The Baltic fleet leaving Spithead, 15th March 1854.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting by the Danish artist Wilhelm Melbye (1824-1882) showing the British fleet leaving Spithead (the Eastern Solent between Portsmouth Harbour and the Isle of Wight), for the Baltic, during the Crimean War. The event was witnesed by Queen Victoria aboard the Royal Yacht 'Fairy', seen to the left of the foremost warship leading the fleet out to sea. In 1854, under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier, the British fleet joined the French with the intention of making raids on Rusia's Baltic coast. The British contingent originally consisted of eight ships of the line, four frigates and three paddle steamers, but large reinforcements, both sail and steam vesels, were sent subsequently. Later the same year, the great expedition to the Crimea itself was launched.