HMS Torch (1894)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Torch.
HMS Torch (1894) AWM A02550.jpeg
HMS Torch c. 1900.
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Torch
Builder: Sheerness Dockyard
Laid down: 18 December 1893
Launched: 28 December 1894
Commissioned: October 1895
Fate: Transferred to New Zealand government on 16 August 1917
Royal Navy EnsignNew Zealand
Name: HMS Firebrand
Fate: Sold in July 1920
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom
Name: Rama
Fate: Wrecked on 17 November 1924 near the Chatham Islands.
General characteristics
Class and type: Alert-class sloop
Type: Screw steel sloop
Displacement: 960 tons
Length: 180 ft (55 m)
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Draught: 12 ft (3.7 m)
Installed power: 1,400 hp (1,044 kW)[1]
Propulsion: Three-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engine; single screw[2]
Sail plan:
Complement: 107[1]
Armour: Protective deck of 1 in (2.5 cm) to 1.5 in (3.8 cm) steel over machinery and boilers.[2]

HMS Torch was an Alert-class sloop of the Royal Navy, built at Sheerness Dockyard and launched in 1894. She served in Australia and New Zealand and was transferred to New Zealand as a training ship in 1917, being renamed HMS Firebrand at the same time. She was sold in 1920 and converted to a refrigerated ship with the new name Rama. She ran aground in the Chatham Islands in 1924 and was abandoned.


Alert and Torch were constructed of steel to a design by William White, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction.[2] They were powered by a three-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engine developing 1,400 horsepower and driving a single screw.[2]

Sail Plan[edit]

The class was originally designed and built with barque-rigged sails, but both ships were re-rigged as barquentines before 1900 by removing the main yards.


Both ships of the class were armed with four 4-inch and four 3-pounder guns, and three machine guns.[1]


Torch was laid down at Sheerness Dockyard on 18 December 1893[2] and launched almost a year later on 28 December 1894.[3] She was commissioned in October 1895.[2]

Service in Australian waters[edit]

Torch joined the Australian Station in February 1897, serving in New Zealand waters in 1898 and 1899.[3][4] She was part of the naval escort for the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Australia and New Zealand aboard the chartered Royal liner HMS Ophir during 1901.[3] After a refit, she recommissioned at Sydney on 29 November 1913. In July 1914 Torch, in company with the French cruiser Kersaint, was involved with a native uprising on the Island of Wala, Vanuatu. Five men were killed and four injured, and one native prisoner was captured.[5] In August 1914 she became part of the New Zealand Division of the Pacific Station.

Training ship Firebrand[edit]

On 16 August 1917 she was transferred to the New Zealand Government as the training ship HMS Firebrand.[1][3] Torch paid off for the last time on 23 November 1914.[6]

Refrigerated ship Rama[edit]

She was sold in 1920, renamed Rama and fitted out as a refrigerated ship for the Chatham Islands fishing trade.


While approaching the Chatham Islands on 17 November 1924 she struck an uncharted rock, and was beached and abandoned.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c d "HMS Torch at Naval Database website". Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Winfield (2004) p.278
  3. ^ a b c d e Bastock 1988, pp. 112–113.
  4. ^ a b "Australian war memorial website". Retrieved 5 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "Cannibals Resist Punitive Party. Malekula Incident". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 July 1914. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  6. ^ "Log of HMS Torch". Old Weather. 23 November 1914. Retrieved 2011-03-15.