Military Wiki
HMS Penguin (1876)
HMS Penguin.jpg
HMS Penguin
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Penguin
Builder: Robert Napier and Sons, Govan
Cost: Hull: £39,611
Machinery: £12,500
Yard number: 342
Laid down: 14 July 1874
Launched: 25 March 1876
Commissioned: 23 August 1877
Recommissioned: 1886
Decommissioned: 1889
Recommissioned: 1890
Fate: Transferred to Australian service
Career (Australia)
Name: HMAS Penguin
Acquired: 1908
Commissioned: 1 July 1913
Decommissioned: 1924
Fate: Converted to crane hulk in 1924
General characteristics
Class & type: Osprey-class screw composite sloop
Displacement: 1,130 long tons (1,150 t)
Length: 170 ft (51.8 m) (p/p)
Beam: 36 ft (11.0 m)
Draught: 15 ft 9 in (4.8 m)
Depth: 19 ft 6 in (5.9 m)
Installed power: 666 ihp (497 kW)
(later 951 ihp (709 kW))
Sail plan: Barque rig
Speed: 11 knots (20 km/h; 13 mph)
Range: 1,120 nmi (2,070 km; 1,290 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 140

HMS Penguin was an Osprey-class sloop. Launched on 1876, Penguin was operated by the Royal Navy from 1877 to 1881, then from 1886 to 1889. After being converted to a survey vessel, Penguin was recommissioned in 1890, and operated until 1908, when she was demasted and transferred to the Australian Commonwealth Naval Forces for use as a depot and training ship in Sydney Harbour. After this force became the Royal Australian Navy, the sloop was commissioned as HMAS Penguin in 1913. Penguin remained in naval service until 1924, when she was sold off and converted into a floating crane. The vessel survived until 1960, when she was broken up and burnt.

Design and construction

Penguin was an Osprey-class sloop-of-war, with a composite hull design.[1] The ship had a displacement of 1,130 tons, was 170 feet (52 m) long, had a beam of 36 feet (11 m), and a draught of 15 feet 9 inches (4.80 m).[1][2] An R & W Hawthorn two-cylinder horizontal returning-rod steam engine fed by three cylindrical boilers provided 666 indicated horsepower to the single 13 ft (4.0 m) propeller screw.[1] This gave Penguin a top speed of 9.9 knots (18.3 km/h; 11.4 mph), which failed to meet the required contract speed. After the first commission the engine was replaced by a Devonport Dockyard two-cylinder horizontal compound-expansion steam engine, developing 951 indicated horsepower (709 kW). She had a maximum range of 1,480 nautical miles (2,740 km; 1,700 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph).[1] In addition to the steam-driven propeller, the vessel was also barque rigged.[1] The standard ship's company was between 140 and 150.[1]

Armament consisted of two 7-inch (90cwt) muzzle-loading rifled guns, four 64-pound guns, four machine guns, and one light gun.[1]

Penguin was built by Robert Napier and Sons, of Govan, Scotland.[3] The vessel was laid down on 14 July 1876 as yard number 342.[1] She was launched on 25 March 1876,[3] and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 23 August 1877.[1] Construction costs included £39,611 for the hull, and £12,500 for her steam machinery.[1]

Operational history

British service

After entering service, Penguin was assigned to the Pacific Station until 1881, when she was paid off.[3] Recommissioned in 1886 for the East Indies Station, she participated in the blockade of Zanzibar in 1888 before returning to England and being paid off in 1889. She underwent a refit as a survey vessel and commenced service on the Australia Station in 1890 and undertook survey work around the Western Pacific islands, New Zealand and the Great Barrier Reef. From 1896 to 1899 she was under the command of Captain Arthur Mostyn Field and her surveying work included deep borings on Funafuti atoll.[4]

Australian service

Her masts removed, she was transferred for harbour service at Sydney in 1908, before being commissioned into the RAN as HMAS Penguin, a depot ship, on 1 July 1913.[5]

Decommissioning and fate

Her hull was sold to Samuel Waugh Ltd and converted into a crane hulk at Sydney in 1924. Later sold for breaking up, her hull was burnt on 13 December 1960 at Kerosene Bay, Sydney.[1][3]


  1. The horizontal returning-rod steam engine by R & W Hawthorn failed to meet the contract speed and was replaced after the first commission by a Devonport Dockyard 2-cylinder horizontal compound-expansion steam engine[1]


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