HMS Rattler (1843)
HMS Rattler (1843)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameRattler (1843)Explanation
Launched12 April 1843   
HullWooden Length185 feet
PropulsionScrew Men180
Builders measure888 tons   
Displacement1112 tons   
Fate1856 Last in commission1856
Ships book   
12 April 1843Launched at Sheerness Dockyard.
30 October 1843
- 16 November 1843
First series of trials.
February 1844
- January 1845
Second series of trials.
12 December 1844
- 2 December 1846
Commanded (from commissioning at Woolwich) by Commander Henry Smith, Portsmouth (and with the 1846 Squadron of Evolution)
17 November 1846
- 13 September 1847
Commanded (until paying off at Woolwich) by Commander Richard Moorman, South America
12 February 1849
- 15 April 1851
Commanded (from commissioning at Plymouth until paying off at Woolwich) by Commander Arthur Cumming, west coast of Africa
28 August 1851Commanded (from commissioning at Woolwich) by Commander Arthur Mellersh, East Indies (including 2nd Burma war)
5 April 1855
- 17 May 1856
Commanded (until paying off at Woolwich) by Commander William Abdy Fellowes, China and East Indies
26 November 1856Breaking up by Fulcher, Woolwich, completed.
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Th 16 November 1843


A third series of experiments was made yesterday to test the steaming power of this ship, and to show what rate of speed could be accomplished by Mr. Smith's screw, with which she is propelled, as compared with what is accomplished by paddle-wheels in vessels of the same class and tonnage. The experiments were made in Long-reach, along the measured mile, so that no mistake might be made as to time and distance. These experiments were completely satisfactory, and proved that, even under the present disadvantages - viz., the vessel not being yet coppered, and the machinery of the engine being worked with straps in the place of cog-wheels, which will ultimately be used, she can perform rather more than nine knots, or ten and a half statute miles, in an hour. This was the mean rate on the average of six trials, and there is little doubt that when perfectly completed the vessel will get through the water by her steam powers at the rate of ten knots an hour. She was attended by the Lightning steamer, considered one of the fastest of the Royal steamers, but she was more than a match for that vessel, and performed her trials to the satisfaction and gratification of all those who witnessed her performances. The Rattler is a very fine model, finely moulded and showing all the points on which the beauty of a sea craft depends. She has Messrs. Maudslay's double cylinder engines of 100-horse power each, and her dimensions are thus: - Extreme length, 195 feet; length on the deck, 176 feet 6 inches; length of the keel for tonnage, 157 feet 9½ inches; extreme breadth, 32 feet 8½ inches; moulded breadth, 31 feet 10 inches; depth in the hold, 18 feet 7½ inches; the burden is 888 tons. These experiments have confirmed the efficiency of the screw propeller as to speed. With respect to the application of the principle to men-of-war, the superiority of the invention must be obvious to all persons. The machinery of the propeller is not liable to be shot away or wounded, and the ships in which it is used are more easily managed and enabled to turn with much more facility. The cost is also less than the old principle, and the saving in weight so great as to be almost in the ratio of hundredweights to tons. The other advantages are, that the apparatus may be made only auxiliary to sailing powers, which it cannot obstruct, and a vast saving of fuel obtained by not always using a sailing vessel as a steamer.
Ma 7 October 1844

6 October 1844

The Rattler steam and screw-propeller ship was tried down the river yesterday, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having ordered that she should be tried again with three descriptions of screw propellers, the invention of Mr. Sunderland, Mr. Steinman, and Mr. F.P. Smith, previous to her being brought forward for commission.
Ma 21 October 1844


This fine steam frigate, after having made a great variety of experiments with the different propellers that have been projected by Mr. Smith, Mr. Woodcroft, Mr. Blacland, Mr. Steinman, Mr. Sunderland, and other persons, in order to ascertain their comparative merits, made her final trial in the river, last week. The screw that has been found, to produce the highest rate of speed with the smallest, consumption of power is that of Mr. F.T. [sic] Smith, known as the inventor and adapter of the Archimedean screw. The Admiralty have in consequence determined to send the Rattler to sea, fitted with a propeller in accordance with the suggestions of that gentleman. The trial of last week was made partly with the view of ascertaining the precise rate of the ship in steaming in smooth water with Mr. F.P. Smith's propeller, and partly to determine its effect as compared with what had been done with other propellers that have been recommended to the notice of the Admiralty. On this occasion the average of 12 trials at the measured distance in Long-reach showed a speed of 9.900 knots, or 11½ statute miles, an hour, which rate of speed, considered in comparison with the small amount of power, viz., 200-horse power, the amount of power of the engine of the Rattler in relation with her tonnage, 888 tons, ranks her performance higher in the history of steam navigation, than the performance of any vessel of her class, either in the service of Her Majesty or in the commercial steam navy of the empire. It should be mentioned that the Rattler was built in every respect as a sister ship to Her Majesty's steam-ship the Prometheus, with this difference, that the Prometheus has paddle-wheels. The Prometheus on her trial at the measured distance reached only to the rate of 8¾ knots an hour. The trials with Mr. Steinman's propeller, and also of that of Mr. Sunderland, which were alluded to in The Times the week before last, came off, the former on the 12th instant, and realized a speed of 9.537 knots an hour, and the latter, which realized 8.380 knots an hour on the 10th instant. The Admiralty appears to have been guided in their selection of a permanent propeller screw for the Rattler after Mr. F.P. Smith's not only by the superior speed attained, but also by the diminutiveness of his screw, the length being only 15 inches, and the diameter 10 feet. The Rattler has already got her masts on board; she is rigged with a foremast like a frigate or sloop, her middle and mizenmasts are rigged as schooner masts, her gun carriages are also on board, and she is ordered to be equipped for sea as speedily as possible; and in consequence of the complete success which has attended the application of the screws to her, several others, we believe six, iron ships of a large class are forthwith to be constructed on the same principle. The trials were made under the superintendence of Mr. Lloyd, chief engineer of Woolwich Dockyard, and Captain Smith, R.N., of the Royal Dockyard. There were also present - Captain Newell, R.N., Commanders Cuspin, Brenique, and Sullivan, R.N., Mr. Seaward, Mr. Lambert (of the firm of Messrs. Maudslay, engineer to the Rattler), Mr. C. Christy, Mr. F.P. Smith, and several other gentlemen connected, with nautical and scientific pursuits.
We 23 October 1844

22 October 1844

In view of the success of the Rattler, the Admiralty has given orders for six other steam-ships, of a larger class, to be forthwith constructed on the same principle.
We 23 October 1844After 12 trials in smooth water of Her Majesty's steam-ship Rattler, fitted up with Mr. Smith's screw propeller, the average speed gained was 11½ statute miles per Hour. The Rattler is 888 tons, and 200 horse power; and her sister ship, the Prometheus, similar to her in every respect with the exception of having paddle-wheels, only reached 8¾ knots an hour. The Rattler has got her masts on board, and is to be fitted for sea immediately; and, in consequence of her success, the Admiralty have ;given orders for six other steam-ships, of a large class, to be forthwith constructed on the same principle. - Liverpool Standard.
Th 24 October 1844


Sir, - Being referred to in your paper of the 21st inst. as present at the late trials of Her Majesty's Steamer Rattler, allow me to furnish you with a more correct account of them.

The Rattler was placed last October under the management of Messrs. Brunel and Smith, that experiments might be made in her, for the purpose of ascertaining, without regard to patent right, which description of screw as a propeller was the best.

Mr.F.P. Smith's screw was first applied to her, and its results was 7.75 knots only. The Rattler at this time was uncoppered, and, as on a subsequent trial with another form of screw, made when uncoppered and coppered, the difference was found to be .504 knots, the speed of Mr. Smith's propeller should therefore be fairly set down as 8.254 knots. The first was its last trial, as its length was found very objectionable, for it measured 5 feet6 inches.

During these Government experiments, a propeller patented by Mr. Woodcraft was tried, and this on a second experiment gave a result of 8.632 knots, with 27.01 revolutions of the engines. Mr. Blaxland's propeller came next, and on its single trial, made on the 12th inst., gave a result of 9.538 knots, with 25.06 revolutions. This was followed by a (second) experiment with Mr. Sunderland's propeller, made on the 15th inst, which gave a result of 8.346 knots, with 18.1 revolutions.

It should be mentioned that the propeller which you say was made "in accordance with the suggestions" of Mr. Smith, and which was tried on the 4th inst. (after 20 previous trials), with a result of 9.659 knots, and with 26.25 revolutions, was tried finally on the 17th, when its result was found to be 9.893 knots, and its engines' revolutions 27.01. The addition of 1.95 revolutions, equal to .845 of a knot in calculation, sufficiently accounts for this increase of speed, as the propellers are. similar in form; and as the same would of course give a little advantage to Mr. Blaxland's propeller if tried under the same circumstances, the advantage in speed must be given to it, for the experiment made on the 4th inst. was not made with a heavy seagoing propeller, as on the 12th, but with one adapted only for effect on the river, and never intended to go to sea. Mr. Woodcroft's propeller, it should in fairness be stated, was, when unshipped, found to be warped and altered in form.

Your very humble servant,
Thames Iron Works, Oct. 21.

Sa 14 December 1844

11 December 1844

This frigate was towed down to the East India Docks on Wednesday last, for the purpose of having her machinery completed. Her burden is 820 tons; her power, 260 horses; and her armament, two pivot guns and 10 carronades. She has been fitted with a new pair of vibrating engines, similar in every respect to those last year applied to the Admiralty yacht, Black Eagle, tubular boilers, and Mr. Steinman's patent submarine propeller, which, may be briefly described as two radiating helical blades set each upon an arm, and advancing from an angle of 30° to an angle of 45°. Its number of revolutions per minute will be 55 only, which is 57 less than that last tried in Her Majesty's steamer Rattler, and its diameter is 12 feet. The Phoenix, which, it will be remembered, has till now been propelled by paddle-wheels, is immediately to be commissioned. The engineers employed in fitting her are. Messrs. Penn and Son and Messrs. F.C. Christy and Co.
Sa 21 December 1844

12 December 1844

The Rattler steam-vessel was commissioned last week by Commander Henry Smith, and the following appointments have been since made for service in that vessel:- Lieutenant E.B. Rice (1844), Lieutenant William Robertson (1840), and subsequently Lieutenant H.D. Blanckley (1841), vice Rice, whose appointment has been cancelled…
Su 5 January 1845In consequence of Mr. Sunderland declining to have any more experiments made with his propeller in the Rattler steam-vessel, the intended trial on Monday did not take place, but she will leave on Thursday morning, at 10 o'clock, to try Mr, Hodgson's "parabolic propeller".
We 8 January 1845

7 January 1845

In consequence of Mr. Sunderland declining to have any more experiments made with his propeller in the Rattler steamvessel, the intended trial on Monday did not take place, but she will leave on Thursday morning, at 10 o'clock, to try Mr Hodgson's "parabolic propeller".
Tu 28 January 1845

22 January 1845

Experimental trails were made down the river in the Rattler steam-vessel, Commander Henry Smith, on Wednesday, with Mr Steinman's' propeller, when a speed of 9.45 knots per hour was obtained; and on Thursday with Mr F.P. Smith's propeller, the same in principle as has been applied to the Great Britain steam-vessel, and the speed obtained was 9.645 knots per hour, the engines making 26.98 strokes per minute. The Rattler is to be fitted with Mr Smith's propeller for sea service.
Tu 28 January 1845Experimental trials were made down the river in the Rattler steam-vessel, Commander Henry Smith, on Wednesday, with Mr. Steinman's propeller, when a speed of 9.45 knots per hour was obtained; and on Thursday with Mr. F.P. Smith's propeller, the same in principle as has been applied to the Great Britain steam-vessel, and the speed obtained was 9.635 knots per hour, the engines making 26.98 strokes per minute. The Rattler is to be finally fitted with Mr. Smith's propeller for sea service.
Sa 1 February 1845

30 January 1845

The Rattler, steam-vessel, Commander Henry Smith, left Woolwich for Greenhithe to have her compasses adjusted, and will afterwards proceed to Portsmouth to be paid in advance.
Th 6 February 1845

3 February 1845

The Rattler, screw-propelled steam sloop, Commander Smith, arrived at Portsmouth from the river, with Commander Crispin, of the Royal yacht, and the inventor of the screw-propeller, on board. It is reported this vessel will try her rate of speed with the Royal and the Admiralty yachts. She is a very bold and sightly vessel, and, with the exception of the funnel, has no resemblance to a steam-vessel. Her rig is that of a schooner with three masts, and she looks somewhat like a corvette. Her speed in coming into harbour was very great. She mounts only five guns, four 32's (carronades), and one long 68-pounder on a pivot forward; and, from her appearance, we should judge she would, without any strain or inconvenience, carry double the number. She attracted considerable attention from nautical men on coming from Spithead into Harbour.
Sa 8 February 1845

7 February 1845

The Royal yacht is still in dockyard hands at Portsmouth, but will be completed in another week, when she will try her rate of speed, in company, we believe, with the Admiralty yacht and the Rattler screw propeller steam-ship, now at Portsmouth.
Ma 10 February 1845

9 February 1845

The Rattler, 8, screw-propelled steam sloop, Commander Smith, is in the harbour at Portsmouth, painting and preparing for sea. She is short handed.
Th 13 February 1845

10 February 1845


The first trial of the Phoenix war steamer was made down the river on Monday last, when, drawing 12 feet 9 inches fore and 13 feet 9 inches aft, her speed was found to average 9.616 miles per hour, her engines, of 260 horse power, making 22.75 revolutions per minute (their legitimate number), and her propeller (Mr. Steinman's patent) 56.875. This same invention when tried a second time in the Rattler war-steamer gave, drawing 10 feet 8 inches fore and 12 feet aft, a speed of 9.457 knots per hour, the engines, of 220 horse power (with 25 revolutions), making 25.244 revolutions per minute, and the propeller 100.896, whilst that of Mr. Smith's, when tried, a 25th time, in the same vessel, and under the same circumstances, attained a speed of 9.638 knots, the engines making 26.98 revolutions, and the propeller 107.92, thus showing an increase of .181 of a knot (little more than a sixth) in 9.638 knots in favour of the latter, when assisted by 1.756 additional engine revolutions per minute, or 15 horses extra power.
Tu 18 February 1845Rattler has completed defects and will be ready to leave with Victoria and Albert (the Royal yacht, Capt. Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence) and Black Eagle (the Admiralty yacht, Master J.M. Cook) on a trial cruse on Wednesday.
(various)this gets replaced
Ma 24 February 1845Her Majesty's steam yacht Victoria and Alber, Capt. Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence, Her Majesty's steam ship Black Eagle, J.M. Cook, Master, and Her Majesty's ship Rattler, fitted with the Archimedean screw, Capt. Smith, put into Plymouth on Thursday morning from Spithead, and left for the westward in the afternoon on a trip to the Atlantic, there to try the sailing qualities of the several ships. Sir W. Symonds, the Surveyor of the Navy, and Dr. Reed, who fitted the vessel with the ventilating apparatus, are on board the Royal yacht. A Russian Admiral, Capt. Codrington, R.N., Capt. Robb, R.N., and several other amateur naval officers, are on board the Black Eagle. On their passage from Spithead the Royal yacht beat the Black Eagle which ship was followed by the Rattler. The speed of the Royal yacht is increased by her late improvements and she answers her helm much better. The Black Eagle had 40 tons of coal on deck which might hare impeded her velocity. With only 200 horse power the speed with which the Archimedean screw propelled the Rattler excited surprise and admiration. The squadron reached Falmouth yesterday afternoon. It has not transpired what has been the result of the passage down Channel, or whether any thing like an experiment has yet been proved, but it is said the squadron shall remain at Falmouth until a fresh gale or breeze will enable them more effectually to try the respective qualities of the different vessels to the westward.
Tu 4 March 1845

3 March 1845

Two of the steam-trial squadron (the Royal yacht, Admiralty yacht, and screw steam-sloop Rattler) came up to Spithead from Pembroke this afternoon. The Victoria and Albert rounded the point off Fort Monckton at 3 o'clock, and was quickly followed by the Black Eagle, which kept within about three cables' length of her. These two steamed out to the Nab light and then returned to Spithead, where they brought up, we imagined, to wait for the Rattler, but which did not heave in sight up to the time our parcel left. At a quarter past 4 the Royal yacht and Black Eagle came into harbour. The former passed the Platform Battery about three minutes before the latter. The Rattler has been beaten by a long distance in this cruise, but the efficiency of the screw-propeller has been thoroughly established.
Th 6 March 1845

5 March 1845

The Rattler, screw-propelled steam-sloop, one of the steam trial squadron, came up to Spithead during the night of Monday, and came into Portsmouth harbour yesterday morning. She Left for Woolwich this day to have some alterations made to her machinery.
Th 13 March 1845


At the Institution of Civil Engineers on Tuesday, the discussion was renewed upon the relative merits of the screw and paddle-wheels as methods of propulsion, and was extended to so late a period that no papers could be read. ... The peculiarities of the steaming qualities of the Rattler, in spite of her bad build, were fully described. It appeared that in heavy weather, when sailing and steaming, and when it was thought that she was dragging her screw through the water, the dynamometer showed a very effective exertion of power, and that the slip was extremely small. That when the Royal yacht was obliged to shorten sail, because of losing speed by the heeling over of the paddles, the Rattler was enabled to use all her canvas and engine power together, and to gain way in the same proportion as the other vessels lost it. The general impression appeared to be, that the experiments were very satisfactory, and that it the Rattler had been a well-formed ship, and the power on board had been greater, the results would have been much better.
Sa 29 March 1845

28 March 1845

The Alecto steam-vessel, Lieutenant-Commander Hoseason, was taken out of the basin at Woolwich yesterday , and has been repaired sufficiently to enable her to proceed on a trial with the Rattler screw-propeller steam-vessel, Commander Henry Smith. The Lightning, Master-Commander Petley, sailed in company with the Alecto and Rattler this morning on a short cruise.
We 9 April 1845


In the trials which were instituted by the Admiralty between these vessels, to test the qualities of the screw propeller ship Rattler and the paddle-wheel ship Alecto, the superiority of the Rattler has been fully shown. In one of the trials which took place on the 30th of March, during a perfect calm, from the Little Nore to Yarmouth Roads, 80 miles, the Rattler beat the Alecto 23½ minutes, although the Rattler, in consequence of a short supply of steam, was compelled to work the second grade of expansion throughout the day, and the engines only 23½ to 24 strokes per minute. On arriving at Yarmouth Roads they started again, both vessels having all sails set to a moderate breeze. They continued running until off Cromer Light, when the Rattler in 34 miles beat the Alecto by 13 minutes, From the bad appearance of the weather it was deemed proper to anchor for the night, during which it blew a complete gale from the N.N.W., and continued throughout the day, affording the very opportunity they were sent out to seek for trying the Rattler's powers in a head sea. In getting underway, the vessel pitching heavily, snapped her cable and lost her anchor. This race was one of about 60 miles, and the Rattler passed the Spurn Light 40 minutes before her competitor. On one occasion the Rattler lost steam, which allowed the Alecto to get alongside of her. This was at 10 o'clock a.m., and it was from that time to her anchoring that the 40 minutes were gained; although prior to that, when the sea was roughest, the Rattler gained more than half a mile on the Alecto in the first hour, the latter having had the start of the former. The 60 miles were accomplished in seven hours and a half, tide principally against them. The very lowest pressure exhibited "when the screw was out of the water" (as the opponents of the principle term it) was 34 lb, ranging up to 60 lb., on Salter's balance. Subsequent trials took place with still greater advantages to the powers of the screw; but the most conclusive results as to its superiority were proved when the vessels being fastened to each other, with their heads in opposite directions, the Rattler towed the Alecto, in spite of all her attempts to run away astern, at the rate of two miles and a half an hour. - Evening paper.

Sa 26 April 1845

24 April 1845

Sir George Cockburn and Sir William Hall Gage, Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty visited Woolwich Dockyard and witnessed the manner in which the screw of Rattler was shipped and unshipped over the starboard side of the vessel, and then proceeded on board the Erebus to witness the manner in which the screw propeller could be taken on deck and replaced in its proper position, by letting it down through a well formed in the stern of the vessel. Their Lordships entered into conversation with Mr [Oliver] Lang, master shipwright, relative to the advantages of this mode of attaching and detaching the screw, introduced by him, and the principle is so simple and easy of accomplishment that any vessel in Her Majesty's navy may by its aid be fitted with a screw propeller, the objection and difficulty of shipping and unshipping it on the outside being completely obviated.
Sa 3 May 1845

29 April 1845

Rattler was taken into dock to be fitted with bilge pieces to prevent her rolling.
Sa 10 May 1845

9 May 1845

The Vesuvius steam-vessel, Commander O'Callaghan, left Woolwich on Tuesday for Greenhithe, and sailed yesterday for Leith. Lieutenant-General Lord Cathcart, K.C.B. [Charles Murray Cathcart, 2nd Earl, commander of British forces in Canada from 15 June 1845 to 13 May 1847], went down the river in the Myrtle steamer yesterday morning, to embark in the Vesuvius, and she started on the same day for Scotland, where Lady Cathcart and his Lordship's suite will embark for a passage to Quebec.
The Rattler steamer, Commander Henry Smith, left Woolwich yesterday morning to try her speed, compared with the Vesuvius, and will proceed as far north as the Frith [sic] of Forth.
Sa 17 May 1845

13 May 1845

Rattler returned to Woolwich from Leith, where she had been on a trial cruise with the Vesuvius, and was found to surpass that vessel in speed.
Sa 17 May 1845The Erebus, Capt. Sir John Franklin, and the Terror, Capt. Crozier, left Woolwich on Monday, towed by the African and Myrtle steamers, for Greenhithe. The Terror having previously tried her screw-propeller, on this occasion resolved on trying it again, and made such excellent progress, that she cast off her towing-steamer, and proceeded down the river without any additional assistance whatever. The crews of the Erebus and Terror were paid in advance to-day, and to-morrow (Saturday) sail for their destination, accompanied by the Monkey and Rattler steam-vessels, ordered to tow them to the Orkney Islands. The Barretto Junior transport, with live stores and various descriptions of preserved meats and other articles, most liberally supplied for the use of the officers and men of the discovery vessels, will be sent at the same time, and accompany them to the borders of the ice. The compasses of the vessels have been adjusted by Captain Johnson, and the most perfect arrangements made for the peculiar service in which the vessels of the Arctic expedition are to be engaged.
Ma 26 May 1845

19 May 1845

The Erebus and Terror, discovery ships, in tow of the Rattler steamer, passed the Nore about 3 p.m.
Th 12 June 1845

10 June 1845

Rattler returned to Woolwich in the afternoon, having left the Erebus, Capt. Sir John Franklin, and the Terror, Capt. Crozier, discovery ships, off the islands of Barra and Rona, on the 4th, to the westward of Cape Wrath. The officers and crew were all well and in high spirits. Several of the oxen had died on board of the Barretto Junior transport ship, which was to accompany the Artic expedition vessels to the borders of the ice.
Fr 13 June 1845Commander George Smith, of the Woolwich Dockyard, was the officer who had the charge of the Rattler during the period she accompanied the vessels of the Artic expedition, and Captain Henry Smith resumed command yesterday.
Ma 16 June 1845Rattler called at Sheerness for orders last Monday, having towed the Erebus and Terror 60 miles north-west of the Orkney Islands. In returning to Sheerness she accomplished the distance from Flamborough Head (200 miles) in 21 hours. Orders were awaiting her to proceed to Woolwich.
Ma 23 June 1845

20 June 1845

The Rattler screw-propeller steam-vessel, Commander Henry Smith, will leave Woolwich for Portsmouth tomorrow (Saturday), to attend the experimental squadron of ships-of-war during the contemplated cruise in the Channel.
Ma 23 June 1845

22 June 1845

Rattler arrived at Portsmouth to attend the fleet.
Sa 28 June 1845

27 June 1845

Rattler called at Sheerness with supernumeraries on her way to Portsmouth.
Sa 28 June 1845

27 June 1845

We believe Her Majesty and the Royal family will re-visit Osborne-house in the latter part of next week, accompanied by the King and Queen of the Belgians, Her Majesty having expressed a wish to witness the departure of the Experimental squadron upon their trial cruse from Spithead. The squadron will be augmented next spring tides by the Hibernia, 100, Capt. Richards, flag-ship of Vice-Adm. Sir William Parker, Bart., making nine sail, and the Rattler screw steam-sloop, which is ordered to attend upon the squadron.
Th 3 July 1845

1 July 1845

Rattler exercised in gunnery at Portsmouth.
Ma 1 September 1845

31 August 1845

Rattler arrived at Cork last night, bringing despatches from Admiral Sir Hyde Parker for the Admiralty, which were forwarded by an express messenger to the Cork Post-office in time for the morning's mail. Captain Smith states that he left the squadron three days since, 60 miles west of Cape Clear, and that it was the intention of the Admiral to put into the Cove of Cork on Sunday or Monday next. The Rattler sails again this evening with letters for the squadron.
We 24 September 1845

22 September 1845

Admiral Sir Hyde Parker left Plymouth for Portsmouth in the Rattler steamer.
Th 25 September 1845

23 September 1845

Rear-Adm. Dacres' flag being struck on Monday night [Dacres was Commander-in-Chief at the Cape of Good Hope, and acting Commander-in Chief and Admiral-Superintendant at Portsmouth], Capt. Moubray, of the Victory, hoisted a broad pendant, as commodore of the first class, on board the Victory, he being senior officer at the port. But this morning, at about 6 o'clock the Rattler steam sloop arrived with Rear-Admiral Hyde Parker, from Plymouth, when his flag was hoisted on board the Victory, and Commodore Moubray's pendant was struck. The admiral continues ill, and is confined to his residence.
Fr 26 September 1845

25 September 1845

The Rattler steam-sloop, Commander Smith, which arrived on Tuesday morning with Rear-Adm. Hyde Parker, will complete the repair of defects here. She has sprung her foremast and main gaff.
Fr 26 September 1845

25 September 1845

The naval and military authorities were informed of her Majesty's intention to return from Osborne to Windsor this morning... The Royal yacht, followed by the Fairy tender, came into harbour about a quarter before 11, when the platform battery fired a Royal salute, followed quickly by the Victory and Excellent; the crews upon the yards of the Victory and Rattler cheered most loyally as the yacht passed.
Fr 26 September 1845

25 September 1845

Queen Victoria returned from Osborne to Windsor. The Royal yacht, followed by the Fairy tender, came into harbour about a quarter before 11, when the platform battery fired a Royal salute, followed quickly by the Victory and Excellent; the crews upon the yards of the Victory and Rattler cheered most loyally as the yacht passed.
We 1 October 1845

30 September 1845

Rattler at Portsmouth repairing defects. She has had her foremast out, which is being attended to at the dockyard.
Fr 10 October 1845

8 October 1845

Rattler had a new foremast fitted.
Su 12 October 1845

10 October 1845

The Rattler is nearly ready for sea again, having reshipped her stores, &c., and got rid of her vermin.
We 22 October 1845

20 October 1845

Rattler arrived during the night at Plymouth from Portsmouth.
Sa 1 November 1845

30 October 1845

Her Majesty's steamer Rattler, Commander Schomberg [sic], arrived at Plymouth this morning. She left there on the 21st inst. with the cruisers, and brings dispatches from Commodore Moresby, and only waits to receive stores and letters, when she will immediately return to the fleet.
We 5 November 1845

4 November 1845

The Rattler, screw steam-sloop, Commander Smith, is refitting again at Portsmouth, this time for foreign service on the coast of Africa, to aid the suppression of the slave trade.
Fr 14 November 1845

13 November 1845

The Rattler steam-sloop (screw propeller), Commander Smith, has had her main and mizzenmasts taken out yesterday for the purpose of having then stepped further aft. She is now under active refit for foreign service.
Tu 18 November 1845TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
May I beg the favour of your inserting the following?-
...The "President's" capstan is fitted with "Gryll's Appliance " a quick means of wining the anchor without the aid of messenger or nippers, and getting rid of the fearful accidents attending their use. Her Majesty's ship Rattler is also thus fitted, and has worked it under all her trials for the last 15 months with the greatest advantage; her cables, being stowed before the engine-room, as in all steam-ships, pay themselves down into the lockers without manual labour under any circumstances.
I am, Sir, your very obedient servant,
19, Billiter-street, Leadenhall-street.
Sa 22 November 1845

21 November 1845

The Rattler screw steam sloop, Commander Smith, was taken into the basin at Portsmouth yesterday to complete the repair of her defects and fit for service on the coast of Africa [This plan was evidently not proceeded with].
Fr 28 November 1845

27 November 1845

The Rattler, screw steam-sloop, Commander Smith, is being fitted for sea without delay. Men who have been at work upon the Leander, 50, have been taken off that ship and put on the Rattler to expedite her. She re-shipped her masts yesterday.
Sa 29 November 1845

28 November 1845

The Harlequin, 10, having had her bottom re-caulked, repaired, and re-coppered, as well as other refittings too numerous to mention, was undocked this morning, her dock being wanted for the Rattler screw-propelled steam-sloop, Commander Smith, which is ordered to be got ready for sea service without the least delay. The Rattler will have a larger screw fitted, and be differently rigged, for which purpose her fore and mainmasts have been shortened, and the mainmast stepped 10 feet further aft.
Fr 5 December 1845

4 December 1845

The Rattler screw-propelled steam-sloop, Commander Smith, is having an altered screw fitted; the screw having proved a great drawback to her speed when under sail, a hatchway is being cut from the upper deck down into the dead-wood, by which means the screw may be lifted up so as not to impede her progress when under canvass, and may be altogether removed or replaced, if damaged, without going into dock. An extra number of millwrights were put upon her yesterday to get her out of hand as quickly as possible.
Tu 16 December 1845

14 December 1845

The Rattler steam-sloop, Commander Smith, in dock, will be ready to leave next week.
Ma 15 December 1845

14 December 1845

It is reported that an experimental squadron of steam-vessels will put to sea to try their respective rates of sailing and steaming, and other features, as efficient and serviceable vessels of war, early in the ensuing spring, and that gunnery exercise will be a leading item in their trials, in order to ascertain which armament is best adapted for vessels of their class. The competing vessels named are the
Terrible 1,847 tons 800 horse power
Retribution 1,641 tons, 800 horse power
Avenger 1,444 tons, 650 horse power
Gladiator 1,167 tons, 430 horse power
Sampson (frigate) - tons, 450 horse power
Ardent (sloop) - tons, 200 horse power
Rattler (screw) 888 tons, 200 horse power
Scourge 1,124 tons, 420 horse power
Black eagle 495 tons, 260 horse power
Ma 12 January 1846

11 January 1846

The Rattler steam (screw) sloop, Commander Smith, was immediately taken into the dock vacated by the Scourge, the contemplated alterations in her screw propeller not having been completed when she was last docked. By these alterations she will be enabled to ship or unship her screw at any time without difficulty, or raise it sufficiently to be clear of the water if it should be desirable to get the vessel under canvass. This (which, for want of a hatchway through from the quarter-deck to the screw, such as has recently been made, could not be done before without going into dock) can be accomplished at sea in a gale with ease.
Th 15 January 1846

14 January 1846

The Rattler, screw steam-sloop, Commander Smith, having completed her refit "alow and aloft," came out of dock into harbour this morning, and will be ready to leave in a day or two.
Tu 20 January 1846

19 January 1846

The Rattler, screw steam-sloop, Commander Smith, has rebent sails, and will go out of harbour when the weather moderates.
We 28 January 1846

27 January 1846

The Rattler, screw-propelled steam-sloop, Commander Smith, went out of Portsmouth harbour to Spithead this morning, after undergoing a thorough refit. She is re-shipping her powder, &c.
Th 29 January 1846

28 January 1846

The Rattler steam-sloop, Commander Smith, came into Portsmouth harbour again yesterday after trying her new screw (Woodcroft's) at Spithead.
Sa 7 February 1846

6 February 1846

Arrangements are made for embarking to-morrow, in the Rattler, Comet, and Echo steam vessels, 380 marines from the Portsmouth division, with about 70 women and children, at 10 o'clock, and also for the immediate embarkation of a large detachment expected by railway from Chatham, all to be put on board the Superb, 80, Captain Corry, at Spithead, which will sail if possible to-morrow evening for Plymouth, there to embark another detachment, and proceed thence to Cork. These men are intended as a relief for the marine corps at present serving in Ireland, which will return to Spithead in the Superb.
Ma 9 February 1846

8 February 1846

The Rattler screw steam-sloop. Commander Smith, conveyed to Cork yesterday evening the wives and children of the marines embarked in the Superb.
Th 12 February 1846

11 February 1846

The Rattler screw steam-sloop. Commander Smith, went out of Portsmouth harbour yesterday under canvass, and sailed for Plymouth. She did not use her steam, and appeared to be going, with all common sail set, at about nine knots per hour.
Sa 14 February 1846

12 February 1846

The Rattler screw steam-sloop, Commander Smith, which sailed on Tuesday afternoon for Plymouth, with supernumeraries, returned this morning to Spithead and into harbour this afternoon. She went from Portsmouth to Plymouth in the short space of 20 hours, under canvas alone, passing everything in the Channel, and although there was frequently not much wind, she made ten knots. She left Plymouth yesterday at 2 p.m. under steam, and in coming round in the night, from Dunnose to Spithead, the weather was so very thick that they lost sight of lights and marks of all kinds, and the tide drove her on the Dean, but she merely touched, and proceeded on her way. She brought a few supernumeraries; has no further orders at present. She answers admirably in every respect under canvass.
Ma 16 February 1846

15 February 1846

Lord Ellenborough, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Rear-Admiral Bowles, accompanied by the Hon, H.T.L. Curry, First Secretary to the Admiralty, and Captain Brandreth, R.B., Director of Engineering and Architectural Works, arrived yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock by the ordinary express train of the South Western Railway, to pay a visit to Portsmouth.
At about half-past 3 their Lordships entered the Admiralty barge (which had been in waiting some time in charge of Flag-Lieutenant Morris), and went on board the Rattler, Commander Smith, when the process of unshipping the screw through the deck was exhibited to their Lordships, who also went into the engine-room and inspected the machinery, which having done, they left the Rattler, entered the barge, and crossed over to the King's-stairs of the dockyard.
Th 26 February 1846

24 February 1846

The Janus steam-sloop, on the design of Vice-Admiral the Earl of Dundonald, went out yesterday morning with her noble designer on board, also Commander Caffin, of the Scourge, and Mr. Taplin, machinist of this dockyard, to make another trial of her engines upon the rotatory principle. The Rattler, screw steam-sloop Commander Smith, followed soon after, to attend upon her in case of accident. The Janus was lightened of everything which could safely be dispensed with, consequently her draught of water was so reduced, that she was enabled to cut across the Spit bank, which shortened the distance considerably in making out; whereas the Rattler, although going at little more than half speed, and compelled to round the anchorage of Spithead, gained so quickly upon the Janus, that she gave her the go-by at the Lazaretto off the Motherbank, where soon after the Janus was compelled to lie to to screw up some of her machinery, which had become deranged. Both vessels then steamed on for Southampton, where they moored for a short time, and then started on their return. The Janus, however, met with her usual luck, and broke the chain of her starboard wheel on coming down the Southampton Water, which compelled her to relinquish working the engine on that side of the vessel, and hoist sail to assist her on her way home. She came into harbour about 6 o'clock, and the Rattler about half-an-hour before her.
Sa 28 February 1846

27 February 1846

The Rattler screw steam-sloop, Commander Smith, went out today to attend upon the Janus, which also went out today for another trial.
Fr 27 March 1846

26 March 1846

The Rattler, steam-sloop, 5, Commander H. Smith, arrived at Portsmouth from Plymouth yesterday evening, and came into the harbour.
Fr 27 March 1846The Rattler steam screw steam-sloop, Commander Smith, is ordered to the Mediterranean forthwith [This order was obviously later countermanded. On 11 April Phoenix - the only other screw sloop yet in commission - did depart from Spithead for the Mediterranean]. She is now coaling &c.
Fr 27 March 1846The Phoenix, screw steam-sloop, Commander Dennis, came into harbour this afternoon to coal, &c. She appears vastly inferior to the Rattler, both in power and beauty.
(various)this gets replaced
Fr 8 May 1846

7 May 1846

The Rattler steam-sloop, Commander Smith, left Portsmouth harbour this morning at 6 o'clock, and went round the Isle of Wight under canvass and steam.
Sa 16 May 1846

14 May 1846

Last evening, between 6 and 7 o'clock, her Majesty's screw steamer Rattler, Commander H. Smith, came into Plymouth with volunteers for Her Majesty's frigate, Constance, 50, Capt. Sir Baldwin B. Walker, now fitting in Hamoaze. This morning at 5 the Rattler, with her two topsails single reefed, went out through the Western Channel, and reached off to the southward and eastward to meet the experimental fleet.
Th 9 July 1846

26 June 1846

Commander Henry Smith, seniority Nov. 23, 1841, promoted [to the rank of captain] by the board, July 27, 1846. Has served 12 years and three months as lieutenant, and one year and seven months as commander; now in command of the Rattler. Has been strongly recommended by Sir F. Collier for his zeal arid attention during the time he has been under his command in the squadron of evolution.
Ma 6 July 1846The Cyclops steam frigate, Captain Lapidge, is to relieve the Rattler screw sloop. Commander Smith, at Oporto, the Rattler to rejoin the Channel squadron, and Cyclops to follow, when her services can be dispensed with.
Sa 29 August 1846

27 August 1846

The following account of the trials of the Rattler and Polyphemus steam-vessels, to test the comparative merits of the screw-propeller with paddle-wheels, is extracted from a letter received by a gentleman at Woolwich :-
"The Rattler, screw-propeller steam-vessel, is described as being very fast under canvass, beating most of the line-of-battle ships, and with their own weapon too. She is well handled, and is particularly expert at shipping and unshipping her screw. It only takes five minutes to unship it and ten minutes to ship it again, it takes the Polyphemus steam-vessel two hours to ship her paddle floats, and nearly as long to take them off. Without performing this operation her sailing is bad, but without the floats she not only keeps her station, but beats most of the liners. The Vanguard and the Superb are the only vessels that have a decided advantage over the Polyphemus. The latter steam-vessel lately had a trial with the Rattler and the Cyclops under canvas. The Rattler beat the Polyphemus in five hours two miles and a half, and the Polyphemus beat the Cyclops half a mile. It must be taken into consideration, however, that the Polyphemus had lost her jibboom on the day before, and' could not carry either jib or topgallant sail. The Polyphemus also tried under steam with the Rattler. The vessels were made fast stern to stern, and the Rattler walked off with the Polyphemus at the rate of two miles an hour. The vessels were then fastened bow to bow, and the Polyphemus towed the Rattler half a mile. In both trials the revolutions of the machinery of the Rattler were reduced from 23, the usual number, to 17, and the Polyphemus made 7 revolutions in the first trial and 9 in the second, out of 20, the usual number. The vessels then tried a run of 18 miles in smooth water with light wind, when the Rattler beat the Polyphemus three-quarters of a mile".
Tu 22 September 1846The Rattler steam sloop, Captain Smith, parted company from the Squadron of Evolution (at sea) for Gibraltar [to join Sir William Parker's squadron].
We 14 October 1846

2 October 1846

Her Majesty's ships Hibernia (the Vice-Admiral ship) Superb, and Trafalgar, left the anchorage at Gibraltar this morning, in tow of the steamers Cyclops, Rattler, and Virago. The Rodney, Vanguard, and Albion will follow when the steamers return after passing the Straits, or other expected steamers arrive, to perform the service. The first-named ships have since put back; the Superb and Trafalgar anchored off Sandy Bay, and the Hibernia, Cyclops, and Rattler returned to port, while the Virago kept cruising about.
Fr 8 January 1847The Rattler screw steamsloop, Commander Moorman, is hourly expected here [Portsmouth] from Plymouth, orders being down for her to be docked, and the bearings of her screw (which are reported defective) examined, and other defects made good.

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