HMS Astraea (1893)
|Class and type:||Astraea class|
|Laid down:||August 1890|
|Launched:||17 March 1893|
|Fate:||Sold on 1 July 1920|
|Length:||320 ft (98 m) (p/p)|
|Beam:||49.5 ft (15.1 m)|
|Draught:||21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)|
|Propulsion:||Triple expansion engines
|Speed:||18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) (natural draught)
19.5 knots (36.1 km/h; 22.4 mph) (forced draught)
|Range:||Carried 1000 tons coal (max)|
Construction and commissioning
Astraea was ordered as part of the eight-ship Astraea-class under the Naval Defence Act of 1889. She was laid down at Devonport Dockyard in August 1890 and launched from there on 17 March 1893. She was completed and commissioned for service in November 1895.
Astraea served in the Mediterranean Sea in early 1900. She was sent to the China Station in 1906, followed by a period at Colombo between 1908 and 1911. She returned to Britain in January 1912, where she was refitted to returned to service. She was recommissioned[clarification needed] at the Nore in June 1912, and joined the Third Fleet. By April 1913 she had been reassigned to operate off the Cape of Good Hope as part of the squadron assigned to the West Africa Station. She was serving off East Africa at Zanzibar when the First World War broke out, and the squadron was initially assigned to protect British Empire shipping travelling on the trade routes around the African coast. On 8 August 1914 Astraea bombarded Dar-es-Salaam, part of the German colony of German East Africa. Astraea's guns destroyed a radio station, and fearing an imminent landing, the German authorities scuttled their floating dock to block the harbour. This had the subsequent effect of preventing the German commerce raider SMS Königsberg from being able to return to the port. Astraea was later one of the ships assigned to hunt and blockade Königsberg in the Rufiji Delta.
One of Astraea's First World War officers was Harold Owen, younger brother of the wartime poet Wilfred Owen. Shortly after the signing of the Armistice, Astraea was anchored in Table Bay. Harold later wrote:
I had gone down to my cabin thinking to write some letters. I drew aside the door curtain and stepped inside and to my amazement I saw Wilfred sitting in my chair. I felt shock run through me with appalling force and with it I could feel the blood draining away from my face. I did not rush towards him but walked jerkily into the cabin—all my limbs stiff and slow to respond. I did not sit down but looking at him I spoke quietly: "Wilfred, how did you get here?"
He did not rise and I saw that he was involuntarily immobile, but his eyes which had never left mine were alive with the familiar look of trying to make me understand; when I spoke his whole face broke into his sweetest and most endearing dark smile. I felt not fear—I had none when I first drew my door curtain and saw him there—only exquisite mental pleasure at thus beholding him. He was in uniform and I remember thinking how out of place the khaki looked amongst the cabin furnishings. With this thought I must have turned my eyes away from him; when I looked back my cabin chair was empty ...
I wondered if I had been dreaming but looking down I saw that I was still standing. Suddenly I felt terribly tired and moving to my bunk I lay down; instantly I went into a deep oblivious sleep. When I woke up I knew with absolute certainty that Wilfred was dead.
Harold only later learned that Wilfred had been killed in action on 4 November 1918, a week before he had apparently appeared to him on Astraea.
- Colledge. Ships of the Royal Navy. p. 24.
- "Astraea Class Second Class Protected Cruisers". worldwar1.co.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
- "Naval & Military intelligence" The Times (London). Monday, 15 January 1900. (36039), p. 7.
- "HMS Astrea". battleships-cruisers.co.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
- "Astraea class second class cruisers". historyofwar.org. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
- Khatri. True Ghosts & Spooky Incidents. pp. 68–69.
- Harold Owen, Journey From Obscurity, Wilfred Owen, 1893–1918
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.
- Jane's Fighting Ships of World War One. Jane's Publishing Company. 1919.
- Owen, Harold; Owen, William Harold (1963). Journey from Obscurity: Wilfred Owen, 1893–1918 Memoirs of the Owen Family. Oxford University Press.
- Khatri, Vikas. True Ghosts & Spooky Incidents. Pustak Mahal. ISBN 81-223-0943-7.
- From the Royal Navy log book for HMS Astraea, 22 April 1913. Transcribed by the Old Weather[?] project.