White Head Gallery
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The Battle of Pacocha'; Action between HMS Shah and Ameth
Engraving showing the battle between HMS Shah and Amethyst and the Peruvian Ironclad turret ship Huascar on the 29th May 1877. The Huascar had been taken over by some Peruvian revolutionaries and declared a pirate by the Peruvian government. The Shah and Amethyst were ordered to protect British Merchant Shipping and after the Huascar had stopped several British merchant ships, the Royal Navy decided to hunt down the Huascar'. In the action depicted, the 70 guns of the British ships were unable to do much damage to the Huascar as she was an heavily-built ironclad. In return the gunnery crew of the Huascar was not well drilled enough to hit the British ships much. In desperation the Shah launched a Whitehead torpedo at the Huascar, but the Peruvian ship was able to dodge it with some ease. The battle became a stalemate and the two sides slipped away after the fall of darkness. Reputedly this was the last action by a wooden warship, firing a broadside of muzzle-loading guns and the first use of a torpedo in anger
© Illustrated London News Ltd/Mary Evans