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HMAS Psyche at Hong Kong in 1916

The Pelorus class cruiser was a ""Third class"" protected cruiser design class of eleven Royal Navy warships designed by Sir William White (Director of Naval Construction 1885 - 1902), based on the earlier Pearl class cruisers. They were ordered in 1893 under the Spencer Program, and laid down 1896-1900. The first, HMS Pelorus, was commissioned in 1896.

In an era of naval innovation, the class was almost outdated before they were launched. The class were fitted with a variety of different boilers as a trial of these boilers but most were not particularly satisfactory; so HMS Pandora was scrapped in 1913, and HMS Perseus and HMS Prometheus in 1914. They had all been condemned in 1904 but had been reprieved. The remainder were to be scrapped in 1915, but were kept in service through the First World War. HMS Pegasus was sunk in combat in 1914, and the rest were scrapped 1919-22 (except for HMS Pioneer). HMS Pactolus and HMS Pomone had Blechynden boilers which were particularly unreliable, and they were removed from active service several years before others in the class.

In 1914 Admiral Cresswell, the 1st Naval Member of the Australian Naval Board described the Psyche and Pyramus as (of) the unspeakably useless P. class. [1]


Development and design

The Pelorus class ships displaced 2,135 tons and had a top speed of 20 knots (17.4 mph). Most served in minor roles on overseas or colonial patrol work, not with the main battlefleets. They carried a crew complement of 224 and were armed with eight QF 4-inch (101.6 mm) (25 pounder) guns, eight 3 pounder guns, 3 machine guns, and two 18-inch (450-mm) torpedo tubes.

They had reciprocating triple expansion steam engines, and were equipped with different types of boiler which were trialled in these cruisers. Some had Normand water-tube boilers which could give 7,000 horsepower (5,200 kW) for limited periods of time with forced draught, and 5,000 horsepower (3,700 kW) under natural draught.


Ship Launched Fate
HMS Pandora January 17, 1900 Sold for scrap in July 1913.
HMS Pelorus December 15, 1896 Sold for scrap on May 6, 1920.
HMS Pegasus March 4, 1897 Sunk September 20, 1914 by SMS Königsberg.
HMS Perseus July 15, 1897 Sold for scrap on May 26, 1914.
HMS Pactolus December 21, 1896 Sold for scrap on October 25, 1921.
HMS Pioneer June 28, 1899 Transferred to Australia on March 1, 1913 though not sold until July 1, 1915. Scuttled on February 19, 1931.
HMS Pomone November 25, 1897 Sold for scrap in June 1922.
HMS Prometheus October 20, 1898 Sold for scrap on May 28, 1914.
HMS Proserpine December 5, 1896 Sold for scrap on November 30, 1919.
HMS Psyche July 19, 1898 Sold to Australia July 1, 1915. Sold for scrap in June 1922.
HMS Pyramus May 15, 1897 Sold for scrap April 21, 1920.

See also


  1. ^ McGibbon, I.C. (1981) Blue-Water Rationale: The Naval Defence of New Zealand 1914-1942, page 15 note 50 (GP Print, Wellington, NZ) ISBN 0 477 01072 5


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