HMS Ocean (1898)

HMS Ocean (1898)

The fourth HMS "Ocean" was a "Canopus"-class predreadnought battleship of the British Royal Navy.

Technical Description

HMS "Ocean" was laid down at Devonport Dockyard on 15 December 1897, launched on 5 July 1898, and completed in February 1900. [Burt, p. 141] She was the first large armored ship built at Devonport. [Bur, p. 156]

"Ocean" and her five sister ships were designed for service in the Far East, where the new rising power Japan was beginning to build a powerful and dangerous navy, and to able to transit the Suez Canal. They were designed to be smaller (by about 2,000 tons), lighter, and faster than their predecessors, the "Majestic"-class battleships, although they were slightly longer at 430 feet (131 meters). In order to save weight, "Ocean" carried less armor than the "Majestic"s, although the change from Harvey armor in the "Majestic"s to Krupp armor in "Ocean" meant that the loss in protection was not as great as it might have been, Krupp armor having greater protective value at a given weight than its Harvey equivalent. Still, "Ocean's" armor was light enough to make her almost a second-class battleship. Part of her armor scheme included the use of a special 1-inch (2.54 mm) armored deck over the belt to defend against plunging fire by howitzers that France reportedly planned to install on its ships, although this report proved to be false. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 35]

"Ocean" had four 12-inch (305-mm) 35-caliber guns mounted in twin turrets fore and aft; these guns were mounted in circular barbettes that allowed all-around loading, although at a fixed elevation. "Ocean" also mounted twelve 6-inch (152-mm) 40-caliber guns (sponson mounting allowing some of them to fire fore and aft) in addition to smaller guns, and four 18-inch (457-mm) submerged torpedo tubes. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 35, 36; Gibbons, p. 145]

The "Canopus" class ships were the first British battleships with water-tube boilers, which generated more power at less expense in weight compared with the cylindrical boilers used in previous ships. The new boilers led to the adoption of fore-and-aft funnels, rather than the side-by-side funnel arrangement used in may previous British battleships. The "Canopus"-class ships proved to be good steamers, consuming 10 tons of coal per hour at full speed, [Gibbons, p. 145] with a high speed for battleships of their time, a full two knots faster than the "Majestic"s. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 35; Gibbons, p. 145]

Operational History

HMS "Ocean" commissioned at Devonport on 20 February 1900 and served in the Mediterranean Fleet until January 1901, when she was transferred to the China Station in response to the Boxer Rebellion. In September 1902 she suffered damage in a typhoon, and then underwent a refit that lasted into 1903.

When the United Kingdom and Japan ratified a treaty of alliance in 1905, the Royal Navy reduced its China Station presence and recalled all battleships from the station. As a result, "Ocean" and battleship "Centurion" left Hong Kong in company on 7 June 1905 and called at Singapore, where they rendezvoused with "Ocean's" sister ships "Albion" and "Vengeance". The four battleships departed Singapore on 20 June 1905 and steamed home together, arriving at Plymouth on 2 August 1905. [Burt, p. 97] "Ocean" went into reserve at Chatham Dockyard. [Burt, p. 156]

"Ocean" returned to full commission on 2 January 1906 to serve in the Channel Fleet, undergoing refits at Chatham from January to March 1907 and from April to June 1908. [Burt, p. 156]

On 2 June 1908, "Ocean" recommissioned for duty in the Mediterranean Fleet, undergoing a refit at Malta in 1908-1909 [Burt, p. 156] during which she received fire control. ["Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921," p. 8]

"Ocean" transferred to the 4th Division of the new Home Fleet on 16 February 1910. She underwent refits at Chatham in 1910 and 1911-1912. [Burt, p. 156] In 1913-1914 she was stationed at Pembroke Dock, Wales, as part of the 3rd Fleet. ["Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8]

When World War I broke out, "Ocean" was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron, Channel Fleet, which she joined on 14 August 1914. ["Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8] She was detached on 21 August 1914 to Queenstown, Ireland, to serve as guard ship there and to support a cruiser squadron operating in that area. In September 1914, she was ordered to relieve her sister ship "Albion" on the Cape Verde-Canary Islands Station, but while en route was diverted to the East Indies Station to support cruisers on convoy duty in the Middle East. She escorted an Indian troop convoy to Bahrain in October 1914. From October to December 1914, she served as flagship of the squadron in the Persian Gulf supporting operations against Basra. [Burt, p. 156]

In December 1914, "Ocean" was stationed at Suez, Egypt, to assist in the defence of the Suez Canal. She anchored in the mouth of the southern end of the canal on 29 December 1914 and remained in that area until mid-January 1915, when she proceeded northward up the canal. On 3 February and 4 February 1915, she supported ground troops against an Ottoman Turkish attack on the canal. [Burt, p. 156]

"Ocean" transferred to the Dardanelles in late February 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles campaign. On 1 March 1915, she was one of the ships that bombarded the entrance forts and took hits from Turkish mobile artillery batteries, but suffered no serious damage. She supported the landings at Sedd el Bahr on 4 March 1915. [Burt, p. 156]

On 18 March 1915, "Ocean" took part in the attack on the Narrows forts. [Burt, p. 156] When battleship HMS "Irresistible" was disabled by a mine in Erenkui Bay and all of her surviving crew was taken off by destroyers except for her commanding officer and some volunteers trying to save her, "Ocean" was sent in to tow her out. "Ocean" ran aground during the attempt, and, after freeing herself, found it impossible to take "Irresistible" under tow because of the shallow water, "Irresistible's" list, and heavy enemy fire. "Ocean" then took off the remaining members of "Irresistible's" crew and left the abandoned battleship to her fate; "Irresistible" sank unobserved by Allied forces, at around 1930 hours. [Burt, p. 174]

While retiring with "Irresistible's" survivors aboard, "Ocean" herself struck a drifting mine at around 1900 hours. Her starboard coal bunkers and passageways flooded, her steering jammed hard to port, and she listed 15 degrees to starboard. She came under fire from shore and began taking hits, which flooded her starboard engine room and prevented steering repairs. The crippled "Ocean" was abandoned at around 1930 hours with little loss of life, destroyers taking off most of her crew. She then drifted into Morto Bay, still under fire, and sank there unobserved by Allied forces at about 2230 hours. When destroyer HMS "Jed" entered the bay later that evening to sink "Ocean" and "Irresistible" with torpedoes so that they could not be captured by the Turks, the two battleships were nowhere to be found. [Burt, pp. 156, 174]



*Burt, R. A. "British Battleships 1889-1904". Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0870210610.
* Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, eds. "Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905". London: Conway Maritime Press, 1979.ISBN 0-85177-133-5
* Dittmar, F. J. & Colledge, J. J., "British Warships 1914-1919", (Ian Allen, London, 1972), ISBN 0-7110-0380-7
*Gibbons, Tony. "The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battlecruisers: A Technical Directory of All the World's Capital Ships From 1860 to the Present Day". London: Salamander Books Ltd., 1983.
*Gray, Randal, Ed. "Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921." Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0870219073.

External links

* [ MaritimeQuest HMS Ocean pages]

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