Ship Type Menu.
Small colonial paddle avisos (early)

VOYAGEUR class (32 nhp, launched 1819)
CAROLINE (50 nhp, launched 1823)
SERPENT (40 nhp, launched 1826)
AFRICAIN (40 nhp, launched 1832)

VOYAGEUR class colonial paddle avisos

Displacement: 277t
Dimensions:109ft 1in wl x 23ft 5in x 6ft 2in
Same, meters:33.24 x 7.15 x 1.88m
Machinery:32nhp (Scipion Périer, Paris). Trials 4.50 to 4.73kts
Hull material:Wood
Armament:(Designed) 6-12p carr., 4-4p

Name          Builder    Launched Fate         
VOYAGEURLorient24.2.19Out of service c1822
AFRICAINLorient8.2.19Out of service c1827

These two ships, the first steamers associated with the French navy, were ordered on 31 August 1818 to support an ambitious effort under Colonel Julien-Désiré Schmaltz to reoccupy Senegal after the Napoleonic wars and extend French influence to farming regions up the Senegal River. The steamers were to provide communications on the river and to keep the local population under control. They were designed by a naval engineer, Lebreton, to carry a comparatively large artillery on a hull high enough to command the river banks. The piston of the engine had a diameter of 2ft 7in, the stroke was 2ft 7in, and the diameter of the paddle wheels was 11ft 10in. The ships also had a brig rig. They arrived in Senegal on 1.11.19 and 12.5.20 respectively.

The engines of both ships remained in very good condition despite extensive service, but by late 1822 the boilers of Africain needed replacement. New copper boilers were ordered for her in 1823 and apparently allowed her to remain in service at least into 1827. By late 1823 the boilers of Voyageur were entirely unserviceable, but the high cost of the boilers for Africain and problems with Voyageur's hull caused the colony to propose sending the ship back to France in exchange for a new, smaller ship. The engines of Voyageur were at Brest in 1826 and may have been used in Requin, below. Her hull may have survived as a service craft in Senegal to c1829.

CAROLINE colonial paddle aviso

Displacement: 269t normal
Dimensions:114ft 10in wl, 118ft 1in deck x 23ft 0in x 5ft 9in normal
Same, meters:35.00, 36.00 x 7.00 x 1.75m
Machinery:50nhp (Manby, Wilson)
Hull material:Wood

Name          Builder    Launched Fate         
CAROLINEMalleux, Rouen23.8.23Stk. 20.7.33

In 1819 France embarked on an effort to create a community of European farmers in French Guiana. The plan called for a steamer to provide communications along the coast and on the rivers. The ship was finally designed by Marestier in 9.22 along with two 80nhp ships (Coureur and Rapide) for service in France. The three ships had identical hulls, but Caroline was fitted with a smaller engine for colonial service. Caroline's engines were built in England by Manby's firm, which also supplied the parts for the engines of the other two ships. Trials began 15.7.24 and the machinery was accepted on 28.7.24. Originally named Galibi, the ship was renamed on 29.7.24 and subsequently became Louise on 21.7.28. She was sold 23.1.34 in French Guyana. Her machinery was used in a tug built at Brest c1837.

SERPENT colonial paddle aviso

Displacement: 257t normal
Dimensions:98ft 5in deck x 23ft 0in mld x 7ft 5in normal
Same, meters:30.00 x 7.00 x 2.25m
Machinery:40nhp (Manby, Wilson). Coal 96t
Hull material:Wood
Armament:6-18p carronades

Name          Builder    Launched Fate         
SERPENTThibault, Rouen11.3.26Stk. 1833

This ship was ordered on 18.10.24 to replace Voyageur in Senegal. Marestier designed her in response to experience with Voyageur and Africain, which suggested that the colony needed shorter, smaller steamers with smaller crews and less coal consumption. (The earlier ships were expensive to operate, had difficulty negotiating some river bends, and were vulnerable to crosswinds because of their high sides.) She was given a schooner rig. Her builder was Emmanuel Thibault at Rouen. Machinery trials were successfully completed 25.7.26. Serpent remained in use as a tug after being stricken in 1833 and was probably BU 1839.

AFRICAIN colonial paddle aviso

Displacement: 300t
Dimensions:114ft 10in x 23ft 0in x 8ft 2in
Same, meters:35 x 7 x 2.5m
Machinery:40nhp (Indret)
Hull material:Wood
Armament:6 guns

Name          Builder    Launched Fate         
AFRICAINIndret14.5.32Stk. 1838

This ship, evidently a replacement for the first Africain in Senegal, was named and probably ordered 8.7.30. Instead of standard low-pressure engines, Gengembre, the first director of Indret, gave her medium-pressure engines with no condenser. (At the same time he was designing high-pressure engines for the 160nhp aviso Vautour.) Africain entered service in Senegal around 3.33.

Copyright © Stephen S. Roberts 2004-2015.