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HMS Gannet

Three masted warship. Dotterel Class Sloop


Gannet was launched from Sheerness in 1878. Shipbuilding – especially warship construction at Chatham and Sheerness influenced the development of North Kent and Medway for over 350 years. The Navy’s ships operating from the County’s Royal Dockyard’s ports and anchorages played a major role in policing the British Empire around the world and have left a historical and technological legacy that continues to today.

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust,
The Sail & Colour Loft,
The Historic Dockyard,
Kent ME4 4TE


Gannet is both wind and coal powered, enabling her to convert easily between steam-powered with propeller, and wind-powered with sail. Gannet is a gunboat. She is the only survivor of the Imperial Policing Role, which for over a century was the dominant role of the Royal Navy featuring muzzle loading, breech loading, rifled and multiple barrelled guns.

Gannet is the only Medway built warship now returned to the River Medway. In international politics, gunboat diplomacy (or “Big Stick ideology” in U.S. history) refers to the pursuit of foreign policy objectives with the aid of conspicuous displays of naval power—implying or constituting a direct threat of warfare, should terms not be agreeable to the superior force.

Curriculum Links:

  • KS1: Local History, Significant Events, Everyday Materials
  • KS2: Local History, Briatin Beyond 1066, Forces, Materials and their Properties, Mechanical Systems, Writing Composition – Poetry
  • KS3: Local History, Britain 1745- 1901, Developments in Design and Technology, Materials and Components, Forces


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