 April 1886
Hon, Harold A. Denison 10 August 1886
Herbert M. Wyatt 9 September 1886
Robert H. Anstruther 20 April 1886
Staff Commander William Way 29 July 1885
Fleet Surgeon George H. Madeley 20 April 1886
Fleet Paymaster Horatio W.P. Kooystra 20 April 1886
Chief Engineer Ivie A. Couper 14 August 1886
Assistant Paymaster John H. Coulton 20 April 1886
Engineer Arthur J. London 30 June 1886
Assistant Engineer William J. Anderson 6 April 1886
Ernest M. Thomson 20 April 1886
Gunner William I. Gale 1 November 1885
George J. Flux
(in lieu of a Sub-Lieutenant)
14 July 1886
Boatswain William Blunt 13 December 1883
Abraham Tuck 10 August 1886
James K. Morgan (act) 20 April 1886
Michael Sweeney (act) 18 October 1886
Carpenter John Lakey 16 January 1883


Phaeton was recommissioned at Malta by Captain Reginald N. Custance on 18 March 1890.[17] The January 1887 Navy List listed her commissioned and warrant officers as follows:[17]

Post Name Date of appointment
Captain Reginald N. Custance 10 January 1890
Lieutenant Arthur H. Smith-Dorrien 2 January 1889
(N) Evelyn R. Le Marchant 19 February 1890
George S. Walsh 19 February 1890
Robert H. Anstruther 20 April 1886
(G) Richard F. Phillimore 19 February 1890
Lieutenant R.N.R. George L. King (act) 27 June 1890
Lieutenant Marine Godfrey E. Mathews 4 March 1890
Staff Surgeon Richard J. Barry 15 September 1889
Paymaster George C.L.B. Townesend 10 February 1890
Chief Engineer Thomas New
Sub-Lieutenant R.N.R. John Biddlecombe (act) 28 February 1890
Surgeon William G. Stott M.B. 10 February 1890
Engineer David J. Bennett 10 February 1890
Assistant Engineer Charles E.H. Osbourne 30 April 1889
Alfred Whitmarsh (proby) 19 December 1889
Gunner Henry G. Keenor 19 February 1890
Boatswain Thomas Sutton 19 February 1890
(T) George Kedge 21 February 1890
Richard Fleming 19 February 1890
Earl Spencer 19 February 1890
Carpenter William Banbury 17 January 1890
Clerk William J.P. Pettit 10 February 1890


The Phaeton was in ordinary at Chatham[dubious ] from 1893 to 1896.[18]

1896 annual manoeuvres

The Phaeton was commissioned for the 1896 annual manoeuvres on 8 July 1896, and paid off on 19 August.[19]


Phaeton was commissioned at Devonport on 8 June 1897.[20] She was present at the Naval Review on 26 June 1897 at Spithead in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.[15] By November 1897 she was serving on the Pacific station. At this time the British naval force on the Pacific Station consisted of:[21]

On 1 August 1900, the Phaeton narrowly avoided colliding with the USS Iowa coming up the straits approaching Victoria (British Columbia) in a dense fog.[23]

The July 1898 Navy List listed her commissioned and warrant officers as follows:[24]

Post Name Date of appointment
Captain Francis G. Kirby 8 June 1897
Lieutenant George C. Cayley 8 June 1897
(N) Guy M. Marston 8 June 1897
Christopher P. Metcalfe 8 June 1897
Edgar R. Morant 8 June 1897
Stanley V. Ellis 12 May 1898
Lieutenant R.N.R. Edward Reed (act) 9 May 1898
Lieutenant Marine Francis J.W. Harvey 8 June 1897
Staff Surgeon Henry Harries 8 June 1897
Chief Engineer Frederick J. Flood 8 June 1897
Paymaster Montague Stephens 8 June 1897
Sub-Lieutenant R.N.R. Michael H. Wilding 8 June 1897
Engineer George T. Paterson 8 June 1897
Assistant Engineer John C. Jenkins 8 June 1897
Gunner (T) William J. Crothers 8 June 1897
Boatswain Tom Glading 23 June 1897
Thomas Hutchinson 19 February 1897
Carpenter John A. Brown 17 July 1897
Assistant Clerk Thomas R. Waterhouse 21 August 1897


Phaeton was re-commissioned at Esquimalt (Canada) on 10 October 1900, to serve on Pacific Station.[25][26] She paid off on 28 April 1903.[26] This commission was the subject of a book in the 'Log' series, entitled: HMS Phaeton, Pacific Station, 1900-1903.

The March 1901 Navy List listed her commissioned and warrant officers as follows:[25]

Post Name Date of appointment
Captain Ernest J. Fleet 10 October 1900
Lieutenant (G) Frederick A. Whitehead 10 October 1900
(N) George N. Tomlin 10 October 1900
Osmond J. Prentis 10 October 1900
Charles L. Brendon 10 October 1900
Lieutenant R.M. Harold Ozane 10 October 1900
Chaplain Rev. John S. Borrowdale 1 January 1901
Staff Surgeon George H. Foote M.D. 10 October 1900
Paymaster Robert F.C. Eames 10 October 1900
Chief Engineer George T. Kerswell 10 October 1900
Sub-Lieutenant Vernon S. Rashleigh 1 December 1900
Sub-Lieutenant R.N.R. Charles H. Oxlade (act) 10 October 1900
Assistant Engineer Clifford Bowle 10 October 1900
Stanley M. Russell (proby) 10 October 1900
Gunner (T) Herbert T. Leggett 10 October 1900
Boatswain Michael Ahern 10 October 1900
William G. Beer (act) 10 October 1900
Carpenter Samuel Wills 10 October 1900
Clerk Cyril F.R. Graham 10 October 1900

Harbour service and training hulk

The Phaeton did harbour service at Devonport from 1904 to 1913, [3] where she was used for training stokers and seamen. Her officers were borne on the books of HMS Vivid.[27]

In 1913 her "stripped out hull" was sold for £15,000 to a charitable institution that ran a training ship for boys based at Liverpool. The charity was founded in 1864 by John Clint, a Liverpool shipowner, with the aim of training the sons of sailors, destitute and orphaned boys to become merchant seamen. The charity's first training ship was the former HMS Indefatigable, an old wooden frigate which served the charity as TS Indefatigable from 1864 to 1914. Mr Frank Bibby, gave the charity money to buy the Phaeton and to refit her at Birkenhead as a training ship. The Phaeton was renamed TS Indefatigable and moored off New Ferry in Liverpool on 15 January 1914. The previous Indefatigable had been condemned by the Inspector of Training Ships in 1912 as unfit,[28] and was towed to the West Float at Birkenhead on 5 January 1914, and sold for scrap on 26 March.[3][29][30] The figurehead of William IV from the old Indefatigable was transferred to the ex-Phaeton.[28] An Admiralty warrant for a Blue Ensign defaced with a liver bird for TS Indefatigable was issued on 31 December 1927.[31]

"Life on board was tough. Breakfast consisted of one slice of bread and margarine washed down with 'cocoa flush' which had been prepared in the galley by dropping solid slabs of cocoa, unsweetened, in a cauldron of boiling water. The liquid was drawn off into kettles which were lowered to the mess decks where the boys drank it from basins. Cups were never seen on board! Dinner consisted of varieties of 'buzz'. The was pea buzz, Irish buzz and mystery buzz. Buzzes were neither soups nor stews but had the characteristics of both and were served in the same basins as the cocoa flush. A small pile of broken ship's biscuits was placed beside each plate. Boiled cod was the 'treat' on Fridays!"[28]

The Phaeton served as TS Indefatigable until 1941, when due to German bombing of English towns, both the TS Indefatigable and the TS Conway were ordered to be evacuated. The charity committee decided that the time had come to move the training ship to a shore base, it moved for a time to a temporary base in North Wales. The Indefatigable (ex-Phaeton) was then sold to a Preston firm for scrap.[29][32]

However, she was repurchased by the Admiralty in 1941 and renamed Carrick II, and served as an accommodation hulk at Gourock throughout World War II.[3][29]

In 1946 she was sold for breaking up to Wards in Preston, where she arrived on 24 January 1947.[3][29]

See also


  1. Lyon & Winfield The Sail and Steam Navy List, All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815-1889 pages 270-271
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, page 75.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Leander class
  4. The Phaeton's first logbook covers 20 April 1886 to 2 November 1887, and is UK National Archives catalogue reference ADM 53/14963
  5. The Phaeton's final logbook covers 25 March 1902 to 28 April 1903, and is UK National Archives catalogue reference ADM 53/24832
  6. Navy List,December 1884, page 230.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Log of HMS Leander 29 May 1885 – 22 May 1886, UK National Archives file ADM 53/14282
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Jane, All the World's Fighting Ships, 1900, page 102.
  9. Conway's lists her complement as 278, which appears to be an error. See Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, page 75.
  10. Morris, Douglas, Cruisers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies
  11. Lord Brassey, The Naval Annual, 1886, pages 199-200.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Commons Sitting - Questions NAVY—H.M.S. "PHAETON. HC Deb 03 September 1886 vol 308 cc1193-5". Hansard: 3 September 1886.ëton. 
  13. Navy List December 1885, page 229
  14. 14.0 14.1 Navy List, January 1887, corrected to December 1886, page 223
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Naval Database - Phaeton, 1883
  16. Navy List, July 1887, corrected to 20 June 1887, page 223.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Navy List July 1890, corrected to 20th June 1890, page 239
  18. The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has no logs for the Phaëton for the period 26 August 1893 to 7 July 1896.
  19. The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has a log for the Phaeton for the period 8 July to 19 August 1896, catalogue reference ADM 53/14971.
  20. The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has logs for the Phaeton covering 8 June 1897 to 1 September 1900, catalogue references ADM 53/14972 to 14975.
  21. Navy List 1898, corrected to 13th December 1897, page 193.
  22. Navy List 1898, corrected to 13th December 1897, page 191. Rear-Admiral Henry St. L.B. Palliser was appointed 5 March 1896, and assumed command 19 June 1896.
  23. New York Times, Warships Nearly Collide; H.M.S. Phaeton and the Iowa Only Just Escape a Disaster., 2 August 1900.
  24. Navy List, July 1898, corrected to 18 June 1898, page 279.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Navy List, March 1901, corrected to 18 February 1901, page 290-291
  26. 26.0 26.1 The Catalogue of the UK National Archives has logs for the Phaeton covering 10 October 1900 to 28 April 1903, catalogue references ADM 53/14976 and 24832
  27. Navy List, July 1911, pages 395 and 420.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Nuffield Centre, History - A short history of Plas Llanfair and of the training centre ‘Indefatigable’.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 Indefatigable Old Boys Association
  30. E. Chambré Hardman Archive - Training Ship Indefatigable - TS Indefatigable events and eventual closure
  31. Training Ship Indefatigable
  32. E. Chambré Hardman Archive - Training Ship Indefatigable

Logbooks in the UK National Archives

Catalogue Number Start End
ADM 53/14963 20 April 1886 2 November 1887
ADM 53/14964 3 November 1887 23 July 1888
ADM 53/14965 24 July 1888 9 January 1890
ADM 53/14966 10 January 1890 17 March 1890
ADM 53/14967 18 March 1890 9 March 1891
ADM 53/14968 10 March 1891 28 February 1892
ADM 53/14969 1 March 1892 20 February 1893
ADM 53/14970 21 February 1893 25 August 1893
ADM 53/14971 8 July 1896 19 August 1896
ADM 53/14972 8 June 1897 14 June 1898
ADM 53/14973 15 June 1898 7 June 1899
ADM 53/14974 8 June 1899 22 May 1900
ADM 53/14975 23 May 1900 1 September 1900
ADM 53/14976 10 October 1900 24 March 1902
ADM 53/24832 25 March 1902 28 April 1903

da:HMS Phaeton (1883)