HMS Amphion (1846)
HMS Amphion (1846)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameAmphion (1846)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
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)
22 June 1861
- 1 September 1861
Commanded by Acting Captain George Henry Parkin, Mediterranean
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)this gets replaced
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.
Ma 17 May 1847


The Driver steam sloop, Captain Hayes, having coaled, left the harbour yesterday afternoon and proceeded to Woolwich to be paid off. She took with her the officers and crew of the Amphion screw steam frigate, who have been navigating the Odin during her "relief service." When the Driver left Rio Commodore Herbert's squadron in the river Plate were all well; the crews and marines still ashore, protecting British property — consequently, there are no cruizers to prevent the slave traffic, and slaves were being landed in thousands along the unwatched parts of the coast with the most commercial coolness. She reports that the Inflexible steam sloop, Commander Hoseason, had run from the Cape to Port Jackson, Sydney, a distance of 6,392 miles in 35 days 6 hours.
Fr 16 April 1852

SHEERNESS, Thursday Morning, April 15.

Her Majesty’s screw steam frigate Horatio, 22, Captain the Hon. S.T. Carnegie, completed, the adjustment of her compasses yesterday, and was towed to the Little Nore by the Myrtle, where she will this day take in her powder. She is, we are informed, nearly 50 hands short of her complement, which deficiency is for the present to be supplied by the seamen riggers of the dockyard. Her crew are to be paid to-day three months' wages in advance. She is to start forthwith on an experimental cruise to the Scilly Islands, and will not return for 10 days. Her present armament consists of 18 eight-inch guns on her main deck, which throw 56lb. solid, or 68lb. hollow shot, and four ten-inch 84-pounders on her upper deck. Although 381 tons less than the Amphion, 32, she can discharge a heavier broadside. She stows 116 tons of coal, which, when steaming expansively, will suffice for seven days' consumption. On a trial cruise some time since, when light, her average speed per hour by screw propulsion was 8 1/3 knots. The Highflyer is reported to accompany the Horatio on her present trial cruise.
Her Majesty's paddlewheel steam-sloop Basilisk, 6, Captain Gardiner, from Portsmouth, brought to off the Little Nore yesterday afternoon, and soon afterwards came into harbour and let go her anchor.
Her Majesty's screw steam-sloop Desperate, 8, arrived here shortly after the Basilisk.
Her Majesty's ship Nymph was towed yesterday by the Myrtle from her anchorage on the west shore to moorings off the Lapwell.
Her Majesty's paddlewheel steam-frigate Cyclops, 6, has been warped to the north side of the fitting basin, to take on board her stores, &c.
Ma 6 March 1854


The victualling of the ships at Spithead for six months foreign service was completed yesterday. There are now at this rendezvous to-day the following ships, the complements of which we give, as nearly as we can arrive at them without consulting the ships' books:—
Princess Royal, Captain Lord Clarence Paget, flag of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier, K.C.B., &c.913,129880400
Prince Regent, Captain Hutton, flag of Rear-Admiral Corry.902,513821
Edinburgh, Captain Hewlett, flag of Rear-Admiral Chads. C.B.561,772660450
Royal George, Captain Codrington, C.B.1212,6161,100400
St. Jean d'Acre, Captain the Hon. Henry Keppel.1013,600900650
Boscawen, Captain Glanville.702,212620
Hogue, Captain W. Ramsay.601.750660450
Imperieuse, Captain Watson, C.B.512,347530360
Arrogant, Captain Yelverton.471,872450360
Amphion. Captain A.C. Key.341.474320300
Tribune, Captain the Hon. S.T. Carnegie.301,570200300
Dauntless, Captain Ryder.331,490300580
Leopard, Captain Giffard.181,412280550
Valorous, Captain C.H.M. Buckle.161,255220400
Dragon, Captain Willcox.61,270200500
Bulldog, Captain W.C. Hall.61,123160500
Frolic, Commander Nolloth.16511120
They have each been ordered (this day) to draw charts for the Baltic.
Every day will add to this force, which will eventually include the three-deckers, Duke of Wellington, 131; St. George, 120; Waterloo, 120; Neptune, 120; Caesar, 91; Nile, 91; James Watt, 91; Algiers, 91; Monarch, 84; Ganges, 84; Cressy, 81; Majestic, 81; Blenheim, 60; Ajax, 60; Euryalus, 51 ; Fox, 42; Pique, 40; and numerous others. Sir Charles Napier will, we believe, command personally 20 sail of the line, and 10 sail of French. There will be about 50 sail of smaller ships, which will be apportioned to the English and French Rear-Admirals and Commodore Martin, and it is reported a squadron of sailing-sloops or brigs is to be commissioned to cruise off the Scotch coast to prevent privateering. Rear-Admiral Corry will shift his flag to-morrow from the Prince Regent, 90, to the Neptune, 120, an order having been received yesterday, appointing Captain Hutton to the Neptune, and Captain Smith, C.B., from the Neptune, to the Prince Regent. Captain Hutton takes with him Commander Bunce, Lieutenant Brandreth, and 50 of the Prince Regent's crew. When the change of officers and ships was made known on board the Prince Regent yesterday, the whole ship's company, who really love their admiral and captain, and are devotedly attached to their matchless ship, wanted to follow the admiral, as one man, into the Neptune, and when told that only 50 would be allowed to be draughted by the Admiralty, their countenances betokened the sincerest dejection. Subsequently all the petty officers went aft on the quarter deck and respectfully requested that the Admiralty might be memorialised for their removal with their admiral and captain. The Neptune will be some time getting ready. She has lower yards and topmasts up and topgallant masts pointed, but has only 150 men on her books besides her draught of Royal Marines. We expect, therefore, that Rear-Admiral Chads will be the first despatched with a "flying squadron" of frigates towards the Baltic, that Sir Charles Napier will follow, and that Rear-Admiral Corry will bring up the rear. Captain Hay, of the Victory, has declined the flag-captaincy to Sir Charles Napier. The Prince Regent, the St. Jean d’Acre, the Amphion and the Odin were paid wages down to the 31st of January yesterday. The Imperieuse, Tribune, and Valorous will be paid to-morrow, leaving only the Arrogant (whose pay books have not yet been landed) of Admiral Corry's division to be paid. The Blenheim, 60, Captain the Hon, F.J. Pelham, has readjusted her compasses and will be ready to join the fleet to morrow. The Caesar, 91, Captain Robb, is rattling down her rigging. The Odin, 16, Captain F. Scott, is repairing boilers in the steam-basin. The fleet are daily exercised in .gunnery, reefing, furling, &c. Mr. Parratt, of the Treasury, brought down last night from London a small tubular collapsing boat, upon the principle of his admirable liferaft, which he has this day taken off to the St. Jean d'Acre, for the Hon. H. Keppell. The 23d, 42d, and 79th Regiments are preparing for active service. The two latter corps will be augmented by volunteers from the 72d and 79th depots, 31 volunteers from the 11th Foot, 32 from the 65th, and 62 from the 35th embarked from this dockyard at 6 o'clock this morning, in the Foyle, British and Irish Steam-pocket Company's vessel, to join the 1st battalion of the Royals, at Plymouth. The Foyle embarks the 93d depôt at Plymouth, to-morrow, for the Isle of Wight. The depôt of the 2d battalion of the Rifle Brigade will be conveyed to the Isle of Wight to-morrow in Her Majesty's steam-tender Sprightly.
The Cruiser, 14, Commander G.H. Douglas, will join the Baltic fleet.
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.

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