The technical development of the GB Royal Navy in the 19th century is initially described, in particular the gradual transition from wooden sailing warships to iron warships powered by steam and including rotatable gun turrets. Against this backcloth, the patenting and other activities of one Captain Cowper Coles, an obsessive but well connected inventor, are set out. He had 11 GB patents on the turreted and other designs of ships. His ability to influence people of substance, including Queen Victoria's consort Prince Albert, eventually resulted in Coles receiving a contract to build the HMS Captain. This ship was so unstable that it sank in a modest storm in 1870, killing 480 of the 500 people on board, including Coles. Effective designs of steam warships with turreted guns were eventually achieved late in the 19th and early in the 20th century.