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HMS Gorgon (1837)
HMS Gorgon by Sir Oswald Walters Brierly.
Career (United Kingdom) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Gorgon
Ordered: 10 July 1834[1]
Builder: Royal Dockyard, Pembroke Dock[2]
Laid down: July 1836[1]
Launched: 31 August 1837
Commissioned: 30 August 1838[1]
Decommissioned: 11 February 1864
Fate: Sold for breaking on 17 October 1864[1]
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,610 long tons (1,640 t)
Tons burthen: 1108 67/94 bm[1]
Length: 235 ft (71.6 m) (overall)
152 ft 2 in (46.4 m) (keel)[1]
Beam: 37 ft 6 in (11.4 m)
Draught: 16 ft (4.9 m)[3]
Depth of hold: 23 ft (7.0 m)[1]
Installed power: 800 ihp (600 kW)[1]
  • 2-cylinder direct-acting steam engine
  • 4 flue boilers
  • 27 ft (8.2 m) Paddles
Sail plan: Schooner (later brig)[1]
Speed: 9.5 kn (17.6 km/h)[1]
Complement: 160

6 guns:
As built:

  • 2 × pivot-mounted 10-inch (84 cwt) guns
  • 2 × 68-pdr (64 cwt) guns
  • 2 × 42-pdr (22 cwt) carronades

By 1856:

  • 1 × pivot-mounted 10-inch (84 cwt) gun
  • 1 × pivot-mounted 68-pdr (64 cwt) gun
  • 4 × 32-pdr (42 cwt) guns

HMS Gorgon was a wooden steam paddle frigate of 6 guns, launched in 1837. In 1840 she took part in the bombardment of Acre, and in 1843 was part of the Royal Navy squadron stationed in the River Plate during the Uruguayan Civil War. She was converted to a troopship and in 1858 assisted Agamemnon in the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable. She was sold for breaking in 1864.

Design and construction

Gorgon was designed by Sir William Symonds and was the first vessel to be fitted with direct-acting engines (in which the engine's cylinders are placed under the crankshaft), the engines being built by Seaward and Company. In addition to saving space over previous side-lever engines, they weighed 60 tons less. She was teak built with oak main beams, had a displacement of 1,610 long tons (1,640 t), and her paddle wheels were 27 feet (8.2 m) in diameter. She was laid down at Pembroke Royal Dockyard in July 1836 and launched on 31 August 1837.[1]


In 1840 Gorgon saw action with three other paddle sloops, Vesuvius, Stromboli and Phoenix, in the bombardment of the city of Acre under the command of Admiral Robert Stopford.

In 1843, during the Uruguayan Civil War, Gorgon arrived in the River Plate to join the Royal Navy squadron commanded by Commodore John Purvis. She anchored in the bay as a deterrent to potential attackers. She ran aground on 10 May 1844 but was subsequently refloated.

From 23 February 1854 to 8 May 1854 Gorgon was commanded by Commander (and Captain) Arthur Cumming.[4] In 1858 Gorgon assisted in the laying of the first transatlantic telegraph cable by taking soundings for the former warship HMS Agamemnon, which had been converted into a cable ship. When the cable link was completed to New York, the crew of the Gorgon and the other ships were feted by civic receptions and processions through the city.[5]

Gorgon was despatched to Madagascar in 1863 to keep the peace on the death of King Radama II.[6] She returned via the Cape of Good Hope, arriving at Spithead on 29 January 1864. She discharged her ammunition and guns at the Royal Arsenal, was paid out of commission on 11 February.[7]

Despite being decommissioned, Gorgon had one last mission. The vessel was towed to Greenhithe on 6 May 1864 to act as a receiving hulk for the crew of HMS Osborne, seven of whom had acquired smallpox.[8] The ship was ultimately dismantled at Woolwich.[9] She was sold to Charlton for breaking on 17 October 1864.[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Winfield, p.159
  2. The Times (London), Tuesday, 19 September 1837, p.1
  3. The Times (London), Monday, 23 May 1859, p.11
  4. Davis, Peter. "Captain Authur Cumming RN". Retrieved 8 September 2010. 
  5. The Times of London, Monday, 20 September 1858, p.7
  6. The Times (London), Wednesday, 3 February 1864, p.9
  7. The Times (London), Thursday, 11 February 1864, p.12
  8. The Times (London), Saturday, 7 May 1864, p.9
  9. The Times (London), Saturday, 30 January 1864, p.12

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