HMS Orion (1879)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Orion.
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Orion
Builder: Samuda Brothers, Cubitt Town
Laid down: 1875
Launched: 23 January 1879
Completed: 3 July 1882
Fate: Broken up 1913
General characteristics
Class and type: Belleisle-class ironclad
Displacement: 4,870 tons
Length: 245 ft (75 m) p/p
Beam: 52 ft (16 m)
Draught: 21 ft (6.4 m)
  • Two-shaft Maudslay horizontal
  • I.H.P.= 4,040
Speed: 12.2 kn (22.6 km/h)
Complement: 249
  • Belt: 6 in (150 mm)–12 in (300 mm)
  • Battery: 8 in (200 mm)–10 in (250 mm)
  • Conning tower: 9 in (230 mm)
  • Decks: 1 in (25 mm)–3 in (76 mm)

HMS Orion was a Belleisle-class ironclad of the Victorian Royal Navy. Originally constructed for the Ottoman Empire, and called Bourdjou-Zaffer, she was purchased by the British Government before completion.

She was designed by the Ottoman naval architect Ahmed Pasha and built by Samuda Brothers at Cubitt Town, London under contract for the Ottoman Empire. However, in 1878 she was purchased by the British Government whilst still under construction, in a reaction to the war between the Ottoman Empire and Russia. Her sister, HMS Belleisle, which was purchased at the same time in an essentially complete state, was modified so as to fit in, as far as possible, with contemporary design in the Royal Navy. Orion, being less advanced in construction at the time of her purchase, was ultimately completed along the same lines.

Her original design called for four 10-inch muzzle-loading rifles in a centrally located box battery, but this plan was upgraded to four 12-inch (305 mm) guns during her building. She, and Belleisle were the only British ships ever to mount 12-inch calibre artillery deployed to fire only on the broadside. It was possible, because of the provision of appropriate embrasures in the battery, to bring at least one gun to bear at any angle; proponents of the turret system of armament pointed out that in the turret system two, or possibly four guns could be made to bear on the same target.

Service history[edit]

She was commissioned to the Mediterranean Fleet on 24 June 1878. After paying off into the Reserve at Malta in 1883 she was recommissioned in 1885, and served as guardship at Singapore until 1890, when she was demoted to the second class reserve at Malta. After refit and repair she remained in dockyard reserve at Chatham until declared non-effective in January 1902.[1] Three months later, in April 1902, she became a depot-ship at Malta for torpedo-boats,[2] Captain Charles Madden in command.[3] In 1913 she was converted to a store-ship at Devonport under the name of Orontes until her sale in 1913.


  1. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36659). London. 8 January 1902. p. 6. 
  2. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36737). London. 9 April 1902. p. 10. 
  3. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36795). London. 16 June 1902. p. 8.