Military Wiki
HMS Iron Duke (1870)
HMS Iron Duke (1870).jpg
HMS Iron Duke
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Iron Duke
Builder: Pembroke Dockyard
Laid down: 23 August 1868
Launched: 1 March 1870
Commissioned: 1 April 1871
Decommissioned: 1890
Reclassified: Converted to coal hulk 1900
Fate: Sold for scrap 15 May 1906
General characteristics
Class & type: Audacious class battleship
Displacement: 6034 tons
Length: 342 ft 3 in (104.32 m)
Beam: 54 ft (16 m)
Draught: 23 ft 3 in (7.09 m)
Propulsion: Coal fired reciprocating steam engines by Ravenhill
6 boilers
2 shafts
4,830 hp (3.3 MW) total
Sail plan: Full rigged ship
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h)
Complement: 450

10 × 12 ton 9-inch (229 mm) RML guns
4 × 6 in (152 mm), 64 pounder (29 kg) RML 'chaser' guns (two at bows and two at stern)
6 × 20 pounder (9 kg) guns

Armour: Iron plating with teak backing
Belt: 6 to 8 in (152 to 203 mm)
Battery: 4 to 6 in (102 to 152 mm)
Bulkheads: 4 to 5 in (102 to 127 mm)
Service record
Part of: China Squadron 1871-1875, 1877-1883 (flagship)
First Reserve Squadron 1875-1877
Channel Fleet 1885-1890

The first HMS Iron Duke was an iron Audacious-class central battery ironclad.

She was originally to have been called HMS Duke but she was nicknamed Iron Duke during construction as she was armoured unlike many other vessels under construction. The phrase was already in circulation as it was a nickname given to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. The name was adopted when she was launched at Pembroke shipyard.

A 9-inch (229 mm) muzzle-loading rifle aboard Iron Duke in the 1870s. Hanging from the deckhead above the gun are its ramming staff and its sponging-out staff. One of the gun's shells, partially obscured by the glare from outside, is hanging in the gunport in front of the gun.

She became the flagship of the China Station on 31 August 1871, one of the first large ships to use the Suez canal to reach there. In an age of inefficient engines, her full sailing rig made her particularly suitable for operations in the Pacific Ocean. She returned to the UK in 1875 and joined the First Reserve Squadron. On 1 September 1875 during the squadron's summer cruise she was en route with several other ships between Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) and Queenstown (now Cobh). She accidentally rammed her sister ship, another member of the squadron, HMS Vanguard off Kish Bank, Dublin Bay in thick fog. Although Iron Duke sustained minor damage, a large hole was torn in Vanguard. Vanguard's engine room was flooded which prevented her from using her pumps and she sunk in a little over an hour. All the crew were rescued.

Following the loss, Iron Duke replaced Vanguard as guard ship at Kingstown, a role in which she remained until July 1877.

She then returned to the China station again as flagship, returning in January 1883. After refitting, on 16 April 1885 she became a member of Admiral Hornby's Particular Service Squadron until August, when she joined the Channel Squadron.

She entered the reserve in May 1890 and was finally paid off on 2 May 1893. She was converted to a coal hulk in 1900 before eventually being sold for £15,000 as scrap on 15 May 1906.


  • Roger Chesneau and Eugene M. Kolesnik, ed., Conway's All The Worlds Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1979), ISBN 0-85177-133-5

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