HMAS Protector (1884)

HMCS (later HMAS) Protector was a large flat-iron gunboat commissioned and purchased by the South Australian government in 1884, for the purpose of defending the local coastline against possible attacks in the aftermath of the 'Russian scare', of the 1870s. She arrived in Adelaide in September 1884 and subsequently served in the Boxer Rebellion, World War I and World War II.

During July 1943, Protector was requisitioned for war service by the U.S. Army. On the way to New Guinea and off Gladstone, she was damaged in a collision with a tug and abandoned. The hull was subsequently taken to Heron Island off the Queensland coast and later sunk for use as a breakwater. Her rusting remains are still visible to this day.

Built at William Armstrong & Co, Newcastle on Tyne, England, Protector was built to a standard type F1 flat-iron gunboat design, but was one of the largest of its type, and was classified as a light cruiser, with a displacement of 920 tons. Her length was 180 feet 6 inches (55.02 m), with two compound surface-condensing engines that produced 1,500 horsepower (1,100 kW). Her top speed was 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph). To conserve fuel (coal) she was also originally rigged as a topsail schooner.

For her size, Protector was exceptionally heavily armed. Her largest weapon was the 8-inch (203 mm) Armstrong-rifled breech-loading gun mounted at the bow. The gun weighed 12 tons and could fire a 180-pound (82 kg) shell 7,500 yards (6,900 m) using a charge of 90 lb (41 kg) of black powder.

Other armaments included five 6-inch (152 mm) Woolwich-Armstrong rifled breech-loading guns; four 3-pounder 1.85-calibre Hotchkiss QF guns and five 10-barrel (1.6 m3) Gatling machine guns. Her small arms consisted of 200 0.45 Martini-Henry rifles Mk IV, 100 breech-loading revolvers, 100 cutlasses and 30 boarding pikes.

At the outbreak of World War I, her armament was increased to include two 4-inch (100 mm) guns, two 12-pounder guns and four 3-pounder guns.

This page was last edited on 5 July 2018, at 08:51 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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