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VOLAGE iron screw corvettes (2, 1870 - 1871)


Volage with funnel lowered


Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Volage (ex-Cerberus)     Thames Iron Sbdg, Blackwall 9.1867 27.2.1869 3.1870 sold to BU 5.1904
Active     Thames Iron Sbdg, Blackwall 1867 13.3.1869 3.1871 sold to BU 7.1906

Technical data

Displacement normal, t3078
Displacement full, t


Length, m

82.3 pp

Breadth, m


Draught, m


No of shafts

1 (hoisting screw)


Volage: sails + 1 2-cyl HSE trunk, 5 rectangular boilers

Active: sails + 1 2-cyl HSE return connecting rod, 5 rectangular boilers

Power, h. p.

Volage: 4530

Active: 4130

Max speed, kts

Volage: 15.3

Active: 15

Fuel, t

coal 410

Endurance, nm(kts)2000(10)

6 x 1 - 178/16 MLR Mk III, 4 x 1 - 160/16 64pdr 64cwt MLR



Standard scale images

<i>Volage </i>1870
Volage 1870


<i>Volage </i>with funnel lowered
Volage with funnel lowered

Project history

Designed by Sir Edward Reed. The Admiralty decided to revert to the true concept of cruising ship, following the big wood and iron frigates, by constructing a ship of half the tonnage, and combining speed with seaworthy qualities. The result was the two handsome corvettes Active and Volage, which epitomised all the grace of the transitional ship. To obtain speed a hitherto unheard of ratio of length to beam was designed, the hull cut away at below the waterline to give very fine ends, permitting the water to have the maximum action on the rudder and thus meeting the wishes of naval officers for high manoeuvreability. Although handling easily, they were unsteady gun platforms, pitching deep into a head sea, and rolling heavily in a beam sea. The latter fault was subsequently reduced by fining large bilge keels. They were the first cruisers to steam at over 15kts. The construction of the hull resembled that of the Inconstant, lateral watertight bulkheads reaching up to the upper deck. The hull was encased in a single layer of 76mm oak. These vessels had rounded sloping sterns with false ports without quarter galleries, and had no embrasures. They both had a large poop and topgallant forecastle rising slightly above the sheer of the 1.8m-high waist bulwark. A patent capstan worked the cable which was led in through the upper deck. They had double hand-wheel steering at the break of the poop.     As completed, the slide-mounted 178mm guns were carried in the waist on broadside, and two of the truck-mounted 64pdrs were almost amidships. The other two 64pdrs were chase guns on traversing mounts at the poop and topgallant forecastle respectively.     They were given full ship-rig, the height of the mainmast from deck to truck being 41.5m and the area of sail 1544m2, or about the same area of canvas for a wooden corvette of 2000t. The best logged speeds under canvas were 12.5kts for Active, and 13kts for Volage.


1873, both: - 6 x 1 - 178/16; + 14 x 1 - 160/16 64pdr 64cwt MLR

1879, Active; 1880, Volage: - 16 x 1 - 160/16; + 10 x 1 - 152/26 BL Mk I, 2 x 1 - 76/20 12pdr 8cwt BL, 9 x 6 - 11.4/59, 2 - 356 TC

Naval service

No significant events.