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HMS Himalaya

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HMS Himalaya

Illustrated London News
Class and type: Passenger ship
Name: HMS Himalaya
Builder: C. J. Mare & Co., Leamouth, London
Laid down: 1852
Launched: 24 May 1853
Acquired: July 1854
Renamed: C60 in December 1895
Reclassified: Coal hulk, December 1895
Fate: Sold 28 September 1920
Sunk by Junkers 87 dive bombers of the German Luftwaffe 12 June 1940
General characteristics
Displacement: 4,690 tons
Tons burthen: 3,553 tons
Length: 340 ft (100 m)
Beam: 46 ft (14 m)
Propulsion: Single expansion steam, single screw
Sail plan: Full-rigged ship
Speed: 14 Knots under Steam
16.5 Knots with sails assisting

HMS Himalaya was ordered by the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company as SS Himalaya. She was purchased by the Royal Navy in 1854 and served with them until 1920. She was sunk in 1940.

The SS Himalaya was a 3,438 gross register ton iron steam screw passenger ship. When launched she was the largest ship in the P & O fleet and was not exceeded in size until the SS Australia of 1870.

Design and construction

Himalaya had been planned as a paddle steamer but that design was becoming outdated and she was altered to screw propulsion while she was still on the stocks, and she was fitted instead with a single two-bladed propeller of 18 feet diameter. She was also fitted with sails on three masts for use when the wind was favourable. She was laid down at the yards of C. J. Mare & Co., Leamouth, London in 1852 and launched on 24 May 1853. She could carry 200 first class passengers and required a crew of 213.[1]

Sale and commissioning

She proved to be a larger vessel than the passenger traffic demanded and coal was becoming more expensive with the advent of war in the Crimea in 1854, so P&O were happy to sell her to the British Government at her cost price of £130,000 in July 1854 for use as a troopship. The Royal Navy had built smaller vessels, so called frigates, during the 1840s, such as HMS Simoom, which had served as troopships when the idea of iron warships was discredited by live-firing trials. Himalaya was purchased during the Crimean War when there was a pressing need for troopships. The purchase was viewed with suspicion by naval experts. General Howard Douglas is reported to have predicted that she would have a short career.

Career and sinking

She served as a troopship for almost four decades, supporting operations during the Second Opium War, and carrying troops to India, South Africa, the Gold Coast,

and North America. She was retired from trooping service in 1894 and became a coal hulk at Portland Harbour with the new name C60 in December 1895. She was sold out of the navy on 28 September 1920 to a private owner, E. W. Payne, and continued to be based in Portland Harbour, probably still as a coal hulk.

She continued in this role until the Second World War. She was sunk by air attack, by Junkers 87 dive bombers of the German Luftwaffe, on 12 June 1940.


  • Brown, D. K., Before the Ironclad: Development of Ship Design, Propulsion and Armament in the Royal Navy, 1815–1860. London: Conway, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-532-2
  • HMS Himalaya information
  • Low, Charles Rathbone. "A Memoire of Lieutenant-General Sir Garnet J. Wolseley" Vol. II 1878. p. 269.
Preceded by
Great Britain
World's largest passenger ship
Succeeded by
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