The Mystery Ship is the torpedo gunboat HMS Spanker, which was laid down at Devonport on 12 April 1888 and launched on 27 February 1889. She was of 735 tons, had a speed of 21 knots and was armed with two 4.7-inch and four three-pounder guns, as well as having three 14-inch torpedo tubes. From 1896 she was tender to the Coastguard ship HMS Alexandra and from 1901 to Revenge. She suffered various mechanical failures and had new boilers in 1893. She suffered engine failure in 1908 and a collision in 1908. She later served as a Fishery Protection Vessel. While working from Newlyn in 1903, she arrested three Breton crabbers for poaching at Scilly, one of the first arrests of its kind. She was converted into a minesweeper in 1914 and was involved in operations against Zeebrugge in 1915. In 1920 she was sold for scrap and broken up.John McWilliams, St Ives, Cornwall

Subscribe now

Subscribe to Ships Monthly magazine and SAVE 50%!