By Capt. Dan Berg
Photo: Vixen shipwreck.
Photo by Dan Berg.
Bermuda wreck series postage
stamp. Courtesy Postmaster General.
The gunboat H.M.S. Vixen displaced 1,230 tons and was built
by Lungley Shipyard, Deptford, England, in 1864, and launched
in1867. According to Professor Richard Gould of Brown University in
Providence, Rhode Island, the Vixen was the first
twin-screwed vessel of the Royal Navy. Vixen's iron hull was
completely clad in teak wood. This design was made in an effort to
overcome problems that iron hulled ships were having with marine
organisms. The teak also produced extra drag on the ship, therefore,
resulting in the Vixen being the slowest ironclad vessel in
the Royal Navy. Another very interesting aspect of this ship is that
she was built with a ram type bow. Her heavily supported bow
protruded forward almost nine feet under the water line.
Unfortunately, after sea trials, the Vixen and her sister
ship, Viper, were considered too slow as well as un-seaworthy. They
were withdrawn from service in 1887 and towed to Bermuda in 1888 as
coast defense ships. By1895, Vixen had been allocated as a
floating dormitory to house Dockyard laborers. In 1896,after removal
of her engines and machinery, she was scuttled to block a narrow
channel off Daniel's Head. This scuttling was done to prevent
possible attacks by torpedo boats on Dockyard.
In 1986, Professor Richard Gould, along with Earth watch and the
Bermuda Maritime Museum, began a three year project that researched
the vessel and produced fine underwater sketches of the site. In
1987, probably due to publicity from Professor Gould's activity, an
official Vixen postage stamp was issued, and the site was
classified as a protected wreck. This means that nothing can be
removed from the wreck, and a permit is needed to explore the
Vixen while on SCUBA although no permit is needed to snorkel the
Today, the Vixen is a popular site for glass bottom boats.
Her bow protrudes above the water line, and her hull is almost
The information listed
above was taken with permission from the Book:
BERMUDA SHIPWRECKS, ISBN # 0-9616167-4-1
A Vacationing Divers Guide to Bermudas Shipwrecks,
by Dan and Denise Berg, 6x9 softcover,73 pages.
Now also Available as
an instant download printable PDF eBook
BERMUDA SHIPWRECKS ebook
A Vacationing Divers Guide to Bermudas Shipwrecks
4.5 MB instant download, printable PDF file
by Dan and Denise Berg, 6x9, 73 page
From the first quarter of the 16th century,
Bermuda became a landmark for
Spanish ships sailing back to Spain from the New World. The desire to sight
Bermuda to confirm their position often ended their voyage as they wrecked
on Bermuda's outer reefs. To this day Bermuda's treacherous reefs have taken
their toll on shipping. The reefs have claimed vessels ranging from ocean
lines to small fishing boats. Bermuda Shipwrecks is the most comprehensive,
accurate, illustrated collection of information, photographs, sketches and
stories ever written about the legendary wrecks around Bermuda. Bermuda
Shipwrecks includes over 100 illustrations comprised of 61 sensational color
photos, 17 rare b&w historical images, 19 stamps, 4 sketches plus one
map. Bermuda Shipwrecks contains a wealth of enlightening information that
gives the readers a nostalgic glimpse into the history and present condition
of over 55 of Bermuda's most popular Shipwrecks.
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