HMS Actaeon (launched as Ariadne, 1859)
HMS Actaeon (launched as Ariadne, 1859)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameActaeon (launched as Ariadne, 1859)Explanation
Launched4 June 1859   
HullWooden Length280 feet
PropulsionScrew Men450
Builders measure3214 tons   
Displacement4583 tons   
Fate1922 Last in commission1873
Ships book   
4 June 1859Launched at Deptford Dockyard
18 November 1859
- 19 March 1864
Commanded (from commissioning at Chatham until paying off at Sheerness) by Captain Edward Westby Vansittart, Channel squadron, then (July - November 1860) in the squadron taking the Prince of Wales (in Hero) to North America, then Mediterranean, then North America and West Indies
26 November 1868
- 18 January 1869
Commanded (from commissioning at Portsmouth) by Captain Colin Andrew Campbell, Royal Yacht for the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) in the Mediterranean (until Campbell invalided due to rheumatism)
18 January 1869
- 8 June 1869
Commanded (until paying off at Portsmouth) by Captain Frederick Archibald Campbell, Royal Yacht for the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) in the Mediterranean (leaving the Royal party at Brindisi in May)
16 December 1871
- 2 September 1873
Commanded (from commissioning at Portsmouth until paying off at Portsmouth) by Captain Walter Cecil Carpenter, naval cadet training ship, Mediterranean
May 1876Torpedo training ship at Portsmouth (together with Vernon)
1884Harbour Service
1905Renamed Actaeon
11 December 1922Sold
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Sa 19 November 1859The screw frigate Ariadne, 26, in dock at Chatham, which was originally intended for the first division of the steam reserve, is now ordered to be immediately made ready for sea, and is expected to hoist the pendant to-day. It is at present unknown for what service she is intended, but it is likely she will, in the first instance, join the Channel squadron. Colonel Rea, Commandant of the Royal Marines at Chatham, received Admiralty orders yesterday for her detachment of Marines to be selected from that division.
Ma 2 July 1860On Saturday the Channel fleet arrived In Yarmouth Roads. The squadron, which has been engaged in target practice in the North Sea during the past week, consists of the Royal Albert, 120; Conqueror, 101; Donegal, 101; Algiers, 91; Edgar, 91; Aboukir, 91; Trafalgar, 91; Centurion, 80; Mars, 80; Mersey, 40; Diadem, 32; Ariadne, 26; and Flying Fish, 6. The fleet is not expected to remain in Yarmouth Roads more than three or four days, as it is to take part in a naval review before the departure of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for Canada.
Ma 4 March 1861Southampton, Sunday, March 3 - The Peninsular and Oriental Company's steamer Tagus, from Lisbon on the 27th, ult., has arrived here with the above mail. She brings 13 passengers, l,664 l. in specie, and a general cargo. On the 2d inst. the Tagus exchanged night signals with one of the company's steamers steering S.W. Her Majesty's ships Ariadne and Diadem left Lisbon on the 25th ult. for Gibraltar. The Channel fleet and the Portuguese squadron were lying in the Tagus.
Tu 19 March 1872


We have received from the Admiralty the following correspondence:-

"Her Majesty's ship Ariadne, Gibraltar, March 11.

"Sir,- It is my painful duty to report the very large and lamentable loss of life which occurred on the morning of Friday, the 8th inst., in lat. 40 15 N., long. 12 10 W, 130 miles distant from the coast of Portugal, between Oporto and Lisbon, when Mr. Jukes, sub-lieutenant, and Mr. Talbot, sub-lieutenant, and eight seamen perished in the gallant but unsuccessful attempt to save the life of a seaman who had fallen overboard, making the total loss two sublieutenants and nine seamen - in all, 11 lives.

"I have also to report the loss of both quarter boats, with all their gear. I will endeavour to give in detail an exact account of what happened.

"On the morning of the 8th inst, about 6 o'clock, the foot-ropes of the maintopsail (a half-worn sail) carried away, and the sail split, and it was then shifted by the watch, which was completed about 7 15. Soon afterwards, in resetting the maintopgallant sail, Felix Richardson (ordinary) fell overboard from the maintopmast crosstrees. The ship was then running under single-reef topsails and foresail, with a strong breeze from W.N.W. on the starboard quarter, with a long heavy following swell, causing the ship to roll heavily; the force of wind 6 to 7; the speed of ship 9½ to 10 knots.

"The ship was immediately brought to the wind on the starboard tack and hove to, and the cutter was lowered and pulled in the direction of the man. When the boat was clear of the ship, she behaved well, and made good way against the wind and sea, and I apprehended no danger to her.

"Soon after 8 o'clock, finding that the ship was drifting considerably to leeward of the boat, and the wind increasing, with heavy squalls, I hoisted the cutter 'recall,' and ordered full steam to be raised with all despatch, and, having lowered the screw and furled sails, was enabled to commence steaming to windward in the direction of the cutter at 9 50 a.m. After steaming for a few minutes she was observed to have borne up before the wind and to be pulling towards us.

"On nearing the boat and in rounding the ship to in order to place her under our lee, I saw the crest of a heavy sea take her broadside on as she was endeavouring to turn head to wind, which instantly capsized her and completely swamped her.

"Having rounded the ship close to windward of the swamped boat, to which several of the crew were clinging, as well as to the scattered boat's gear, an attempt was made to lower the starboard cutter (now the lee one), but, unfortunately, owing to the after-fall fouling on the boat touching the water, she was immediately swamped, and her crew and officers placed in great peril, all of whom were picked up with the exception of one man, William Heaney, ordinary seaman, who was lost.

"It now only remained to place the ship in such a position as to drift over the wreck of the first boat, and to save life as best we could by throwing ropes and gratings, &c, to the men in the water. This was done under considerable difficulty, owing to the heavy swell, the strong wind, and the great length of the ship, and we succeeded in saving four men.

"The ship was kept under steam among and around the debris of the wrecked boat for a very considerable time, until all possible hope of any survivors had vanished, and, finally, we bore up under sail for Gibraltar.

"The four men saved from the second cutter all agree that the boat behaved admirably, without shipping any water of any consequence till the moment she was swamped by the sea breaking and taking her on the broadside in the unfortunate attempt of bringing her head to wind; they all say that Mr. Jukes and Mr. Talbot were among the first to be washed away. While deeply lamenting the loss of these young officers, one of whom was a near relative of mine, it is a sad pleasure and consolation to be able to speak to the high merits of both of them, who have always shown zeal in the performance of their duty, and were ever foremost in cases of danger and saving life, and had gained the respect and affection of all who knew them.

"The bright side remains to this sad narrative - namely, the promptness and alacrity in executing orders on the part of officers and ship's company in a moment of great anxiety and excitement, when it was necessary to work the yards, head and after sails, in conjunction with the steam, to lay the ship in exact position for rescuing life, in which service I was ably assisted by Staff-Commander Pounds.

"I think it only my duty to bring to notice, for the favourable consideration of my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, the conduct of Lieutenant Bromley, Mr. Egerton, midshipman, and the crew of the first cutter, who, having seen the other boat swamped, willingly risked their lives in order to help their shipmates, with the unfortunate result already stated.

"It is also my desire to especially report the gallant conduct of Mr. Ellis, boastwain, second class, borne for the instruction of cadets (a survivor from the late Her Majesty's ship Captain), and George Lorain, quartermaster, who, at great peril of their lives, went down with slip-ropes under the port-quarter of the ship to attempt rescuing a drowning man; but the heavy swell and rolling of the ship rendered it impossible, and Mr. Ellis narrowly escaped with his life.

"I have the honour to append a nominal list of the gallant officers and men who were lost on the occasion, as well as a list of the four men saved from the second cutter.

"I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
" W.C. CARPENTER, Captain.
"To the Secretary to the Admiralty."

"Nominal List of Officers and Men Lost and Saved on the 8th of March, 1872.
"Officers and Men Lost in Second Cutter. - William A. Jukes, Sub-Lieutenant; William J. Talbot, Sub-Lieutenant; William Renouf, ordinary; Richard H. Thomas, ordinary, second class; Richard Bailey, coxswain of cutter; John S. Squires, ordinary; James G. Hewson, ordinary; Frederick Holland, ordinary; Samuel Blackburn, ordinary.
"Lost at Swamping of First Cutter. - William Heaney, ordinary.
"Fell Overboard. - Felix Richardson, ordinary.
"Men Saved. - Samuel Marchant, ordinary; Stephen Hazleton, ordinary; Henry Lybbey, ordinary; John Marshall, ordinary.
"W.C. CARPENTER, Captain."

The following are extracts from private letters from Her Majesty's ship Ariadne:-

"March 12,1872.

"I cannot add anything to my official report about this most unhappy disaster. The boat had not shipped a pint of water before the accident (although she had been afloat for over two hours), which was caused by allowing the boat to get broadside on to the sea. It was most unfortunate the jamming of the after fall of the second boat, as it not only placed her crew in great danger by the swamping of the boat, but deprived us of the means of rescuing the others. I trust that I may never see such a painful scene again; but I know that everything was done that could be done, and that no mistakes were made. Poor Talbot and Jukes appear to have acted splendidly; the first hauled a man (among the survivors) from under the boat, and poor Jukes kept on encouraging them all till the time he went down."

"March 8, 1872.

"People say Friday is an unlucky day. To-day I witnessed the most awful accident that you can well imagine. At half-past 7 this morning an ordinary seaman, named Felix Richards, fell overboard from the maintopgallantyard. The lifebuoys were thrown to him, and also the large lifebuoy that hangs at the stern was let go, but we do not think that he reached them. He was seen to rise after he fell and strike out, but I think he must have been insensible, as he fell on his back in the sea, and his fall must have been over 200 feet. The ship was going 12 knots before a gale of wind, and rolling very heavily at the time. The second cutter was manned, two sub-lieutenants (Mr. Jukes, who had charge of the cadets, and Mr. Talbot, the son of the clergyman and Captain Carpenter's cousin (it was erroneously stated in two of Saturday's papers that he was the son of Admiral Sir Charles Talbot)) volunteered to go in charge. The boat was lowered with great difficulty, but managed to get away. They pulled to the place where the man fell - the ship meantime had hove-to they pulled away till at last we lost sight of them. We began to get very anxious for their return; we thought that they might have been swamped, so at 8 40 a.m. we got up steam under six boilers with all possible speed, and commenced steaming to windward at 9 50 a-m. We at last sighted the boat on our starboard beam pulling before the wind, and we were trying to get as near to the boat as possible to pick her up, when a tremendous sea caught her and swamped her. It was now about 11 15 a.m. Immediately we saw the accident the first cutter was manned, Lieutenant Bromley and a midshipman named Egerton got into her, but in lowering the boat it went down bows first into the sea, owing to the after fall jamming and the foremost becoming unhooked. Some of the boat's crew managed to climb up the boat's falls to the davits, but most of them were thrown into the sea and went to leeward. Everything that was handy was thrown overboard that we could lay hands on - life belts, I cork jackets, gratings, &c; ropes'-ends were thrown to them, and all the first cutter's crew were saved but one man, who was crushed under the counter of the ship and was not seen again. While all this was going on the second cutter was capsized by another heavy sea, and the crew were hanging on to the bottom of the boat; two or three were clinging to oars. I counted 13 hands in the boat when she left the ship; after she had been capsized I counted ten - three had been washed off. I think Mr. Jukes was one of the three. I then saw three more poor fellows washed off, and there were only seven left on the boat. We at last managed to get to windward of the boat and to drift down en her broadside on, but we could not get nearer than 200 yards; and now there were only five men on the boat and one man clinging to an oar. A boatswain named Ellis, who had been saved from the Captain, secured himself to a rope and jumped after him, seeing he was exhausted. The man at last was brought to the ship and managed to clutch at a rope's-end hanging from the davits, but when the ship rolled the other way he was lifted out of the water, and, having no strength left in him, he let go, and was crushed against the ship and went down directly. Ellis was hauled on board, nearly drowned. Meanwhile we had been doing everything in our power to rescue the men clinging to the boat; one was washed away, the other four we managed to save. It was a most fearful sight to see these brave fellows, who had gone away to save a shipmate's life, washed off the boat one by one and go down close to the ship just when they expected to reach her safely. They had left the ship at 7 30 a.m. It was now 12 o'clock, and they had been pulling hard against a gale of wind all that time. They did not pick up the man that fell overboard first. We were not able to pick up either of the cutters, as they were bottom up, and the sea was running too high; so we are minus a couple of cutters."
We 20 March 1872



Sir, I have read Captain Carpenter's despatch with the deepest interest, much intensified by my having lost a near relative - a midshipman - drowned, as I maintain by neglect somewhere.

Not the slightest allusion is made by Captain Carpenter to cork jackets or mattresses.

If the hammocks on deck had contained cork mattresses, as suggested to the Admiralty months since by Admiral Ryder, they would have been thrown to the second boat's crew, and if the first boat's crew had been ordered to put on the few cork lift belts, especially supplied for the purpose, not a single one of those 11 valuable lives would have been lost.

Their Lordships appear to be waiting for some fearful catastrophe before they adopt the proper means of safety. Are they not yet satisfied, or do they require more victims?

Your obedient servant,



Sir,- Just 20 years have passed away since the opinion was expressed, in a Parliamentary Report on the loss of the Amazon, that "the means of lowering boats evenly by tackles readily disengaged are desiderata wanting throughout the naval service."

Shortly after, the late Mr. C. Clifford, who had long bestowed the most earnest attention to the subject, perfected an exceedingly simple and efficient method of lowering a ship's boats in a few seconds, irrespective of the weight or size of the boat, or whether laden with its full crew or containing only one man. The lowering could be accomplished, too, and by a lad, just as easily whether the vessel were at anchor in a harbour or under a full press of sail or steam, and in a heavy sea.

This was repeatedly demonstrated, and Mr. Clifford's system, which I believe he generously gave to the world, was thoroughly tested in the most searching way. It was highly approved and partly adopted by the Lords of the Admiralty, by the Emigration Commissioners, by the East India Company, by the surveyors of Lloyd's, most of the principal steamship companies, as well as by many private shipowners.

It always worked admirably, and no doubt has been instrumental in saving many scores of lives. To any one conversant with this important matter, indeed, there never could have been a doubt that Mr. Clifford's invention was a most valuable one, and ought to have superseded at once and for ever the comparatively bungling and lubberly mode of lowering boats up to that time universally in vogue.

In all probability had the "falls" of the Ariadne's boats been upon Clifford's principle, and had her two cutters been - as all ships' boats should be - lifeboats, we should not now have had to lament the national loss of two gallant young officers and nine brave English seamen; because, in all probability the cutter first dispatched might have been instantaneously lowered, and would thus, at least, have had the best chance of picking up the poor fellow who fell from the maintopmast crosstrees, and there would have been no necessity for risking the lives of the crew of a second boat.

While adverting to this most painful subject, one cannot help inquiring why it is in the construction of boats, when they can at a very small additional cost, be made, if not perfect lifeboats, at any rate far more buoyant, and if properly fitted with "beckets" and other appliances much more capable of supporting their crews when capsized than common boats, that the latter continue to be used at all?

On the 17th of March, 1857, in the House of Commons, the late Admiral Walcott asked the First Naval Lord (Admiral Berkeley) "whether the same protection against loss | of life afforded to emigrant ships had been, or would be shortly, provided for the Navy, by supplying men-of-war and transports with Clifford's boat-lowering apparatus, subjected as it had been to the severest tests from Her Majesty's ships under different circumstances of weather and at every rate of speed, and of the complete efficiency of which reports had been forwarded to the Admiralty."

Admiral Berkeley replied:-
"That had his hon. And gallant friend given him notice of this question, he would have brought with him a list of the ships which had been fitted with this apparatus. He would only say, that in every trial which had been made of it, its use had been attended with the most complete success, and he hoped to see it universally adopted."

This high encomium upon poor Clifford's plans was passed 15 years ago! It would be interesting to know why, in the name of common sense, they have not long since been "universally adopted" both in the Navy and the mercantile marine.

Your obedient servant,
United University Club, March 19.
Th 28 March 1872



Sir, - Since the publication in your columns of my letter on this subject I have been overwhelmed with communications - not a few touchingly eloquent - from bereaved relatives of some who perished in the late disaster connected with Her Majesty's ship Ariadne; while other writers express their cordial thanks to me for having called public attention to this important matter.

I regret to observe, however, that no very hopeful augury is to be drawn from the replies of Mr. Shaw-Lefevre in the House of Commons. We find, in the first place, that because certain officers are said to have objected generally "to the weight and unhandiness of lifeboats," the Admiralty in 1868 decided not to make the supply compulsory, but to issue them only when specially applied for by commanding officers. In the next place we learn that the Ariadne was unprovided with any lifeboat, while Captain Carpenter, in his report, expressly states that besides the two quarterboats which were both, lost "we had no other boat to lower!"

One need hardly comment upon the wisdom evinced in taking a 26-gun frigate of the dimensions of the Ariadne to sea, and with the crew she must have had on board, with only two boats! It is only necessary to imagine her helpless condition when thus deprived, by no uncommon accident, of all means of saving her crew in case of wreck, or even of subsequent communication with the shore.

By the Act 19 Victoria, cap. 119, clause 27, every "passenger" ship is bound, under a penalty of 50l., to carry two boats if she be of less than 200 tons, three boats if over 200 and less than 400, and so on in proportion to tonnage. "One of such boats shall in all cases be a longboat, and one a properly fitted lifeboat," which shall be carried in such a manner as to be most available for immediate service.

Why should the lives of officers and men in Her Majesty's Navy be less regarded than those of the passengers and crews of merchantmen? If Queen's ships are generally short-handed, or if their davits are too weak to bear the weight of the most perfect and efficient lifeboats, it is quite practicable, by very simple means, to make any boat nearly a lifeboat, by greatly increasing her buoyancy and without adding materially to her weight, rendering her more cumbersome, or materially diminishing her capacity. Mr Shaw-Lefevre could scarceFly have made himself acquainted with his topic when he talked of the existence of "considerable difference of opinion among naval officers as to the comparative value of Clifford's apparatus and that known as Kynaston's invention." Clifford's dispenses entirely with the old, dangerous, and clumsy system of "falls," the fertile source of so many fatal accidents, Kynaston retains them, or tackles nearly identical, merely adding, I believe, a couple of "disengaging hooks" of peculiar construction. These, as it happens, would not have been of the smallest use in preventing the accident to the second boat lowered from the Ariadne. That was due entirely to the fouling of the "falls".

Having had a good many years' experience at sea, and witnessed the lowering of boats under every variety of circumstances, I confidently deny the possibility of mishap with Clifford's "fall". Its adoption should, therefore, undoubtedly, be made compulsory. Possibly, by the way, Mr. Shaw-Lefevre can state why and by whose authority the Ariadne, having been fitted in 1860 with Clifford's apparatus (when commanded by Captain Vansittart), was subsequently deprived of it.

Under the existing system it is hardly possible to lower a boat in anything of a "sea," even with the most efficient crew, without more than a chance of some accident. After the lashings have been cast off or cut away (canvas covers, if any, unlaced), the lowering requires the utmost attention of several hands, who must be careful that the tackles move with the most perfect uniformity. Even in case of wreck two or three men must remain on board the ship, and they most make their escape as best they may, either by sliding down the "falls" before the boat reaches the water (though it is their duty to hold on till then), or else by watching an opportunity and taking their chance of jumping into the boat. Under every contingency, the two sets of hands on deck are necessarily separated by the whole distance between the davits; a man has, therefore, to be stationed midway between to superintend and direct the equal paying off of the rope, and thus insure an even descent. When the boat is afloat comes another frequent cause of dire mishap, pretty generally inevitable, if both "falls" be not simultaneously unhooked. This is often no easy feat for the two men who have to perform it, A "kink" occurring in one "fall", the rope fouls in the block, one end of the boat remains suspended while the other descends with a run, and every soul is most likely forcibly ejected into the water.

Contrast this bungling, dilatory, and perilous proceeding with Clifford's plan. Here the unlashing, lowering, and disengaging are all effected by one act, accomplished in a moment by one of the crew only, who has, moreover, the most entire control over the descent of the boat, whatever be her weight, and no matter at what rate the ship she is leaving may be moving. The boat cannot but take the water evenly, and the instant the man who has lowered her quits his hold of the "fall" she is simultaneously detached from the vessel. Can anything be devised less complicated or better adapted for the end in view? This simple system was subjected most triumphantly, 15 years ago, to the most trying tests. It has never been known to fail. Eleven years since, 128 men-of-war had been fitted with it, and it might readily enough be proved that poor Clifford, by his ingenuity no less than by his philanthropic exertions, has been instrumental in saving many hundreds of lives.

It seems hardly credible that we should be retrograding in such vital questions as these, or that there should still linger in some quarters a perverse adherence to a practice which has nothing to recommend it. but clumsiness combined with the happiest facility for always endangering and often sacrificing human life, too frequently on the most extensive scale. I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
United University Club, March 27.
H.B. [Hans Busk (1818-1882), wrote "The Navies of the World; their present state, and future capabilities" in 1859]

Th 28 March 1872


Sir, - Having had a good deal of experience in Clifford's boat-lowering apparatus for the last ten years in a merchant ship, I should like to bear witness to its perfectly safe and quick working in many cases under my notice.

I have during that time almost constantly been engaged in carrying passengers and troops to India, and have frequently had men overboard, both sailors and soldiers, but have never once seen an accident in lowering a boat, or lost the man overboard.

On one occasion, when the ship was sailing on a wind at the rate of 10½ knots, a passenger jumped overboard. We lowered the boat before bringing the ship in the wind, and so quickly was it all done that the man was picked up and the ship on her course again in 23 minutes, although the watch on deck at the time did not number more than 12 men.

The same man jumped overboard again one night while we were carrying studding sails. It was so dark that the boat could not be seen from the ship at 50 yards' distance, but there was not the slightest hitch in lowering the boat with Clifford's apparatus, and the man was saved for the second time.

If all vessels were obliged to carry one boat (at the least) at the davit heads, fitted with Clifford's apparatus, instead of having the boats stowed away inboard on the skids, as is generally the case now, I feel sure that scores of lives would be saved where they are now lost.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant,
H.G.W., Sub-Lieutenant, R.N.R.
Whitburn, Sunderland, March 26.

Th 4 April 1872



Sir, - While the public mind is harrowed with one of the saddest of modern stories, and Parliament and the press are asking why such disasters are permitted, and discussing the merits of Clifford's apparatus, surprise has been felt that Clifford's voice has not been heard. But, Sir, poor Clifford's voice is silent. He devoted his life to maturing this apparatus, which has been the admiration of scientific men, and of sailors of every grade in every service, and saw it adopted in most of the great navies of the world, and he sacrificed his life in endeavouring to enforce it in our own. Had he been able to speak you would have been told, in words that could not be controverted, that such a disaster as that of the Ariadne ought never to have happened; and when the Minister has been authorized to state in the House of Commons "that there is a considerable difference of opinion among naval officers as to the comparative value of Clifford's apparatus and that known as Kynaston's invention for lowering boats, and that the majority of naval officers are not in favour of Clifford's apparatus," I must ask you, in the cause of truth and humanity, to afford me a little space in his defence. With your able correspondent, Mr. Busk, I dispute these assertions altogether, and hope to show, that they lack that whole truth and candour in which truth lies. The Minister want on to say that "the present orders of the Admiralty were, that all vessels were to be fitted with Kynaston's apparatus unless special application was made by the commanding officer, in which case Clifford's was to be used." The public would think that such an order was all that Clifford could desire, and so did he; but the Minister added that certain "distinguished officers at the Admiralty were averse to its use", and in this acknowledgment the explanation of the matter will be found. It appears that the whole Navy is paralyzed by the opinions which rule at the Admiralty, for though Clifford's invention was greatly desired by many, an order rarely came, and some of his warmest admirers were obliged to confess they dare not ask for it. You, Sir, may perhaps understand the subtle etiquette which circulates through the service, from the Admiralty to the captain, which obliges him to make such an admission when human life is the subject. It was also reported to Clifford that a brother-in-law of Captain Kynaston was Controller of the Navy when the order for his invention was issued, and that he had expressed a hostile opinion to Clifford's. However this may be, it cannot be denied that Clifford's apparatus has been perseveringly discouraged at the Admiralty. It cannot be also that they are ignorant of its merits. Mr. Busk has truly stated that it was subjected most triumphantly 15 years ago to the most trying tests and never known to fail, and your columns have abounded in reports of them, for you have always given the invention your powerful support. I will ask you only to read two:-

(From The Times, December 11, 1856.)

"In pursuance of an Admiralty order forwarded to Woolwich, embodying a, number of naval officers from the dockyard and transport shipping department there, to constitute a committee for examination into the merits of Mr. C. Clifford's apparatus for lowering ships boats from the davits, various experiments have been made in order to test its utility and importance, and to enable them to report thereon to the Lords of the Admiralty. Repeated trials have been consequently made on board the Commodore's ship Fisgard, moored off Woolwich Dockyard, and also from the decks of vessels under steam at the rate of 12 and 14 knots the hour. The result has in each instance been most satisfactory. To render the trials as complete as the nature and object would admit, impediments and difficulties such as might occur at sea were introduced, yet the average time occupied in disengaging the tackle and lowering the boat never exceeded 14 seconds. The report is now in the hands of the Admiralty. It expresses the unanimous conviction of the committee that no captain of a vessel, whether in the Queen's or the mercantile navy, should be permitted to put to sea without being provided with the means of unlashing and lowering their lifeboats according to Mr. C. Clifford's process."

(From The Times' Naval and Military Intelligence, 25th November, 1856.)

"Her Majesty's steam sloop Bulldog, 6, Commander Gordon, returned from Plymouth to Spithead on Sunday, having severely tested at sea, as ordered, and at all rates of speed, Clifford's new method of lowering ships' boats; on one occasion 15 persons (officers and men) were in the boat besides all the gear. The results were all satisfactory."

Its successes in saving life are no less notorious. Your largest double sheet would not hold the reports with which the press has teemed of lives rescued from wrecks, burning ships, collisions, "men overboard" saved from sharks, and every kind of naval disaster, often in the dead of night, as in the Perseverance, where every life was saved in ten minutes, and by boats from rescuing vessels, before those on the wreck could be lowered by the old plan; and no instance has yet been recorded of failure. In your own admirable leader on the loss of the burning Sarah Sands, you say, "Now, there was a heavy gale blowing at the time, and the flames were playing about the deck, and, strange to say, for once in the case of a conflagration at sea, the boats were lowered in safety; the women and children were securely stowed away, and the boats pulled beyond the reach of danger to await the result. It was remarked that the boats were lowered without the least accident."

I say, therefore, that if "the majority of naval officers are not in favour of Clifford's apparatus," their opinions are opposed to the overwhelming evidence of the most competent authorities, but that, while it is used almost everywhere else, it is practically discouraged at the Admiralty, while the use of Captain Kynaston's invention, which is hardly to be found anywhere but in the Queen's ships, is made compulsory. When it is remembered that Kynaston's plan retains the old system of falls and lashings, requiring the united action of two hands in the boat - one stationed midway to keep the ropes clear, and two in the ship, who must either slide down the falls, make a jump at the descending boat, or be left on the wreck - while with Clifford's the whole operation is performed by one man in the boat with the entire crew in a few seconds, under any circumstances in which a boat can live, and with the ship sailing at her highest speed, the official statement to the House of Commons that "there is a considerable difference of opinion among naval officers as to the comparative value of the two inventions" appears to people out of Her Majesty's Navy to be utterly incomprehensible. I have stated these facts unreservedly to challenge inquiry, and with only one object, and I leave it to those who lead public opinion to deal with them. There are hundreds who can speak to their accuracy better than I can, and I call on them in behalf of one who cannot defend himself to do so. He can obtain no benefit from the use of his invention now, and his family never did and never can. No blame can be justly thrown on any Administration. The hostility has not come from any Government, and it is not fair to call on any Minister to defend it; but the country has a right to the best appointments in every Queen's ship; Clifford never claimed any more, and only said, "Use my apparatus because it is the best." A public trial would at once decide the question, and he exhausted all his powers in, vain to obtain it. To philanthropists who devote themselves to the service of their country and mankind, poor Clifford's is a chilling story. When only an amateur sculler on the Thames he was so impressed by the almost simultaneous loss of above 700 lives in the Birkenhead, Victoria, and Amazon, and the report of the committee on the last, that the means of lowering and disengaging ships' boats was the remedy needed, that he gave himself up to supplying the want. After many rears of toil over every known mechanical means of controlling at will a large descending weight, he invented a block which precisely adapted the amount of resistance required to the weight to be lowered under all circumstances, and with other ingenious appliances matured au apparatus which was considered to possess such mechanical novelty and merit that he was requested to read papers upon it at the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Society of Arts. He obtained medals for it at the Great Exhibitions, received the highest commendations from many of the ablest men in all the services, the lifeboat and marine institutions, and several exalted personages, including the Prince Consort and the Emperor Napoleon, and saw it adopted by all the great naval companies, the emigration and transport services, and most of the Imperial navies. He often risked his life where the oldest sailor would not go to prove it, devoted all his private means, and received your own unvarying support. But all this was not sufficient to obtain its adoption in the British Navy, because "certain distinguished officers at the Admiralty were adverse to its use." Though he had never to complain of the "insolence of office," for in his hottest warfare with the Admiralty he was courteously treated, and many brave hearts in the dockyards helped him by stealth, yet he had to bear all the withering torture of cold resistance,
"And the spurns
"That patient merit of the unworthy takes,"
till his noble spirit snapped. His faith in his cause led him to believe he could enforce it, and he sank in the unequal contest, to the sorrow of many an English home and the bitter grief of HIS BROTHER.
Magna Charta Island, April 1.

Ma 8 April 1872A debate in the House of Commons on Friday evening was directed to a certain matter of naval administration which may be far more easily explained than defended. The late accident to the boats of the Ariadne is still fresh in the public mind, and, as the loss of life on that occasion might unquestionably have been prevented by the employment of known approved precautions, the Admiralty authorities were naturally taken to task for the result. It will only be necessary for us to recount those particular circumstances of the catastrophe which bear on the case before us. When the boats of the Ariadne were required, and the order was given for lowering them, one was successfully launched, but only after so much delay that, in the meantime, the ship had drifted away from the man whom it was intended to save. As the sea was running very heavily at the time, the boat, which was only an ordinary ship's cutter, was swamped, and a second boat was ordered to be lowered. Here, however, "one of the falls jammed," by which accident all the men in her were pitched into the sea. At three several points, therefore, the arrangements for saving life on board the Ariadne were defective. Had the lowering apparatus been effective, the ship would not have drifted away; had that cutter been a lifeboat, she would not have been swamped; and had a certain other apparatus been in use, the second boat might have been launched without the hitch which proved fatal. We may now add that all these risks are perfectly well-known, and might easily have been neutralized. A system known as "CLIFFORD'S lowering apparatus" would have enabled the seamen of the Ariadne to launch her first boat without loss of time; a second apparatus, known as "KYNASTON 'S hooks," would have been equally useful in securing the even descent of the boat into the sea; and if the ship had carried lifeboats as well as cutters, and employed one of them on the occasion, the swamping would never have occurred. So Mr. BOUVERIE moved a Resolution to the effect that it was the duty of the Admiralty to provide HER MAJESTY'S ships with the necessary apparatus, and Mr. GRAVES, in seconding the motion, brought in the question of lifeboats also.

The explanations given by Mr. GOSCHEN and Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE on the part of the authorities revealed a state of things highly characteristic of the naval profession. It appeared, indeed, that whereas the Admiralty had been alive to the expediency of these precautions, ships' captains, for the most part, would have none of them. Lifeboats have actually been built by the score for the use of the Navy, and any officer who chooses may have one on demand. Orders, too, have been given that every vessel should be fitted either with CLIFFORD'S or KYNASTON 'S apparatus; so that on the latter point the injunctions of the authorities were positive, while, on. the former, a discretion was left to the captain in command. Yet though the Ariadne was a training ship, and should, therefore, have been a model of equipment and efficiency in all respects, she not only carried no lifeboat, but was not fitted with either "CLIFFORD'S lowering apparatus" or "KYNASTON 'S hooks." The consequence has been a most deplorable loss of life, and the explanations, though by no means satisfactory, are certainly intelligible. The question of the lowering apparatus was answered by an account greatly resembling certain evidence given on the loss of the Megaera. It seems that the Ariadne was in Portsmouth harbour in 1868, at which time, under the warrant then in force, it would have been the duty of the dockyard officers to supply her with "KYNASTON 'S hooks" on demand, but that under that warrant there had been no demand, and therefore no supply. Again, however, it appeared that the ship was in Portsmouth as recently as February last, and how was it that the oversight had not then been rectified? To this question the authorities of the Yard replied that on the latter occasion the vessel did not come under their hands, having been "in the First Reserve" - a classification which took her out of their cognizance. The captain might have made any requisition he pleased, but, in default of such demand, the Dockyard Officers, in respect to a vessel in the First Reserve, had neither duty nor responsibility.

The plain truth of all this is, that none of these precautions are popular in the service. The risks against which they are provided rarely make much impression on a seaman's mind, and the encumbrances which they entail are infinitely distasteful. No sailors ever expect an accident, any more than a stout young labourer ever expects to be ill. A lifeboat, in the eyes of a naval officer, is, as Mr. GRAVES observed, a "nasty lumbering thing"; and Mr. GOSCHEN did not pretend to deny the prevalence of that view, He only added that another objection was entertained. A lifeboat takes the place of a cutter, and, while a cutter is useful on many occasions, a lifeboat is wanted for one purpose only. No doubt; and as a cutter is constantly useful, while nobody ever thinks of wanting a lifeboat, the preference of a captain is easily explained. Mr. SHAW LEFEVRE completed the tale by observing that the present rule originated, in fact, with the naval members of the Board. Perhaps the civilians might have made the use of lifeboats compulsory, but the Sea Lords saw and shared the feelings of the profession, and the matter was left optional accordingly. Mr. GOSCHEN made a lame attempt to justify the existing practice by remarking that the means of saving life are unusually ample on board a man-of-war. "With every fresh watch," said he, "a separate crew is told off to man the lifeboat; this is part of the regular routine of the ship." Exactly so; and as all this conduces to smartness and discipline, the "routine" is, no doubt, regularly observed. But what if there is no lifeboat for the watch to lower or for the crew to man? And what if the cutter cannot be lowered without a fatal loss of time, and a second boat cannot be lowered at all? In this case there was no lifeboat, and Mr. GOSCHEN had to explain that "cutlers were practically lifeboats." But cutters are not lifeboats, as was proved by sad experience on this occasion; and if there had been a lifeboat on board the Ariadne, there was no proper and efficient apparatus by which to lower it, and a most melancholy disaster was the natural result.

In our opinion, the fault lies in the rule which leaves any discretion in such a matter to the captain of a ship. If lifeboats are not desirable, it is irrational to insist on their use in merchant vessels; if they are, the matter should not be left optional in the Royal Navy. The "lowering apparatus", according to Mr. GOSCHEN, is not an optional matter, and the Ariadne ought to have been fitted according to either CLIFFORD'S or KYNASTON 'S system, and we trust no punishment will be thought too severe for the officer by whose carelessness or perverseness in violating a General Order this shameful waste of life has been occasioned. But, as regards lifeboats, and, indeed, all other novelties directed towards the saving rather than the destruction of lives, they will never be turned to proper account except under compulsion. The spirit in which such precautions are depreciated is not confined to the Royal Navy, nor is it, indeed, peculiar to officers alone. It is shared by every sailor of every service, and it is more or leas exemplified in all such accidents as that under consideration. Whatever the boat, whether cutter or lifeboat, it is commonly found wanting in something or other at the moment of emergency, for the emergency is never contemplated as a practical risk, while the arrangements required for use at a moment's notice involve trouble and inconvenience, which are regarded as so much labour thrown away. That is the true history of the case as regards the lifeboat; and we venture to say that so long as they are only supplied to HER MAJESTY'S ships on the requisition of their commanders, the number now in store at Chatham will not be materially diminished. Mr. GOSCHEN failed to see the real point of the question before him, which concerned not so much the decision between "CLIFFORD'S apparatus" and "KYNASTON 'S hooks" as the necessity for the invariable adoption of one or other of such safeguards, with the resource of lifeboats besides. From the example of the Ariadne it is proved that a vessel which ought to have been a model of completeness may be defective in all the best appliances for saving life, and that risk, we are convinced, would be best averted in future, not by the investigations of a new Committee, but by the prompt and stern exercise of official authority.
Th 18 April 1872 The Pallas, 8, wood-built, armoured screw corvette, 3,787 (2,372) tons, 3,581 (600)-horse power, Captain John C. Soady, left Plymouth Sound on Tuesday morning, for a trial of her machinery in the offing, under the supervision of Captain Charles Fellowes, C.B., commanding the Keyham Steam Reserve, and Mr. George G. Bardin, C.B., Chief inspector of Machinery Afloat. The ship's draught of water was 10ft. 10in. forward, and 24ft. 6in. aft, a mean draught of 22ft. 2in., being a mean of 8in. more than it was at her speed trial on the 17th of April, 1871, which increase is due to her having on board two 28ft. cutters, fitted with Kynaston's lowering apparatus for the Ariadne, and two large plates for connecting the sternposts and keel of the Lord Clyde, besides sundry stores for making good the defects of that ship consequent on her stranding at Pantellaria. The weather during the trial was very fine, with a north-easterly breeze at force 3, and smooth sea. The barometer 30·25, the thermometer on deck stood at 60 deg., and in the engine-room 62 deg. Coal used on this occasion, Powell's Duffryn. Two runs were made over the measured mile, which gave a mean speed of 12·611 knots, with revolutions 79·35 per minute, steam pressure 32lb., and vacuum 26in. The mean speed on the trial previously mentioned was 12·453 knots, with revolutions 77·07 per minute, steam pressure 31·8lb., vacuum 26in. On completion of the two mile runs the Pallas was kept at full speed to the southward for half an hour and then returned to the Sound, having been under way 2 hours 50 minutes, and at full speed for 2¼ hours. The engines and machinery worked smoothly and well, and the trial was in all respects highly satisfactory. The Pallas is having additional single securing chains fitted to her gun carriages to ease the pivots when she rolls, and this will prevent her sailing for the Mediterranean to-day, as was anticipated, and she will not leave now until Saturday.
Sa 24 August 1872


The Committee appointed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to inquire into "the question of the supply of lifeboats to the Navy, the best lowering apparatus adapted to the special services which men-of-war have to perform, and generally into the best means of saving life at sea, always bearing in mind the special character of Her Majesty's ships," have given their earnest consideration to the subject, and beg to report as follows, - observing that they have been given to understand that their attention was to be limited to the saving of the lives of men accidentally immersed. The Committee have taken, as the first point for their consideration, the best boat-lowering and disengaging apparatus. They find that the attention of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty has been for a long time directed by many persons interested in nautical matters to the most simple and certain means of attaining this end, and that increased importance was attached to disengaging gear for boats after the destruction of the Royal Mail steamer Amazon by fire in 1852, when a great many lives were sacrificed in the attempts made to lower her boats while the ship was going at a high speed. The Committee have had access to and have examined all the records existing at the Admiralty since the commencement of 1852 which bear on the questions referred to them, and they find that such, proposals and inventions as appeared to possess any merit have been subjected by the Admiralty to experimental trials. The ordinary service fitting for hoisting and lowering boats carried outside Her Majesty's ships is a simple tackle, with a thimble attached to the lower block, and a hook in the slings. About the year 1856, in consequence of many favourable reports of an apparatus invented by Mr. Clifford, which had been tried in merchant ships, the Admiralty adopted it to a limited extents They sanctioned its being supplied and fitted to the quarter-boats of Her Majesty's ships upon the special request of commanding officers; subsequently the applications became so numerous that in l857 the Admiralty issued a circular to the dockyards, directing that when any captain applied for Clifford's apparatus it was to be fitted to all quarter and stern boats without further authority. Another method, the invention of Captain Kynaston, R.N., was also about the same time tried in certain of Her Majesty's ships with much success. In 1862, consequent on continued favourable reports of its working, especially in a notable instance reported by Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker, a general order was issued to the dockyards that the quarter and stern boats of all new ships and others preparing for commission were to be fitted with Kynaston's hooks, but that Clifford's might, if preferred, be supplied also on application. It does not appear, however, that it was intended to make the use of either plan compulsory.

The Committee considered it very important to ascertain the general opinion entertained of the merits and disadvantages of the above-mentioned plans, founded on personal experience, and they have examined various officers of the Royal Navy and of the mercantile marine, and have received replies from others to questions addressed to them, which, together with the evidence, are contained in the Appendix. The evidence is remarkable for establishing the fact that comparatively few accidents involving loss of life have occurred in Her Majesty's Navy to boats lowered at sea. Previous to the case of the Ariadne in 1872, the last one appears to have been, in 1835, to His Majesty's ship Melville, off the Cape of Good Hope, in bad weather, when both cutters were lowered successfully by common tackles for the rescue of an officer and man overboard. One of the boats, containing several officers and men, was unfortunately swamped by a heavy sea before she regained the ship, and all in her were drowned; but the other boat, with her crew, was safely hoisted up again. The Committee have fully considered the three plans above referred to, the evidence respecting which is based on experience and practice at sea, and they find as follows:-

1st. With reference to Clifford's plan. - Many failures, due to the apparatus, have occurred in lowering boats so fitted, and the Committee are therefore unable to recommend its adoption in Her Majesty's Navy. The non-success of this system, as recorded on numerous occasions, is principally due to the necessity of suspending boats, often weighing upwards of two tons, at a height of 30 feet, by single rope pendants, the friction on which, when passing over rollers fixed in skeleton blocks, is the principal means of controlling the lowering. These pendants have frequently failed to render through the blocks, owing to the rope becoming swollen by exposure to wet or frost, proving the 'system to be unsuited to the variations of climate to which ships of war are subject. This alone would be a fatal objection, even if it were not undesirable to suspend heavy boats by single pendants. The Committee, in thus reporting, are aware that the system has been applied and used with much success in boats of a lighter description than those in ordinary use in Her Majesty's service, and particularly where they are not carried at a great height above water.

2d. As to Kynaston's disengaging hooks. - Though there are some instances recorded in which they have not acted satisfactorily, still they so nearly meet the conditions required that the Committee feel justified in recommending their further supply to Her Majesty's ships. At the same time, they are unable to recommend their use being made compulsory on officers who are unwilling to adopt them. The difficulty which exists in judging the precise moment to let go the whip by which the hooks are released - an act which should be so timed as to be done when the boat is close to the water, and before the sea has taken the strain off either of the falls, and the fact that the hooks do not invariably at once cant and release the boat, unless they bear a portion of her weight, are the objections which chiefly present themselves in the use of this apparatus.

3d. As to the ordinary service plan. - The evidence does not record the loss of a single life to Her Majesty's service attributable to this fitting, although the witnesses examined must have referred to an experience of many hundred instances of its use at sea. It possesses the advantage of simplicity, and enjoys the entire confidence of many experienced officers, whose judgment is supported by the large success which has attended its use, - a fact confirmed by the evidence: the Committee are, therefore, of opinion that this is the most satisfactory mode extant of lowering boats at sea. The objections to this fitting are that each fall has to be separately unhooked by hand, but, with a properly adjusted boat rope, experience has shown that this defect is in great measure overcome, and it has even been found possible in practice to lower boats so fitted, in smooth water, while the vessel retained considerable speed. The Committee entertained grave doubts, whether, however admirable the lowering and disengaging apparatus may be, it is wise, on the occasion of a man falling overboard to man and lower a boat in any considerable sea while the ship is rapidly advancing through the water. The probability that any failure of the apparatus would be followed by a serious disaster induces the Committee to record their opinion that authority to do so should rest with the discretion of the officer commanding.

Numerous plans, in addition to those previously submitted to the Admiralty, have been specially brought before the Committee by their inventors, some of which display great ingenuity, and are illustrated by models and drawings which bear witness to the pains and care taken by the designers in their endeavours to perfect an apparatus which should meet all requirements. The Committee cannot recommend any of the inventions for lowering boats at sea by mechanical means which have been brought before them, but they suggest that attention be directed to improvement in the blocks, the sheaves in the davits, the falls, and the position of the cleats or bollard, which must vary in every ship. The following plans for disengaging appear to possess sufficient merit to be worthy of further consideration - viz., those of Staff-Commander James Kiddle, Mr. Edward J. Hill, and Mr. Mark H. Robinson; but the Committee are quite unable to recommend the adoption of any plan which has not been subject to the crucial test of trial on actual service at sea in a squadron. All the naval officers examined by the Committee are strongly of opinion that lifeboats should not be supplied to the exclusion of any boats now on the establishment. They consider the boats now applied to Her Majesty's Navy are perfectly safe and efficient in any state of weather and sea in which it can be deemed right to lower a boat with a view to save life. But they see no objection to a small lifeboat being supplied, in addition, to the present establishment, as it, no doubt, would be useful on many occasions, especially for landing in surf or entering a bar harbour. In these views the Committee entirely concur. The lifeboats hitherto supplied to Her Majesty's Navy do not possess the necessary qualities, and the Committee recommend that, if possible, a boat be constructed capable of being pulled against wind and sea, sufficiently light for the crew to handle when ashore, and possessing a reserve of buoyancy when swamped. It has been, suggested to the Committee that increased buoyancy may be given to a boat when swamped by the application of cork where convenient. This simple arrangement would have the advantages of being easily kept in repair, of being always in its place at sea or in harbour, and of occupying no considerable space in the boat. The Committee, therefore, consider this plan is worthy of trial.

The evidence touching life-buoys shows that, although those supplied to Her Majesty's ships are the best generally known, there is great room for improvement in them; and the Committee are of opinion that attention should be directed to the two following points: -
1st. A life-buoy should be capable of supporting a man without any effort on his part.
2d. The light on a life-buoy for use at night should be placed where the sparks or flame do not fall on the man clinging to it, and the light ought to burn not less than 20 minutes.

Some plans of life-buoys have been brought before the Committee. None of them are, however, entirely satisfactory, some being too cumbersome, while others do not meet the required conditions. The Committee consider the service cork life-belts efficient and well adapted for all general purposes. A proposal has been made to substitute cork for hair mattresses, with the object of making them available for saving life. The adoption of this plan must depend in the first instance on their proving to be satisfactory beds for use on board ship, a point which cannot be settled until additional trials have been made of them in all climates. It would be under very exceptional circumstances that cork mattresses would be required to save life in Her Majesty's service. The measures at present adopted in Her Majesty's Navy for saving the lives of men who fall overboard, are as follow:-

Life-buoys of two descriptions ready to let go instantaneously; men constantly stationed by them night and day; quarter boats always ready to lower; life-belts at hand; boats' crews mustered in every watch, and kept in readiness to man them; and signal-men properly stationed to keep sight of the man in the water and direct the boats.

On this subject the Committee can suggest no improvement. These arrangements are the result of long practical experience, and have been attended with a large measure of success.

Finally, from the evidence of all naval officers examined by them, as well as from their own experience, the Committee feel justified in saying that how best to save a man overboard at sea is a subject which constantly engages the most anxious consideration of every officer in Her Majesty's Navy.

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