HMS Barfleur (1892)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Barfleur.
Name: HMS Barfleur
Builder: Chatham Dockyard
Laid down: 12 October 1890
Launched: 10 August 1892[1]
Completed: June 1894
Commissioned: 22 June 1894
Decommissioned: June 1909
Nickname(s): "Farbluer"
Fate: Sold for scrapping 12 July 1910[2]
General characteristics [3]
Class and type: Centurion-class battleship
Displacement: 10,500 tons
Length: 360 ft (110 m) p/p
Beam: 70 ft (21 m)
Draught: 25 ft 6 in (7.77 m)
Propulsion: 2 shaft Greenock Foundry Triple Expansion, 9,000 ihp
Speed: 17 knots (31 km/h)
Complement: 620
  • Belt: 9–12 in (229–305 mm)
  • Upper Belt: 4 in (102 mm)
  • Bulkheads: 8 in (203 mm)
  • Decks: 2–2.5 in (51–64 mm)
  • Conning Tower: 12 in (305 mm)
  • Barbettes: 5–9 in (127–229 mm)
  • Gunhouses: 6 in (152 mm)
  • Casemates: 6 in (152 mm)

HMS Barfleur was a predreadnought second-class battleship of the Royal Navy. She was part of the two-ship Centurion class, designed for long-range patrolling of the United Kingdom's far-flung empire. She mainly saw service in the Mediterranean and Home Fleet, along with Service at China Station, where she participated in ending the Boxer Rebellion. Her white painted hull had a curiously blue hue, leading to her nickname of the "Farbluer".[4] She was flagship of the Home Fleet from 1906 to 1907, and was scrapped in 1910. However, on her way to the scrapyard, she got jammed underneath the pylons of a drawbridge, forcing it to remain open and blocking traffic while she had to be freed.

Technical Description[edit]

HMS Barfleur was laid down at Chatham Dockyard on 12 October 1890 and launched on 10 August 1892. She completed trials in June 1894.[4]

She was armed with four 10-inch (254-mm) guns in two barbettes, had ten 4.7-inch (120-mm) secondary armament and seven torpedo tubes. She was protected by a 12-inch (305-mm) belt of compound armour, closed with 8-inch (203-mm) bulkheads. She stored 1,125 tons of coal, giving her a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h).

Barfleur underwent a reconstruction between 1902 and 1904 in which her 4.7-inch (120-mm) guns were replaced by 6-inch (152-mm) guns in armored casemates, the additional weight being compensated for by reductions in her masts and the removal of all five of her above-water torpedo tubes. She was slightly slower, capable of about 16.75 knots (31.02 km/h), after this refit.[4]

Operational history[edit]

HMS Barfleur commissioned at Chatham on 22 June 1894 for Fleet Reserve service. She fully commissioned at Chatham temporarily in July 1894, and participated in annual fleet maneuvers in July and August 1894. On 1 September 1894, she paid off into reserve.[4]

Barfleur commissioned at Chatham on 26 February 1895 for a tour of duty with the Mediterranean Fleet. She departed England on 19 March 1895 and arrived at Gibraltar on 23 March 1895, where she relieved battleship HMS Sans Pareil in the Mediterranean Fleet. She was temporarily based at Gibraltar to undergo work-ups, then proceeded to Malta where she arrived on 27 July 1895 to begin her Mediterranean service. On 15 February 1897 she assisted in the Allied occupation of Candia, Crete, and thereafter was part of the International Squadron blockading Crete during the Greco-Turkish uprising there.[4]

In 1898, Barfleur was loaned to the China Station, departing Malta for those duties on 6 February 1898; the loan later became a permanent transfer. She arrived at Singapore on 4 March 1898. From Singapore, she escorted destroyers HMS Fame and HMS Whiting to Hong Kong, where she took up her China Station duties.[4]

On 1 October 1898, Barfleur recommissioned at Hong Kong for China Station service and to become the flagship of the station's second-in-command, Rear-Admiral Sir James Bruce. The following year Captain Sir George Warrender was appointed in command of the ship. She took part in Allied operations in north China during the Boxer Rebellion in 1899 and 1900, and between 31 May 1900 and September 1900 supported the storming of the Peking forts and the relief of the foreign legations at Tientsin.[4] Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty was serving as a commander aboard Barfleur when he was wounded at Tientsin during operations onshore.

In September 1900, battleship HMS Albion relieved Barfleur as flagship of the second-in-command of the China Station. Barfleur ended her China Station service in November 1901, departing Hong Kong on 11 November 1901[5] and arriving at Plymouth on 31 December 1901.[6] On 22 January 1902, she paid off at Devonport for the extensive refit of 1902-1904 described above, including the installation of new guns. In May 1904, she was placed in reserve.[4]

Barfleur temporarily commissioned during her refit on 18 July 1904 to participate in that year's annual maneuvers. During them, she suffered slight damage when she collided with battleship HMS Canopus in Mount's Bay. After the maneuvers, she paid off at Devonport on 8 September 1904, and her refit resumed. It was completed in February 1905.[7]

On 21 February 1905, Barfleur recommissioned to take a new crew out to battleship HMS Vengeance, then serving on the China Station. Barfleur and Vengeance rendezvoused at Colombo, Ceylon, on 30 March 1905. Vengeance's old crew then steamed Barfleur back to the United Kingdom. Barfleur arrived at Portsmouth on 7 May 1905 and paid off there on 9 May 1905.[8]

On 10 May 1905, Barfleur recommissioned with a nucleus crew at Portsmouth to serve as Flagship, Rear Admiral, Portsmouth Division of the Reserve Fleet. In June 1905, she took six officers and 105 enlisted men of the London Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on a training cruise.[8]

On 28 November 1905, she transferred her crew to battleship HMS Duncan and recommissioned for further service as Flagship, Rear Admiral, Portsmouth Division of the Reserve Fleet, with a new nucleus crew.[8] She underwent a refit in 1905-1906[9] and took part in annual maneuvers in June 1906.[8]

Barfleur recommissioned for the same service on 20 September 1906. When the Reserve Fleet was abolished at the end of 1906 and replaced by a new Home Fleet, Barfleur became Flagship, Rear Admiral, Portsmouth Division of the Home Fleet. Battleship HMS Prince George relieved her as flagship in 1907, and Barfleur paid off on 4 March 1907.[8]

Barfleur recommissioned on 5 March 1907 with a new nucleus crew to serve as parent ship of special service vessels in the Portsmouth Division, Home Fleet. The special service vessels were transferred to the 4th Division, Home Fleet, in March 1909; in April 1909, Barfleur ceased her service as their parent ship.[8]

Impressive as they were upon their completion, ships such as Barfleur were entirely outclassed by the new dreadnoughts that began to appear in 1906. In June 1909, Barfleur paid off at Portsmouth, was removed from the active last, and was towed to the Motherbank, where was moored awaiting disposal.[8] On 12 July 1910 she was sold for scrapping,[2] for a price of £26500.[10]

Barfleur had an eventful trip to the scrapyard, becoming jammed between the piers of a swing bridge at Newcastle upon Tyne on 5 August 1910 while under tow up the River Tyne, forcing the bridge to remain open, blocking all road traffic until she could be freed. She resumed her trip after some of her fittings were cut away to allow her to clear the bridge. She was scrapped at Blyth.[8]


  1. ^ The Times (London), Thursday, 11 August 1892, p.10
  2. ^ a b Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921, p. 6
  3. ^ Chesneau, Koleśnik & Campbell 1979, p. 33.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Burt, p. 99
  5. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36611). London. 13 November 1901. p. 11. 
  6. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36653). London. 1 January 1902. p. 4. 
  7. ^ Burt, p. 99-100
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Burt, p. 100
  9. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921, p. 7
  10. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Portsmouth Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 33. August 1910. p. 10. 


  • Burt, R. A. (1988). British Battleships 1889-1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-061-0. 
  • Chesneau, Roger; Koleśnik, Eugène M.; Campbell, N.J.M. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.