Bermuda Dockyard

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Bermuda Dockyard

The Bermuda Islands, from their position, have always been regarded as of considerable strategical importance in the event of our being involved in war with any Power likely to prey upon our shipping, and at the present time they attract especial interest in view of the Spanish-American quarrel.  As has been pointed out, Spain and America are not witthel by any undertaking from searching vessels under a neutral flag, and if either should avail herself to any great extent of this licence we might be the greatest sufferers.  International law is a very thorny subject, bristling with difficulties and with apparently antagonistic precedents, and it will be necessary that our interests should be vigilantly guarded in this quarter of the world; hence the importance of Bermuda as a Naval base and coaling station for our cruisers.  The little group of coral islands lie about 500 miles from cape Hatteras, a little to the southward of it, and about 1300 miles to the north-east of Havana. 

Our illustrations show the large floating dock, which is capable of accommodating a vessel of over 370 ft in length and 25 ft draught.  It was built in 1869 and was towed across the Atlantic by two ironclads, with the old paddle-frigate "Terrible" fastened astern to act as a rudder.  The vessel represented in the dock is the second class cruiser "Intrepid", of 3600 tons displacement.  She looks,as Jack would put it, like a mere jollyboat in the huge floating structure.  In another illustration the dock is itself being docked, and having the barnacles scraped off it's bottom.

The building of the dock "Bermuda" was commenced in August 1866, on which there were at one time 1400 hands employed; she was launched 3rd September 1868, and finally completed in May 1869.

Immediately after coming out of dry dock the ships are removed to the other side of the camber to coal.  On the "long arm" of the breakwater immense stacks of coal are built up, the oldest being used first; thus the ship may be at one end of the breakwater and have to take her coal from the other end, in which case the dockyard train is brought into use, half the ship's company filling the baskets and loading the train, while the remainder stand by abreast the ship to unload the trucks and "dump" the coal.  As soon as the bunkers are filled the ship goes out to Grassey Bay to clean up and put on a fresh coat of paint. 

Extract from "The Navy and Army Illustrated Vol. VI" (April 2nd 1898)

Intrepid in Bermuda Dock

Docking a Dock - Scraping off the Barnacles

A Deck View in Dock

A view from Admiralty House in Bermuda c.1920s. 

A reproduction of this original photo / photo-postcard size 10" x 7" approx available.  Order photograph here  ? Walker Archive. Order Code  PHX014

Bermuda Dockyard, c.1932.

Guard of Honour in Tattoo Arena, Bermuda, 1932.

Hamilton, Bermuda, 1939.

HMS Berwick present at the time.  Contributed by Sandra Meacock.