Concept

HMS Birkenhead (1845)

Résumé
HMS Birkenhead, also referred to as HM Troopship Birkenhead or Steam Frigate Birkenhead, was one of the first iron-hulled ships built for the Royal Navy. She was designed as a steam frigate, but was converted to a troopship before being commissioned. While transporting troops and a few civilians to Algoa Bay, the Birkenhead was wrecked on 26 February 1852 at Danger Point near Gansbaai, from Cape Town in the Cape Colony. There were insufficient serviceable lifeboats for all the passengers, and the soldiers famously stood in ranks on board, thereby allowing the women and children to board the boats safely and escape the sinking. Only 193 of the estimated 643 people on board survived, and the soldiers' chivalry gave rise to the unofficial "women and children first" protocol when abandoning ship, while the "Birkenhead drill" of Rudyard Kipling's poem came to describe courage in the face of hopeless circumstances. The Birkenhead was laid down at John Laird's shipyard at Birkenhead as the frigate HMS Vulcan, but renamed Birkenhead soon afterwards after the town where she was built. She had two steam engines from Forrester & Co that drove a pair of paddle wheels, and two masts rigged as a brig. According to her designer, John Laird: The ship was divided into eight watertight compartments, while the engine room was divided by two longitudinal bulkheads into four compartments, making 12 watertight compartments in total. She had a round stern and a bow that ended in a large figurehead of Vulcan, holding a hammer in one hand, and some of "the bolts of Jove" that he had just forged in the other. Her armament was originally intended to be two 96-pounder pivot guns, one forward and the other aft, and four 68-pounder broadside guns. The Birkenhead was launched on 30 December 1845 by the Marchioness of Westminster. Her hull then weighed 903 tons and drew , although she was at this time missing approximately 15 tons of cabin fittings. Machinery, stores, and other fittings were expected to add an additional 1,000 or so tons, increasing her draught six more feet.
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