HMS Archer (1885)

HMS Archer was an Archer-class torpedo cruiser of the British Royal Navy which built by the Glasgow shipbuilder J & G Thomson between 1885 and 1888. She served on overseas stations, including operations off Africa, China and Australia. She was sold for scrap in 1905.

HMS Archer c.1888
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Archer
Builder: J & G Thomson, Glasgow
Yard number: 226
Launched: 23 December 1885
General characteristics
Class and type: Archer-class torpedo cruiser
Displacement: 1770 tons
Length: 140 ft (43 m)
Beam: 36 ft (11 m)
Draught: 13.5 ft (4.1 m)
Installed power: 2500 ihp (increased to 4,500 with forced draught)
  • Twin 2-cylinder compound steam engines
  • Four boilers
  • Twin screws
Speed: 17.5 kn (32.4 km/h)
Range: 7,000 nmi (13,000 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)
Complement: 176 men


Archer was laid down at J & G Thomson's Clydebank shipyard on 2 March 1885 as the lead ship of her class of torpedo cruisers, was launched on 23 December that year and completed in 11 December 1888.[1]

Torpedo cruisers were small, relatively fast, ships intended to defend the fleet against attacks by hostile torpedo boats, while themselves being capable of attacking hostile fleets with torpedoes. The Archer class were enlarged derivatives of the earlier Scout-class, and carried a heavier armament than the previous class.[2]

Archer was 240-foot (73.15 m) long overall and 225-foot (68.58 m) between perpendiculars, with a beam of 36-foot (10.97 m) and a draught of 14-foot-6-inch (4.42 m). Displacement was 1,770 long tons (1,800 t) normal and 1,950 long tons (1,980 t) full load.[1] The ship's machinery consisted of two horizontal compound steam engines rated at 2,500 indicated horsepower (1,900 kW) under natural draught and 3,500 indicated horsepower (2,600 kW), which were fed by four boilers and drove two shafts for a speed of 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph).[1] 475 tons of coal were carried, sufficient to give a range of 7,000 nautical miles (13,000 km; 8,100 mi) at 10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h), and three masts were fitted.[1][3]

Armament consisted of six 6-inch (5 ton) guns, backed up by eight 3-pounder QF guns and two machine guns. Three 14-inch torpedo tubes completed the ship's armament. Armour consisted of a 38 inch (10 mm) deck, with 1 inch (25 mm) gunshields and 3 inches (76 mm) protecting the ship's conning tower. The ship had a complement of 176 officers and ratings.[1]


Archer served on the Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa Station from 1889 to 1890.[4] Archer was serving on the China Station in July 1894, when on the eve of the First Sino-Japanese War, Japanese Forces surrounded Seoul. Archer landed an armed party to protect the British Consul-General after a confrontation between him and Japanese troops.[5] She served on the Australia Station from 7 September 1900 until 5 December 1903. She was decommissioned in 1905 and sold in April 1905 for £4,800 to Forrester, Swansea for scrap.[6]


  1. Chesneau and Kolesnik p. 81.
  2. Chesneau and Kolesnik pp. 80–81.
  3. "Launch of the Twin Screw Torpedo Steamer "Archer"". The Marine Engineer. Vol. 7. January 1886. pp. 264–265.
  4. "NMM, vessel ID 380068" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol v. National Maritime Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  5. Clowes pp. 430–431.
  6. Bastock p.122


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