Hydra-class sloop

The Hydra class were a class of three paddlewheel steam sloops of the British Royal Navy. They saw active service variously in the Baltic during the Crimean War, against Ottoman forces in Syria and against slavers in West Africa. Latterly Hydra and Hecate were used for survey in the Mediterranean, the Pacific, Australia and the Atlantic, and thus their names were re-used for the Hecla-class survey vessels in the late 20th century. Two of the class were broken up after more than twenty-five years of service, and Hecla was sold for commercial use in 1863.

Hecla in 1854
Class overview
Name: Hydra-class steam sloop
Builders: Chatham Dockyard
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: HMS Gorgon
Succeeded by: Merlin-class sloop
Cost: Hydra: £37,239[Note 1]
Built: 1837–1839
In commission: 1838–1870
Completed: 3
Retired: 3
General characteristics [1]
  • Second-class steam vessel
  • (later second class sloop)
Displacement: 1,096 long tons (1,114 t)
Tons burthen: 814 91/94 tons bm
  • 165 ft 0 in (50.3 m) (gundeck)
  • 143 ft 7 14 in (43.8 m) (keel)
Beam: 32 ft 10 in (10.0 m)
  • 12 ft 1 in (3.7 m) (forward)
  • 13 ft 0 in (4.0 m) (aft)
Depth of hold: 20 ft 4 in (6.2 m)
Installed power:
  • Hydra: 220 nhp
  • Hecla & Hecate: 240 nhp
Sail plan: Brig rig
Speed: 9 knots (17 km/h) (under steam)
Complement: 135


The ships were designed by Sir William Symonds and were approved on 3 November 1837. They were built of wood, displaced 1,096 tons and had a length on the gundeck of 165 feet (50.3 m).[1]


Power was provided by a two-cylinder side-lever steam engine driving paddle wheels. In Hecla and Hecate this engine was provided by Scott & Sinclair, and was rated at 240 nominal horsepower; in Hydra the steam engine was provided by Boulton and Watt and rated at 220 nominal horsepower. All the ships were capable of about 9 knots (17 km/h) under steam.[1] Paddle sloops of the period were usually built with a schooner rig, but later pictures show Hecate with a brig rig.[2]

Hecla had her engines replaced in her 1848–1849 refit.[1]


All three ships were armed with two 32-pounder (50 cwt) smoothbore muzzle-loading guns on truck mounts and two 8 in (200 mm) (65 cwt) smoothbore muzzle-loading shell guns on pivoting mounts.[Note 2][1]


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



Hecate served in the Mediterranean from 1840 to 1843, including operations against the Ottomans in Syria in 1840. From 1845 to 1857 she served off the west coast of Africa, including anti-slavery operations. In 1860 she became a survey vessel, and under George Henry Richards she made a survey of Vancouver Island.[3]


With Hecate, Hydra served in the Mediterranean, including the 1840 Syria operations. She served from 1840 to 1862 on both seaboards of the North and South Atlantic, including the period 1858 to 1862, when she was commanded by Richard Vesey Hamilton, later to become First Naval Lord. In 1863 she conducted survey work in the Mediterranean.[4]


From her commissioning in 1839 to 1854 Hecla served in the West Indies, in the Mediterranean and on the west coast of Africa. In February 1854 she reconnoitred the Baltic for British operations there during the Crimean War, and from March to November 1854, under the command of Captain William Hutcheon Hall, who had taken command of the small vessel because a warship of the size due to his seniority was not available.[5] She ran aground off Gibraltar on 23 January 1855, for which her commanding officer, Henry Samuel Hawker was severely reprimanded by a court martial.[6] She served off the west coast of Africa until 1859,[5] and was sold to Williams & Co. for £2,550 for commercial use on 15 June 1863 and renamed Typhoon.[1]


NameShip builderLaid downLaunchedCommissionedFate
HydraChatham DockyardJanuary 183813 June 1838[Note 3]11 July 1838Sold for breaking 13 May 1870
HeclaChatham DockyardJune 183814 January 183928 August 1839Sold to Williams & Co. for commercial use on 15 June 1863 and renamed Typhoon
HecateChatham DockyardJune 183830 March 18397 December 1839Sold for breaking in 1865

See also


  1. A total cost accounting for inflation of approximately £3,293,400 in today's money.
  2. "cwt", or "hundredweight" refers to the weight of the gun itself. "32-pounder" refers to the weight of the ball fired.
  3. Winfield has "July 1838"


  1. Winfield (2004), p.159.
  2. Image of Hecate in a gale
  3. "HMS Hecate". William Loney website. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  4. "HMS Hydra". William Loney website. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  5. "HMS Hecla". William Loney website. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
  6. "Henry Samuel Hawker". William Loney website. Retrieved 21 January 2012.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.