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Type: Despatch vessel ; former Cruiser, 2nd Class ; Armament 10 x 6"
Launched : 27 Feb 1883 ; Disposal date or year : 1913
Displacement: 4300 tons
Propulsion: Twin Screw Complement: 313
Machinery notes: 5500 ; Speed ; 16.6 knots ;
27 May 1886 Serious gunnery accident reported - see below
20 Sep 1886 Commissioned at Chatham
26 Jun 1897 Present at the Naval Review at Spithead in celebration of the Diamond Jubilee.
DN 27 May 1886
Serious Occurrence on board a Man of War - Phaeton
Her Majesty's ship Phaeton, which put into Plymouth Sound yesterday, reports that a very serious accident occurred on Tuesday whilst the crew were at quarters and engaged at target practice.
A four-barrelled Nordenfeldt gun had been in use, and the crew of seamen who had been engaged in firing it handed it over to a crew of Royal Marines whilst charged, instead of removing the case of cartridges.
The Marine crew were engaged in training the gun fore and aft, when someone touched the lever and fired the gun, which swept the deck, at that time crowded with men, four of whom were struck with shot or splinter.
It is believed that at least four unexploded cartridges, containing heavy bullets, were in the case, and the shot went through two iron beams, besides bulkheads of the of the ship. At the time of the occurrence the Phaeton was about a hundred miles from Plymouth, for which port she made, and on arrival three of the wounded were sent to the Royal Naval Hospital for treatment.
These are named:
Allen, Able seaman, superficial would of neck ;
Shaddick, boy, contused wound over spine ; and
Gray, severe injuries to face, with loss of front teeth.
The Phaeton's steam steering gear broke down on Tuesday.
DNS 28 May 1886
The Accident on board HMS Phaeton
Further inquiries into the cause of the accident on board the cruiser Phaeton show that the crew who had charge of the gun before the accident occurred were guilty of grave neglect of duty, and the Admiralty have order a strict inquiry to be made into the whole of the circumstances.
The men now in the naval hospital at Stonehouse were interviewed yesterday, and they are all of the opinion that when the order was given to cease firing, the crew, who had been practising with the Nordenfelt gun, left several cartridges in the barrels, and took no steps to ascertain whether they had been discharged or not. The marine guns crew were then ordered to commence training the gun for the purpose of securing it, and it was while they were so engaged that the gun was accidentally fired and cartridges were discharged.
Each of these cartridges contained a bullet, weighing ten or eleven ounces, but inquiries yesterday elicited the fact that none of the injured men were struck by the bullets, but the splinters which were raised by the bullets after they had passed through the two bulkheads of the ship.
Although the injuries which the men have received are severe they are not regarded as serious, and the medical officers in the hospital do not at present anticipate any fatal results.
The most serious of the three cases is that of the boy William Shaddick, who is suffering from an injury to the spine, but it is believed that he will recover. The Phaeton left Plymouth yesterday to continue her cruise.