HMS Sulphur (1826)

HMS Sulphur was a 10-gun Hecla-class bomb vessel of the British Royal Navy, famous as one of the ships in which Edward Belcher explored the Pacific coast of the Americas.

Name: HMS Sulphur
Ordered: 18 May 1819
Builder: Chatham Dockyard, Kent
Laid down: May 1824
Launched: 26 January 1826
Completed: 21 February 1826
  • Converted to survey ship, December 1835.
  • Receiving ship at Woolwich from May 1843.
Fate: Broken up by 20 November 1857
General characteristics
Class and type: Hecla-class bomb vessel
Tons burthen: 372 194 tons bm
  • 105 ft (32.0 m) (overall)
  • 86 ft 1.25 in (26.2 m) (keel)
Beam: 28 ft 6 in (8.7 m)
Depth of hold: 13 ft 10 in (4.22 m)
Propulsion: Sails
Sail plan: Full rigged
Complement: 67
  • 10 × 24-pounder carronades
  • 2 × 6-pounder guns
  • 1 × 13-inch (330 mm) mortar
  • 1 × 10-inch (250 mm) mortar

Ship history

Sulphur was launched in 1826, and in 1829 carried Lieutenant-Colonel Frederick Irwin, officers, passengers and a detachment of troops from the 63rd Regiment to the Swan River Colony.[1] She was converted into a survey ship in 1835 was sent along with HMS Starling to the Pacific Ocean. Captain Frederick Beechey commanded the expedition under orders to survey the Pacific coast "from Valparaíso to 63°30' N."[2] By the time the ship reached Valparaíso on 9 June 1836 however, Beechey became too ill to continue leading the vessel and departed for the United Kingdom. Henry Kellett replaced Beechey and sailed for Panama City where the expedition waited for a replacement officer. Edward Belcher arrived at the port in March 1837 as the new officer and the expedition continued its operations, sailing for the Federal Republic of Central America.

Sulphur reached the capital of Russian America New Archangel, on 11 September where Governor Ivan Kupreyanov greeted the British with a colonial ball. After departing south, Sulphur reached the site of the first Nootka Convention, Yuquot, on 3 October.[3] After meeting with local Nuu-chah-nulth dignitaries, the British vessel then went to the mouth of the Columbia River. Bad weather prevented the ship from visited from Fort Vancouver and instead sailed south for Yerba Buena in Alta California.[4] Sulphur returned to the Columbia River on 28 July 1839.[5] After visiting Fort Vancouver the expedition went south, reaching San Blas on 24 November,[6] where it remained until December. Sailing for the Marquesas Islands, Sulphur reached the archipelago in January 1840. She participated in the First Opium War between 1840 and 1841. The ship was used to survey the harbour of Hong Kong in 1841 and returned to England in 1842. She was used for harbour service from 1843, and was broken up by 20 November 1859, by then the last bomb vessel on the Navy List.

Richard Brinsley Hinds (1811-1846) served as surgeon on Sulphur 1835-42. He was a naturalist, and collected numerous samples of plants and marine animals for study. He edited The Botany of the Voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur and The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur (1844).[7][8][9][10] The introduction to Zoology, Volume 1 provides a detailed description of the voyage.

Sulphur Channel on the north shore of Hong Kong Island was named after the ship.

See also


  1. "HM Sloop "Sulpher"". The Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc. Archived from the original on 25 June 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. Blecher, Edward. Narrative of a Voyage round the World performed in H.M.S. Sulphur, 1836-1842. Vol. 1. London: Henry Colburn. 1843, p. 3.
  3. Belcher (1843), p. 107.
  4. Belcher (1843), p. 114.
  5. Belcher (1843), p. 288.
  6. Belcher (1843), p. 338.
  7. "Hinds, Richard Brinsley (1812?–1847)". Royal College of Surgeons. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  8. Hinds, Richard Brinsley, ed. (1844). The Botany of the Voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur. Bentham, George (botanical descriptions). Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  9. Gray, J. E.; Gould, J.; Richardson, J. (1844). Hinds, Richard Brinsley (ed.). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur: Volume I, Mammalia, Birds and Fish. London: Smith, Elder & Co. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  10. Hinds, Richard Brinsley, ed. (1844). The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Sulphur: Volume II, Mollusca. London: Smith, Elder & Co. Retrieved 2 May 2016.


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