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HMS Ambuscade (launched as Amphion, 1846)

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NameAmbuscade (launched as Amphion)Explanation
Launched14 January 1846 Converted to screwon the stocks
HullWooden Length177 feet
PropulsionScrew Men320
Builders measure1474 tons   
Displacement2049 tons   
Fate1864 Last in commission1862
Ships book   
 Amphion, launched on 14 January 1846 after being converted for the screw on the stocks at Woolwich dockyard, was the Royal Navy's first screw frigate.
14 January 1846Launched at Woolwich Dockyard.
24 October 1846
- 13 October 1848
Commanded (from commissioning at Woolwich until paying off at Sheerness) by Captain Woodford John Williams, Woolwich, then Western and Experimental squadrons
19 November 1846The Amphion steam frigate, 38 guns, Captain Williams, was taken in the east dock to-day to be examined before procccing to sea.
18 December 1852
- 8 November 1853
Commanded by Captain Charles George Edward Patey, Lisbon, then Channel squadron (until Patey invalided)
8 November 1853
- 1 January 1856
Commanded by Captain Astley Cooper Key, the Baltic during the Russian War
9 January 1856
- 30 January 1857
Commanded (until paying off at Sheerness) by Captain Henry Chads, North America and West Indies
22 June 1859
- 12 July 1861
Commanded (from commissioning at Chatham) by Captain Thomas Cochran, Mediterranean (until Cochran invalided)
12 July 1861
- 12 February 1862
Commanded by Captain Thomas Francis Birch, Mediterranean
(12 February 1862)
- 20 December 1862
Commanded (until paying off at Sheerness) by Captain Alexander Crombie Gordon, Mediterranean
12 October 1863Sold to Williams for breaking up
Extracts from the Times newspaper
We 10 September 1845

9 September 1845

The Amphion, of 36 guns, converting into a steam-vessel with screw propeller at Woolwich, is ordered to be completed as soon as possible for commission; and the Niger steam-vessel, ordered to be built at that dockyard, is to be proceeded with. These works require a number of hands, and instructions have been issued to employ 60 extra shipwrights, 12 blacksmiths, and 6 joiners.
Sa 1 November 1845

31 October 1845

The Amphion frigate (building) will be ready for launching early next year, and is to be fitted with a screw propeller.
We 10 December 1845

9 December 1845

The Amphion, 36 guns, building at Woolwich. Dockyard, is to be launched on the last day of the present month, December 31. The whole of her 36 guns are to be 32-pounders, and she has been fitted with a screw propeller, as an auxiliary and on the same plan as was adopted in fitting screw-propellers to the vessels engaged on the Arctic expedition. She will be masted and fitted in every respect the same as other frigates, for the combined advantages of sailing and steaming, or on either plan, according to circumstances.
Fr 26 December 1845

25 December 1845

The Amphion, 36 guns, fitted with a screw-propeller, will not be ready for launching, as was anticipated, on the last day of the present month; and consequently the launch is now ordered to take place on the 14th of January, 1846, the first subsequent spring tides.
We 14 January 1846

13 January 1846

The Amphion, 36 gun frigate, fitted with a screw propeller, will be launched at Woolwich Dockyard to-morrow, Wednesday, January 14, at between 2 and half-past 2 o'clock p.m.
We 14 January 1846The Amphion frigate, of 38 guns, was ordered to be built on the 16th of May, 1828, and to be named the Ambuscade, but from some well grounded objections to that name it was altered to Amphion, by Admiralty order of the 31st March, 1831. The building of the vessel commenced on the 5th April, 1830, and was carried on on the same lines as the Castor, frigate, but she has since been lengthened 16 feet by the bow, and fitted in the stern for a screw-propeller as an auxiliary, every other part and fitting being the same as in a proper sailing frigate. She appears to be a sightly vessel, and sits well upon the water. Her figurehead is a bust of the late gallant Captain, Sir William Hoste, Bart., and her stern is of a neat square form externally, but round internally, for fighting her guns. To all appearance she will be a fast sailer, and a good ship of war.
Miss Psyche Hoste, daughter of the late Captain Sir William Hoste was to have named the Amphion, but in consequent of that young lady's indisposition the ceremony was performed by Miss Hawkins, niece of Admiral Sir James Hawkins Whitehed, Bart., G.C.B.. Admiral of the Fleet. At a quarter-before 3 o'clock, p.m., Miss Hawkins, accompanied by the gallant admiral, and escorted by Commodore Sir Francis A. Collier, C.B. and K.C.H., captain superintendent of the dock-yard, entered the enclosed space surrounding the ship, and the master shipwright having presented Miss Hawkins with a glass of wine, she drank to the success of the Amphion, and the bottle with the remainder of the wine having been attached to the bows of the ship and broken upon them, the vessel, after some delay, was allowed to glide into the water, which she did in beautiful style amidst the cheers of the assembled spectators, the band of the Royal Marines playing the national anthem. The company present was very numerous.
The Amphion is to he taken on Monday next to the East India Docks to be fitted with engines of 300-horse power by Messrs. Millar and Ravensforth, and will be the first constructed for the steam navy of this country with the whole of her machinery considerably under the water line, and consequently not liable to be deranged by shot. The screw will be 15 feet in diameter, on Ericson's principle, attached to engines on the direct action principle, invented by Count de Rosen, with four-foot stroke, performing 48 revolutions per minute. The boilers will also be under the water line, and the vessel is expected to be a superior ship of war by the aid of these appliances.
We 21 January 1846

20 January 1846

The Amphion, 36 guns, launched at Woolwich Dockyard on Wednesday last, was towed to the East India docks today to be fitted with her engines.
(various)The 1846 Experimental squadron.
Ma 20 July 1846

18 July 1846

The Amphion, 36-gun frigate, with screw propeller, had her steam up to-day in the basin, but it will be some time before she will be ready to proceed on an experimental trip, as she will have to take on board about 800 tons of ballast to bring her to a proper depth in the water.
Fr 14 August 1846

13 August 1846

The Amphion steam frigate, built at Woolwich dockyard, and fitted with Mr. Smith's screw-propeller, and engines designed by Count Rosen, and constructed and fitted by Miller and Ravenhill, engineers, Blackwall, proceeded down the river at 10 minutes before 6 o'clock a.m. to try her engines and speed. Sometime previous to that early hour Captain-Superintendent Houston Stewart, C.B., of Her Majesty's dockyard, Woolwich; Captain Price, Captain Halstead, R.N.; Captain Thornton, R.N., and of the Oriental Company; Captain Schwabe, of the Russian navy; Commander Smith, R.N.; Mr. Lloyd, Chief Engineer of Her Majesty's dock-yard, Woolwich; Count Rosen, the inventor; and Messrs. Miller and Ravenhill, manufacturers of the engines, embarked in this fine vessel to witness her capabilities. On leaving her moorings it was considered advisable to proceed at a moderate rate, and she performed the first four miles in 35 minutes, the engines making 46 revolutions per minute. The Lightning steam-vessel, Master-Commander Petley, left Woolwich at the same time for the purpose of showing the respective speed of both vessels. When opposite Purfleet Massey's log was thrown overboard, one on the starboard and one on the larboard side of the Amphion, and after remaining an hour in the water, gave a speed of 6.2 knots per hour. The Lightning steam-vessel was then signalled to come up and proceed at full speed, which she did, and a greater quantity of steam being obtained in the Amphion, she accomplished 6.7 knots during the next hour, making 2,682 revolutions in that period, or nearly 48 revolutions per minute, working remarkably smoothly and easily, although the engines were, manner, tried for the first time, the trial in the basin at Woolwich having merely been made to ascertain if they fitted correctly.
At seven minutes past 9 o'clock the Lightning hoisted her signals, to denote her number when opposite Sheerness, and at that time the Amphion was about the eighth of a mile astern, making excellent progress, and exceeding the most sanguine expectations of the designer of her engines and the constructors, who would not guarantee a greater speed than five knots per hour, owing to the small comparative power of the engines, 300-horse power to a frigate of 36 guns, built for a sailing vessel, although subsequently adapted for a screw-propeller. This speed was maintained nearly throughout the entire distance of her outward trip to the south-west reach, beyond the lighthouse on the Maplin Sands. At 35 minutes past 12 o'clock the Amphion turned round in the short space of five minutes on her progress back to Woolwich, answering her helm with the greatest nicety, and in the face of a very strong breeze which had set in, made admirable progress. The engines having become smoother, the number of revolutions reached 49, and, in some instances, 50 per minute, without heating in the least degree, and in scarcely any instance have we witnessed more perfectly adjusted or better working engines.
The great advantage of Count Rosen's engines are, that they will be upwards of two feet under water, calculating the upper part of the boilers as the highest elevation. The engines are apparently on the locomotive principle, and the action of the pistons horizontal instead of perpendicular, as is almost invariably the case in steam-vessels with paddle-wheels. The diameter of the screw-propellor of the Amphion is 14 feet. She is the largest vessel yet tried on this principle, and the result has been so satisfactory as to place it beyond doubt that the screw-propeller will ultimately become universal for war-steamers. The speed to-day cannot be considered a fair criterion of .the velocity that may be obtained, as the Amphion was only immersed about 16 feet 10 inches, but will, when ready for sea, be nearer 21 feet, and consequently give the screw-propeller a far better purchase and greater velocity. The engines are more compact, and occupy much less room than the engines where paddleboxes are used; and the weight of the screw-propeller being only about 3 tons, is far less than the ponderous wheels requisite for vessels of great magnitude. The Amphion passed Gravesend on her return at 10 minutes before 6 o'clock, and shortly after having loosened one of the joints of her feed pipe, the steam was allowed to escape, as it would have taken about an hour to mend it, and she was towed by the Lightning to Greenhithe, where she anchored for the night, her depth of draught of water preventing her farther progress up the river during the ebb tide. This simple occurrence does not in any way detract from the principle of the machinery and general performance during the day, which gave entire satisfaction. Captain-Superintendent Houston Stewart, and the party who went down the river in the Amphion, returned at 20 minutes past 6 o'clock from Greenhithe to Woolwich.
Sa 22 August 1846

21 August 1846

The Amphion screw propeller steam frigate, of 36 guns, has been taken into the basin at Woolwich, to be fitted with her masts and rigging, and be made ready for sea.
Ma 26 October 1846

24 October 1846

The Amphion, 36 gun frigate, fitted with a screw propeller and engines on Count Rosen's principle, was brought out of the basin on Friday and placed in the ordinary. She will be tried in a few days with her stores on board, previous to being commissioned.
Fr 30 October 1846

28 October 1846

The officers and crew of the Avenger steam-frigate, Captain W. Williams, have been turned over to the Amphion, 36, steam-frigate, at Woolwich, and took passage today with their baggage in the provision depot Belvidera, master-Commander P Wellington, to join her. The latter was towed out of harbour by the Echo, and sailed for Deptford, where she embarks provisions for the coast of Scotland.
Ma 2 November 1846

30 October 1846

The Amphion, 36-gun frigate, with screw-propeller, has hoisted the pendant of Captain Williams, of the Avenger; and the officers and crew of the latter vessel will be transferred to the Amphion.
We 4 November 1846

3 November 1846

The Belvidere, formerly a 36-gun frigate, and now converted into a store-ship, arrived at Woolwich to-day, having being towed up the river by the African steam vessel. She will be taken to Deptford to receive stores for the poorer inhabitants of the western coast of Scotland. Captain Williams, late of the Avenger steam frigate, with the other officers and crew of that vessel arrived in the Belvidere, and the captain and a part of the officers went to board the Amphion steam frigate, to which they have been appointed.
Th 19 November 1846

18 November 1846

The Amphion steam frigate, 38 guns, Captain Williams, was taken in the east dock to-day to be examined before proceeding to sea.
Sa 28 November 1846

27 November 1846

The Amphion, 36-gun frigate, with screw propeller, Captain Williams, is getting ready for sea with every despatch. Lieutenants Foote and Fitzgerald, one sergeant, two corporals, one drummer, and 30 privates of the Woolwich division of Royal Marines, have been placed under orders to embark for service in her to-morrow afternoon, in addition to one sergeant and 10 privates of the Royal Marines transferred from the Avenger steam-vessel.
We 16 December 1846

15 December 1846

The Amphion steam frigate, Captain Williams, is ordered to be fitted with one of Porter's anchors, of 52 cwt., and it has been tested, and is now ready to be put on board. The Amphion is nearly ready for sea.
Th 24 December 1846

23 December 1846

The Amphion steam-frigate, Captain Williams, is nearly rigged, and will be ready for trial in a few days, previous to proceeding to sea.
Th 7 January 1847

6 January 1847

The Amphion steam-frigate, Captain J.W. Williams, had her steam up to-day, to try her engines in the harbour, and will again try them down the river n a few days.
Sa 25 June 1859The screw steam-frigate Amphion, 36, attached to the steam reserve at Chatham, has been commissioned at that port, and is to have a complement of 340 men. It is understood that she will be attached to the Channel squadron of observation.
Tu 23 December 1862The Amphion, 36, screw steam frigate, 1,474 tons, 300-horse power, Capt. A.C. Gordon, recently from the Mediterranean, was paid off under the superintendence of Capt. S.P. Thompson, of the Steam Reserve at Sheerness on Saturday last. The crew were granted 14 days' leave. The Amphion will be placed in the third division of the Sheerness Steam Reserve.
The Geyser, 5, paddle-wheel steam sloop, 1,054 tons, 280-horse power, Commander Colin A. Campbell, sailed from Sheerness on Monday with the seamen for the western ports who were paid off from the Amphion on Saturday. The Geyser has also on board provisions for the Channel squadron, which she has fetched from Deptford.
Fr 5 January 1866The paddle-wheel steamer Virago, 6, 300-horse power, attached to the Chatham, steam reserve, is undergone most extensive repairs to both hull and machinery in No. 1 dock, in order that she may be brought forward for commission. Her machinery has been removed into the factory for a thorough overhaul and repair, and her boilers have been taken out. The nature of the repairs ordered to be carried out will detain her in dock for some months.

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