Shearwater under sail (top)
Rinaldo c. 1908 with sailing rig removed (bottom)
|General characteristics |
|Type:||Screw steel sloop|
|Beam:||32 ft 6 in (9.91 m)[Note 1]|
|Draught:||11 ft 6 in (3.51 m)|
|Installed power:||1,400 hp (1,044 kW)|
|Sail plan:||Barque-rigged, changed to barquentine-rigged, later removed|
|Speed:||13 kn (24 km/h) under power|
|Endurance:||3,000 nmi (5,600 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)|
|Armour:||Protective deck of 1 in (2.5 cm) to in (3.8 cm) steel over machinery and boilers.|
The Condor class was a six-ship class of 10-gun screw steel sloops  built for the Royal Navy between 1898 and 1900. Condor foundered in a gale, prompting the Royal Navy to abandon sailing rigs for its ships. The last of the class, Mutine, survived until 1932 as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve drill ship.
The Condor class was constructed of steel to a design by William White, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction. They were powered by a three-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engine developing 1,400 horsepower (1,000 kW) and driving twin screws.
The class was originally designed and built with barque-rigged sails, although some pictures show ships of the class with a barquentine rig. Condor was lost in a gale during her first commission, and the contemporary gunnery pioneer Admiral Percy Scott ascribes her sinking to the encumbrance of sails, and furthermore believed that her loss finally convinced the Admiralty to abandon sails entirely. All other ships of the class had their sails removed during the first few years of the twentieth century.
The class was armed with six 4-inch/25-pounder (1 ton) quick-firing breech loaders and four 3-pounder quick-firing breech loaders.
The design of the Condor class differed from the screw sloops of the 1860s only in an evolutionary sense (although constructed of steel and armed with quick-loading guns, they retained the sails and layout of the earlier vessels); by the turn of the twentieth-century, they were thoroughly obsolete. The overseas stations of the Royal Navy were responsible for patrolling the maritime British Empire, and these ships were intended for that role. The rapidity with which they were converted to depot ships, training ships or survey ships gives testament to their outmoded design. According to Hansard, it was stated by the Secretary to the Admiralty about the almost identical Cadmus class in Parliament on 6 March 1905 that
they were never designed for fighting purposes but for subsidiary work in peace or war, for which they are still available, and in which they are at the present moment engaged.
During her short career, Condor served on the Pacific Station. On 3 December 1901 while on passage from Esquimalt to Hawaii she foundered in a gale off Vancouver Island (position approximately ). Her last contact was with the light station on Cape Flattery. All hands (130 ship's company and 10 supernumeries) were lost. The tragedy occurred during her first commission and less than three years after her launch. In May 1949 the trawler Blanco hauled up wreckage from a depth of 250 ft (76 m) The wreckage included a ship's binnacle matching that supplied to Condor.
Rosario relieved HMS Rattler on the China Station in June 1900, and re-commissioned at Hong Kong on 5 November 1913, becoming a depot ship for submarines. In her role as a submarine depot ship she supported a flotilla of three C-class submarines, C36, C37 and C38. These three submarines were built by Vickers, Barrow, commissioned on 1 February 1910 and sailed with HMS Rosario to Hong Kong in February 1911. They were all sold in Hong Kong on 25 June 1919. HMS Rosario was sold for scrap in Hong Kong on 11 December 1921. HMS Titania and HMS Ambrose manned the China Station from 1920 on.
While being delivered from Birkenhead to Portsmouth an incident in Mutines boiler rooms caused some loss of life and gave her a name as an unlucky ship before her career even began. She served on the China Station and became a survey ship, surviving until 1932 as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve drill ship, the last of her class to be sold.
Rinaldo served in Southeast Asia, including taking medical assistance to Brunei in August 1904 during an outbreak of smallpox. By 1914 she was tender and training ship to HMS Vivid, Devonport Royal Naval Reserve. She then saw service in West, South and East Africa until the end of WW1. She was sold for breaking in October 1921.
Shearwater served on the Pacific Station. She recommissioned on 27 November 1912 at Esquimalt. She was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy as a submarine depot ship in 1915, sold to Western Shipping Co, Canada in May 1922 and renamed Vedas.
|Condor||Sheerness Dockyard||17 December 1898||Foundered in a gale off Cape Flattery on 3 December 1901|
|Rosario||Sheerness Dockyard||17 December 1898||Depot ship for submarines at Hong Kong in 1910. Sold there on 11 December 1921 |
|Mutine||Laird Brothers, Birkenhead||1 March 1900||Survey ship 1907, RNVR drill ship 1925, sold (for ship breaking?) to Thos W Ward, Briton Ferry on 16 August 1932|
|Rinaldo||Laird Brothers, Birkenhead||25 May 1900||Sold to W Thomas, Anglesey on 21 October 1921|
|Shearwater||Sheerness Dockyard||10 February 1900||Transferred to Royal Canadian Navy as submarine depot ship in 1915, sold to Western Shipping Co, Canada in May 1922 and renamed Vedas|
|Vestal||Sheerness Dockyard||10 February 1900||Sold to W Thomas, Anglesey on 21 October 1921|