HMS Challenger (1858)

HMS Challenger (1858)

The fifth HMS "Challenger" (launched 1858) was a steam-assisted British naval corvette. In 1862 she took part in operations against Mexico, including the occupation of Vera Cruz, and in 1866 a punitive operation against some Fijian natives to avenge the murder of a missionary and some of his dependents. This vessel is noted for carrying the first global marine research expedition: the "Challenger" expedition.

To enable her to probe the depths, the "Challenger's" guns had been removed and her spars reduced to make more space available. Laboratories, extra cabins and a special dredging platform were installed. She was loaded with specimen jars, alcohol for preservation of samples, microscopes and chemical apparatus, trawls and dredges, thermometers and water sampling bottles, sounding leads and devices to collect sediment from the sea bed and great lengths of rope with which to suspend the equipment into the ocean depths. In all she was supplied with 181 miles (290 km or 335 km?) of Italian hemp for sounding, trawling and dredging.

The "Challenger" carried a complement of 243 officers, scientists and crew when she embarked on her 68,890 nautical mile (127,670 km) journey.

Despite the great success of the Challenger Expedition, the "Challenger" suffered an ignominious fate. She was commissioned as a Coast Guard and Royal Naval Reserve training ship at Harwich in July 1876. She was finally paid off at the Chatham Dockyards in 1878. She remained in reserve until 1883, when she was converted into a receiving hulk in the River Medway, where she stayed until she was finally broken up for her copper bottom in 1921. Nothing, apart from her figurehead, now remains. This is on display in the foyer of Southampton Oceanography Centre. The Space Shuttle "Challenger" was named after the ship [] .

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