Screws helped to drive the HMS Victoria wreck straight into the bottom?

HMS Victoria

Hello Sir,

Just a few quick questions regarding the Victoria as she sank; as the last engine order I can find was one to reverse the port screw or possibly even both engines, and as there certainly seems to have been enough time following the collision to have stopped the engines - a. why were the engines still engaged at the time of the final plunge? b. was the port screw in fact reversed?

this line from the Wikipedia account makes me wonder what actually was ordered and how much of it was or was not carried out; 

"At the last moment Tryon shouted across to Markham 'Go astern, go astern'. By the time that both captains had ordered the engines on their respective ships reversed, it was too late, and Camperdown's ram struck the starboard side of Victoria about 12 feet (4 m) below the waterline and penetrated nine feet (3 m) into it. Reversing the engines only had the effect of causing the ram to be withdrawn to let in more seawater before all of the watertight doors on Victoria had been closed."

The reason I'm wondering this is due to the assertion that the screws helped to drive the wreck straight into the bottom, when it seems that this may not have been the case at all.  Furthermore, I'm not sure how much of an effect both screws would have on a sinking ship which had been steaming at 8.8 knots.

Emerson Renz


Thanks for your email and your interesting questions.

We can make several assumptions.

1. Victoria's engines were both going astern at the time of the collision, but too late and Camperdown pushed her ram deep inside Victoria, tearing a large hole in her, its doubtful that all the water tight doors were closed in Victoria. Hundreds of tons of seawater would rush into the stricken ship, and she lists to starboard, and soon capsizes. To stop engines, probably it was too late, and it would have made little difference.

The turret located forward carried two 16.25 inch guns and weighed in at 111 tons, with the bows pointing downwards and her stern rising, the sheer weight of sea water and the turret would I think drive the ship downwards, the propellers going astern would have made not much difference.

2. Victoria's  port engine is going astern, and her starboard one ahead, this would tend to turn the ship to port, but as in 1 above, the seawater and turret weight would be the major factors in the ship sinking. 

I agree with you, the propellers were not the main factor in driving Victoria to the bottom, they may have assisted the process, but as we are unsure which way they were set, astern or ahead, we cannot be definitive in the part they played in this saga.

Victoria pointing upright.

Victoria showing forward turret.

Another report:

Not until the last moment did the captains attempt to tighten their turns and avoid a crash. It was too late. Camperdown's ram pierced Victoria's starboard side, making a huge hole about 12 feet below the waterline. The other ships in the fleet began to lower their boats, but Tryon countermanded this not realising how seriously Victoria was damaged. The ship was steered towards the shore in an effort to beach her, but she listed ever more to starboard until suddenly she sank head-first into the sea, with her propellers still turning. The order to abandon ship came too late for many of the crew to save themselves and they went down still at their posts.

Finding the wreck of Victoria

See URL: http://www.inspired-training.com/hms%20victoria.htm 

Best regards, 

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