Ottoman ironclad Feth-i Bülend

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Feth-i Bülend (1869).jpg
Line-drawing of Feth-i Bülend
Ottoman Empire
Name: Feth-i Bülend
Builder: Thames Iron Works, London
Laid down: May 1868
Launched: 1869
Commissioned: 1870
Fate: Hulk in 1910, sunk by Greek torpedo boat in 1912
General characteristics
Type: Armored corvette
Displacement: 2,762 tonnes (2,718 long tons)
Length: 71.6 m (234 ft 11 in) (p.p.)
Beam: 11.9 m (39 ft 1 in)
Draft: 5.2 m (17 ft 1 in)
Installed power: 3,250 ihp (2,420 kW)
  • 1 shaft, horizontal compound expansion steam engine
  • 6 box-type (1870), 2-cyl. water-tube type (1906)
Sail plan: Brig-rigged
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph) during trials, 9 knots (17 km/h; 10 mph) in 1906
Range: 1,500 nmi (2,800 km; 1,700 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph)
  • 16 officers, 153 sailors
  • (total 150 by 1912)
  • Original: 4 × 222 mm
  • Additions 1882/1890: 1 × 170 mm (1882–1890), 2 × 87 mm (1882), 2 × 63 mm (1890), 2 × 37 mm (1890), 1 × 25.4 mm (1890)
  • 1906 configuration: 4 × 150 mm L/40, 6 × 75 mm, 6 × 57 mm

Feth-i Bülend ("Great Causer of Conquest") was an Ottoman ironclad warship. At the time of its commissioning in 1870, it was one of the more advanced, compact, and heavily armed ironclads of the world. It was armed with four 229 millimeter (9 in) guns, was powered by a single-screw compound steam engine, but could also run on sail if the weather was right. It served until 1910, when it was laid up as a hulk in the harbour of Thessaloniki, where it was sunk during the First Balkan War by a Greek torpedo boat.


Feth-i Bülend was 72.01 m (236.3 ft) long between perpendiculars, with a beam of 11.99 m (39.3 ft) and a draft of 5.51 m (18.1 ft). The hull was constructed with iron, and displaced 2,762 metric tons (2,718 long tons; 3,045 short tons) normally and 1,601 t (1,576 long tons; 1,765 short tons) BOM. She had a crew of 16 officers and 153 enlisted men.[1][2]

The ship was powered by a single horizontal compound engine which drove one screw propeller. Steam was provided by six coal-fired box boilers that were trunked into a single funnel amidships. The engine was rated at 3,250 indicated horsepower (2,420 kW) and produced a top speed of 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph), though by 1877 she was only capable of 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph). Decades of poor maintenance had reduced the ship's speed to 8 kn (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) by 1892. Feth-i Bülend carried 600 t (590 long tons; 660 short tons) of coal. A supplementary sailing rig was also fitted.[1][2]

The ship was armed with a battery of four 222 mm (8.7 in) guns mounted in a central, armored casemate, two guns per side. The guns were positioned so as to allow any two to fire directly ahead, astern, or to either broadside. The casemate had heavy armor protection, with the gun battery protected by 222 mm of iron plating. The upper section of the casemate had thinner armor, at 150 mm (5.9 in) thick. The hull had a complete armored belt at the waterline, which extended .6 m (2 ft) above the line and 1.2 m (4 ft) below. The above-water portion was 222 mm thick, while the submerged part was 150 mm thick.[1][2]

Service history[edit]

Painting depicting Feth-i Bülend's battle with Vesta

Feth-i Bülend was ordered in 1867 from the Thames Iron Works, Blackwall Yard in London and was laid down in May 1868. She was launched in 1869 and began sea trials in 1870, being commissioned into the Ottoman Navy later that year.[2] Feth-i Bülend saw extensive service in the Black Sea during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, based primarily at Batumi. She took part in the bombardment of Russian positions and capture of the Black Sea port of Sokhumi on 14–16 May 1877. On 23 July, she exchanged the Russian armed steamer Vesta in an inconclusive action. Poor visibility from smoke and escaping steam forced the ships to disengage, both with slight damage and few casualties. On the 31st, Feth-i Bülend and several other ships departed Batumi for Trabzon to bring ground troops to Varna to defend against an expected Russian attack across the Danube.[3]

The Ottoman fleet then returned to Batumi, where it remained largely inactive. During a patrol on 25 August, Feth-i Bülend encountered the Russian yacht Livadia, but the Russian vessel fled before Feth-i Bülend could close to effective range.[3] Following the Ottoman defeat in 1878, the ship was laid up in Constantinople.[2] The fleet remained inactive at the Golden Horn for twenty years, though Feth-i Bülend was refitted at the Imperial Arsenal in 1890. During this refit, several small guns were installed, uncluding a pair of 87 mm (3.4 in) Krupp guns, two 63 mm (2.5 in) guns, two 37 mm (1.5 in) guns, and one 25.4 mm (1.00 in) gun.[2] At the start of the Greco-Turkish War in February 1897, the Ottomans inspected the fleet and found that almost all of the vessels, including Feth-i Bülend, to be completely unfit for combat against the Greek Navy.[4]

Following the end of the war, the government decided to begin a naval reconstruction program. The first stage was to rebuild the older armored warships, including Feth-i Bülend. The Ottmans contacted several foreign shipyards; initially, Krupp's Germaniawerft received the contract to rebuild Feth-i Bülend on 11 August 1900, but by December 1902, the Ottomans had reached an agreement with Armstrong-Ansaldo in Genoa to rebuild the vessel.[5] The work was conducted between 1903 and 1907. The ship was reboilered with a pair of water-tube boilers manufactured by the Imperial Arsenal, which improved speed slightly to 9 kn (17 km/h; 10 mph). Her armament was completely replaced with new, quick-firing guns manufactured by Krupp. Four 15 cm SK L/40 guns were mounted in the casemate, and six 75 mm (3.0 in) guns and six 57 mm (2.2 in) guns were installed on the upper deck.[2]

At the outbreak of the Italo-Turkish War of 1911–1912, Feth-i Bülend was disarmed, and its armament used to bolster the defenses of Thessaloniki's harbour, manned by 90 of the ship's crew. The ship itself was converted to an accommodation hulk.[6] At the time of the outbreak of the First Balkan War on 18 October 1912, the ship's commander was Captain (Binbaşi) Aziz Mahmut Bey, who also functioned as naval garrison commander. On the night of 31 October [O.S. 18 October] 1912, the Greek torpedo boat No.11 commanded by Lt Nikolaos Votsis passed by the shore batteries and searchlights, through the mine barrages and launched three torpedoes at 23:30 against the Feth-i Bülend. One torpedo missed, hitting the quay, but the two others hit the ship, capsizing the ship. Seven of its crew, including the ship's imam, were lost, while the Greek vessel exited the harbour by the same route without further incident.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Gardiner, p. 390
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Langensiepen & Güleryüz, p. 138
  3. ^ a b Langensiepen & Güleryüz, p. 6
  4. ^ Langensiepen & Güleryüz, pp. 8–9
  5. ^ Langensiepen & Güleryüz, pp. 10–11
  6. ^ Langensiepen & Güleryüz (1995), p. 19
  7. ^ Langensiepen & Güleryüz (1995), p. 20


Further reading[edit]

  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0. 

External links[edit]