Registration number 406
Status Registered

Previous names

  • 1916 642


Function Fighting Vessel
Subfunction Launch
Location Portsmouth
Vessel type Admiralty Pinnace
Current use Private use
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No


Builder Admiralty, Portsmouth
Built in 1915
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
13.00 feet (3.35m)
2.98 feet (0.91m)
Length: Overall
42.00 feet (12.80m)
Tonnage: Gross


CYCLOPS was built in 1915 in Portsmouth Dockyard in Number 6 Boat House (located at the end of the Mast Pond, Currently housing the’’ Action Stations’’ project) as a pinnace for the Royal Navy and was originally registered at Portsmouth.

Her hull construction is teak, double diagonal. She was originally rowed but subsequently had a Perkins engine installed (90hp). She has special equipment as a mooring workboat - a Ferrari hydraulic crane mounted aft of midships.

CYCLOPS was obtained from the Crinan Harbour Authority where she had been used as mooring buoy tender / work boat.  Prior to this she was used as a small ferry carrying people, stores and livestock between the Hebridian islands.  She was a 42 Ft. rowing launch to the Battleship HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN (1915) used for carrying supplies out to the ship.  She would have been manned by 38 seamen two to an oar operating from nine thwarts. The positions of the stations are still visible today.

CYCLOPS currently is fitted with a diesel engine from a Combine Harvester as she was when in use as a ferry and harbour mooring boat, the historic vessel will be maintained in her present configuration for potential use as a Property Trust Work boat.  At the present time there are no plans to carry out changes to revert her to her original state.

Update, January 2024: It is hoped that the launch will complete restoration at Boathouse 4 later this year. 

This vessel is a survivor from the First World War. You can read more about her wartime history by visiting our First World War: Britain's Surviving Vessels website


1.      What is the vessel’s ability to demonstrate history in her physical fabric?

Evidence for designs, functions, techniques, processes, styles, customs and habits or uses and associations in relation to events and people.  How early, intact or rare these features are may impact on significance.

CYCLOPS was built as a 42ft open pulling launch for the Royal Navy and her hull still retains its original teak, double diagonal construction. She was originally rowed by 38 seamen, two to an oar, operating from nine thwarts.  Although these thwarts have been removed and an engine subsequently fitted, the positions of the rowing stations are still visible today.  In recent conservation work, she has had one complete rib removed and replaced and some further new timbers are likely to be fitted on her port side. When converted for use as a ferry and then a workboat, a Combine Harvester diesel engine was fitted and specialist mooring equipment was later mounted aft in the form of a Ferrari hydraulic crane.

2.      What are the vessel’s associational links for which there is no physical evidence?

Associations with people or places.  Off-ship research.

CYCLOPS was built in wartime in 1915 and is typical of the largest open boats carried on battleships and other large warships for use as a ship’s tender. She is a reminder of the last occasion when launches of her kind were used operationally, landing troops at Gallipoli, when they were towed in to the beaches in a “string” behind steam pinnaces.  During her naval service in the First World War CYCLOPS was significantly linked to the Battleship HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN (1915), being one of the 42 foot rowing launches used for carrying supplies out to the ship. 

CYCLOPS has strong associations to the city of Portsmouth, being built in Boathouse 6 at the Dockyard and originally registered there, when she was given the number P642.  She also has Scottish links, being used as a small ferry carrying people, stores and livestock between the Hebridian islands after leaving naval service and subsequently working as a mooring buoy tender for Crinan Harbour Authority in Argyll and Bute on the west coast of Scotland. 

CYCLOPS has been recorded on the National Register of Historic Vessels since 1996.  Only two 42ft Royal Naval open pulling launches survive; the other is DORIAN.

3.      How does the vessel’s shape or form combine and contribute to her function?

Overall aesthetic impact of the vessel, her lines, material she was built from and her setting.  Does she remain in her working environment?

CYCLOPS is a mono-hulled boat with a plumb straight stem and a pointed bow built during wartime for a specific purpose. Her sturdy build and generous beam, plus the double diagonal lower hull and rowing points are from her original build function as a ship’s tender for a large warship. Her design and construction made her fully fit for her intended purpose and available for immediate deployment. CYCLOPS continues to be an aesthetically pleasing open pulling boat, and she remains in her original heritage setting at Boathouse Number 4 at Portsmouth Dockyard pending conservation as an operational exhibit.

Source: NHS-UK team, 26 January 2016. 

This statement was developed as part of the Heritage Lottery funded First World War project.

Key dates

  • 2011

    Mini refit  on the main deck area and hull at the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust

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