HMS Sans Pareil (1887)

From SpottingWorld, the Hub for the SpottingWorld network...
HMS Sans Pareil
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Sans Pareil
Builder: Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Leamouth, London
Laid down: 21 April 1885
Launched: 9 May 1887
Commissioned: 8 July 1891
Nickname: Sans Pareil and her sister ship HMS Victoria together were known as "The Pair of Slippers"[1]
Fate: Sold for scrapping 9 April 1907
General characteristics
Class and type: Victoria class battleship
Displacement: 10,470 tons
Length: 370 feet (110 m)
Beam: 70 feet (21 m)
Draught: 26 feet 9 inches (8.15 m)
Propulsion: Humphreys & Tennant triple expansion
2 shafts
8,000 ihp natural draught
14,482 ihp forced draught
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h) natural draught
17.75 knots (32.87 km/h) forced draught
Complement: 550
Armament: 2 × BL 16.25-inch (412.8 mm) guns
1 × BL 10-inch (254.0 mm) gun
12 × BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) guns
12 × 6 pounders
6 × torpedo tubes
Armour: Belt: 18 inches (460 mm)
Bulkheads: 16 inches (410 mm)
Turret: 17 inches (430 mm)
Redoubt: 18 inches (460 mm)
Forward screen to battery: 6 inches (150 mm)
After screen to battery: 3 inches (76 mm)
Conning tower: 14 inches (360 mm) sides, 2 inches (51 mm) top
Deck: 3 inches (76 mm)
Service record
Part of: Mediterranean Fleet 1892-1895
Guard ship Sheerness 1895-1904

HMS Sans Pareil was a Victoria Class battleship of the British Royal Navy of the Victorian era, her only sister-ship being HMS Victoria.

In deciding upon her design configuration the Board of Admiralty took what history shows was a retrograde step by requesting the reversion from barbettes to turrets for her main armament. She was completed slightly later than her sister-ship and was hence the last British battleship ever to be equipped with her main armament mounted in a single turret.

The choice of calibre, while influenced by the desire to mount as heavy guns as possible, was also influenced by the slow rate of production in the Woolwich yards of the 13.5-inch (340 mm) calibre guns mounted in most of the preceding Admiral class. HMS Benbow, of that class, mounted the heavier calibre guns for the same reason. Following on from this decision, and given that a turret is heavier than a barbette, it was not possible to mount the two guns separately in fore and aft positions and at the same time keep the ship within the displacement stipulated by the Board. Hence both were mounted in a single turret, placed forward of the superstructure. To provide a nominal fire to stern, a 10-inch (250 mm) gun was mounted aft of the superstructure, behind a light armour shield. This weapon fired a shell weighing 500 pounds with a muzzle velocity of 2,040 ft/s (620 m/s), and could in theory penetrate an iron plate of thickness of 20.4 inches (520 mm) at a range of 1,000 yards (910 m).

The Elswick yards also experienced delays in producing the gun of 16.25 inches (413 mm) calibre, so in fact the times between laying down and completion of the 'Admirals' and of Sans Pareil were closely comparable.

Sans Pareil was the last battleship to be designed by Nathaniel Barnaby.

Service History

She was commissioned at Chatham on 8 July 1891 to take part in manoeuvres, and then went into reserve. She was posted to the Mediterranean Fleet in February 1892, serving on this station until April 1895 when she paid off and was named as port guard ship at Sheerness. She was refitted between April 1899 and January 1900, after which she resumed duty as Sheerness guardship until January 1904. She was sold for scrap in 1907 as part of the fleet modernisation programme instigated by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Fisher.

The ship was sold for scrap, and dismantled at the dock on the River Ribble, Preston, Lancashire. A model of the ship was removed from her at that time and is thought to be either the builder's model or constructed by the ship's crew. Whilst requiring some restoration, this fine model (about 3m long) is on display in 'The Story of Preston' at Preston's Harris Museum and Library. Of particular note are the series of tall iron stanchions connected together with wire guys that line the railings and stud the upperworks of the ship. It would clearly have been impossible to safely train and fire the main guns with them in position so they must have had some non-military role. It is possible that they formed a framework for a series of awnings or other such coverings used to protect the ship from the sun during her deployment in the Mediterranean. Some of these stanchions can be seen on the image above.


  1. Hough, p. 48


  • Hough, Richard. Admirals in Collision. New York: The Viking Press, 1959. Library of Congress Card Catalog Number 59-13415.
  • Oscar Parkes, British Battleships ISBN 0-85052-604-3
  • Conway, All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905 ISBN 0-85177-133-5

ja:サンス・パレイル (戦艦)