Amethyst HMS

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Amethyst HMS

Post by shipstamps » Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:06 pm

H.M.S. Amethyst visited Christmas Island in 1857, when Capt. Grenfell, R.N., made the first attempt to reach the summit of the plateau, which has several prominent heights, one reaching 1,170 ft. The Amethyst was a 6th Rate of 26 guns; displacement 923 tons, length 131 ft. and beam 41 ft. She was built at Plymouth Dockyard in 1844, and was sold for use as a cable ship on October 16, 1869.SG51

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Re: Amethyst HMS

Post by aukepalmhof » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:46 pm

Built as a 6th rate frigate on the Plymouth Dockyard for the Royal Navy. One of the Spartan Class.
April 1803 keel laid down
07 December 1844 launched under the name HMS AMETHYST, launched by the niece of Sir David Milne, the Port Admiral. The names comes from a valuable ‘stone’ being a violet blue form of quartz, supposed by the ancients to prevent intoxication.
Tonnage 923 ton (bm). Dim. 131 x 40.6 x 10.9ft x 16ft. (draught).
Armament 22 – 9 pdrs. 4 – 3pdrs.
Crew 240.
After completing she was not commissioned for 12 years.

July 1856 Commissioned under command of Capt. Sidney Grenfell for service in China and South America.

This ship is best remembered for her ‘Chinese’ connections, in as much as when hostilities started, and while under command of Capt. Sydney Grenfell, she was dispatched to Hong Kong and the Canton River.

After making very distinguished contributions to the battles at Ling-Ting and Fatsham, the Royal Navy took the most unusual step of handing out an extra month’s pay to each and every member of HMS AMETHYST’s crew. Even AMETHYST’s cutter has gone down in history. On 19 July 1858, when commanded by Ships Master Dicky Dryer, a 17-man Mandarin-rowing galley with iron-plated bows attacked her on the Canton River.
This galley was armed with a collection of rockets and ‘stink-pots.’ Stinkpots, incidentally, were earthenware pots filled up with a mixture of gunpowder and other combustible substances. They were fitted with fuses which after being set alight were thrown onto an enemy ship, which they burst into flames, producing, so it is said, an overwhelming horrible stench.
During the confusion thus caused, a boarding party would leap into the enemy ship for hand-to-hand fighting.
Although outnumbered by 17 to 10, Dryer and his men put up a good fight for a half hour, killing 13 Chinese attackers, not losing one of his crew.

The connection with Christmas Island and the AMETHYS (the stamp was designed by Victor Whiteley)
comes from the fact that in 1857 she called at the island, when Captain Grenfell with a small group of crew members, attempted unsuccessfully to climb to the 356 meter high summit of the island.

She was later used to assist British residents in Mexico during the country’s civil war, when a naval brigade of sailors and marines, from her and HMS PYLADES, marched as far as Cuaymas to protect the British Consul.

The Pacific Mexican port of Mazatlan was blocked by the AMETHYST, and in October 1859 Dryer came in action again, when under his command, three boats of the frigate’s freed a American brig which had been seized by the Mexicans during the civil war at Mazatlan.

She returned to Chatham at the close of 1860, and went into reserve. During her commission she circumnavigated the world.
1864 Hired by the Atlantic Telegraph Company.
1866 Hired by Pitcher to assist in the recovery of the FOYLE.
1869 Sold to the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co.

She is not mentioned as a cable ship in K.R.Haigh book, Cableships & Submarine Cables. Till so far her fate is not known by me.

One of her namesakes under command of Lt. Commander Kerans, gained world wide fame for her Chinese connections. A Google search gives many pages, but not much on the vessel on the stamp.

Uruguay 1919 5m/1p, sg349/58, scott225/34
Christmas Islands 1972 50c sg 51.

Sources: Most is copied from Log Book Volume 14 and written by Mr. Tom Lloyd.
1919 AMETHYST HMS (2).jpg
Image (23).jpg

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