Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HMS Trafalgar

This is HMS Trafalgar, as pictured in the 1896 edition of The Army and Navy Illustrated. She was an 11,940 ton steel armoured battleship, launched in 1887 and completed in 1890, and spent most of her career in the Mediterranean squadron where her low freeboard was less of a handicap than in stormier seas. Armed with four 67 ton guns in two turrets, she's decked in the red boot-topping, black hull, white upperworks and buff funnels of Queen Victoria's navy. During this period admirals were said to be reluctant to indulge in gunnery practice, fearful of the mess a broadside might make to their immaculately turned-out vessels.
Serving as an officer in the Mediterranean Squadron must have been a fairly cushy number. This is the quartedeck of HMS Trafalgar decked out under awnings on 21st. October to celebrate the anniversary of the famous battle with a 'smoking concert'. Notice the rose-arrangement of cutlasses, upper left, and the highly polished guns.
HMS Trafalgar must have done enough gunnery practice to put some wear-and tear on her guns - here they are being hoisted out while the ship lies in Malta harbour, using the largest available crane.
Another picture of a gun being hoisted out. These barrels needed relining after only 120 rounds with a full charge, although in peacetime practice only half-charges were used, extending a gun's life to 400 rounds.
Coaling ship must have been a doubly-wearisome task for the sailors involved, lugging coal across from the attendant collier (in this case the Westbook, lying alongside) then cleaning up all those white upperworks and decks afterwords. Here HMS Trafalgar is taking in coal while lying off Alexandretta, on the Syrian coast, while cruising the eastern Mediterranean.
No much doubt about who was giving the orders and who was lugging coal here, but their still did it with a great deal of pride. When this photograph was taken in 1898 they just broken the fleet record - 141.6 tons of coal transferred per hour.

HMS Trafalgar went to the breakers in 1911.

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