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HMS Warrior (1860)

HMS Warrior (1860) (also known as Vernon III and Oil Fuel Hulk C77) was the world's first ocean-going iron-hulled armoured battleship. She was built for the Royal Navy as a counter to the French battleship Gloire. When she was launched, the 4 inch thick wrought iron armoured belt meant that she was impervious to virtually all naval cannon in service at that time, and she was easily the most powerful warship in the World. The only significant vulnerability was the lack of armour around the rudder.

She was propelled by both sails and steam - the coal capacity of 850 tons was insufficient alone for extended cruising. The screw could be winched up clear of the water to reduce drag.

She froze to the slipway when she was launched on December 29, 1860 at the Thames Ironworks near London during the coldest winter for 50 years and six tugs were required to haul her into the river. She was completed on October 24, 1861 at a cost of 357,291 pounds.

The rapid march of naval technology meant that she and her sister HMS Black Prince were obsolescent within ten years. On April 1, 1875 she was relegated to the Reserve Fleet ranks and on May 31, 1883, withdrawn from sea service. Her guns and upper masts were removed around this time.

She was used as a storage hulk, and from 1902 to 1904 as a depot ship for a flotilla of destroyers. Her name was changed to Vernon III in 1904, when she joined Portsmouth-based HMS Vernon, the Royal Navy's torpedo training school. Her role was supplying steam and electricity to neighbouring hulks.

A downturn in demand for scrap iron meant that old battleship did not sell when she was put up for sale in April 1925. In 1929 she was given the name Oil Fuel Hulk C77 when starting life as a shipkeeper's home and floating oil jetty at Pembroke Dock in Wales, where she remained for the next 50 years.

Restoration of Warrior as a museum ship began on September 3, 1979 in Hartlepool and was completed in 1984 when she was towed to her current berth in Portsmouth. She was renamed HMS Warrior (1860) to avoid confusion with the present HMS Warrior, which is the operational headquarters of the Royal Navy at Northwood.

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