HMS Minotaur was originally ordered on 2 September 1861 as HMS Elephant, in honour of the ship once commanded by Nelson seventy years before, but her name was changed to Minotaur during construction. She was laid down on 12 September 1861 by the Thames Ironworks in Blackwall, London. She was launched on 12 December 1863, commissioned in April 1867 and completed on 1 June 1867. The lengthy delay in completion was due to frequent changes in design details, and experiments with her armament and with her sailing rig.The ship cost a total of £478,855.
Minotaur finally commissioned in Portsmouth as the flagship of the Channel Fleet, a position which she retained until 1873. In 1868 the ship nearly rammed the ironclad HMS Bellerophon as they were leaving Belfast Lough. Minotaur lost her bowsprit and fore topgallant mast, but Bellerophon only suffered some minor flooding. She paid off for a long refit in 1873 and resumed her position in 1875 when she rejoined the Channel Fleet
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