HMS Pelorus

HMS Pelorus

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HMS Pelorus

HMS Pelorus was the nameship of the Pelorus class of third class cruisers. At the start of the First World War she was on patrol in the Bristol Channel, but before the end of 1914 she had been sent to the Mediterraean, where she formed part of the Gibraltar Patrol (with ten torpedo boats and two armed boarding ships). She was perhaps not the ideal patrol vessel, for from March-May 1915 she was detached at Palma in the Balearic Islands, watching a suspicious German steamship known to be equipped with a wireless set.

In the summer of 1915 the Pelorus was back with the main Gibraltar patrol, but the patrol did not even detect the German submarines U 35 and U 34 as they passed through the straits of Gibraltar on the way to the eastern Mediterranean. During 1916 she was at least partly converted to act as a depot ship, but in January 1918 she made up the 1st Detached Squadron of the Aegean Squadron, based at Suda Bay, Crete.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

18.5kts natural draft
20kts forced draft

Armour – deck


- gunshields


- conning tower



313ft 6in


Eight 4in quick firing guns
Eight 3pdr quick firing guns
Three machine guns
Two 18in above water torpedo tubes

Crew complement



15 December 1896




Commander E. Stevenson (1915)

Sold for break up


Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

HMS Pelorus (J291)

Alus tilattiin Renfrew'stä Lobnitz et Companyltä. Sen köli laskettiin 8. lokakuuta 1942 ja alus laskettiin vesille 18. kesäkuuta 1943. Alus liitettiin laivastoon saman vuoden lopulla 7. lokakuuta. [1]

Alus luovutettiin syyskuussa 1947 Chathamissa juhlallisessa seremoniassa Etelä-Afrikalle. Alus säilytti nimensä HMSAS Pelorus Britannian aluevesillä, mutta myöhemmin alus nimettiin HMSAS Maritzburgiksi. Pietermaritzburgin, jonka mukaan alus oli nimetty, asukkaiden painostuksesta aluksen nimi kuitenkin vaihdettiin HMSAS Pietermaritzburgiksi. Alus oli ennen lähtöään jonkin aikaa Port Edgarissa miinanraivauskoulutuksessa ja se lähti Etelä-Afrikkaan HMSAS Bloemfonteinin kanssa 22. marraskuuta. [2]

Alukset saapuivat 24. joulukuuta Kapkaupunkiin kiinnittyen Victoria Basiniin. Aluksen virallinen kastetilaisuus HMSAS Pietermarizburgiksi pidettiin 21. tammikuuta 1948 Durbanissa ja samalla se virallisesti liitettiin Etelä-Afrikan laivastoon. Se osallistui marraskuussa sotaharjoitukseen Britannian kuninkaallisen laivaston Kotilaivaston lentotukialusosaston kanssa Etelä-Afrikan rannikolla. Harjoituksen jälkeen alus teki purjehduksen Beiraan Itä-Afrikkaan, mikä oli samalla ensimmäinen monista vastaavista purjehduksista Afrikan eteläosissa. [2]

1950-luvun puolivälissä Etelä-Afrikan laivasto oli vastaanottanut uudet rannikkomiinanraivaajat, jolloin alus siirrettiin reserviin. Se palasi palvelukseen koululaivana elokuussa 1962 huollon ja modernisoinnin jälkeen. Alukselle oli muun muassa tehty koulutettaville lisää majoitustiloja takakannen ilmatorjuntatykkien ja miinantorjuntakaluston paikalle. Samoin sen yksiputkinen neljän tuuman tykki oli korvattu kaksiputkisella. Capex 63 -harjoituksessa alus kolaroi 28. heinäkuuta 1963 HMS Leopardin kanssa Cape Pointin eteläpuolella, jolloin yksi brittiläinen merimies sai surmansa ja kumpikin alus vaurioitui. [2]

Joulukuussa alus osallistui etelä- ja itärannikon merenlämpötilan mittaukseen, joiden tuloksia käytetään sukellusveneiden havainnointiin. Vuonna 1966 alus palautettiin reserviin, mistä se palautettiin palvelukseen kesäkuussa 1968 majoitusaluksena Simonstowniin. Alus oli tehtävässä vuoteen 1991, jolloin todettiin sen sopimattomuus tehtävään. [3]

Aluksen hylky upotettiin 19. marraskuuta 1994 kello 11 räjähdyspanoksin Miller's Pointin edustalla False Bayssä. Hylky upposi alle minuutissa räjähdysten avatessa aluksen pohjan. [4]

Pelorus Jack, the mascot

Two bulldogs named Pelorus Jack served as mascots of HMS New Zealand, the battlecruiser that the New Zealand government paid to have built for the Royal Navy. The first dog was a gift to the ship from a New Zealander living in England, and the dog sailed on the vessel on its maiden voyage in 1913. He was named after the famous dolphin that accompanied ships travelling in the outer Marlborough Sounds between 1888 and 1912.

The first Pelorus Jack met an unhappy end when he fell down the forward funnel (how he got up there is not known, but his demise was probably not accidental) and was 'Discharged Dead' from the Navy on 24 April 1916.

In his will he had requested that his successor be a 'bull pup of honest parentage, clean habits, and moral tendencies'. It was Jack's wish that 'no Dachshound or other dog of Teutonic extraction' be permitted on board HMS New Zealand (except as rations for his successor).

Pelorus Jack the Second was also a bulldog. He was on board the ship during the Battle of Jutland and was terrified of loud noises from that time on, bolting every time a gun was fired.

He achieved the rank of leading sea dog before his final discharge in October 1919. He was brought to New Zealand on the final voyage of HMS New Zealand and presented to the City of Auckland together with his silver collar (a gift from the New Zealanders of Transvaal), another brass-studded collar and his leading reins. These are in the collection of Auckland War Memorial Museum and are currently displayed in the 'Scars on the heart' exhibition. Another collar, gifted by the Pretoria Public Works Department, is held by the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum, Devonport.

HMS Pelorus

Die HMS Pelorus was 'n mynveër van die Britse Vloot tydens die Tweede Wêreldoorlog. Hy is van die Algerine-klas en het onder andere diens gedoen tydens die D-dag-inval oor die Engelse Kanaal. Gedurende 1947 is die skip na Simonstad gestuur die vlootbasis daar was nog deur die Britse Vloot beheer. Hy is toe herdoop na die HMSAS Maritzburg. Op 21 Januarie 1948 is hy weer herdoop, die keer as die HMSAS Pietermaritzburg. Gedurende 1961 is sy naam verander na die SAS Pietermaritzburg. SAS staan vir Suid-Afrikaanse Skip. Gedurende 1962 is hy vernuwe en kort daarna was hy in 'n botsing betrokke met HMS Leopard, 'n Britse fregat. Een Britse seeman het gesterf. Gedurende 1991 is hy uit diens gestel en is op 19 November 1994 by Miller's Point, Simonsbaai gekelder.

Die wrak was sedertdien 'n gewilde plek vir amateurduikers. Weens vandalisme deur die duikers is die wrak as erfenisterrein verklaar sodat plunderaars vervolg kan word.

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HMS Recruit (J 298)

HMS Recruit in company with the 7th Mine Sweeping Flottilla led the massive invasion fleet from Portsmouth Roads across the channel to the Normandy beach-heads. The flotilla commander Captain George Nelson in HMS Pelorus was inspirational if only in name.

Operated in the Red Sea during 1947-1948.

Scrapped in September 1965.

Commands listed for HMS Recruit (J 298)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

1T/Cdr. George Edward Walter Wentworth Bayly, RNVR8 Dec 19439 Nov 1944
2A/Cdr. Andrew Edward Doran, DSC, RN9 Nov 1944

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Please use this if you spot mistakes or want to improve this ships page.

The Pelorus River and the Pelorus Sound got their name in September 1838 from Lieutenant Phillip Chetwode , who named after the ship HMS Pelorus after his landing and exploration of the area Sound and River after the ship on which he sailed. The Māori call the river Te Hoiere .

The upper reaches of the river are popular for whitewater kayaking and fishing. There are some walking tours along the river from the Pelorus Bridge .

HMS “Pelorus” 1897

"Pelorus" at Kingstown (now Dun Loagaire) Ireland in 1897. Photo: Francis Frith collection.

"So it comes that next time you see, even far off, one of Her Majesty's cruisers, all your heart goes out to her. Men live there.” Rudyard Kipling, writing about "Pelorus".

The 1/96 th scale model of “Pelorus” as she appeared when brand new in 1897.

A view looking aft and showing the forest of ventilators that characterised these ships.

Pelorus” was a British 3 rd class protected cruiser, built at Sheerness dockyard and commissioned on 30 th March 1897, displacing 2135 tons and capable of 20 knots. She had a crew 224 men and was armed with eight 4 inch guns, eight 3 pdr, 3 machine guns and two 18-inch torpedo tubes.

Pelorus” was designed for long range cruising as well as a more traditional role of protecting the Channel Squadron from torpedo boats. “Pelorus” and her 8 sisters were capable of sustained high speeds from two 2500HP triple expansion engines (7000 HP with forced draft). This was the time of the ‘battle of the boilers’, when various types of water tube boilers were being tried against the traditional fire tube or Scotch boiler. The 9 ships of the “Pelorus” class were fitted with 4 different designs of boiler, not all of which were successful. “Pelorus”’s Normand water tube boilers must have been reasonably reliable since she completed a 50,000 mile commission in 1906-8 without recorded problems, burning 10,000 tons of coal in the process.

(Sister ship “Pegasus” was a less happy steamer and it was indeed boiler trouble that caused her to be laid up in September 1914 in Zanzibar harbour when she was surprised by the German Cruiser “Konigsburg”, becoming the only “Pelorus” class ship to fall victim to enemy action.). There is more information here.

"Pelorus" with Jeremy's "Cerberus" on the occasion of the latter's first flotation trial, complete with mock-up superstructure.

Pelorus” and “Mars” sailing together at the Kirklees Model Boat Club open day, July 2008. (Click picture for larger image)

As “The first of a new type”, “Pelorus” gained the attention of Rudyard Kipling since her captain, Edward Henry Bayly, was a friend of the writer. Thus it was that Kipling went twice to sea in “Pelorus”, first in 1897 when she was brand new and again a year later when a number of modifications had been carried out. Kipling gave us his unique account of life on board this marvelous little ship in his “A Fleet in being”, a tribute to the Channel Squadron. Kipling concludes his account of life in “Pelorus” with the following moving words: “So it comes that next time you see, even far off, one of Her Majesty's cruisers, all your heart goes out to her. Men live there.”

"Pelorus" was one of the many ships present at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Fleet Review on 26 th June 1897 as this log page (2Mb) shows. On that day her crew might have witnessed “Turbinia’s” exploit, an event that would change the course of Naval history for ever. Also in the great lines of ships (4Mb) was the battleship “Mars”, so the possibility of re-creating the great day in miniature comes a step closer – just 150 more ships to build!

"Pelorus" and "Mars" at Anglia Model Marine Club's display in August 2008 at Holcot, Northamptonshire. (Click picture for larger image)

In 1899 Pelorus led the Channel Squadron into Killary Harbour on the west coast of Ireland and was captured on one of William Lawrence’s series of photographs of West Coast life at the time. The original of this beautiful picture is held by the Lawrence Collection in Dublin and has been studied extensively by the Sherriff of Dublin, Brendan Walsh. Brendan has kindly shared some of his research with me and the identification of “Pelorus” in the photograph led directly to the decision to model this particular ship. (I should add that it was this photograph, displayed on the wall of the pub in Leenaun at the head of the Killary, which first drew my attention to the glorious spectacle of the Victorian Navy many years ago).

The Channel Squadron at Anchor in Killary Harbour, County Mayo, Ireland on Sunday, October 8 th , 1899. “Pelorus” is in the foreground and “Mars” is amongst the battleships anchored to seaward. Photo courtesy of the Lawrence Collection, Temple Bar, Dublin.

Later, "Pelorus" was attached to the South Atlantic squadron based at Simonstown and became the first British warship to travel the Amazon to Manaos and on as far as Iquitos, Peru, a distance of over 2000 miles. The story of this commission and the Amazon cruise, when the ship sailed so close to shore that individual birds and animals could be studied, is told in another fascinating book, “Across a Continent in a Man-of-War” by one of her Petty Officers, E. E. Highams. While in Manaos a local musician even composed a special march, the “Pelorus March”, in the ships’ honour. This book is available to read online here courtesy of the University of California.

You can read “A Fleet in Being” in .pdf format here (10 Mb .pdf file) or online here courtesy of the University of Toronto. The Kipling Society’s notes, written by Rear Admiral P. W. BROCK, C.B., D.S.O. in 1961, make fascinating reading about the navy of the period and can be found here courtesy of the Kipling Society.

The model "Pelorus" is built to 1/96 th scale using a glass fibre hull model made for “Pegasus” by Dean’s Marine. Superstructure is scratch built based on Admiralty plans and photographs of the ship when new at Sheerness Dockyard. The model is powered by two 385 sized motors using an 8 cell 9.6v 4.3Ah NiMH battery from the very helpful people at Component Shop UK. Full power gives an impressive speed, far too fast for scale, but showing the beautiful lines of the Victorian hull to good effect. The motors draw 1.5A max combined, giving a battery life of 2Hr or so at full power! Radio is Futaba 6EX 2.4 Ghz, a revelation in freedom from glitches, runaways and the nuisance of frequency pegging. The hull is fully sealed fore and aft for seaworthiness and battery access is via a single slot in the well deck under the funnel uptake structure.

Much of the detail (yet to be completed!) in “Pelorus” is based on surviving shipbuilder’s models since contemporary photography is usually taken from too far away. In particular, models of the Cruiser “Good Hope” in the reserve collection at Duxford and the battleship “Russell” on display at the IWM in London, both in Victorian colours, have yielded much information. I’m most grateful to museum staff for allowing me to photograph these two ships, and for allowing me access to the IWM’s amazing photographic collection. It’s through these surviving models and associated photographs the memory of the Royal Navy of 110 years ago lives on, and long may it do so.


Who or what was ‘Pelorus’?

In nautical parlance, a Pelorus is a sight or pair of sights attached to a compass rose, allowing lookouts to read off the relative bearings of distant objects. The name Pelorus (thought to be pronounced Pel-Orus, as in Iron Ore) is said to have been that of Hannnibal’s Pilot in the second century BC. There is an excellent article here discussing the origins of the name. An earlier HMS Pelorus was famous for discoveries in New Zealand and has her own web site here.

Pelorus Jack: The Dolphin Who Piloted Ships

The northern end of New Zealand’s South Island is a chaos of bays and sounds, and within this intricate coastline lies a narrow and treacherous stretch of water called the French Pass. Ships avoid it because the currents here are so strong that it can easily drag a vessel and smash it against the rocks. The very first European attempt to navigate through these narrows was a near disaster.

French Admiral Jules Dumont d'Urville was mapping the coast of the South Island in 1827 when he instructed his navigator to enter the pass. Situated between Rangitoto ki te Tonga, also known as D'Urville Island (after the Admiral himself), and the mainland coast, the French Pass saves about 15 miles of distance for those wishing to sail between the North and the South Islands. The alternative is to go around D'Urville Island and through heavy cross seas.

As d'Urville’s ship Astrolabe, a formidable warship of the French Navy, approached the narrowest part of the pass, the vessel swung sideward and the rising tide took the ship towards the rocky shore. Even as the ship’s crew struggled to regain control of the vessel, Astrolabe struck rocks twice, and was washed over the reef. After the incident, d'Urville suggested that no one should attempt to navigate French Pass except in extreme.

More than sixty years later, the French Pass would became the natural route for ships travelling between Wellington and Nelson. No, ships did not become more navigable, neither did sailors become more skillful. The French Pass remained as ferocious and as perilous as ever. So what changed? The appearance of a dolphin, who, for the next twenty-four years, faithfully escorted steamers through the dangerous waters.

Pelorus Jack

A rare photograph of Pelorus Jack by Edgar Warwick.

Pelorus Jack was a Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), that’s very rarely seen in New Zealand waters. His sex was never positively identified, but from the size of the animal it was ascertained that Jack was most likely a male. Jack was first seen in 1888, when it appeared in front of a schooner as it approached French Pass. The story goes that the crew of the schooner wanted to harpoon him at first, but the horrified captain’s wife talked them out of it. Pelorus Jack then proceeded to guide the ship through the narrow channel staying alongside the ship for 12 hours. And for years thereafter, he safely guided almost every ship that came by.

Jack did not like wooden hulled ships or sailing vessels, but fast-moving steel-hulled steamers attracted him. It was theorized that Jack loved riding the pressure wave generated by the ship’s bow, and steel-hulled ships provided the best bow wave to ride.

Pelorus Jack. Photographed by A. Pitt.

Pelorus Jack got his name from Pelorus Sound, a long winding watery valley at whose entrance he usually loitered waiting for ships bound for Nelson to arrive. Jack would then ride the ship’s bow waves for eight kilometers until the mouth of the French Pass, but he would never go through it. On the reverse journey, he met ships as they came out of the pass, staying with them all the way to Clay Point when he would disappear again.

In 1904, a passenger aboard the SS Penguin pulled out a gun and tried to shoot Pelorus Jack. The perpetrator was arrested, but since no legal law existed for the protection of dolphins, the man had to released. After a public outcry, an order was issued the same year which made it illegal to harm Pelorus Jack, or any member of his species within the waters of Cook Strait and the adjacent bays, sounds and estuaries. Legend has it that after the incident, Pelorus Jack gave a wide berth to SS Penguin, refusing to accompany the steamer through the dangerous waters. Five years later, the SS Penguin struck rocks and sunk taking 75 passengers to their watery grave. It was New Zealand's worst maritime disaster of the 20th century.

Over the years Jacks fame grew and many passengers sailed the Nelson/Wellington route just to see him. This included well-known figures such as American writer Mark Twain and English author Frank T. Bullen. One tourist wrote a letter to the London Daily Mail in 1906 describing the spectacle.

For the last twenty years no steamer has been known to pass this Sound unaccompanied, for at least part of the way, by a large white fish, part shark, part dolphin, called Pelorus Jack. … He is first noticed leaping out of the sea in the distance, but in a few moments is swimming through the water just in front of the ship's stem. Sometimes he remains only a few moments leaping out of the water and swimming just ahead then he shoots away out of sight. But at other times he stays for quite ten minutes. He is said never to come to sailing ships or wooden-bottomed steamers but no matter which way a steamer crosses the Sound, whether by day or night, Pelorus Jack is always in attendance as a sort of pilot.

Pelorus Jack was last seen in 1912. There were various rumors that he had been harpooned by a passing Norwegian whaling ship, or he was struck by the twin screw of another. But he probably died of old age. The average lifespan of a Risso's dolphin is between 25 to 30 years, so Jack’s time was already ripe. During the later phase of his life, Jack definitely became slow and steamers often reduced their speeds so that their ageing companion could keep up.

Jack’s presumed death was reported in newspapers not only in New Zealand but in Britain and America as well as, although many western publications were satirical about their reporting.

“I knew Pelorus Jack back in 1886. He was a smart, young dolphin, dazzling blue and white in colour,” the New York Times wrote. “He certainly was the most gentlemanly fish I have ever met. He was the last of the finny aristocracy from the Antipodes.”

Jack was eulogized in many other ways. A chocolate bar was named after him and there is a very popular Scottish country dance by his name. Two bulldogs, named Pelorus Jack I (1913-1916) and Pelorus Jack II (1916-1919), served as mascots of HMS New Zealand, the battlecruiser that the New Zealand government paid to have built for the Royal Navy.


Famed for being the most beautiful shoreline in Europe, Croatia’s coast is home to mythical caves, mysterious islands and historic cities. Navigating these calm Mediterranean waters by superyacht offers incredible access to the best of both land and sea.

Fly into Pula, the largest town on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula, where you will board your yacht. Head ashore to meet your local guide, and together, delve into Pula’s 3000-year history, exploring the Roman amphitheatre, Hercules’ Gate and the Temple of Augustus.

Spend a morning discovering the splendour of the Motovun landscape. This medieval village sits high in the hills and has views over the Mirna River and Motovun forest, within which lies the coveted Istrian truffle, the gem of Croatian gastronomy. Accompanied by a local guide and their trained dogs, journey into the forest for a private truffle hunt whilst engaging in the culture of this renowned delicacy. Afterwards, dine in this secluded village where truffle specialities will be served for an authentic culinary experience.

Brijuni Marine Park & Cres Island

Cruise into Brijuni Marine Park, an area of astounding natural beauty and the favoured playground of Tito, the leader of communist Yugoslavia. Visit the island where he entertained dignitaries and celebrities from Queen Elizabeth to Elizabeth Taylor. Explore the botanical gardens, safari park and site of ancient Roman settlements, also home to over 200 dinosaur footprints. Head out snorkelling or scuba diving with a Pelorus dive master to observe some of the park’s impressive underwater features, from tunnels and caves to ancient walls and shipwrecks. There is also the possibility to explore an underwater archaeological site of a villa complex that dates back to Ancient Roman times.

As your yacht cruises for the island of Cres, keep your eyes peeled for bottlenose dolphins swimming along the bow. Once anchored, head ashore to observe the diverse bird life that dwells here, such as golden eagles, short-toed eagles, peregrines and kestrels. Visit the Beli Visitor and Rescue Centre for Griffon Vultures where you can actively aid in the rehabilitation of young, inexperienced vulture chicks who fall out of their cliff-side nests into the sea beneath. Sometimes even adults can be found injured, exhausted or malnourished and are brought to Beli to recuperate. After receiving the required treatment at the Centre, you can help the experts release the birds back into the wild.

Caving, Kayking & Croatian Cuisine

Venture back to the mainland and take some time to hike and explore Risnjak National Park with a Pelorus guide. Named after the lynx, this is one of the few places in Europe where these rare animals still dwell. You may also spot bears and wolves roaming freely in the 6,400 hectares of unspoiled green space.

Travel by helicopter into the Gacka River Valley where you’ll meet your local guide for a private kayak trip down the third longest sinking river in the world. Relax and unwind as you admire the picturesque landscape or choose to experience the rush of cascading water as you pass under a waterfall. You also have the option to explore the valley by mountain bike or to try your hand at fly fishing. Taught by world-class fly fisherman, you’ll have the opportunity to catch rainbow trout, grayling, carp or roach. Once back on board your yacht, allow the chef to expertly prepare your catch of the day.

Another day exploring by helicopter awaits you as you take off for Zadar. On arrival at the Cetina River Spring, you will meet your expert group of cavers and mountain rescue guides. Here you’ll discover one of the most beautiful caves in Croatia, Gospodska. Upon emerging from the caves, take to the skies again and fly to Bibich Winery, for an exquisite tasting menu with wine pairings. Each dish is visually stunning and meticulously matched with local wine. Indulge in these gourmet wonders and taste Croatia in all its abundance.