HMS Challenger (1858)
Painting of Challenger by William Frederick Mitchell
|Launched:||13 February 1858|
|Decommissioned:||Chatham Dockyard, 1878|
|Fate:||Broken for scrap, 1921|
|Class & type:||Pearl-class corvette|
|Displacement:||2,137 long tons (2,171 t)|
|Tons burthen:||1465 bm|
|Beam:||40 ft 4 in (12.29 m)|
|Depth of hold:||23 ft 11 in (7.29 m)|
|Sail plan:||Full-rigged ship|
|Speed:||10.7 knots (19.8 km/h) (under steam)|
As part of the North America and West Indies Station she took part in 1862 in operations against Mexico, including the occupation of Vera Cruz. Assigned as the flagship of Australia Station in 1866 and in 1868 undertook a punitive operation against some Fijian natives to avenge the murder of a missionary and some of his dependents. She left the Australian Station in late 1870.
She was picked to undertake the first global marine research expedition: the Challenger expedition. The Challenger carried a complement of 243 officers, scientists and crew when she embarked on her 68,890-nautical-mile (127,580 km) journey.
1873–1876: Grand tour
The Challenger Expedition was a grand tour of the world during covering 68,000 nautical miles (125,936 km) organized by the Royal Society in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh. Charles Thomson was the leader of a large scientific team.
- Captains: George Nares (1873 and 1874) and Frank Tourle Thomson (1875 and 1876)
- Naturalists: Charles Wyville Thomson (1830–1882), Henry Nottidge Moseley (1844–1891) and Rudolf von Willemoes-Suhm (1847–1875)
- Oceanographers: John Young Buchanan (1844–1925) and John Murray (1841–1914)
- Publications: C.W. Thomson, Report on the scientific results of the voyage of HMS Challenger during the years 1873-76… prepared under the superintendence of the late Sir C. Wyville Thomson,... and now of John Murray,... (fifty volumes, London, 1880–1895). H.N. Moseley, Notes by a naturalist on the Challenger (1879). W.J.J. Spry, The cruise of the Challenger (1876).
To enable her to probe the depths, all but two of the Challenger's guns had been removed and her spars reduced to make more space available. Laboratories, extra cabins and a special dredging platform were installed. She was loaded with specimen jars, alcohol for preservation of samples, microscopes and chemical apparatus, trawls and dredges, thermometers and water sampling bottles, sounding leads and devices to collect sediment from the sea bed and great lengths of rope with which to suspend the equipment into the ocean depths. In all she was supplied with 181 miles (291km) of Italian hemp for sounding, trawling and dredging. The Challenger's crew was the first to sound the deepest part of the ocean, thereafter named the Challenger Deep.
Later service history
In 1878 Challenger went through an overhaul by the Chief Constructor at Chatham Dockyard with a view to converting the vessel into a training ship for boys of the Royal Navy. She was found suitable and it was planned to take the place of HMS Eurydice which sank off the Isle of Wight on 24 March 1878. The Admirality did not go ahead with the conversion and she remained in reserve until 1883, when she was converted into a receiving hulk in the River Medway, where she stayed until she was sold to J B Garnham on 6 January 1921 and broken up for her copper bottom in 1921.
- Winfield (2004) p.209
- Bastock, pp.47-48.
- Space Shuttle Challenger at the Kennedy Space Centre website.
- "Naval". The Cornishman (27). 16 January 1879. p. 6.
- Bastock, John (1988), Ships on the Au 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.
Media related to HMS Challenger (1858) at Wikimedia Commons