In the latter half of the 1800s, the world was a rapidly changing radical place, particularly in Europe due the expanding industrial revolution. The days of sail-powered, wooden tall ships was giving way to the steam-powered, steel-clad vessels. The ruling warship of the day was undoubtedly the "ironclad", armored to the core and sporting low profiles while brandishing powerful cannon for devastating effect.
By the 1860s, the nation of Greece was lagging well behind her sea-going contemporaries across Europe and could muster only two ironclads under her flag - these being the being the Basileus Georgios and her sister ship, the Basilissa Olga. The Basileus Georgios, designed by George Mackrow of the Thames Ironworks and procured in the mid-1800s, was launched in December of 1867 with the Basilissa Olga following in 1869. Because these vessels appeared during such a transition period in naval history, they sported both internal engines to exploit the power of combustible resources as well as masted sails to harness the power of the wind. To honor their leader, the Basileus Georgios was named after King George I, ruler of Greece from 1863 to 1913.
The Basileus Georgios (formally categorized as a "Central Battery Ship" due to the placement of her armament battery) was the lighter of the two ship types, weighing in at 1,774 tons against the Basilissa Olga's 2,060 tons. The Basileus Georgios displayed a running length of 200 feet, with a beam of 33 feet and a draught equal to 16 feet. The vessel's twin screw compound engines outputted 2,400 horsepower driving the vessel up to speeds of 12 knots in ideal conditions. The engine exhausted from a funnel at amidships. The sails were fitted to masts at the forward and aft decks. Life boats were carried at the aft deck as well. Range was out to 1,200 miles. The ship was crewed by 152 personnel and armed with 2 x 9-inch (229mm) cannons as well as 2 x 20-pdr (84mm) cannons. The main 9-inch guns were held in a hexagonal housing (i.e. "battery") fitted ahead of the engine smoke funnel and amidships and featured ports for firing the guns at targets ranged ahead or behind the vessel. The pair of 20-pdr cannons were held outside of the battery and could engage targets as needed.
Perhaps most importantly, the vessel was armored with 7-inches of protection across the length of her belt. This protection rose some 6 feet, 6 inches out from the waterline and sat a further 3 feet, inches under it. In all, her armor weighed in at 335 tons. The gun battery was protected over in up to 6-inches of armor. For her day, the Basileus Georgios was a seemingly perfect blend of offensive firepower and defensive protection within a rather small frame - making her one of the most powerful ironclads of her day.
It was only in 1887 that further measures were taken to strengthen Greek naval power in the region and this resulted in the development of the "Hydra" class of small battleships. Making up the class were its lead ship - Hydra - and her two sisters Psara and Spetsai. It was only at the turn of the century that the Greek Navy found more help.
Ship Class [ Basileus Georgios ] Ships-in-Class [ 2 ]Ship Names:Basileus Georgios; Basilissa Olga
- Blue Water Operations
- Fleet Support
200 ft (60.96 m)
Width / Beam:
33 ft (10.06 m)
Height / Draught:
16 ft (4.88 m)
Twin Screw Compound Engines delivering up to 2,400 horsepower; 2 x main sail masts.
12 kts (14 mph)
1,300 nm (1,496 miles; 2,408 km)
2 x 9-inch (229mm) cannons in central battery
2 x 20-pdr cannons
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