Hermes-class sloop

The Hermes class were a class of four paddlewheel steam sloops built for the British Royal Navy in the 1830s. Megaera was wrecked in Jamaica in 1843, but the other three survived to be broken up, with Volcano surviving in Portsmouth as a floating engineers' workshop until 1894, giving the best part of 60 years of service.

Acheron in New Zealand
Class overview
Name: Hermes-class paddle sloop
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: HMS Medea
Succeeded by: HMS Gorgon
Cost: Acheron: £25,509[Note 1]
Built: 18341839
In commission: 18351864
Completed: 4
Lost: 1
Retired: 3
General characteristics [1]
Type: Paddle sloop
Displacement: 1,006 tons
Tons burthen: 715 43/94 bm
  • 150 ft 0 in (45.7 m) (gundeck)
  • 128 ft 0 in (39.0 m) (keel)[Note 2]
Beam: 32 ft 9 in (10.0 m)
  • 11 ft 6 in (3.5 m) (forward)
  • 12 ft 0 in (3.7 m) (aft)
Depth of hold: 18 ft 2 in (5.5 m)
Installed power: 140 nominal horsepower (160 in Acheron)
  • 2-cylinder side lever steam engine
  • Paddles
Sail plan: 3-masted barque rigged
Complement: 135
  • As built:
  • 2 × 9-pounder (13 12 cwt) brass guns
  • From 1842:
  • 1 × 8-inch (52 cwt) pivot gun
  • 2 × 32-pounder (17 cwt) carronades


The ships were designed by John Edye to a specification by Sir William Symonds and were approved in 1834. They were built of wood, displaced 1,006 tons and had a length on the gundeck of 170 feet (51.8 m).[1]


Power was provided by a two-cylinder side-lever steam engine driving paddle wheels. In Hermes this engine was provided by the Butterley Company of Derbyshire, but the other ships had a Seaward and Capel unit fitted.[1] The engines were rated at 140 nominal horsepower, with the exception of Acheron, which was rated at 160 nominal horsepower.[1] Hermes had her original engine removed at Woolwich in 1840, and after she had been lengthened, in 1843 a new Maudslay 220 nominal horsepower 'Siamese'-type steam engine was fitted.[1] This gave her a speed under power of about 8 12 knots (15.7 km/h).[1] Pictures show Acheron with a barque rig.


All four ships were initially armed with two 9-pounder (13 12 cwt) smoothbore muzzle-loading brass guns. In 1842 or 1843 they were re-armed with a single 8-inch pivot gun and two 32-pounder (17 cwt) carronades.[Note 3][1]


They had a complement of approximately 135 men.[1]


NameShip builderLaid downLaunchedCommissionedFate
HermesPortsmouth DockyardApril 183426 June 183525 November 1835Sold for breaking October 1864
VolcanoPortsmouth DockyardJuly 183530 June 183617 January 1837Engineers' workshop at Portsmouth from 1854; broken up at Portsmouth in 1894
MegaeraSheerness DockyardAugust 183617 August 183730 March 1838Wrecked on Bare Bush Key, 5 miles east of Portland Point, Jamaica, 4 March 1843
AcheronSheerness DockyardOctober 183723 August 18388 January 1839Sold at Sydney in 1855


  1. A total cost accounting for inflation of approximately £2,256,000 in today's money.
  2. Hermes was lengthened in 1842, making her 170 ft 0 in (51.8 m) long on the gundeck, 148 ft 1 14 in (45.1 m) long at the keel and 32 ft 10 in (10.0 m) in the beam. Her tonnage increased to 827 88/94 bm
  3. "cwt", or "hundredweight" refers to the weight of the gun itself. "32-pounder" refers to the weight of the ball fired.


  1. Winfield (2004), p.158
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • 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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