The Flying Squadron of 1869
The Flying Squadron of 1869

Royal NavyFleetsThe Flying squadrons1871
Royal NavyFleetsThe Flying squadrons

The following extracts from (generally the Naval Intelligence column of) The Times newspaper refer to the activities of the Flying squadron of June 1869-November 1870.

Extracts from the Times newspaper
We 7 April 1869Rear-Admiral Geoffrey T.P. Hornby will command the flying squadron, which will consist of the Liverpool (flagship), to he commissioned by Capt. J.0. Hopkins; Liffey, Capt. J.O. Johnson; Phoebe, Capt. J. Bythesea, V.C.; Endymion, Capt. C. Wake (frigates); Clio, 22, Scylla; 17, to be commissioned. They will probably leave England about the end of May.
Ma 10 May 1869The unarmoured wooden screw frigate Endymion, Capt. Charles Wake, recently returned to Portsmouth from Lisbon, has received orders to pay out of commission. She has been named as one of the ships to form the flying squadron.
Ma 24 May 1869The screw steam frigate Liverpool (one of the flying squadron) was removed on Friday from Hamoaze to Plymouth Sound. After a few hours' run outside the breakwater, she anchored inside, where she will receive her powder and have her compasses adjusted. To-day or tomorrow her machinery will be tested at the measured mile.

The screw steam frigate Liffey, 31, Capt. John O. Johnson, which left the Sound on Tuesday for shot practice in the Channel, returned to her anchorage on Friday.
Sa 5 June 1869The Endymion, unarmoured wooden screw frigate, Capt. Lacy, commissioned at Portsmouth as one of the Flying Squadron, steamed out of harbour on Thursday morning to mate a preliminary trial of her machinery, and on leaving exchanged the customary salute with the flag-ship of the Admiral Commanding-in-Chief at the port.
Ma 7 June 1869On Saturday, in consequence of the accident to Her Majesty's ship Cadmus, 21, screw corvette, Capt. R. Gibson, on Salcombe Rooks, an order was received at Sheerness Dock-yard, at 10 30 a.m., to prepare the Barrossa,17, screw corvette, 1,700 tons, 400-horse power, for sea, with all possible despatch. At the hour named the Barrossa had no stores of any description on board, Capt.Superintendent the Hon. A.A. Cochrane, C.B., at once went out to her, as she was lying in the stream, and personally directed the work to be done. It included the bending of sails, and, as above mentioned, the embarkation of stores of all kinds, together with shot, shell, and gunpowder, with the necessary small arms. In 13 hours the work was accomplished, as well as a short drill at the sails, to see that "all was right," and the ship lay with her steam up, ready to proceed to sea. She left the harbour about half-past 9 p.m., without saluting, her destination being Devonport, where she would receive on board the officers and men of the Cadmus. It is impossible to praise too highly the efforts of the Hon. Capt. Cochrane and the officers and men under his command, in getting the Barrossa to sea in so short a time fully armed and equipped. The Cadmus, it will be remembered, was fitted out at Sheerness a few weeks ago, together with the Scylla, for service with the flying squadron. The Barrossa, it is presumed, will now take her place. Staff Commander Symons, of the Agincourt, navigated the Barrossa to Devonport, and the seamen on board were under the charge of Lieut. Dickens, of the same ship.
We 9 June 1869The Liverpool, 35, unarmoured wooden screw frigate, Capt. J.O. Hopkins, arrived and anchored at Spithead on Monday evening from a cruise in the Channel, and exchanged salutes with the flagship of the Naval Commander-in-Chief. Yesterday morning Rear-Admiral G.T.P Hornby hoisted his flag on board as commanding-in-chief the flying squadron which is ordered to assemble and proceed on a cruise in foreign waters.
Sa 12 June 1869The Liverpool, 35, unarmoured wooden screw frigate, Capt, J.O. Hopkins, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral G.T.P. Hornby, and the Endymion, 35, unarmoured wooden screw frigate, Capt. Lacy, two of the frigates belonging to the squadron detached for particular service under the command of Rear-Admiral Hornby, sailed from Spithead on Thursday evening for the rendezvous of the squadron in Plymouth Sound.
We 16 June 1869The screw steam frigate Liverpool, 35. Capt. J.O. Hopkins, flag of Rear-Admiral Hornby, and the Endymion, 21, Capt Lacy, both from Portsmouth, under canvas, arrived in Plymouth Sound on Sunday morning.
Ma 21 June 1869The flying squadron, which is destined to go round the world, left Plymouth Sound on Saturday morning, under canvas only, for Bahia. The frigate Liverpool, 35, Capt. J.O. Hopkins, bearing the flag of Admiral G.T.P. Hornby, cleared the west end of the breakwater at half-past 4 o'clock, and was followed by the Scylla, 21, Capt. Herbert, the Endymion,21, Capt. Lacey, and the Liffey, 35, Capt. J.O. Johnson. At 8 o'clock they were joined by the Bristol, 31, Capt. F.W. Wilson. On departure the wind was N.N.W., a moderate breeze, but it soon altered to S.W. The squadron went to the eastward of the Eddystone. The Barrosa, 17, Capt. Gibson, the repairs of which are not complete, will follow them to Bahia.
Ma 21 June 1869That a British Fleet should be suddenly despatched, in a time of profound peace and with no particular object, on a voyage round the world may appear a somewhat extraordinary proceeding, and the mission of the squadron which left our shores on Saturday does indeed deserve a little explanation. We are not bent upon any conquest, or discovery, or parade of our maritime force. We are not in quest of an enemy's treasure ships, nor are there any fleets of merchantmen requiring convoys, nor any seas especially calling for a patrol. Perhaps the nearest parallel to the projected expedition might be detected in the recent cruise of the United States' squadron under Admiral Farragut, but that voyage in reality had a very different object. The Americans deemed it advisable to show themselves in foreign ports and to foreign people once more. For four long years their flag had been all but unknown in European and Asiatic ports. The exigencies of the Civil War and the absorbing demands of the blockade had taxed their naval resources to the utmost, and scarcely a man-of-war could be spared for the ordinary duty on foreign stations. Their squadrons, in fact, had been called in from abroad for employment at home, and so, when peace was at length restored, the Government of Washington decided on making a display or demonstration of its return to international pursuits. A squadron was despatched to carry the American flag into the principal harbours of the world and proclaim the resumption of that position which had been for a time resigned. It is quite unnecessary to observe that no such obligations or inducements are present to ourselves. We have no such ground to recover; on the contrary, it is principally because we have had too many ships on too many stations, and have been rather too liberal in our naval display, that the present design has been adopted. In a few words, the expedition is intended as an experiment in the way of economical administration. Instead of a dozen permanent squadrons, one or two Flying Squadrons may, perhaps, be found to suffice for our purposes, and at the same time be more advantageous to the efficiency of the navy.

A great naval Power, and especially a Power which relies upon its Navy to the comparative exclusion of military pretensions, must needs keep its Fleets at sea. In some form and upon some system or other the British flag must be borne on foreign waters for the protection of British commerce, the assurance of British interests, and the maintenance of the British name. On some system, too, that seamanship and discipline which active service alone can impart must be acquired by our officers and men. Hitherto, the requisite provision in this direction has been made, if not on judicious principles, at any rate with no niggardly hand. Our foreign squadrons have been large and numerous. They were dispersed all over the world, nor was there a spot on the globe where a British man-of-war was not usually at the service of a British settlement. Not a Consul but could summon a gunboat to his aid in case of need; and yet it was argued that, while we were keeping so many ships at sea, we were doing next to nothing for the proper training of those who in any emergency would man our vessels and command our Fleets. It was not by cruising in quiet seas or lying in quiet harbours that good sailors were to be formed. Some more trying duties were required for that purpose, and the reader may possibly recollect that periodical voyages to the two Poles in search of what might be found there were recommended as necessary expeditions if the British Navy was to be kept up to the mark in adventurous enterprise and professional ability. Now, if a Fleet is sent to circumnavigate the globe, it must needs encounter its share of those trials by which seamen are manufactured and proved. A voyage round the world is no longer such an exploit as it was in the days of Anson, but it is still not impossible that a British squadron may return, as Anson did, with a reflection of lustre and credit on British power.

Of course it will have been discerned that if economy as well as practice is in view, our whole system of foreign squadrons must be modified in proportion to the new outlay upon a roving Fleet, and this, in point of fact, has been done to a great extent already. Those squadrons have been materially reduced, and the question is whether the reduction cannot he carried still further. There are stations, beyond doubt, where a permanent force may be indispensable, and where the objects in view could not be secured by the occasional visits of a Flying Squadron. But there are others where no such establishments are necessary, and these may be found, perhaps, to be more numerous than we imagine. It must not be forgotten that in the present day the agency of the electric telegraph has revolutionized the work of Naval Administration. A few hours would suffice for the despatch to any spot of a Fleet far stronger than any force that could be kept permanently on the station. To be weaker altogether and yet always stronger at a given point is the best evidence, as it is the chief object, of successful strategy. By concentrating our forces in one or two powerful squadrons available for service in any direction, we may do far better than by scattering our ships over half the world. That at least is the presumption which commends itself to naval reformers. It was asked one night in the House whether the Admiralty would know where its Flying Squadrons were to be found, and whether it would be able to communicate with their commanders as circumstances might require. We cannot suppose there will be much difficulty in making due arrangements on this head, or that our position will not, at any rate, be as good as before.

Over and over again we have been told that in the event of a war half our vessels on foreign stations could do nothing better than run for safety to a British port. A Flying Squadron, however, would always be strong enough to hold its own, as well as to carry assistance to one point or another.

It deserves to be noticed that the Americans not only despatched the expedition of which we have spoken, but regarded the results with extraordinary and unqualified approval. The Secretary of the United States' Navy declared in his Report that the ships of the Union had never performed a more successful cruise, and that the whole proceeding had redounded to the credit, reputation, and glory of the country. No better investment, according to this Minister's statement, had ever been made than in this naval demonstration. We do not anticipate any such remarkable consequences from our own expedition, nor, indeed, are we under any necessity to produce or revive impressions of our ubiquity or power. But we trust we may reckon on results conducive to the true efficiency of our Navy, and we are willing to hope that the experiment in point of economy also may be found to succeed. If the Estimates are ever to be materially reduced, it must be by the adoption of a reformed system of administration in such matters as these.

To effect any real saving of money we must keep fewer ships at sea, for fewer ships, besides needing fewer men, will call for fewer repairs and outfits, and render dockyard economy practicable at last. This is what we may expect from the enterprise now undertaken, and the prospect is of no slight importance. The captured treasure brought home by Anson, to the delight of the nation, amounted to 300,000l.; the squadron now setting out on Anson's track may, with good fortune and management, yield results of infinitely greater value.
Ma 21 June 1869The Flying Squadron. - Letters for the Flying Squadron will be despatched from Devonport on the 24th of July and the 9th of August, addressed to the Cape of Good Hope. To Melbourne, viâ Southampton, on the 3d of September, and viâ Marseilles on the 10th, To Sydney, by Southampton, on the 1st of October, and by Marseilles on. the 8th. To Wellington, by Southampton, on the 29th of October, and by Marseilles on the 5th of November, To Lyttelton on the same dates as the Wellington. To Japan, all letters should be addressed to the senior officer at Hongkong, and should be forwarded from Southampton on the 24th and 26th of November, and by the way of Marseilles on the 3d and 31st of December. To Vancouver's Island, viâ New York and San Francisco, every Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday to the end of February. To Honolulu on the same days and by the same route to the end of Match, To Tahiti on the same days and by the same route to the middle of April. To Valparaiso, viâ Panama, on the 1st and 16th of every month up to the 16th of June; and to the Falkland Islands by Montevideo and Brazil packet. The latest day on which letters may be posted in London will be the 9th of July, 1870.- Army and Navy Gazette.
Ma 28 June 1869The screw steam corvette Barrosa, 17, Capt. Gibson, left Plymouth on Wednesday for Madeira and Bahia, to join the flying squadron, which sailed from the Sound on Saturday last.
Tu 13 July 1869The flying squadron, under the command of Rear-Admiral G. Phipps Hornby, comprising Her Majesty's ships Liverpool (flagship), Liffey, Endymion, Scylla, and Bristol, which left Plymouth Sound soon after daylight on the morning of the 19th of June under sail with light airs from the N.W., continued to make a fair passage towards Madeira with the wind from N.W. to N.E., until the 23th of June, when it shifted round to the westward, and they did not reach that island until the evening of the 1st of July. The passage was made entirely under sail, and the fine weather which prevailed afforded every facility for the daily exercise of sail and gun drill. The squadron, including the Barrosa, which had just arrived, left on the evening of the 2d of July for Bahia, South America.
Ma 30 August 1869The British flying squadron, under command of Rear-Admiral Hornby, arrived at Bahia on the 2d of August, and sailed on the 4th for Rio Janeiro, with the exception of Her Majesty's ship Bristol, which left on the 8th for England. Great preparations had been made by the British residents at Rio Janeiro to welcome the squadron on its arrival there, including a grand ball to be given to the Admiral and officers at the Club Fluminense, and his Excellency Mr. George Buckley Mathew had made a handsome contribution to the ball fund.
Ma 13 September 1869The flying squadron arrived at Rio on the 16th.
Th 16 September 1869Her Majesty's screw steam frigate Bristol, 31, Capt. Frederick W. Wilson, from Bahia, August 8, which arrived at Plymouth yesterday morning, as already announced in The Times, experienced fine weather to the Azores, after which strong westerly winds prevailed. The Bristol brings as passengers First-Lieut. Watts, of the Liffey; Lieut. Harding, of the Phoebe, on promotion; Midshipman Whalley, of the Endymion, supernumerary, for disposal, 14 naval invalids, and eight supernumerary seamen. The flying squadron, left Bahia under canvas on the evening of the 4th of August. On the 14th of August the Bristol passed the Longwood; and August 24, in lat. 15 10 N., long. 27 13 W,, the bark Francis, from Singapore for London.
Ma 20 September 1869The following is taken from the Anglo-Brazilian Times of the 23d of August:-
The British flying squadron arrived at Rio Janeiro on the 16th of August. On the 23d His Imperial Majesty visited the flagship Liverpool, when the King was received with all the customary naval honours. The ball of the British residents to the Admiral and officers of the squadron was to be given on the evening of the 24th at the residence of the British Minister, his Excellency having lent it for the purpose.
We 10 November 1869The flying squadron, which left Montevideo on the l1th of September, arrived at the Cape on the 4th of October. Her Majesty's ship Liffey was in Table Bay, and Her Majesty's ships Liverpool, Scylla, Endymion, Bristol, and Barrosa were in Simon's Bay.
Tu 1 November 1870The Flying squadron, consisting of the following vessels - Liverpool, carrying the flag of Admiral Hornby, Endymion, Phoebe, Liffey, Pearl, and Satellite - which left Valparaiso on the 28th of August, arrived at Bahia on the 6th inst., and sailed for home on the 9th.
Fr 11 November 1870The Flying Squadron is now daily expected to arrive in Plymouth Sound, and the Admiralty has decided that the ships Liffey, Liverpool, Phoebe, and Satellite are to be paid off at Devonport, and the Endymion and Pearl at Portsmouth.
Th 17 November 1870The flying Squadron, comprising the following ships, arrived in Plymouth Sound at 10 30 on Tuesday morning, and exchanged the usual salutes:- The screw frigates Liverpool, 30, Capt. J.O. Hopkins, bearing the flag of Rear-Admiral G.T.P. Hornby; the Phoebe, 30, Capt. Bythesea, V.C.; the Liffey, 30, Capt. R. Gibson; the Endymion, 21, Capt. E. Lacey; the screw corvettes Satellite, 17, Capt. W.H. Edye, and the Pearl, 17, Capt. J.F. Ross. The squadron, when it left Plymouth on June 19, 1869, included the Liverpool, Liffey, Endymion, Bristol, Scylla, and Barossa. The Bristol was left at Bahia, where the Phoebe took her place; the Barossa was left at Yokohama, where the Pearl joined the squadron in her room; and the Scylla left at Vancouver's Island, was replaced by the Charybdis, which left at Valparaiso, where the Satellite took her place. The squadron, in its voyage round the world, touched at the following ports on the dates specified:- Leaving Plymouth June 19, 1869, it arrived at Madeira July l; Bahia, August 2; Rio, 16th; Montevideo, September 6; the Cape, October 3; Melbourne, November 26; Sydney, December 13; Hobart Town, January 2, 1870; Lyttleton, New Zealand, 19th; Wellington, 24th; Auckland, February 2; Yokohama, Japan, April 6; Vancouver's Island, May 15; Honolulu, June 16; Valparaiso, August 14. It left Valparaiso on the 28th, passed the Horn September 13, and arrived at Bahia October 6, stayed there three days for repairs to the rudder of the Satellite, she having sprung it in a heavy gale off the Falkland Islands, and left on the 9th for England. The squadron experienced favourable winds and fine weather up to lat. 5 N., and crossed the line on the night of the 15th of October, The next day the Liverpool communicated with the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's steamer Valdivia, 17 days from Liverpool; the squadron had been spread for three days previously looking for this steamer. On the 19th the Liverpool took the Endymion in tow, the Liffey taking the Phoebe, and the Satellite the Pearl. The wind was S.W., but it veered to the W.S.W, and blew hard on the 21st, when the towing was discontinued. The north-east trades were met with at 11 40 p.m. same date, and continued to the 26th, in lat. 23 30 N. Light southerly winds blew op to November 3, changing to northerly and westerly winds to the 9th, when a strong gale set in from the N.E., which lasted until the afternoon of the 11th, when the wind somewhat abated, shifting to the N., but strong northerly winds continued up to the 13th; since that time N.W. winds prevailed up to the arrival of the squadron at Plymouth. Scilly was sighted on Monday at 2 p.m., the Land's End at 3 30, and the squadron passed the Lizard at 8 p.m., and hove to for the night, proceeding to Plymouth this morning. The news of the [Franco-Prussian] war was communicated to the squadron by the ship Melbourne, 45 days from Liverpool, in lat. 24 7 S., long. 26 12 W., September 29, and on the same day still later news by the ship Arichat, 36 days from London. On the 21st of September the Admiral made signal, "Accept my thanks and congratulations on having kept company round the world." The Liverpool and the Phoebe each took from Yokohama a Japanese naval cadet for instruction. The one who joined the Liverpool, named Mayeda, committed suicide at Bahia, October 6, and was buried at the Protestant cemetery. The naval instructors of the squadron have changed ships during the cruise for examination of the cadets. This is quite a new feature, and has been found to work well. The-general health of the ships has been very good. Fresh meat was issued on 133 days, salt meat 289 days, and preserved meats 94 days. Lime juice was also issued on 344 days. An extra quantity of cocoa supplied to the men bad been found of great advantage to them through the night watches. During the voyage the men have lost 61b. weight each on an average, and the boys have gained 7lb. weight each. The entire distance which the ships have run is 53,562.3 nautical miles, being 52,338 under sail, 623.5 under both steam and sail, and 600.8 under steam alone, 403 days have been spent at sea, and 103 in harbour. The duration of the voyage has been 516 days. The lowest temperature has been 29 deg., the highest 88 deg,; the lowest barometer, 28.99 deg.; thermometer, 42 deg.; the highest barometer, 30.84 deg.; thermometer, 49 deg. The Phoebe carried away her foreyard in a heavy squall on the night of the 12th inst. The ships Liverpool, Liffey, Phoebe, and Satellite are to be paid off at Devonport, and the Endymon and Pearl at Portsmouth.
Fr 18 November 1870The Phoebe, 30, Capt. J. Bythesea, V.C., and the Satellite, 17, Capt. W.H. Edye, moved from Plymouth Sound into the basin at Devonport Dockyard yesterday, preparatory to being paid off; and the Liverpool, 39, flagship of Rear-Admiral Hornby, was removed from the basin into dock.

The Pearl, 17 guns, 400-horse power, unarmourcd screw corvette, Capt. John F. Ross, arrived at Spithead early yesterday forenoon from Plymonth Sound, and on anchoring saluted the flag of Admiral Sir James Hope, G.C.B., Port Admiral and Naval Commander-in-Chief, the salute being returned by the Admiral's flagship in Portsmouth Harbour, the screw three-decker Duke of Wellington, Capt. George Hancock. During the forenoon Admiral Sir James Hope embarked on board his steam yacht the Fire Queen, and proceeded to Spithead, where he made an official inspection of the Pearl and of her crew at general quarters, preparatory to the ship being taken into Portsmouth Harbour to be dismantled and paid out of commission.

The Eodymion, 21 guns, 500-horse power, unarmoured screw frigate, Capt. Edward Lacy, arrived at Spithead yesterday afternoon, from Plymouth Sound, exchanging salutes with the flag-ship of the Port Admiral on anchoring in the roadstead.
Ma 21 November 1870It is now decided that the Liverpool, flagship of the Flying Squadron, is to be paid off with the other ships now at Devonport - viz., the Phoebe, the Satellite, and the Liffey - about the 1st proximo.
Sa 26 November 1870The following ships in the first class Steam Reserve at Devonport are stored and ready for immediate commission:- The Narcissus, screw frigate, 2,665 tons, 400 horsepower, armed with 24 64-pounders, rifled, and four 7-inch rifled guns; the Aurora, screw frigate, 2,558 tons, 400 horse-power, with same armament; the Cadmus, screw corvette, 1,466 tons, 400 horse-power, armed with 17 64-pounder rifled guns; the Sea Gull and Bittern, twin screw first class gunboats, each 663 tons and 160 horse-power, carrying one 7-inch rifled gun and two 40-pounders; the Research, armour-plated screw sloop, 1,253 tons, 200 horse power, and four 7-inch rifled guns. This ship has been altered and improved since her last commission, and has now been nearly two years in the Reserve, In addition to the above the screw frigate Liverpool, 2,656 tons, 600 horsepower, 30 guns; the Liffey, 2,654 tons, 600 horse-power, 30 guns; the Phoebe, 2,896 tons, 500 horse-power, 30 guns; and the screw corvette Satellite, 1,462 tons, 400 horse-power, 17 guns, lately belonging to the flying squadron, are to be paid off at Devonport, the three frigates on the 29th inst., the corvette on the 1st proximo, and will be placed on the first class Steam Reserve, prepared for a two years' commission.
Sa 3 December 1870The Liverpool, 30, screw frigate, Capt. J.O. Hopkins, was paid off at Devonport yesterday. The Buzzard, 2, paddle sloop, Staff Commander Brown, sailed from Devonport yesterday for Portland and Portsmouth, with seamen and marines paid off from the Liverpool and Satellite. She will proceed to Falmouth to tow the Ganges, 20, training ship, to Devonport, where the latter vessel is to undergo a thorough overhaul and refit.


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