HMS Pelican (1877)

HMS Pelican was an Osprey-class sloop built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1870s. She was launched in 1877 and was sold to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1901. She was scuttled in 1953.

Pelican docked at Bush’s Store, South Brooklyn, New York
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Pelican
Namesake: Pelican
Builder: Devonport Royal Dockyard
Cost: Hull £41,282, machinery £14,939
Laid down: 8 March 1875
Launched: 26 April 1877
Completed: 29 November 1877
Decommissioned: 1899
Fate: Sold to the Hudson's Bay Company, 22 January 1901; scuttled, 1953
General characteristics
Class and type: Osprey-class screw composite sloop
Displacement: 1,130 long tons (1,150 t)
Length: 170 ft (51.8 m) (p/p)
Beam: 36 ft (11.0 m)
Draught: 15 ft 9 in (4.8 m)
Depth: 19 ft 6 in (5.9 m)
Installed power: 1,056 ihp (787 kW)
  • 1 × 2-cylinder horizontal compound-expansion steam engine
  • 3 × cylindrical boilers
  • 1 × screw
Sail plan: Barque rig
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Range: 1,480 nmi (2,740 km; 1,700 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 140

Design and construction

Pelican was an Osprey-class sloop-of-war, with a composite hull design.[1] The ship had a displacement of 1,130 tons, was 170 feet (52 m) long, had a beam of 36 feet (11 m), and a draught of 15 feet 9 inches (4.80 m).[1][2] A Humphrys, Tennant and Co. two-cylinder two-cylinder horizontal compound-expansion steam engine fed by three cylindrical boilers provided 1,056 indicated horsepower to the single 13 ft (4.0 m) propeller screw.[1] This gave Pelican a top speed of 12.2 knots (22.6 km/h; 14.0 mph). She had a maximum range of 1,480 nautical miles (2,740 km; 1,700 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph).[1] In addition to the steam-driven propeller, the vessel was also barque rigged.[1] The standard ship's company was between 140 and 150.[1]

Armament consisted of two 7-inch (90cwt) muzzle-loading rifled guns, four 64-pound guns, four machine guns, and one light gun.[1] Pelican and her sister-ship Wild Swan were re-armed later with two 6-inch (81cwt) BL guns and six 5-inch (35cwt) BL guns.[1]

Pelican was built by Devonport Royal Dockyard. The vessel was laid down on 8 March 1875.[1] She was launched on 26 April 1877, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 29 November 1877.[1] Construction costs included £41,282 for the hull, and £14,939 for machinery and equipment.[1]


Pelican was sold as a supply ship on 22 January 1901[1] to the Hudson's Bay Company for use as a northern supply ship.[3] During World War I, Pelican was delivering supplies to Russia when she was engaged by a surfaced U-boat. The fight lasted one-and-a-half hours, but eventually, the U-boat was driven off. In 1922, the ship was no longer considered serviceable and was sold as scrap to Fraim Bannikhin of St. John's for $1,500. However, the vessel was not scrapped, instead being reduced to a barge. In November 1922, the barge parted its hawser off Flat Point, while being towed to Sydney, Nova Scotia. The barge grounded near Sable Island. Pelican was recovered by the tugboat Ocean Eagle II and towed her towards Sydney. However, once in the harbour, the barge grounded again on the South Bar. The barge was recovered again and docked at Sydney. In 1927, the barge sank to the bottom of the harbour after being vandalized and her sea cocks opened. The hulk remained with masts, port gunwales and forecastle above water at the wharf for 23 years.[3] The hulk was towed out to sea, escorted by HMCS Porte Dauphine and scuttled in June 1953.[4]


  1. Winfield, pp.291-292
  2. "Naval Sloops at". Retrieved 30 August 2008.
  3. "She Knew Better Days". The Crowsnest. Vol. 2 no. 9. King's Printer. July 1950. p. 24.
  4. "Last Tribute Paid to Wooden Warship". The Crowsnest. Vol. 5 no. 8. Queen's Printer. June 1953. p. 9.


  • Ballard, G. A. (1939). "British Sloops of 1875: The Larger Ram-Bowed Type". Mariner's Mirror. Cambridge, UK: Society for Nautical Research. 25 (January): 35–49.
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • Winfield, R.; Lyon, D. (2004). The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815–1889. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-032-6.
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