HMS Sylvia (1866)
HMS Sylvia (1866)

Royal NavyVessels

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NameSylvia (1866)Explanation
Launched20 March 1866
Builders measure695 tons
Displacement865 tons
Ships book
Note1866.10 survey vessel
Snippets concerning this vessels career
12 October 1866
- 7 October 1869
Commanded (from commissioning at Woolwich) by Commander Edward Wolfe Brooker, surveying, China station (until Brooker was invalided)
7 October 1869
- 9 April 1873
Commanded (until paying off at Sheerness) by Commander Henry Craven St John, surveying, China station
18 November 1873
- 1877
Commanded (until paying off at Hong Kong) by Captain Henry Craven St John, surveying, China station
27 November 1876
- 15 July 1877
Commanded (from commissioning at Hong Kong) by Captain Bonham Ward Bax, surveying, China station (until Bax died of dysentery at Nagasaki, Japan)
27 November 1877
- 17 November 1880
Commanded (until paying off at Sheerness) by Commander Pelham Aldrich, surveying, China
27 March 1882
- 8 April 1884
Commanded by Captain William James Lloyd Wharton, surveying, Strait of Magellan
8 April 1884Commanded by Captain Pelham Aldrich, surveying, Cape of Good Hope, then Gibraltar
28 October 1885
- 22 February 1889
Commanded (until paying off at Sheerness) by Commander Llewellyn Styles Dawson, Mediterranean
Extracts from the Times newspaper
Th 22 March 1866Her Majesty's screw gun vessel Sylvia, 4, was on Tuesday launched from her building slip in Woolwich dockyard. The Sylvia has been on the stocks since 1659, when she was set up in frame, and, like many other ships then in progress, she was ordered to remain unfinished, and was set aside to give way to the improved system introduced by Mr. Reed. She is now intended to be prepared for surveying purposes, and is constructed on designs similar to those of the Nassau, launched last month at Pembroke yard. Her principal dimensions are as follows:- Length between perpendiculars, 185 ft.; length of keel for tonnage, l65 ft. 7¼ in.; breadth, extreme, 28 ft 4 in.; breadth for tonnage, 28 ft. 1 in.; breadth moulded, 27 ft. 6 in.; depth in hold, 14ft.; burden in tons, old measurement, 694 66-94ths. The ceremony of christening the Sylvia was performed by Miss Monteith, a niece of the superintendent of the yard, Commodore Hugh Dunlop. The launch was witnessed by the numerous naval and military officers residing in the garrison and neighbourhood and their families and a large assemblage of visitors, who were admitted without restriction. The launch took place at 4 o'clock precisely, after which the work of the yard totally ceased for the day, as usual at former launches.
Tu 6 November 1866Her Majesty's vessel Sylvia, commissioned by Commander Edward William Brooker (December, 1863) for surveying purposes, yesterday returned to Woolwich Arsenal from her official trial trip, and shipped her powder at the red buoy. On Thursday morning Commodore-Superintendent Edmonstone and Mr. Lorie, secretary, will go on board and make a final inspection of the crew and ship throughout. She will be in readiness for sea on the following Monday, when she will go down to Greenhithe to adjust compasses.
Tu 13 November 1866Her Majesty's surveying vessel Sylvia, 5 guns, commissioned on the 12th ult. by Commander Edward W. Brooker at Woolwich, sailed from Greenhithe after the adjustment of compasses yesterday, under orders to call at Portsmouth, Devonport, Madeira, or St. Vincent, Rio Janeiro, Cape of Good Hope, &c, through the Straits of Magellan to Hongkong, to carry out a survey in the Chinese waters.
Th 22 November 1866The screw steam surveying vessel Sylvia, 5, from Sheerness, which, arrived on Monday at Plymouth, was completing with fuel on Tuesday, preparatory to her departure for China.
We 28 November 1866The paddle-wheel steam surveying vessel Sylvia, 5, left Plymouth on Monday evening for China.
Sa 9 October 1869The following appointments were made yesterday at the Admiralty:- Commander H.C. St. John to the Sylvia, vice Brooker, invalided
We 2 April 1873The Sylvia, 5, screw surveying-vessel, Commander Henry C. St. John, from the China seas, arrived at Sheerness on Monday to be paid off. She will be taken into the basin to be dismantled on Wednesday.
Ma 17 November 1873The following appointments nave been made at the Admiralty:- ... Capt. H.C. St. John, to the Sylvia, commissioned; Lieut. R.F. Hoskyn and Lieut. C.F. Oldham, to the Sylvia
Fr 16 March 1877Our Hongkong Correspondent writes under date February 1:- "Her Majesty's ships of war in harbour are the Audacious (flagship), Egeria, Fly, Lily, Midge, Sheldrake, Swinger, Sylvia, and Vigilant. The Swinger was docked at Kourloom on the 27th of January and returned to her moorings on the 31st of January, and has commenced dismantling preparatory to paying off and recommissioning. The Thistle arrived at Shanghai on the 22d of January, and left on the 26th of January for Nagasaki. Captain R.W. Bax arrived here by P. and O. mail steamer Zambesi on the 31st of January to supersede Capt. H C. St. John in the command of the Sylvia, whose term of service has expired…"
Ma 23 July 1877DEATHS.
On the 15th inst, at Nagasaki, Japan, of dysentery, Bonham Ward Bax, Captain R.N., H.M.S. Sylvia. (By telegram.)
Ma 12 July 1880It is proposed to pay off and lay up, after repair, at Devonport, during the present year the Achilles and Agincourt, now with the Channel Squadron, the Condor and Flamingo, now in the Mediterranean, but commissioned for special service in the Black Sea, the Wild Swan, from the East Indies, and the Modeste, Swinger, Sylvia, Hornet, and Midge from the China station. The two latter will pay off at Hongkong and be navigated home by a supernumerary crew is consequence of the majority of their officers and men having volunteered for other service upon the station. The Wivern will also pay off at Hongkong, but will remain as reserve drill ship upon that station. The Devonport reserve contingent will also be strengthened by the return of the Forward from the south-east coast of America, the Griffon from North America and the West Indies, and the Pelican, Penguin, and Shannon from the Pacific. Portsmouth will receive the Minotaur from the Mediterranean, and will be intrusted with her alteration and repair, for which £100,000 will be required, the Swallow and the Elk from the south-east coast of America, the Plover from North America, and the Hector, now Coastguard ship at Southampton. The Fawn, surveying vessel in the Sea of Marmora, having made a fairly accurate sketch of the bed of that sea during the three years she has been engaged on that duty, will return to Chatham to pay off and lay up, as also will the Téméraire from the Mediterranean, and the Tourmaline from the North American coast. Sheerness will have the repairing and charge of the Helicon from the Mediterranean, the Blanche from North America and the West Indies, the Osprey from the Pacific, and the Ruby, Spartan, and Vulture from the East Indies. During the year the Enchantress, the Orontes, the Jackal, the Orwell, and the Foxhound are to be re-commissioned, the latter at Hongkong.
Th 18 November 1880The Sylvia, 4, screw surveying vessel, 877 (695) tons, 689 (150) horse power, Commander Pelham Aldrich, was paid out of commission yesterday morning in the steam basin at Sheerness Dockyard. She was re-commissioned at Hongkong on May 9, 1877, and arrived in Sheerness Harbour about a fortnight since. The Sylvia will be taken to Chatham and placed in the fourth division of the Medway Steam Reserve.
Tu 23 August 1881Her Majesty's screw sloop Sylvia has been taken into No. 1 dock at Sheerness to be thorougbly overhauled and repaired, in order that she may again be brought forward for commission for surveying service in the China and Japan Seas. Many of the timbers of the Sylvia are very much decayed, and it is estimated that the work of repair will cost £30,000.
Tu 29 November 1881The Sylvia, 3, screw surveying ship, has been taken out of No. 1 Dock at Sheerness, after having her hull thoroughly overhauled and repaired. The greater part of her timbers have been entirely replaced with new wood. The Sylvia has now been taken under the boiler sheers in front of the Royal Naval Barracks to receive her new engines and boilers. The Sylvia is intended for surveying service in China and North Japan. The estimated cost of preparing her for commission is no less than £30,000, about half the cost of a new ship of her class. She has had two commissions previously.
Ma 27 February 1882The Sylvia, 4, surveying vessel, 877 tons, 689-horse power, which is to be commissioned for service in the Straits of Magellan, is to be commanded by an officer of the rank of post captain, instead of a commander, as in the case of most ships of her size and class. This course has been adopted on account of the necessity of having an officer of great experience and still in surveying duties. Capt. J.L. Wharton, who has been selected to take the command, is well qualified for the office, having been extensively engaged in surveying work in the Sea of Marmora while in command of the Fawn. No definite date has been fixed for the commissioning of the Sylvia, but the necessary preparations are being pushed forward with all possible despatch.
Ma 10 April 1882The Sylvia, Capt. Wharton, arrived at Spithead on Saturday from Sheerness, and proceeded in the evening. She is bound at present for the south-east coast of America, and is to be occupied until 1884 in making a thorough survey of the River Plate and the Straits of Magellan. Capt. Wharton is aided by Lieut. Havergal as assistant surveyor of the first class and Lieut. Field as assistant-surveyor of the second class.
Th 10 April 1884The following appointments were made at the Admiralty yesterday Captain Pelham Aldrich, to the Sylvia, vice Captain Wharton
Tu 5 March 1889The Sylvia, 4, 865 tons, 690-horse power, which has just returned to Sheerness from the Mediterranean station, has been condemned as unfit for further service, and is ordered to be sold out of the Royal Navy.

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