HMS Driver (1840)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Driver.
HMS Driver.jpg
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Driver
Ordered: 12 March 1840
Builder: Portsmouth Dockyard
Cost: £39,707
Laid down: June 1840
Launched: 24 December 1840
Commissioned: 5 November 1841
Fate: Wrecked on 3 August 1861
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Driver-class wooden paddle sloop
Displacement: 1,590 tons
Tons burthen: 1,055 62/94 bm
Length: 180 ft (55 m) (gundeck)
Beam: 36 ft (11.0 m)
Depth of hold: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Installed power: 280 nhp
  • Seaward & Capel 2-cylinder direct-acting steam engine
  • Paddles
Sail plan: Brig-rigged
Complement: 149 (later 160)

As built:

  • 2 × 10-inch/42-pounder (84cwt) pivot guns
  • 2 × 68-pounder guns (64cwt)
  • 2 × 42-pounder (22cwt) guns

After 1856:

HMS Driver was a Driver-class wooden paddle sloop of the Royal Navy. She is credited with the first global circumnavigation by a steamship when she arrived back in England on 14 May 1847.[2]

Construction and commissioning[edit]

Driver was ordered on 12 March 1840 from Portsmouth Dockyard to a design by Sir William Symonds. She was laid down in June 1840 and launched on 24 December 1840, with her machinery being supplied by Seaward & Capel of Limehouse, Woolwich. Her hull cost £19,433, with the machinery costing another £13,866. After she had completed fitting out, at a further cost of £6,408, she was commissioned on 5 November 1841.


During her circumnavigation Driver became the first steamship to visit New Zealand, arriving on 20 January 1846,[3] and was involved in the Hutt Valley Campaign, which was part of the New Zealand Wars. At the time of her visit she was described as a brig-rigged 6-gun warship displacing 1,058 tons with engines rated 280 horsepower.[4]

On 11 March 1850 she was docked in Victoria Harbour to witness Richard Blanshard assume the Governorship of the newly formed Colony of Vancouver Island, and issued a seventeen-gun salute.[5]


She was wrecked on 3 August 1861 on Mayaguana Island, the most easterly of the Bahamas, in the West Indies.[1]