John Speller's Web Pages H.M.S. Rattler

John Speller's Web Pages - Brunel's Steamships

H.M.S. Rattler
Brunel's only association with the design of steamships for the Royal Navy was his contrinution to H.M.S. Rattler, built in 1843. This was the first naval ship equipped with a screw propeller. It was a wooden-hulled ship and was a twelve-gun Naval sloop. Launched at Sheerness on 12 April 1843, H.M.S. Rattler was commissioned at Woolwich on 12 December 1844 under the command of Commander Henry Smith. In March and April 1845 a series of trials took place between H.M.S. Rattler and paddle-steamer H.M.S. Alecto to try to determine whether screw propulsion or paddle-wheels should be used in future Naval vessels. In races on the open sea H.M.S. Rattler consistently came out in front. The trials culminated in a tug-of-war in the North Sea on 3 April 1845 when H.M.S. Rattler succeeded in pulling H.M.S. Alecto backwards at 2 knots. The ship had a short but distinguished career in the Royal Navy. On 3 October 1849 H.M.S. Rattler captured the Brazilian slave brigantine Alepide. In 1852-53 she was active in the Second Anglo-Burmese War. On 4 August 1855 in cooperation with H.M.S. Eaglet and U.S.S. Powhatan she took part in an attack on Chinese pirates. She was broken up at Woolwich on 26 November 1856.
Cigarette card showing the famous tug-of-war between H.M.S. Rattler and H.M.S. Alecto on 3 April 1845
A contemporary woodcut of the North Sea contest between H.M.S. Rattler and H.M.S. Alecto
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