H.M.V.S. Childers (1883)

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H.M.V.S. Childers (1884)
Builder: John I. Thornycroft & Company[1]
Laid down: 1883[2]
Launched: 1884
Commissioned: 1884
Sold: Aug, 1918[3]

H.M.V.S. Childers was a first-class torpedo boat built for the Victorian Government in 1883-4. She would serve as a prototype for the Royal Navy's own 125 Footer class Torpedo Boats.



The boat was taken from Portsmouth on 3 February, 1884 under the command of Lieutenant Jerram for delivery to the Victorian Government in Melbourne, a journey well beyond the comfortable envelope for such a small boat. Jerram's report on the voyage establishes that the boats were seaworthy, but proved it in a manner that inflicted "discomfort, not to say misery" upon the crew.[4]} Jerram had a crew of fifteen: two other lieutenants, one engineer, three engine-room artificers, three petty officers, two A.Bs., three stokers and a single servant. To help her make the journey, Childers was equipped with five sails that proved almost useless despite having a special propeller that could be feathered when under sail.

Stopping in Plymouth, she left on the 5th of February into a sea with such a cross swell that every man aboard was sickened and navigation was difficult. Nonetheless, she made Vigo in 59 hours. She ran out of coal off Cadiz – a fact that seemed to be discovered rather at the last minute due to poor estimates of the amount remaining, requiring her to be towed by a passing steamer into Gibraltar.

She made Malta on the 17th, in a filthy condition owing to her too-short funnels. Things improved, however, when she made the 750 miles from Suez to Suakim on a mere nine tons of coal. A strong headwind from there caused the boat "alarming" motion and to ring like a bell, as her propeller would race when it emerged from the water, despite making just four knots at the time. The crew suffered terribly from spray, leaving them unable to even cook, as the fire would go out when water came down the chimney.

On arrival at Aden, Jerram recorded, "I and the two other officers were unable to walk or even to wear socks for nearly three weeks, as we had been knocking about without boots, and were covered with blisters from the knees downwards. These were cut open and painted with white lead at Aden; a severe but effective remedy. The fact of being wet through day and night, and the want of sleep from anxiety and the excessive motion, rather pulled me down."

Childers arrived in Melbourne after an arduous journey of four months and twenty days.


Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also


  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 106.
  2. R.A.N. page on Childers.
  3. R.A.N. page on Childers.
  4. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1884. pp. xii-xiii.
  5. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1884. pp. xii-xiii.
  6. The Navy List. (October, 1916). p. 399n.


First-class Torpedo Boat H.M.V.S. Childers
  Torpedo Boats (AU)  
  First-class Torpedo Boats (AU)