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The English Navy's HMS Challenger was launched February 13, 1858. She was a corvette, 200 feet long, 40 feet wide, with three masts and supplementary steam power, 2,306 tons displacement with a wooden hull and compound engine, 1,200 hp, with 1 screw.

In the middle of her Navy career, Challenger was extensively refitted for the scientific voyage of December 1872 to May 1876. Sixteen of her 18 guns were removed to make room for laboratories and the miles of line required for their dredging and sounding experiments.  For this voyage, the steam engine was most often used to maneuver or hold the ship in position during scientific sampling operations.

Challenger was built at Woolwich Dockyard, England, in 1858.

Woolwich Dockyard dates back to 1514. It was built by King Henry VIII specifically to construct his ship, "Harry Grace a Dieu." The Royal Navy had vessels built at the Woolwich Dockyard until its closure in 1869. This is a painting of the Dockyard as it appeared in the late 18th century, by Nicholas Pocock.

Woolwich Dockyard in 1790
Nicholas Pocock
Copyright of object: Out of Copyright
National Maritime Museum, London, Greenwich Hospital collection