HMS Victoria

H.M.S. Victoria was one of two Sans Pareil Class battleships built for the Royal Navy, named in honour of Queen Victoria. Laid down at Armstrong’s in 1885 and launched in 1887, her completion was delayed by problems with her main armament of two BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval guns, and she wasn’t commissioned until 1890. For the entirety of her active career she served as flagship on the Mediterranean Station, except a period in 1892 when she grounded off the coast of Greece and had to undergo major repairs. On 22 June, 1893 she collided with the battleship Camperdown near Tripoli, Lebanon during manœuvres and quickly sank, taking 358 crew with her, including the commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. One of the survivors was her Commander, John Jellicoe, later Commander-in-Chief of the British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland.

The Royal Navy finally again constructed mastless turret ironclads, and introduced breech-loading guns, steel construction, and armor in the Inflexible diminutives, Colossus and Edinburgh (completed in 1886 and 1887, respectively), the turrets were arranged again in the hull-straining echelon arrangement to give ahead-fire for ramming. When the Admiralty finally went over to Devastation-pattern fore-and-aft turrets with Hero and Conqueror (completed in 1886 and 1888, respectively), they were mounted on dwarf ironclads, still designed primarily for ramming and counterramming, as were the Victoria and Sans Pareil (completed in 1890 and 1891, respectively).

In the field of steam engines, the obvious successor to the single expansion trunk engine – the two-stage engine with high- and low-pressure cylinders – began to be fitted in the merchant fleet from 1855 onwards, but it was not till about 1870, after trials that had lasted half a decade, that it was decided to fit these compound engines in battleships. Similarly, the next stage of development, the triple-expansion engine whose principle lasted as long as reciprocating steam engines did, was introduced in the merchant navy around 1880, tried out in the torpedo gunboat Rattlesnake in 1885 and first fitted to battleships Victoria and Sans Pareil in 1889.

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