Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Saturday June 9, 1894

Went on trip to mouth of Thames in H.M.S. “Havock” the new torpedo boat destroyer.

William Christie, Astronomer Royal

H4799 Half-block model of HMS Havock, 1893, © NMM.

RH says..... The name of this ship is a little hard to read in the original Journal, but it is probably the HMS Havock, launched on 12 August 1893. This little jaunt of Christie's reminds us again of the link between the Royal Observatory in Greenwich and the Admiralty. The Havock was, apparently, broken up in 1912, largely because of problems with the bow torpedo tube which meant that she could outrun her own torpedos.
The Havock was the first of a new class of ships that were part of the massive five-year ship-building programme launched by the 1889 Naval Defence Act. Given that this allocated £21,500,000 to the Admiralty it is an interesting question whether the several thousands of pounds that Christie was requesting for his building works and telescopes was seen as an insignificant addition to their budgets or yet another burden. While Christie certainly had to work hard to get the money, it was, ultimately, forthcoming. Did the Admiralty and the British government believe that rival powers could be impressed by scientific success as well as military and naval might?

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