25 July

Today Gosport’s past:  on 25th July 1887, HM Queen Victoria attended the Spithead Fleet Review on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee; one of the visiting vessels on display was a Nordenfelt steam-powered submarine of the Ottoman Empire. The first Nordenfelt submarine, “Nordenfelt I” appeared in 1884/85, having been built in Stockholm. “Nordenfelt II” (renamed “Abdül Hamid”) was built by Barrow Shipyards in 1986, and was the first vessel in history to fire a torpedo underwater. Also built in Britain at Barrow was “Nordenfelt III” (“Abdul Mecid”) in 1887. Both were dismantled and sent to Greece/Turkey in parts, reconstructed and launched in Constantinople (now Istanbul), the first being launched on 6th September 1886 in Constantinople. The British-built boats were 30 metres in length, compared to the 19.5 metres of “Nordenfelt I”. Thorsten Nordenfelt was a Swedish weapons manufacturer who migrated to Britain upon marrying an Englishwoman, and the submarines were a result of discussions with the Reverend George William Garrett, who had himself built an ill-fated submarine “Resurgam” in 1879. The significance of this appearance of a submarine at a Spithead review is that the Royal Navy didn’t have any submarines until “Holland I” was launched in Barrow on 2nd October 1901. I’ve no knowledge of which of the Nordenfelt boats was at the review. Here’s a photo of “Abdül Hamid” on the Golden Horn, Constantinople at an unknown date. The boats were not very successful, and scrapped c.1910. Credits to original photographer.Nordenfelt