History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

HMTS Monarch (2)
by Bill Glover


Built in 1883 by J. & D. Dunlop and Co., Port Glasgow.

HMTS Monarch (2) shortly after launch
(The Engineer, 25 April 1884)

First cable ship designed specifically for the GPO. Fitted with three cable tanks, two forward and one aft. No 1 tank measured 28 ft. in dia by 5 ft high with a coiling capacity of 3890 cu ft. No 2 tank was 28 ft. in dia by 10 ft. high with a capacity of 6600 cu ft., and No 3 tank was 25 ft. in dia by 5ft. high having a capacity of 2730 cu. ft. The cones in the tanks were used to store fresh meat and water. Storage for grapnels, ropes etc was provided forward of No 1 tank.

HMTS Monarch (2) in Dartmouth Harbour

Johnson & Phillips designed and installed the cable gear which consisted of a combined paying out-picking up machine which had two 6 ft. dia by 2 ft 4 in. wide drums of which the port one could lift 30 tons at ½ knot or 10 tons at 1½ knots while the starboard one could lift 15 tons at 1 knot. Each drum was provided with its own brake so picking up and paying out could be carried out at the same time.

In service until 1915 when sunk either by a mine or torpedo off Folkestone.


In its issue of 27 August 1886, The Telegraphic Journal and Electrical Review had this story:

New Irish Sea Cable.—The postal telegraph cable ship Monarch has left her moorings at Woolwich, having on board the new 4-wire cable, which is to be laid across the Irish Channel from the Welsh to the Irish coast. The overhead line between London and the Welsh coast in connection with the new cable is in course of construction; this line is being wired with copper conductors.

1885 Sinclair Bay, Wick, Scotland - Lerwick, Shetland Islands
1886 Aber Geirch, Wales - Newcastle, Ireland No 1
1886 Granton - Burntisland (Scotland) repair
1891 St Margaret’s Bay, England - Sangatte, France No 2
1897 St Margaret’s Bay, England - Sangatte, France No 3
1893 Port Kale, Scotland - Donaghadee, Ireland, Telephone cable



August: Cut Borkum - Fayal cable

In 2023, site visitor Steve Williams provided these photos of a porthole recovered from HMTS Monarch (2) some years ago. The porthole is 13" in diameter and fitted with thick glass.

Images copyright © 2023 Steve Williams

In 2018, site visitor Stefan Panis dived the wreck of Monarch (2) and he has very kindly provided this group of photographs, which show a number of interesting details of the ship. He has also written up the story of the dive for the DiverNet website.

All photographs below are copyright © 2018 Stefan Panis

Pottery shard
H.M.T.S. Monarch

The diver is holding a bar attached to an anchor

A pair of bollards with some remains of the now-collapsed upper deck

Stefan’s fellow-diver Tony Goodfellow discovers a shoe among the debris

The diver in the background gives scale to a coil of cable

Detail of the large coil of cable

The ship’s propellor

A bottle among the debris. The ship is still standing, but items inside the ship are falling out through holes in the hull

A brass porthole fallen next to the wreck

A diver next to the remains of the funnel

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Last revised: 19 February, 2023

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