Service with the Grand Fleet
CYCLOPS was built in 1915 in Number 6 Boat House at Portsmouth Dockyard and was originally known as Pinnace 642. She was a 42ft rowing launch built by the Royal Navy as a pinnace for the Battleship HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN (1915). She was used for carrying supplies out to the ship. She was manned by 38 seamen, two to an oar operating from nine thwarts, or oar anchorages. The positions of the stations are still visible today.
H.M.S. ROYAL SOVEREIGN was a Revenge-class (also known as Royal Sovereign and R-class) battleship of the Royal Navy displacing 28,000 tons, and armed with eight 15-inch (381 mm) guns in four twin turrets. She was laid down in January 1914 and launched in April 1915; she was completed in May 1916, but she was not ready for service in time to participate in the Battle of Jutland at the end of the month. She served with the Grand Fleet for the remainder of the war, but did not see action.
Cyclops is the last surviving example of the 42ft rowing/sailing launches used by the Royal Navy over a long period of time, being issued to battleships and other large warships. They were the largest open boats carried. Some were later converted to motor power. Their last operational use was at Gallipoli, where they were used to land troops being towed in to the beaches in a “string” behind steam pinnaces.
Another vessel on the National Register of Historic Vessels, PINNACE 199, is the last surviving naval steam pinnace.
Where is she now?
CYCLOPS is currently undergoing restoration to her 1915 appearance at the Royal Naval Dockyard at Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust Boat Status Report - Jan 2012.
National Register of Historic Vessels entry: http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/406/cyclops