HMS Gannet

HMS Gannet was a member of the Doterel-class of screw sloops (i.e. gunboats). She was built at Sheerness Naval Dockyard, Kent (not far from her current location in Chatham) and was launched on 31st August 1878.

When built, her particulars were:

  • Displacement: 1,130 tons
  • Length: 170 feet
  • Beam: 36 feet
  • Draught: 15 feet 9 inches
  • Propulsion: 1 x Two-cylinder Humphreys & Tennant horizontal compound expansion engine (1,107 ihp), powered by steam from 3 cylindrical boilers, driving a single propeller
  • Speed: 11.5 knots
  • Complement: 150
  • Armament: 2 x 7-inch RML guns, 4 x 64-pounder RML guns, 4 x MGs (By 1892 the 64-pounder guns had been removed and replaced by 2 x 5-inch BL guns)

During one of her periods of active duty HMS Gannet helped suppress the Slave Trade in the Red Sea as well as support the British enclave at Suakin.

HMS Gannet was decommissioned in 1895 and used as an accommodation hulk at Port Victoria railway station on the Isle of Grain. She was then converted into a Drill Ship for the RNVR (Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve) on the River Thames. In 1913 she was moved to the River Hamble, where she became the dormitory ship for the Training/School Ship Mercury, and she remained there until the school closed down in 1968.

In 2001, when I made my first visit to The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, I took some photographs of HMS Gannet during the early stages of her restoration.

I was even able to find a photograph of HMS Gannet as she looked at the end of the nineteenth century.

By the time I made a return visit in 2003, HMS Gannet had been almost completely restored to her original appearance.

During my most recent visit I was able to go aboard HMS Gannet and take some more photographs of her.

HMS Gannet in August 2015.

HMS Gannet’s top deck, looking aft from her raised forecastle.

HMS Gannet’s midships top deck.

HMS Gannet’s top deck, looking forward from under her raised poop deck.

On HMS Gannet‘s forecastle are two examples of four-barrelled Nordenfelt machine guns.

Mounted underneath HMS Gannets forecastle is an example of a 7-inch RML (Rifled Muzzle Loading) Gun. It was mounted on a traversing mount so that it could be fired through gun ports on either side of the bow.

A similar gun is mounted amidships.

Aft, mounted on HMS Gannet‘s poop deck, are a pair of 5-inch BL (Breech Loading) guns. These replaced the 64-pounder RML (Rifled Muzzle Loading) Guns when HMS Gannet was rearmed.


12 Comments on “HMS Gannet”

  1. Very interesting- thankyou Bob for posting your excellent pictures and specs of this Gunboat. Back in May this year we visited the UK- I did plan to go and see the ship-though our tour timetable didn't give us much time to do it- I had planned to travel from London to Chatham- went to Hospital (St Thomas) instead with phneumonia so did not get to visit HMS Gannet. Regards. KEV.

  2. Chatham is well worth a visit.

  3. Conrad Kinch says:

    She's a beauty Bob. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  4. Pete. says:

    A lovely old ship Bob- though the old MG got my attention too.



  5. Didn't know this ship existed! I must get down there!

  6. Gonsalvo says:

    Very interesting ship fron the transitional years – thanks!

  7. K.C.Robertson (Kev),

    Perhaps you'll make it next time. I can assure you that you will enjoy visiting the Historical Dockyard, but make sure that you get there early and spend the day enjoying it.

    All the best,


  8. Xaltotun of Python,

    I totally agree, and intend to go back at least once again by next Summer.

    All the best,


  9. Conrad Kinch,

    If you ever make it over to the UK for more than a couple of days i would be only too pleased to take you to Chatham to show you around … especially as the Royal Engineers have their museum just up the road and Fort Amhurst is less than a mile away.

    All the best,


  10. Pete,

    It is a lovely example of a gunboat … and the twin machine gun mountings are wonderful when you see them up close.

    All the best,


  11. Legatus Hedlius,

    You must visit HMS Gannet! It is a wonderful little ship … and the museum is well worth visiting as well.

    All the best,


  12. Gonsalvo,

    HMS Gannet combines the best of steam and sail … and its history – along with that of the other gunboats – is fascinating.

    All the best,


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