HMS Australia (1886)

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HMS Australia (1886) in the 1890s.jpg
Australia at anchor
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Australia
Namesake: Australia
Builder: Robert Napier and Sons, Govan, Glasgow
Laid down: 21 April 1885
Launched: 25 November 1886
Completed: 11 December 1888
Fate: Sold for scrap, 4 April 1905
General characteristics
Class and type: Orlando-class armoured cruiser
Displacement: 5,535 long tons (5,624 t)
Length: 300 ft (91.4 m) (p/p)
Beam: 56 ft (17.1 m)
Draught: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 484

HMS Australia was one of seven Orlando-class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1880s. She was assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1889 and remained there until 1893 when she returned home. The ship was assigned to the Coast Guard Squadron for the next decade before she was placed in reserve in 1903. Australia was sold for scrap in 1905.

Design and description[edit]

Australia had a length between perpendiculars of 300 feet (91.4 m), a beam of 56 feet (17.1 m) and a draught of 24 feet (7.3 m). Designed to displace 5,040 long tons (5,120 t), all of the Orlando-class ships proved to be overweight and displaced approximately 5,535 long tons (5,624 t). The ship was powered by a pair of three-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, which were designed to produce a total of 8,500 indicated horsepower (6,300 kW) and a maximum speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph) using steam provided by four boilers with forced draught. During her sea trials, Australia reached 18.8 knots (34.8 km/h; 21.6 mph). The ship carried a maximum of 900 long tons (910 t) of coal which was designed to give her a range of 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). The ship's complement was 484 officers and enlisted men.[1]

Australia's main armament consisted of two breech-loading (BL) 9.2-inch (234 mm) Mk V guns, one gun fore and aft of the superstructure on pivot mounts. Her secondary armament was ten BL 6-inch (152 mm) guns, five on each broadside. Protection against torpedo boats was provided by six quick-firing (QF) 6-pounder Hotchkiss guns and ten QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns, most of which were mounted on the main deck in broadside positions. The ship was also armed with six 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes: four on the broadside above water and one each in the bow and stern below water.[1]

The ship was protected by a waterline compound armour belt 10 inches (254 mm) thick. It covered the middle 200 feet (61.0 m) of the ship and was 5 feet 6 inches (1.7 m) high.[1] Because the ship was overweight, the top of the armour belt was 2 feet (0.61 m) below the waterline when she was fully loaded.[2] The ends of the armour belt were closed off by transverse bulkheads 16 inches (406 mm). The lower deck was 2–3 inches (51–76 mm) thick over the full length of the hull. The conning tower was protected by 12 inches (305 mm) of armour.[1]

Construction and service[edit]

Australia, named for the Australian continent,[3] was laid down on 21 April 1885 by Robert Napier and Sons at their shipyard in Govan, Glasgow. The ship was launched on 25 November 1886, and completed on 11 December 1888.[4] Shortly after commissioning, she was assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet and remained there until 1893 when she participated in the Columbian Review held in New York City that year to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World. Upon her return home, Australia became the coast guard ship for Southampton Water for the next decade.[5] Captain Charles Henry Adair was briefly in command from November 1899 to January 1900. Captain George Neville was appointed in command on 20 January 1900,[6] and in September the following year she visited Germany and Denmark, when she escorted the royal yacht HMY Osborne carrying King Edward VII from Hamburg to Elsinore.[7] She took part in the fleet review held at Spithead on 16 August 1902 for the coronation of King Edward VII.[8] The ship was placed in reserve at Chatham Dockyard in 1903[5] before being sold for scrap on 4 April 1905.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 65
  2. ^ Friedman, p. 146
  3. ^ Silverstone, p. 216
  4. ^ Friedman, p. 342
  5. ^ a b Friedman, p. 141
  6. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36049). London. 26 January 1900. p. 7.
  7. ^ "Royal gathering in Denmark - Arrival of the King". The Times (36555). London. 9 September 1901. p. 4.
  8. ^ "The Coronation - Naval Review". The Times (36845). London. 13 August 1902. p. 4.


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