Defender-class torpedo boat

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HMS Defender
Class overview
BuildersJohn I. Thornycroft & Company at Chiswick
Operators Royal Navy
Preceded byAcheron-class torpedo boat
Succeeded byHMVS Childers
General characteristics
Displacement12 tons
Length62 ft 10 in (19.15 m)
Beam7 ft 6 in (2.29 m)
Installed power173 hp (129 kW)
Speed17.5 kn (32.4 km/h)

The colonial service Defender-class torpedo boats were designed by Thornycroft & Company for the defence of New Zealand, built at Chiswick in 1883 and shipped to New Zealand. They were quickly obsolete and were left to deteriorate in situ. The remains of Defender are preserved at the Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum.


Acquired for the external defence of New Zealand, at a cost of about £3,200 each, all four boats were built and engined by John I. Thornycroft & Company at Church Wharf, Chiswick on the River Thames.[1]


As built the class was armed with a single McEvoy spar torpedo, which was designed to be rammed into a vessel and explode beneath the waterline. A single 2-barrelled Nordenfelt gun comprised the total gun armament. The last pair had 18-inch Whitehead torpedoes fitted at build, and these were later retrofitted to Defender and Taiaroa.[1]

Transport to New Zealand[edit]

On 1 February 1884[1] the first pair were shipped aboard the sailing ship Lyttelton from London to Port Chalmers, New Zealand. The second pair followed on 3 May 1884.[1]

Operational lives[edit]

Torpedo Corps units of the Permanent Militia were formed to operate the boats at the four main ports of Lyttelton (Defender), Port Chalmers (Taiaroa), Devonport (Waitemata) and Wellington (Poneke),[2] each with its boatshed and slipway. The boats quickly became obsolete and by 1900 had largely been left to rot.


Name Ship Builder Launched Fate
Defender Thornycroft & Company, Chiswick 30 July 1883 Abandoned at Purau Bay, Lyttelton Harbour and later preserved at the Lyttelton Torpedo Boat Museum
Taiaroa Thornycroft & Company, Chiswick 10 August 1883
Waitemata Thornycroft & Company, Chiswick 30 August 1883
Poneke Thornycroft & Company, Chiswick 31 August 1883

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Winfield (2004) p.316
  2. ^ "Torpedo Bay Time-Line at the RNZN Museum website". Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2010.


External links[edit]