HMS Sirius (1890)

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Long (messrs) Collection Q40644.jpg
HMS Sirius (IWM Q46044)
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Sirius
Builder: Armstrong, Elswick
Laid down: September 1889
Launched: 27 October 1890
Commissioned: 1892
Fate: Scuttled as blockship, 23 April 1918
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Apollo-class cruiser
Displacement: 3,600 long tons (3,700 t)
  • 300 ft (91.4 m) pp
  • 314 ft (95.7 m) oa
Beam: 43 ft 8 in (13.31 m)
Draught: 18 ft 6 in (5.6 m)
Speed: 19.75 kn (36.58 km/h; 22.73 mph) (forced draught)
Complement: 273
  • Deck:1.25–2 in (32–51 mm)
  • Conning tower:3 in (76 mm)
  • Gunshields:4.5 in (110 mm)

HMS Sirius was an Apollo-class cruiser of the British Royal Navy which served from 1892 to 1918 in various colonial posts such as the South and West African coastlines and off the British Isles as a hastily converted minelayer during the First World War.

Design and construction[edit]

The Naval Defence Act 1889 resulted in orders being placed for 21 second-class protected cruisers of the Apollo-class, of which, two, HMS Sirius and HMS Spartan, were ordered from Armstrong's Elswick shipyard.[2]

Sirius had an overall length of 300 ft (91.4 m) a beam of 43 ft 8 in (13.31 m) and a draught of 18 ft 6 in (5.64 m). Displacement was 3,600 long tons (3,700 t). She was one of 10 ships of the class that was sheathed in wood and copper to reduce fouling. An armoured deck of between 1 14 inches (32 mm) and 2 inches (51 mm) protected the ship's magazines and machinery, while the ship's conning tower had 3 inches (76 mm) of armour and the gunshields 4 12 inches (110 mm). Two QF 6-inch (152 mm) guns were mounted fore and aft on the ship's centreline, while six 4.7 in (120 mm) guns were mounted three on each broadside. 8 six pounder guns and 1 three pounder provided protection against torpedo boats.[1]

Sirius was laid down in September 1889, launched on 27 October 1890[1] and entered service in September 1891.[3]


Sirius served off America from 1892 to 1895 and on the China station from 1903 to 1905.[4] On return from overseas, she went into reserve at Devonport. In February 1912, Sirius became part of the training squadron.[5]

In October 1914 Sirius was one of a number of obsolete warships deployed to support Belgian troops during the Battle of the Yser, carrying out shore bombardments from 23 October.[6][7] Sirius served as part of the Nore Command from 1914 to March 1915,[4][5] being used as a guardship on the East coast of the United Kingdom,[8] and was then sent to serve off West Africa, where she remained on station until 1918.[4][5]

In April 1918, Sirius was deliberately scuttled in the mouth of Ostend harbour in Belgium during the failed First Ostend Raid. This operation 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. German countermeasures were however too effective, and Sirius and her fellow blockship HMS Brilliant were eventually destroyed by their crews outside the harbour mouth after running aground on a sandbank. The wrecks were broken up after the war.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Chesneau and Kolesnik 1979, p. 76.
  2. ^ Brook 1999, pp. 74–75.
  3. ^ Brook 1999, p. 74.
  4. ^ a b c Brook 1999, p. 75.
  5. ^ a b c Gardiner and Gray 1985, p. 15.
  6. ^ Corbett 1920, pp. 222, 228.
  7. ^ Naval Staff Monograph No. 28 1922, p. 13.
  8. ^ Corbett 1921, pp. 22, 234.
  9. ^ "No. 31189". The London Gazette (Supplement). 18 February 1919. p. 2519.

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