The Coastguard Cutter Vol4 No2

Feb 2006
Vol. 4 - No. 02.


How Ships take off their hats.

Everyone knows that a Royal Salute is a salvo of 21 guns fired in honour of a Royal personage. But it is not generally known that other distinguished people have also their allotted number of shots. A Duke’s salute consists of 15 guns, and noblemen lower than this are indiscriminately greeted with 13 guns. The salute for Admiral of the Fleet is 17 guns. For Vice-Admirals 13 guns are fired, for Rear Admirals 11 and Commodores 9. Salutes stop there. Captains and Officers of lower rank have no powder burned in their honour. The Merchant vessel’s method of saluting is to dip her ensign. She dips it and waits for a return dip. Then she dips it again. And, after that she ought in strict etiquette, to dip it a third time, but she seldom does so now. In the old days it was regarded as a high misdemeanour for a merchant vessel to pass one of His Majesties ships without saluting in the recognized way and the consequence that followed was that she was compelled to heave to by a shot across her bows, her own and her captain’s name were taken, and the Admiralty instituted a prosecution at law. (2)

The Irish won’t Enlist.

“Its no use trying it anymore in Ireland. We cant get a single recruit there. The people of Ireland won’t enlist” Such were the emphatic sentiments of a recruiting officer to a gentleman in this town the other day, on his return from Ireland where he had been on a recruiting expedition. If the unfortunate and half-starved Irish wont enlist, who will? (3)

Bermingham Pilot of Saturday.

H.M.S. Vanguard

Link Removed
Link Removed
Link Removed
Link Removed
Link Removed


Wit & Wisdom of Ireland.

"From the day you marry your heart will be in your mouth and your hand in your pocket.

The only cure for love is marriage"


Coming Soon to the Site.


The list containing the Names of Coastguards, their rank, their stations, and the dates of summer training aboard the H.M.S Vanguard in 1875 will shortly be available on the site.

It is with the kind permission of Chris Thomas that this is possible. His book "Lamentable Intelligence from the Admiralty" is shortly to be published. It describes the sinking of the 'Vanguard' off the Wicklow Coast.

Coming in March Edition

Coastguards in disguise make capture.

Dear Friend,Welcome to the February edition of "The Coastguard Cutter".

The Vanguard.

We like to cover ship wrecks and collisions at sea and record the sometimes heroic, and at all times, humanitarian actions by the Coastguards to render help to the human victims. In the case of the "Vanguard" collision with the "Iron Duke" there was no Coastguard involvement, no lives to save. However over 350 Coastguards from all over Ireland had just completed their seasonal training course aboard this large warship days before she sank.




Sinking of the 'Vanguard' 27th.August 1875.

The VanguardIt was the best of days, it was the worst of days. The 'Vanguard' had been stationed at Kingstown (Dun Laoghaire) for four years and had just completed a summer season of training duties for some hundreds of Coastguards stationed around the Irish coasts. Most of these men were family men who endured two weeks of rigorous training, sorely missing their loved ones at home in the Coastguard stations. The Navy considered these exercises necessary to keep the men ready for active duty should the need arise.
From the last week in July 1875 the 1st.Reserve Squadron of the Royal Navy had conducted a a cruise around the coasts of Ireland. The object of the cruise was to test the efficiency of the gun crews at gunnery practice. The ships of the squadron were, Warrior, Defence, Hector, Achilles, Penelope and Iron Duke. All were full-rigged ironclads and were among the most modern of the day The cruise was nearly completed when they arrived in Dublin Bay at the end of August. The Defence returned to Lough Swilly, the Penelope to Sheerness.

During the Summer months 350 Coastguards in Ireland had undergone 7 to 14 days training at sea aboard the vanguard. The last of them disembarked on the 30th. of August. At about 10.20 a.m. on the 1st.of September the Vanguard joined the fleet in Dublin Bay and proceeded single line ahead, the speed gradually built up to 7 knots.
There were now four ships going on to Queenstown headed by the Warrior, Hector, Vanguard, Iron Duke and Achilles in that order. At about 11.25 a.m. the squadron passed the Kish light in moderately clear weather. At this time the Achilles was ordered to depart for Liverpool. by 12.30. The Iron Duke and the Vanguard now proceeded to steam parallel to the other two ships. By 12.35 a.m. were now engaged in steering this new course when the ships ran into a dense fog bank, giving visibility of less than a ships length. Later an officer of the Iron Duke would confirm that he had 'never seen so dense a fog'. The outline of a sailing ship began to form through the dense fog on the starboard side of the Vanguard. The helm was thrown hard to starboard and the engines rung to stop, just missing the sailing ship.

The orders were given to turn the ship back on its original course. Unwittingly this put her across the path of the approaching, though still invisible Iron Duke. At 12.50 a.m. the Iron Duke cruising at 8 knots struck her sister ship a mortal blow nearly amidships, the fog being so dense that neither ship saw each other till less than 40 yards apart, by which time it was too late to do anything. Iron Duke's ram had torn a hole 9 feet long by 3 feet wide in Vanguard's outer skin which quickly flooded the engine and boiler rooms. Water was entering at the rate of 500 gallons a minute it was clear that the ship appeared doomed. All the crew were now ferried to the Iron Duke. The fog cleared before 1.40pm.when the Captain of the Vanguard was the last to leave the ship. She had come only 18 miles from the harbour at Kingstown. At the Court Martial, Captain Dawkins of the Vanguard was severely reprimanded and dismissed from his ship, never being employed again.

I feel that the Coastguards who had trained on this modern ship, and also their families, would remember her fate, and what might have happened to them if this incident had occurred during the summer months. Its a Titanic story of sorts.


The Revenue Cruisers

This admirably-appointed fleet sailed yesterday morning from Kingstown Harbour shortly after 11 o'clock under the command of the Commodore and Inspector General, Sir James Dombrain who was accompanied by the Vice Commodore, Captain Bowie. The day was most favourable for testing the sailing powers of the Cruisers, the wind at south blowing a fresh breeze. The 'Prince Albert' being engaged with her late capture, did not quit her moorings ; the 'Racer' sprung her mainmast in coming up to Dublin, and lay near the new jetty to get refitted.

The Commodore hoisted his flag on board the 'Shamrock' revenue brig, Lt. Charles Goldsmith R.N. and gave the signal for sailing by firing a gun. The several yachts soon let go their moorings and proceeded to sea in generous rivalry. The Harbour at this time presented a most enlivening appearance.

The fleet sailed to windward, and then tacked towards the coast of Wicklow. When off the Five Mile Point the Commodore's brig lay-to and signalled the yachts to come round and sail under her stern, which movement was effected in the most brilliant and seamanlike style.

The 'Badger', J. Carter Esq. had at this time passed all her competitors and had got to windward of the 'Kite' half a mile, and lost way in consequence. Her respected Commander, from the severe illness of a member of his family, was not on board.

The 'Viper' in the early part of the day was not correct in her signals, and returned to the harbour.

The 'Royal George', the 'Hamilton', and the 'Wickham', distinguished themselves during the trial.

On this morning (Sat.) a second trial of sailing took place. On Monday the Lord Lieutenant will inspect the fleet. (1)


Difficulty of Recruiting for the Navy.

Sunderland 31st. During this week several public houses have been opened in this and the neighbouring ports as places for rendezvous for recruiting volunteers for the Navy. There are at present an unusual number of seamen ashore at the ports of the Wear, the Tyne and the Tees, even for the season of the year.

But they evince a great disinclination to enter naval service. They require, better wages, a more prompt and equitable distribution of prize money, and the substitution of a milder system of discipline than the use of the cat-o’-nine-tails. Until these necessary reforms are effected in the navy there is but little prospect of the sailors of the north exchanging the merchant for the naval service. (4)

Research and new books.

Of Interest to Coastguard Researchers.

You can read all about the sinking of the 'Vanguard' in a new book to be published by Nonsuch Publishing of Dublin sometime in March,
"Lamentable Intelligence from the Admiralty" is written by Chris Thomas. Besides telling the story of the incident, the Court Martial and the subsequent public outcry, the book looks at the background, life on board, diving the wreck, and especially the effects on Captain Dawkins, his officers and crew, and their families. Those on board HMSs Warrior and Iron Duke also appear in the story. You will all agree "a great story"

Apropos to our recent Isle of Wight coverage I would like to mention Ann Barrett's site which is a trove of information on Coastguards on the Island and and many other features.

The site is at you can go direct to it from our Links page.

References :
  1. Dublin Evening Post Saturday 17th.August 1844
  2. The Wicklow People. 16th.April 1898.
  3. Evening Freeman Thursday 29th.January 1846.
  4. Evening Freeman Thurs. 5th.February 1846.

© 2001-2006 [coastguards of yesteryear]

Powered by


0 Comments · 4381 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on June 17 2007


No Comments have been Posted.

Post Comment

Please Login to Post a Comment.