HMS Alert (1856)
HMS Alert (1856)

Royal NavyVessels

Browse RN vessels: A; B; C; D; E - F; G - H; I - L; M; N - P; Q - R; S; T - U; V - Z; ??
NameAlert (1856)Explanation
Launched20 May 1856   
HullWooden Length160 feet
Builders measure751 tons   
Displacement1044 tons   
Fate1896 Last in commission1882
Ships book   
20 May 1856Launched at Pembroke Dockyard.
12 November 1857
- 8 October 1861
Commanded (from commissioning until paying off at Plymouth) by Commander William Alfred Rumbulow Pearse, Pacific
12 May 1863
- 29 November 1865
Commanded (from commissioning at Plymouth) by Commander Henry Cholmeley Majendie, Scottish fishery protection, then (October 1863) the Pacific
21 September 1865
- 20 April 1867
Commanded by Commander Arthur John Innes, Pacific
20 April 1867
- 30 May 1868
Commanded (until paying off at Plymouth) by Commander Hugh Horatio Knocker, Pacific
1874Converted for Arctic exploration. The original engines were removed and replaced by a set of Hawthorn compounds, she was reboilered to 60 pounds per sq. inch and the armament was superseded by a token battery of four Armstrong breach loaders. The hull was strengthened with felt covered iron, the whole being sheathed with teak above water, and Canadian elm and pitch-pine below.
15 April 1875
- 5 December 1876
Commanded (from commissioning at Portsmouth until paying off at Portsmouth) by Captain George Strong Nares, leading the British Arctic expedition of 1875-6 (also included Discovery, Captain Henry F. Stephenson). Alert reached 82° N, and Commander A.H. Markham (second in command) took a sledge party to 83° 20' 26" N, the highest latitude reached by man up till that time. Nares finally had to abandon the expedition when scurvy broke out; he was subsequently knighted and Markham promoted to Capt.
20 August 1878
- 11 March 1879
Commanded (from commissioning at Chatham) by Captain George Strong Nares, survey of the Strait of Magellan
12 March 1879
- 20 September 1882
Commanded (until paying off at Sheerness) by Captain John Fiot Lee Pearse Maclear, Pacific, employed surveying Canadian and Australian waters
20 February 1884Transferred at Sheerness to the United States navy for an expedition to the Polar seas [In 1882 A.H. Greely, of the United States Army, leading a Polar expedition, was able to get four miles farther north than Markham before running into trouble; two relief expeditions failed to make contact, and the Alert was offered to the United States Navy to assist in a third try. Under the command of Captain George W. Coffin USN she gave good service in the setting up of supply dumps for an expedition under Captain W.S. Schley USN who finally managed to extricate Greely and seven survivors].
May 1885Transferred at Halifax to the Canadian Government survey of Hudson Bay (Lieut. Andrew R. Gordon, R.N.). Manned by a master, two mates, two engineers, a carpenter, two boatswains, twelve able seamen, six engine room crew and a lamp trimmer; there were five cooks and stewards. She also carried a medical officer, five scientific staff and twelve observers for shore stations.
1886Upon completion of the Hudson Bay Survey used as a light-house supply vessel and buoy tender, first in Nova Scotia and then from Quebec for service in the Gulf of St Laurence.
November 1894Laid up as being unfit for further use. Subsequently sold by public auction for breaking up, and - she formally being on loan from the RN - a bill of exchange for "£ 814/2/7, was forwarded through the usual channels to the Admiralty for the credit of the Imperial Navy fund".
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Tu 19 January 1858The screw steamsloop Alert, Commander Pearse, left Hamoaze on Wednesday, and proceeded outside Plymouth Breakwater, and tested her machinery at the measured mile, which gave an average of eight knots an hour. On Saturday she returned to Hamoaze to stop a leak. The Alert is ordered to Portsmouth to join the Royal marriage squadron [marriage of Victoria Adelaide Mary, eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to Frederick III, Emperor of Germany on 25 January 1858].
Ma 25 January 1858The defect in the blow-pipe of the screw steamsloop Alert, 17, Commander W.A.R. Pearse, having been made good, she has returned from the inner harbour to Plymouth Sound. Her crew were paid wages on Thursday by Rear-Admiral Sir J. Pasley, and she is under sailing orders for Valparaiso.
Th 28 January 1858Her Majesty's screw steam sloop Alert (17) put into Falmouth on Monday, with strong contrary wind, from Portsmouth, bound to the Pacific. At 1 p.m. she saluted with 21 guns in honour of the Royal marriage. A public ball took place at the Royal Hotel in the evening, which was numerously attended; and during the day flags were displayed from the Consulates, Custom-house, &c.
Ma 23 September 1861The Alert, 17, screw, Commander Pearse, arrived at Spithead on Saturday, from the Pacific station, sailing from Valparaiso, June 8, passing the Gulf of Peenes on the 20th of June; cleared the Straits of Magellan on the 6th of July; arrived at Rio de Janeiro on the 22d of July, and sailing thence for England four days afterwards. She brought home a few supernumeraries from the station, who were landed from her at Portsmouth, and orders were given her to proceed to Devonport to strip and pay off. In the Straits of Magellan the Alert passed a Russian man-of-war steamer, and off Sandy Point, in the same passage, spoke the English missionary schooner Allan Gardner.
We 25 September 1861The screw steam corvette Alert, 17, Commander William A.P. Pearse, at Spithead, from the Pacific, is ordered to Plymouth, where her crew will be paid off. She will be placed in the Steam Reserve. The Alert was commissioned at Devonport in November, 1859 [should be: 1857].
Th 26 September 1861The Alert, 17, screw, Commander W.R. Pearse, sailed from Spithead yesterday for Devonport, where she will be dismantled, pay off her crew, and be put out of commission.
We 25 February 1863The screw steam sloop Alert, 17, having received considerable repairs in No. 4 dock at Devonport, was hauled yesterday morning into the north basin, to be rigged for the first division of the steam reserve.
Ma 18 May 1863The screw steam sloop Alert, 17, Commander Magendie, at Devonport, just commissioned, is ordered to be stored and provisioned for immediate service. She was placed on Saturday in dock So. 1, to have her bottom cleaned and be overhauled.
Ma 1 June 1863The screw steam sloop Alert, 17, Capt. Majendie, left Plymouth en Saturday for Portsmouth. She will be attached to the Channel Fleet.
Fr 3 July 1863The Alert, 17, screw steam sloop, 751 tons, 100-horse power, Commander Henry C. Magendie, and the Columbine, 4, screw steam sloop, 669 tons, 150-horse power, Commander Thomas L.H. Ward, arrived at Sheerness yesterday to be refitted, after which, these vessels will proceed to the North for the protection of the Scotch fisheries.
Th 8 October 1863The screw steam sloop Alert, 17, Capt. H.C. Majendie, from Scotland, which arrived on Tuesday morning at Plymouth, has discharged her powder and is gone up Hamoaze to be refitted for foreign service, probably the Pacific station.
Ma 26 October 1863The Columbine, 6, screw, Commander Ward, was inspected at Spithead on Saturday by Vice-Admiral Sir M. Seymour. G.C.B., and afterwards sailed for the Pacific.
Ma 25 July 1864The Bacchante, screw frigate, 39 guns, Capt. Donald M.L. Mackenzie, arrived at Spithead on Thursday, about 2 p.m., from the Pacific. She sailed from Valparaiso on the evening of the 14th of April, with a freight of 125,000 dollars on board for Rio de Janeiro. At Valparaiso were Her Majesty's ships Leander, bearing the broad pennant of Commodore Harvey, and Alert, Commander Majendie; light southerly winds and calms were experienced after leaving Valparaiso until the 26th. The vessel made very little progress, having at that date only reached lat. 36.57 S.; long. 84.24 W. Beyond this point strong northerly and westerly winds were fallen in with, and continued until Cape Horn was rounded on the afternoon of the 8th of May. The Falkland Islands were passed on the 9th. Of May, fresh westerly winds prevailing. On the 10th of May the ship was under double-reefed topsails and courses, going nine knots, when the main yard was carried away at the slings. On the 14th it had been repaired and sent up again, but on the same day the starboard cutter was carried away in a heavy roll of the sea. From the 16th of May to the 22d the wind was very light. On the 22d of May there was a calm, and steam was got up in two boilers. At noon on the 25th the vessel anchored in the Bay of Rio de Janeiro, and found at anchor there Her Majesty's ships Egmont, Curlew, Stromboli, and Industry. Two deaths occurred on the voyage from Valparaiso to Rio - Henry Harris, private Royal Marine Light Infantry, received from Her Majesty's ship Nereus, and William Harford, gunner of the Royal Marine Artillery, serving on board the ship. The Bacchante having discharged her freight and received on board naval invalids from Her Majesty's ships on the station sailed from Rio anchorage for England on the 1st of June, under steam with two boilers in use, escorting the British ship Sophy out to sea until 20 miles S.S.E. of the bay. Then the Sophy, in obedience to a signal from the Bacchante, cast off the warps of her towing tug and stood out to sea under her canvas, a Federal man-of-war steamer being reported at the same time to be in sight and in pursuit. The Bacchante crossed the equator on the 15th of June in long. 30 W., and the Tropic of Cancer on the 26th of June in long. 42 35 W. Vice-Admiral Sir Michael Seymour, G.G.B., embarked on board the Fire Queen steam yacht, Staff Commander Paul, on Saturday, and proceeding out to Spithead inspected the Bacchante. The vessel after her inspection weighed her anchor and steamed into Portsmouth harbour to dismantle and pay out of commission.
Th 21 May 1868The screw steam sloop Alert, 17, Commander Hugh H. Knocker, which arrived at Plymouth on Tuesday, as already reported in The Times, has since April last been almost constantly at sea. She left Valparaiso July 3, 1867, and called at Callao, en route for Vancouver's Island, where she arrived on the 6th of September. Having been docked and re-coppered, she left on the 5th of October, called at the Sandwich Islands and Tahiti, and arrived at Valparaiso on the 4th of January, 1868. She left finally on the 8th of February, touched at the Falkland Islands March 1, and sailed from Rio Janeiro March 29.
Fr 22 May 1868The crew of the Alert, 17, were inspected yesterday by Port Admiral Sir William F. Martin, K.C.B. Her powder is discharged, and she is under orders to leave Plymouth Sound for Hamoaze, where she will be paid off.
Ma 1 June 1868The crew of the screw steam, sloop Alert, 17, Commander Hugh H. Knocker, were paid off at Devonport on Saturday.

Valid HTML 5.0