KARTERIA (ENDURANCE) (formerly known as Perseverance) was a steamed engine wheeled gunboat with a length of 38,5 meters, width of 7,6 meters and a displacement of 233 tons. It was built in 1825, at the Brent Shipyard Deptford-on-Thames in England on behalf of the Greek Revolutionary Navy of 1821. It was the first of six ships of this type, for which an order had been placed by Thomas Cochran using the second loan that has been signed during the Independence struggle, out of which only two were delivered, the KARTERIA (ENDURANCE) and the EPIXEIRISIS (ENTERPRISE).
It had four masts with rectangular sails. At the midst of its two sides, it had the two large outer wheels that were moved by two independent GALLOWAY SMITHFIELD steam engines of rather low power. This new technology allowed the ship to sail independently of the wind reaching a speed of three knots. It had 4 powerful 68 pound guns and 4 68 pound Paixhans carronades. Through the use of the steam engines, the ship’s gunners could burn and fire up the cannon balls and missiles of the ship’s guns so that they can be used as incendiary, thus the ship, just in 1827 fired 18.000 rounds. It had a ship’s company and complement of 75 men.
Karteria (Endurance) was in a class of its own, since it laid the foundations for the creation of the first mechanized naval unit in the Revolutionary Navy and it was deemed to be a pioneer ship on a world-wide scale since it surpassed the first steam warship ever made, the USS Demologos with 30 guns on board (build by Robert Fulton) which was put in service in 1814 but was never used in naval combat. The idea of a steam engine wheeled ship with additional sails, that was equipped with strong, modern naval guns and canons using modern munitions was attributed to Frank Abney Hastings, to whom the ship was entrusted by the Greek government.
As a former Royal Navy officer, he visited the English shipyard in order to closely monitor the ship’s construction. He was so greatly involved in the entire process of building “Karteria” that he paid 5.000 pounds from his own personal fortune in order to finish and complete the building of the ship. Actually, in the overall expenses, he included the purchase of all necessary navigational equipments and charts.
“Karteria” (Endurance) left England in 1826. During its trip to Greece, there was a fire on board which resulted in putting the engine out of use. It reached Cagliari in Sardinia through the use of its sails. After repairs, it departed on the 22nd of August 1826 and it sailed into Nafplio on the 3rd of September 1826. The ship’s guns arrived in Greece in December of the same year, after they had been first shipped to the United States from Britain and then to Greece, so as not to infringe on British neutrality.
Frank Abney Hastings was born in England, on the 14th of February 1794. He was recruited into the Royal Navy and took part on the HMS “Neptune” at the Battle of Trafalgar, aged eleven (11). He assumed command of many ships and at the same time, he acquired special know-how with regards to gunnery. In 1818, while serving on HMS “Kangaroo”, and after careless handling of his ship’s course in Port Royal, Jamaica, was forced to resign in 1819.
This able and fearless seaman with his philhellenic ideals and sentiments landed in Hydra in 1822 where he made friends with the Tombazis family. He joined the Revolutionary Navy serving on the ship “Themistocles” earning the respect and trust of all by his overall knowledge and naval skills.
The Greek revolutionary authorities show in his face an able warrior and in May 1823, the Executive Body (Ektelestiko) appointed him as “chief of gunnery for the expedition on the island of Crete”. The expedition failed after the involvement of Egyptian forces and Hastings returned to the Peloponnese. The Revolution gradually entered a difficult phase and crisis ensued especially with regards to matters at sea, where the appearance and involvement of the Egyptian fleet made matters very difficult for the Greek side.
Hastings, was put in charge of a naval squadron comprised of five ships (Karteria, Themistocles, Aries, Aspasia, Panagia) and sailed into the Pagasetic Gulf (April 1827) where by naval bombardment destroyed several Turkish coastal fortresses, set a paronas (a ship similar to a brig) ablaze in Trikeri and captured eight transport ships carrying military supplies. In June 1827, “Endurance” had its biggest success when it sunk the Turkish command ship (a brig) in the Bay of Itea, while at the same time, destroying 9 out of 11 enemy ships after a rather efficient gun volley. It was a hallmark in the world naval history annals. A steam-engined ship, at the hands of a skilled and intelligent officer, was able to defeat and sink as series of warships with sails.
On the 11th of May 1828, Hastings was injured during operations in Messolonghi. Even though, he was slightly and lightly wounded on his left arm, he was moved to the ship and then to Zakynthos (Zaente) were he passed away on May 20th 1828. His funeral was held with great honors, a year later, on the island of Poros, where his body was moved on board “Endurance”, on which Ioannis Kapodistrias was also a passenger, being escorted to his final resting place by a squadron of navy warships. His eulogy was said by Spyridon Trikoupis. In 186, Hastings remains were moved to the Poros naval base, where a memorial monument was build in his honor.
“Karteria’s” action came as a great surprise to the Turkish side and put forward a new parameter in term of naval operations, that of combining steam power with naval gunnery. This was in effect the reason behind the withdrawal of the Egyptian fleet during the Battle at Navarino, when Ibrahim realized that giving chase and pursuit as well as the destruction of the Egyptian fleet were a first priority.
As one of the early mechanized ships, it was faced with a great number of problems, due to the experimental technology on board the vessel. Its mechanical movement was done via the two large wheels situated midships. Due to a design error, the wheels did not go deep into the sea, resulting in reduced propulsion which meant that in order to increase propulsion and speed, the engines had to overheat and that posed the danger of a possible explosion.
A serious disadvantage was also the use of coal as fuel, in order to fire up the engines, because the use of fire-wood did not allow for the sufficient build-up of steam for propulsion, which in effect meant increased costs since, at the time, coal had to be imported from Europe.
After the country’s liberation and the advent of Othonas (King of Otto of Greece), the ship fell into neglect and disrepair and attempts made by the English engineer Alfons Parish and the Bavarian Army officer, Weissenbach did little to save the ship. The ship stopped being used after 1830 due to the bad state that its engines were in. It remained in the main Naval Station until December 1841, after which it ceases to be mentioned in the Register of the Greek Royal Fleet.
Spyridon Trikoupis, while referring to Hastings said that: “…..he passed away on the 20th of May, leaving us with great memories regarding his selfless philhellenism, his glorious struggles for the country and his overall integrity”. In his biography, General Gordon stated that : “if there ever was someone that were truly selfless and useful as a philhellene, that was Hastings. He never received any payment or compensation. He spent most of his fortune to keep “Endurance” seaworthy and ready to fight, the only ship in the Hellenic Navy that abided by the rules and regulations pertaining naval discipline”.