HMS Sparrowhawk (1856)

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Sparrowhawk's sister-ship, Surprise
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Sparrowhawk
Ordered: 26 July 1855
Builder: Young, Magnay & Co., Limehouse
Engines by Humphrys, Tennant & Dykes
Laid down: 6 August 1855
Launched: 9 February 1856
Completed: By 7 April 1856
Fate: Sold in 1872
General characteristics
Class and type: Vigilant-class second class despatch/gunvessel
Displacement: 860 tons
Tons burthen: 669 79/94 bm
Length: 180 ft (54.9 m) (overall)
160 ft 7.5 in (49.0 m) (keel)
Beam: 28 ft 4 in (8.6 m)
Depth of hold: 14 ft (4.27 m)
Installed power: 726 indicated horsepower (541 kW)
  • 2-cylinder horizontal single-expansion steam engine
  • Single screw
Sail plan: Barque-rigged
Speed: 11 kn (20 km/h) under steam
Complement: 80

As designed

As completed:

HMS Sparrowhawk was a Vigilant-class second class despatch/gunvessel launched on 9 February 1856 at Limehouse, England and served at various stations in the Far East. By the spring of 1865, she was a converted, three-masted barque. She was sold in 1872 and was eventually lost in a typhoon.


Her class were designed as second-class despatch and gunvessels. They were intended to operate close inshore during the Crimean War and were essentially enlarged versions of the Arrow-class gunvessel, which has been designed by the Surveyor’s Department in 1854.[1]


A two-cylinder horizontal single expansion steam engine by Humphries, Tennant & Dyke provided 726 indicated horsepower (541 kW) through a single screw.[1]

Sail Plan

All Vigilant-class gunvessels were barque-rigged.[1]


Although designed with a pair of 68-pounder Lancaster muzzle-loading rifles, the Vigilant class were finished with one 7-inch (180 mm)/110-pound (50 kg) breech-loading gun, one 68-pound (31 kg) muzzle-loading rifled gun and two 20-pounder breech loaders.[1]

Service history

Porcher Island, near Prince Rupert, British Columbia, is named after Edwin Augustus Porcher RN (1821–1878), who served as commander of HMS Sparrowhawk at Esquimalt Naval Base, Vancouver Island, from the spring of 1865 until he returned to England in autumn 1868. While serving with the North Pacific Squadron, Commander Porcher made four summertime voyages to the North Coast of British Columbia; in 1866, 1867 and twice in 1868.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Winfield, Rif; Lyon, David (2003). The Sail and Steam Navy List, 1815-1889. Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1861760326.