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HMS Scorpion

HMS Scorpion, a 2750-ton ironclad turret ship built at Birkenhead, England, was one of two sisters secretly ordered from the Laird shipyard by the Confederate States of America government in 1862. Her true ownership was concealed by the fiction that she was being constructed as the Egyptian warship El Tousson. To have been named North Carolina upon delivery to the Confederates, she would have been superior for offshore warfare to all but one of the United States' Navy warships, and thus represented a most serious danger to the Union's control of the seas.

However, effective Federal diplomacy prevented the emergence of this threat. The British government seized the pair of ironclads in October 1863, a few months after their launch and before they could be completed. In early 1864, both were purchased for the Royal Navy, receiving the new names Scorpion and Wivern.

Commissioned in July 1865, Scorpion was assigned to the Channel Fleet until 1869, with time out for a refit that reduced her sailing rig from a bark to a schooner. In late 1869, the ironclad was sent to Bermuda for coast and harbor defense service. Scorpion remained there for over three decades before being removed from the effective list. She was sunk as a target in 1901 but raised the next year and sold in February 1903. The former HMS Scorpion was lost at sea while under tow to the United States, where she was to be scrapped.

See also USS Scorpion and CSS Scorpion.



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