HMS Phaeton (1883)


HMS ''Phaeton'' was a second class cruiser of the which served with the Royal Navy.


She was built by Napier in Glasgow, being laid down in 1880, launched in 1883 and completed in 1886.Morris, Douglas, ''Cruisers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies''

Acceptance Trials

"The ''Phaeton'' has been tried in the Solent. At the previous six hour' full power trial of the ''Phaeton'' there was a difficulty experienced in maintaining steam from want of draught in the stokeholds. (Only the ''Leander'' of this class has been fitted with fans for forced draught.) The funnels were afterwards raised from to (the same height as those of the first-class cruisers), while the space between the firebars was increased. The effect of these changes at the trial was very marked, the engines being provided with an abundance of steam without their being any necessity for resorting to the blast. The trial was intended to have been for six hours, but during the eleventh half hour, the expansion gear of the starboard engine heated and snapped, and the run was brought to a premature close. As, however the machinery worked without any hitch of any kind, and was developing power largely in excess of the Admiralty contract, it was agreed by the officers superintending the trial to accept the means of the five hours as a sufficient test of performance. These afforded the following data: Steam in the boilers, 85.35 lbs [588.5 kPa]; vacuum, starboard and port; revolutions, 100; mean pressures, starboard, 43.7 and 11 lb. [301 kPa and 76 kPa] and 43 and 11.7 lb. [300 kPa and 81 kPa] port; collective horsepower, or nearly 600 horses [450 kW] beyond the contract. The mean speed registered by runs on the measured mile was , which was remarkable, notwithstanding her light draught. The coal consumption did not exceed 2.39 lbs. per unit of power per hour [1.45 kg coal per hour per kiloWatt]." However, by September 1886, it was decided that "due caution was not observed in certain particulars by those responsible for taking over the engines of the Phaëton from the contractors. The several officers concerned have been censured by the Admiralty, and the chief engineer has been removed from the ship."

Sea-going career


The December 1885 Navy List lists her as at Chatham.''Navy List December 1885'', page 229 In the 1880s, what normally happened with a ship was, "the staff necessary for the efficient maintenance of the machinery is supplied by the Steam Reserve, and when orders are received to commission the ship the men who have been employed upon her are as far as possible selected to compose her engine-room staff. In the case of the Phaëton the men who had been so employed had, from various causes, been drafted away before the order was received to commission her, with the exception of three stokers who formed part of her staff. None of the accidents that subsequently occurred in the ship can be attributed to this cause."


''Phaeton'' was commissioned at Chatham on 20 April 1886.''Navy List, January 1887, corrected to December 1886'', page 223 Initially she was listed as on ''particular service''. On 25 May 1886, ''Phaeton'' had an accident with a four-barrelled Nordenfeld gun whilst the crew were at quarters and engaged at target practice. The Nordenfeldt gun had been in use, and the crew of seamen who had been engaged in firing it handed it over to a crew of Royal Marines whilst charged, instead of removing the case of cartridges. The Marine crew were engaged in training the gun fore and aft, when someone touched the lever and fired the gun, which swept the deck, at that time crowded with men, four of whom were wounded. At least four cartridges were in the gun, and the bullets went through two iron beams, and two of the ship's bulkheads. The wounded men were not struck by bullets; they were hit by splinters from the bulkheads. At the time of the occurrence ''Phaeton'' was about a hundred miles from Plymouth, for which port she made, and on arrival at Plymouth on 27 May three of the wounded were sent to the Royal Naval Hospital for treatment. In addition the steam steering gear broke down on 25 May. ''Phaeton'' left Plymouth on 27 May to continue her cruise. By June 1887 was serving in the Mediterranean.''Navy List, July 1887, corrected to 20 June 1887'', page 223. In her initial months of service, ''Phaeton'' suffered from a series of break-downs of her engines. For instance in one accident a piston-rod broke due to a manufacturing defect, and when it broke, cracked one of the cylinders.


''Phaeton'' was recommissioned at Malta on 18 March 1890.''Navy List July 1890, corrected to 20th June 1890'', page 239


''Phaeton'' was in ordinary at Chatham from 1893 to 1896.

1896 annual manoeuvres

''Phaeton'' was commissioned for the 1896 annual manoeuvres on 8 July 1896, and paid off on 19 August.


''Phaeton'' was commissioned at Devonport on 8 June 1897.The Catalogue of the UK National Archives
has logs for ''Phaeton'' covering 8 June 1897 to 1 September 1900, catalogue references ADM 53/14972 to 14975.
She was present at the Naval Review on 26 June 1897 at Spithead in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
/ref> By November 1897 she was serving on the Pacific station. At this time the British naval force on the Pacific Station consisted of:''Navy List 1898, corrected to 13th December 1897'', page 193. *Armoured cruiser: HMS Imperieuse (1883), ''Imperieuse'' flagship of Rear-Admiral Henry St. L.B. Palliser.''Navy List 1898, corrected to 13th December 1897'', page 191. Rear-Admiral Henry St. L.B. Palliser was appointed 5 March 1896, and assumed command 19 June 1896. *Cruisers: HMS Amphion (1883), ''Amphion'', HMS Leander (1882), ''Leander'', ''Phaeton'' *Destroyers: HMS Sparrowhawk (1895), ''Sparrowhawk'' and HMS Virago (1895), ''Virago'' *Sloop: HMS Icarus (1885), ''Icarus'' *Gunboat: HMS Pheasant (1888), ''Pheasant'' *Store and depôt hulk at Coquimbo: HMS Liffey (1856), ''Liffey'' On 1 August 1900, ''Phaeton'' narrowly avoided colliding with USS Iowa (BB-4), USS ''Iowa'' coming up the straits approaching Victoria, British Columbia, Victoria (British Columbia) in a dense fog.


''Phaeton'' was re-commissioned at Esquimalt, British Columbia, Esquimalt (Canada) on 10 October 1900 by Captain Ernest James Fleet, to serve on the Pacific Station.Navy List, March 1901, corrected to 18 February 1901, page 290-291The Catalogue of the UK National Archives
has logs for ''Phaeton'' covering 10 October 1900 to 28 April 1903, catalogue references ADM 53/14976 and 24832
In July 1902 she visited Acapulco, and most of the Autumn of that year she was at Panama, before going to Paita, Peru in December 1902. She paid off on 28 April 1903. This commission was the subject of a book in the Log series (Westminster Press), 'Log' series, entitled: ''HMS Phaeton, Pacific Station, 1900–1903''.

Harbour service and training hulk

''Phaeton'' did harbour service at HMNB Devonport, Devonport from 1904 to 1913, ''Leander'' class
/ref> where she was used for training stokers and seamen. Her officers were borne on the books of HMS ''Vivid''. In 1913 her "stripped out hull" was sold for £15,000 to a charitable institution that ran a training ship for boys based at Liverpool. The charity was founded in 1864 by John Clint, a Liverpool shipowner, with the aim of training the sons of sailors, destitute and orphaned boys to become merchant seamen. The charity's first training ship was the former HMS Indefatigable (1848), HMS ''Indefatigable'', an old wooden frigate which served the charity as TS ''Indefatigable'' from 1864 to 1914. Frank Bibby, Mr Frank Bibby, gave the charity money to buy the ''Phaeton'' and to refit her at Birkenhead as a training ship. ''Phaeton'' was renamed TS Indefatigable, TS ''Indefatigable'' and moored off New Ferry in Liverpool on 15 January 1914. The previous ''Indefatigable'' had been condemned by the Inspector of Training Ships in 1912 as unfit,Nuffield Centre, History – A short history of Plas Llanfair and of the training centre ‘Indefatigable’.
and was towed to the West Float at Birkenhead on 5 January 1914, and sold for scrap on 26 March.
/ref> The figurehead of William IV from the old ''Indefatigable'' was transferred to the ex-''Phaeton''. An Admiralty warrant for a Blue Ensign defaced with a liver bird for TS ''Indefatigable'' was issued on 31 December 1927. "Life on board was tough. Breakfast consisted of one slice of bread and margarine washed down with 'cocoa flush' which had been prepared in the galley by dropping solid slabs of cocoa, unsweetened, in a cauldron of boiling water. The liquid was drawn off into kettles which were lowered to the mess decks where the boys drank it from basins. Cups were never seen on board! Dinner consisted of varieties of 'buzz'. There was pea buzz, Irish buzz and mystery buzz. Buzzes were neither soups nor stews but had the characteristics of both and were served in the same basins as the cocoa flush. A small pile of broken ship's biscuits was placed beside each plate. Boiled cod was the 'treat' on Fridays!" ''Phaeton'' served as TS ''Indefatigable'' until 1941, when due to German bombing of English towns, both ''Indefatigable'' and HMS Conway (school ship), TS ''Conway'' were ordered to be evacuated. The charity committee decided that the time had come to move the training ship to a shore base, it moved for a time to a temporary base in North Wales. ''Indefatigable'' (ex-''Phaeton'') was then sold to a Preston firm for scrap.E. Chambré Hardman Archive – ''Training Ship Indefatigable''
/ref> However, she was repurchased by the Admiralty in 1941 and renamed ''Carrick II'', and served as an accommodation hulk at Gourock throughout World War II. In 1946 she was sold for breaking up to Thos. W. Ward's in Preston, where she arrived on 24 January 1947.


Logbooks in the UK National Archives

External links

E. Chambré Hardman Archive – photo of ''Training Ship Indefatigable'' (ex-''Phaeton'') in 1930
{{DEFAULTSORT:Phaeton (1883) Leander-class cruisers (1882) Ships built on the River Clyde 1883 ships