HMS Basilisk (1848)
Basilisk (left) and the merchantman Queen Anne (right)
|Ordered:||26 March 1846|
|Laid down:||November 1846|
|Launched:||22 August 1848|
|Fate:||Broken up at Chatham in 1882|
|General characteristics |
|Type:||First-class paddle sloop|
|Tons burthen:||Designed: 1,00124/94 bm
As built: 1,031 bm[Note 2]
|Length:||190 ft 0 in (57.9 m) (gundeck)
166 ft 1 in (50.6 m) (keel)
|Beam:||34 ft 0 in (10.4 m)|
|Depth of hold:||21 ft 6 in (6.6 m)|
|Installed power:||400 nominal horsepower
1,033 ihp (770 kW)
Design and construction
Basilisk was designed by Oliver Lang to the same lines as the screw sloop Niger and ordered on 23 March 1846 from Woolwich Dockyard. She was laid down in November of the same year and launched on 22 August 1848.
Basilisk was fitted with a single 68-pounder (95 cwt) smoothbore muzzle-loading gun on a pivot mount, a single 10-inch (84 cwt) shell gun and four 32-pounder (42 cwt) smoothbore muzzle-loading guns on truck mountings.
She participated in 1849 in trials in the English Channel with the screw sloop Niger. Basilisk had started life as her sister ship when both were designed as sailing sloops, but while Niger received screw propulsion, Basilisk was fitted with paddles. Although previous trials, including a similar comparison between Rattler and Alecto in 1845, had shown that screw propulsion was broadly superior, the 1849 trials pitted two near-identical ships against each other. Since both ships had the same lines and steam engines developing almost identical power, the results confirmed the superiority of screw propulsion over the paddle-wheel once and for all.
Crimean War service
After the trials she served in the Baltic Sea during the Crimean War in 1854-1855, participating in the blockade of Courland. She attacked and sank 10 Russian transports carrying grain on 14 June 1855 and sank some salt boats on 13 July. She also participated in the action of 17 July in the Gulf of Riga, with HMS Desperate against Russian gunboats and shore batteries.
After the Crimean War, she served on the North America and West Indies Station and afterwards on the China Station. In March 1871 she commenced service on the Australia Station. She undertook hydrographic surveys around New Guinea with Captain John Moresby and made a number of discoveries. She was later used for anti-blackbirding operations in the South Pacific. She left the Australia Station in 1874 and returned to England.
Basilisk was paid off and broken up at Chatham in 1882.
- A total cost accounting for inflation of approximately £4,654,000 in today's money.
- She was built 5 inches greater in the beam than designed.
- Winfield (2004), p.161
- Bastock, p.57-58.
- Bastock, John (1988), Ships on the Australia Station, Child & Associates Publishing Pty Ltd; Frenchs Forest, Australia. ISBN 0-86777-348-0
- Winfield, Rif; Lyon, David (2004). The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815–1889. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-032-6. OCLC 52620555.
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