Cowper Phipps Coles

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Cowper Phipps Coles

Cowper Phipps Coles (* 1819 , †  September 6, 1870 off Cape Finisterre ) was a British engineer and naval officer.


Coles was born in 1819 as the third son of a pastor. In 1838 he received an officer's license and in January 1846 the appointment to lieutenant (first lieutenant). Admiral Edmund Lyons, 1st Baron Lyons made him his adjutant aboard HMS Agamemnon in October 1853 . In this capacity, he experienced the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War . On November 13, 1854, he became Lieutenant Commander (Korvettenkapitän) and commanded the paddle steamer Stromboli in the Black Sea. During this time he attracted attention by developing a cannon-equipped raft. He was ordered back to Great Britain to build more examples of this weapon. However, the war ended before their construction was finished. On February 27, 1856 he was promoted to captain ( sea ​​captain ).

He devoted himself to the development of an armored warship with a low freeboard and one or more rotatable armored turrets (forerunners of the modern turret ) on half pay . The idea was pursued in the United States at the same time by John Ericsson , the designer of the USS Monitor , after which this type of ship is often named.

Coles' ideas were supported by influential members of the Admiralty and representatives of British industry, which is why the Royal Navy chose his tower type. In addition to the British, other tower ships built in England also had armored turrets based on the Coles system, such as the Danish Rolf Krake (1862) and the Prussian Arminius (1864). From 1862 to 1864, Coles headed the conversion of the Royal Sovereign according to his plans and built the single -tower Monitor Huáscar , which was delivered to the Peruvian Navy in 1865, for the first time, a sea-worthy armored turret that fully met his ideas and proved itself.

Under the pressure of differences of opinion within the Admiralty about a viable future concept for warship building and in competition with other designers, especially the chief designer of the British Navy Edward James Reed , Coles last designed the captain , which was completed in 1869 , whose construction was done in advance because of its relative proportions was criticized for the weight of the two armored turrets too low freeboard. Coles paid little heed to the concerns and thought the ship was perfectly fit for the ocean. Shortly after commissioning, the Captain got caught in a storm on September 6, 1870 on her maiden voyage for a sea maneuver to Spain off Cape Finisterre and sank. Almost 500 people were killed, including Coles himself.