HMS Sappho (1891)

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HMS Sappho (1891) IWM Q 021730.jpg
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Sappho
Builder: Samuda Brothers, Cubitt Town, London
Laid down: 1890
Launched: 9 May 1891
Commissioned: 1893
Fate: Broken Up 1921
General characteristics
Class and type: Apollo-class cruiser
Displacement: 3,600 tons
Length: 314 ft (95.7 m)
Beam: 43.5 ft (13.3 m)
Draught: 17.5 ft (5.3 m)
Propulsion: twin screw triple expansion engines
Speed: 19.75 knots
Complement: 273 to 300 (Officers and Men)

HMS Sappho was an Apollo-class cruiser of the British Royal Navy which served from 1892 to 1918 in various colonial posts.

From 1900 she served as troop ship during the Second Boer War, but in June 1901 she went aground while crossing the Durban Bar and had to leave for repairs in the United Kingdom.[2] She was escorted from Las Palmas by HMS Furious and arrived at Sheerness 21 August 1901, proceeding to Chatham for repairs the following day.[3] She was paid off at Chatham 18 September 1901.[4]

On the night of 19 June 1909 Sappho was rammed by the Wilson Line steamer Sappho in thick fog off Dungeness. The cruiser was holed below the waterline, flooding her engine room. The cruiser almost sank, but was saved by tugs and was taken to Chatham for repair.[5] Despite the damage, with an 8 by 6 feet (2.4 m × 1.8 m) hole in her hull, the cruiser was repaired and able to return to service within six days.[6] On 30 September 1909 Sappho was paid off at Portsmouth Dockyard for a refit.[7]

During the First World War, Sappho and her sisters saw service off the British Isles as hastily converted minelayers.[citation needed]

On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Sappho was attached to the Grand Fleet.[8] While other ships of the Apollo-class had been converted to minelayers, Sappho was initially deployed on patrol purposes, operating north-east of the Shetlands in early October 1914 as part of extensive deployments of the Grand Fleet to prevent German interference with a convoy carrying troops from Canada to England and North of the Orkneys later that month.[9] In May 1918, Sappho was ordered to be scuttled in the mouth of Ostend harbour in Belgium following the failed First Ostend Raid. The Second Ostend Raid operation (of which Sappho was a part) was intended to block the harbour mouth and prevent the transit of German U-boats and other raiding craft from Bruges to the North Sea. Whilst travelling from Dunkirk to Ostend on the day of the attack however, Sappho suffered severe engine damage in a minor boiler explosion and was forced to retire, taking no part in the partial success of the raid. She was not used again during the war, and was scrapped in 1921.

Commanding officers[edit]


  1. ^ Admiral Percy Scott quotes 6 x 4.7 inch guns on sister ship HMS Scylla in 1899. "Fifty Years in the Royal Navy" published 1919, page 88
  2. ^ "Naval and Military intelligence". The Times (36509). London. 17 July 1901. p. 7.
  3. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36540). London. 22 August 1901. p. 4.
  4. ^ "Naval & military intelligence". The Times (36563). London. 18 September 1901. p. 5.
  5. ^ "H.M.S. "Sappho" in Collision". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 31. July 1909. p. 458.
  6. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Chatham Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 32. August 1909. pp. 25–26.
  7. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Portsmouth Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 32. October 1909. p. 127.
  8. ^ Naval Staff Monograph No. 23 1924, p. 108
  9. ^ Naval Staff Monograph No. 23 1924, pp. 102, 112