Home ] Up ] Acknowledgements ] How to use our site ]

HMS Devastation 

Home ] Up ] HMS Thunderer ] [ HMS Devastation ]

Choose the navy or section of interest below:

Royal Navy United States Germany France Japan Italy Russia Austria-Hungary
Canada Spain Netherlands Argentina Brazil Portugal Turkey Australia
Norway Sweden Denmark Belgium Chile Uruguay China New Zealand
Malta Greece India Poland South Africa Pakistan Libya Kuwait
Ireland Other Navies Liners   Unidentified Ships Wartime Naval Losses

Customer Helpline (UK) : 01436 820269
Subscribe to our Newsletter!

You currently have no items in your basket

Last Christmas Post Dates (more)
UK : 22 Dec, US/CAN/EUR : 18 Dec

Payment Options Display
Buy with confidence and security!
Publishing historical art since 1985






HMS Devastation of the Devastation Class Battleships.  Photographs and history of HMS Devastation

HMS Devastation built at Portsmouth and launched 12th July 1871.  The idea of Sir E J Reed of the Admiralty as an improvement on the old Prince Albert design.  in 1881 Devastation was refitted with improvements in ventilation, and an overhaul of machinery. Devastation underwent modernization in 1890-92 and old guns were replaced with quick-firers and breechloaders. HMS Devastation was removed from the Navy List in 1907, being sold in May 1908.

Armament: four 29 ton guns, six 6 pounder guns and eight 3 pounder quick firers with a partial belt of armour from 12ins to10 ins.   Displacement: 9,330 tons.   I.H.P: 7,000.   Length: 285 ft.   Beam: 62ft 3 ins.   Max Draught: 27ft 6ins.   Speed: 14 knots (after modernisation).   Complement: 410.   


HMS Devastation in dock, 1873.

Click here for photo purchasing options

HMS Devastation, 1873.

Click here for photo purchasing options

HMS Devastation returning from her Gibraltar service c.1902.

The Devastation was one of the earliest ironclad vessels to be built in a public dockyard, and she excited considerable attention at the time. She was thought by many to be too heavy, with sarcastic jokes made about her weight. By 1902 she had served 31 years with the navy. Her Gibraltar station was taken over by HMS Irresistible.

HMS Devastation, 1873.

Click here for photo purchasing options

HMS Devastation, July, 1894

HMS Devastation - Portguard Ship at Devonport

The Devastation was an iron second-class battleship and was completed for sea in 1873. She was built at Portsmouth Dockyard and engined by Messrs Maudsley, Son & Field. Commissioned at Portsmouth in December 1893 under Captain William M Lang of Fleet Reserve at Devonport.

Click here for photo purchasing options

HMS Devastation was launched in 1871 and performed well on her first trials. She was originally designed to have two signal masts, one forward and one aft of the turrets but after completion she only had one mast on the superstructure.

The Company of the Devastation 1896

The complete seagoing complement of the Devastation was 410 of all ranks and ratings, but in ordinary conditions there was no need to keep so many men on board. At this time there were portguardships at Portsmouth, Chatham, Devonport, Pembroke, and Queenstown, all seagoing ships. There special duty was to join and act with the coastguard ships, which similarly comprised second-class ironclads and cruisers, as a Reserve Fleet and second line in support of the Channel Squadron. The port and coastguard ships were kept ready at all times to put to sea at short notice, and in cases of emergency would fill up their seagoing complements from the Naval Barracks and Marine Depots at each port, from the Coastguardsmen and Naval Reserve men living at home within clearly defined areas.

Click here for photo purchasing options

Commander Stewart off Devonport Dockyard

This shows Commandeer Alexander E Stewart in a ships boat off the dockyard.

Devastation in the Hamoze

The Devastation is shown flying the flag of Admiral the Hon Sir Edmund Fremantle, who had just taken up the office of Commander-in-Chief in 1896 at Devonport. 

Petty Officers from the Devastation in 1896

The Chief and first and second class petty officers of the Devastation - all men of tried experience at sea, and specially selected for the Petty Officers rating on account of good character, intelligence and smartness.

Captain Burnard and N.C.O.s Marines 1896

Some of the Marines of the Devastation in 1896 both light infantry and artillerymen, among these is shown the ships postman with his leathern wallet.

The Devastation the Portguard ship at Devonport

The photograph shows Captain William Metcalfe Lang, the distinguished and able officer who organised the Chinese Fleet between the years 1886-1890 until compelled by a disgraceful mandarin intrigue to throw up his appointment - surrounded by the other officers of the ship.

Click here for photo purchasing options

The following is an extract from the Naval and Military Gazette:

"We hesitated to give currency to reports which reached us during the cruise of the Devastation round the coast with the Channel Squadron, as we had good reason to believe that it was the intention of the Admiralty to pay her off, and berth her in Portsmouth harbour as a tender to the Excellent the advantage of so doing being that a very large number of men passing through the School of Gunnery would thus be enabled to become acquainted with the latest improvements in the turret system ... But since the arrival of the Admiralty of Rear Admiral Hornby, late in command of the Channel Squadron, who certainly should be able to form a correct estimate of the Devastions fitness in every respect for the sea service, it has been determined that she shall be ordered to Gibraltar, there probably to remain during the coming winter as a kind of guardo. A cruise across the bay in the month of November is not looked forward to by the present crew, who have had a little experience both of being stifled by being battened down and of being nearly blown out of their hammocks when efforts at ventilation are made by opening up every hatch. Her qualities as a sea boat have been fairly tested, and the present notion of filling her up with stores for six months further service, and then stowing her away at Gibraltar, leads to the conclusion that on this point at least the value of the counsel of the First Lords new Naval adviser is not altogether apparent."



Classified Ads Terms and Conditions Shipping Info Contact Details



Click here to go to our naval history forum

Everything we obtain for this site is shown on the site, we do not have any more photos, crew lists or further information on any of the ships.


This website is owned by Cranston Fine Arts.  Torwood House, Torwoodhill Road, Rhu, Helensburgh, Scotland, G848LE

Contact: Tel: (+44) (0) 1436 820269.  Fax: (+44) (0) 1436 820473. Email:

Return to Home Page