Query : Plans of Royal Sardinian Navy’s ships in British archives?

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    Aldo Antonicelli
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    Researching the technical details of the ships of the Royal Sardinian Navy is a most frustrating affair because ship plans, guns and engine drawings referring to the period 1816-1860 were almost totally destroyed at the end of the IX century. So a researcher has to make do with what little is left and try to pursue every little clue.
    Two such are the following:
    a) in 1834 the Sardinian 60-gun sailing frigate La Regina (‘The Queen’) made a cruise to Great Britain; La Regina had embarked in Genoa the crew for a wheel-propelled steamer which the Sardinian Navy had ordered from Great Britain which at the time was nearing completion.
    On October 19th La Regina dropped anchor at Spithead; as her commander Captain Albini wrote in his report, during her somewhat prolonged stay at Spithead some days before November 25th she was visited by Rear Admiral Sir Frederic Maitland (his name is spelled ‘Medlam’ by Albini), who is said to be the director of the Spithead Arsenal; Maitland asked to be permitted to have the ship’s dimensions taken and, permission having been granted, the following day the ‘…arsenal’s first and second Constructors came on board and had all her dimensions taken… after having surveyed for a long time the frigate’s stern.. they praised the ship…’.
    Now I am investigating the possibility that the records taken by the arsenal officials that day might have somehow survived and I would like to ask if any member has any idea where they might be located.
    b) at the end of the year 1852, the Sardinian Navy was looking into the matter of converting the 60-gun sailing frigate San Michele (‘Saint Michael’) into a steam-powered, screw propelled ship. Without great experience in screw propulsion, the Sardinian Navy sought competent professional advice from Isaac Watts, then Chief Constructor of the Royal Navy; he was sent the San Michele’s plans and on the 28th January 1853 he wrote back giving his positive answer about the feasibility of the conversion; he also sent back the ship’s plans with, drawn in red ink, the modification he considered necessary to make to her hull. Due to economic considerations, the ship was not converted. Of course, such plans should have been destroyed.
    I thing that there is the remote change that Watts might have made a copy of the plans for his personal archive, and again I would like to ask if any member knows where they might be located.

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