Construction and designBuilt by Ramage & Ferguson, Otter was launched on 19 July 1884. Originally designed as a tug, during its construction, the ship was purchased by the Queensland Maritime Defence Force and was converted for military service. She was fitted with a single 5-inch gun allowing her to operate as an auxiliary.
Displacing 220 tons, she was capable of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) and was armed with one 5-inch gun, which was later replaced by a 64-pounder.
Service historyFollowing the Jervois-Scratchley reports the colonial governments of Australia restructured their defence forces. This process led to the formation of the Queensland Maritime Defence Force. To equip the new force the colonial government initially ordered two gunboats and a torpedo boat.
As an interim measure as well as to supplement the purpose built warships it was decided that other ships already under construction be modified for military use. Otter was one of the ships chosen and in military service she performed tender duties as well as conducting patrols.
Following Federation she was transferred to the Commonwealth but served only until 1906 when she was paid off.
During World War I, Otter was requisitioned from its civilian owner by the Royal Australian Navy and served as an examination vessel. Following the conclusion of hostilities, she was returned to her previous owner.
Otter was returned to private operations on Moreton Bay, and was scrapped in 1946.