The History of the Royal Navy

Subtitle

The progress of the Royal Navy, 1800-1900  and the contributions made by the "Victorians"

Port Isaac residents (The Fisherman_s Friends) singing a shanty
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After the battle of Waterloo,Britain was supreme upon the Oceans of the world.                  For the first half of the century the Fleet consisted of wooden sailng ships,which had proven themselves over 1000s of years.However,things were about to change.There had been a lot of inventions,which were soon to be applied to improving the power of our Navy.These included-improved weapons,armour plating and most all Steam power.        We were now at the begining of the " Industrial Revolution ! "                                                    

The first half of the century saw many conflcts with our enemies all over the world,and it would be difficult to say which was the most spectacular.However,there is one engagement that displayed how efficient our ships and their commanders and gunnery crews were.And it is:-The Bombardment of Acre in 1840.

OThe EGYPTIANS had occupied most of SYRIA'S coastal ports,and our Mediterranean Fleet had been deployed to resolve this issue.The fleet,commanded by Vice Admiral Sir Robert Stopford,and his squadrons,one of which was commanded by his second in command  Commodor Charles Napier on HMS Powerfull,an 84 gunner. On 10th Oct.,he defeated the Egytian army led by Ibrahim Pasha,this left ACRE the last remaing enemy stronghold.The bombardment was a complette success,and the Egyptians were driven out of the coastal towns,this success was due to the accuracy of our gun crews,which left the Egyptians firing into the air! And our crews had been trained on board the famous   gunnery school, HMS EXCELLENT.This school is still at Whale Island today.

HMS POWERFULL Was a 84 gunner, commanded by- Commodor Charles Napia.

HMS Powerfull

STEAM POWER.The invention of the steam engine,was soon adopted to power our ships,however,because of the inefficiency of the steam engines of this period, the ships would need to spend much of their time under sail.The 1st steam ship was HMS Sans Parall,she was an existing sailing ship,converted to steam in 1851.She was responsible for laying 1,250 tons of telegraphic cable,joining in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,with cable laid by USS Niagara in 1858.                                      The first British Battleship to be built from the stern-up with steam power,was the HMS Agamemnon in 1852, she was a 91 gunner, but still had to rely on her sails to maintain speed.

HMS Agamemnon

This half of the century was to see vast improvements   in all weapons;from artillery to torpedos,and smaller & faster ships,like Destroyers and Torpedo Boats.

 

The Crimean War 1854-56 proved the value of iron armour,and the French hoped to gain advantage by   "cladding" her ships with iron.Britain responded by commissioning HMS Warrior in 1861,which was bigger and better and built entirely of iron.The result was to replace all wooden ships.

 

The first Battleship to be built completely of iron,was  HMS WARRIOR, her steam power enabled her to steam at 14.5 knots.and she was armed with the new breech- loading guns,Britain had now out-built all of her rivals Her success started every nation building "ironclads"

HMS Warrior1861

The progress continued,and there were many issues to resolve,the improved gun power was further ahead than that of the power, and the bows of the ships were strengthend for 'ramming'

 

In the 1890s,Steel was used for the construction of ships,and the term 'ironclad' was replaced by 'Battleship' These ships had two turrets,one at each end,each containing two big guns,and batteries of quick-firing 102mm guns along both sides.                       This design was also applied to Cruisers,which were faster & more powerful.

 

A new bread of warships were about to be created,       the Royal Sovereign Class Battleship.these ships were the most potent in the world,and would reign supreme until the introduction of the "Dreadnoughts"                   An example of just one of the Royal Sovereign Class is:- HMS RESOLUTION,1893-1914.

HMS RESOLUTION 1893

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The Royal Navy was active throughout the 19th century and when not involved in sea battles,was relied upon to provide protection for our merchant shipping and the transportation of our troops to foreign lands.This also included maintaining our armies with essential supplies,weapons,food and shelter and even horses for our Cavalry.They would also bombard the enemy shore batteries,prior to the landing of our troops.

The 19th century had seen much progress,and at the end of it our Navy was indeed the best in the world,no one dared to challenge us at sea.The French and Spanish had long since accepted that they were no longer capable of a successful invasion,even if they combined their Fleets.But as we know things were about to change.Germany,(who had been very quiet) were building a large Fleet,with the intension of conquering the world.This will now open a new 'window' in our history.Called-20th Century.

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