Royal Sovereign class battleship

Royal Sovereign class battleship

The "Royal Sovereign" class was an eight-ship class of pre-dreadnought battleships of the British Royal Navy.

The ships of the "Royal Sovereign" class were built under the Naval Defence Act of 1889, which provided £21 million for a vast expansion programme. The Act was inspired by rumours of a possible Franco-Russian alliance and by perceived shortcomings in naval forces revealed during manoeuvres the year before. In total, ten battleships, forty-two cruisers, and eighteen other vessels were built—an enormous increase. The Act marks the adoption of the two-power standard, whereby the Royal Navy sought to be as large as the next two major naval powers combined.

At the centre of the expansion programme were the "Royal Sovereign"s, the largest and fastest capital ships of their time. Like HMS "Dreadnought" a generation later, this class made all other battleships obsolete. The class would be the template of British battleship design for 15 years, until "Dreadnought", being improved upon by the "Majestic" class ships launched just a few years later. The "Royal Sovereign"s are considered the first of the type of battleship which would become known after the commissioning of "Dreadnought" in 1906 as pre-dreadnoughts. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1806-1905", p. 32]

Technical Characteristics

The "Royal Sovereign"s were designed by the noted warship designer Sir William White. They were much bigger than the Admiral, "Victoria", and "Trafalgar" classes that had preceded them, and when "Royal Sovereign" herself was completed she was the largest warship in the World. At convert|17.5|kn|km/h|1 they were also faster than any other battleship afloat. This class established the pattern of succeeding battleships in the Royal Navy and indeed in many foreign navies too.

They used the same 13.5 inch (343 mm) guns of the Admirals, though the first seven "Royal Sovereign"s used open barbettes instead of heavy, nineteenth-century-style circular turrets, allowing them to have a freeboard of 19 feet 6 inches (about 90% of modern guidelines), much higher than in immediately previous classes, thus making them better seaboats.

The last ship of the class, "Hood", was equipped with old-style, heavy, circular turrets of the type that first appeared in the 1860s, and consequently had a lower freeboard of only 11 feet 3 inches. She was otherwise virtually identical to her sister ships (in terms of machinery, protection, and armament) and therefore provided a very useful comparison to them in terms of the heavily protected, heavy, self-contained old-style turrets aboard "Hood" and their requirement for lower freeboard and the lighter, open barbettes, with their exposed guns but allowing greater freeboard, as in the first seven ships. "Hood" proved too wet for efficient operations in the rough waters of the Atlantic and North Sea, while the high freeboard of her barbette-equipped near-sisters gave them the advantage in those waters. "Hood" was the last British battleship with the old-style turrets, and based on the experience with her and with her sisters, all future British battleships were of a high-freeboard design and had their main armament in barbettes, although the adoption of armored, rotating gunhouses over the barbettes gradually led to them being called "turrets" as well, as remains the case today. [Burt p. 85; "Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 33]

They were heavily armoured with an 8 feet 6 inch high belt 18 inches thick, reducing to 14 inches thick at the ends past the two barbettes, and with a 4 inch thick steel armour belt above. This belt was intended to detonate any lighter shells and was the result of live firing experiments on the old battleship "Resistance". The armour was backed by convert|10|ft|m|0 deep coal bunkers, the coal providing additional protection and were subdivided to continue to provide buoyancy after being hit. The deck was 3 inches thick, thinning to 2.5 inches at the ends and curving down. The intention was that if this were penetrated then the ends could be flooded with little loss of buoyancy.

Although the new convert|12|in|mm|0|sing=on guns were preferred there were doubts that they could be built in time and so the 13.5 inch (343-mm) 67-ton guns used in preceding classes were fitted. The secondary armament was an important part of the design and consisted of ten 6 inch (152-mm) quick-firing guns were provided to counter torpedo boat attacks and were widely spaced on two decks so that a single hit would not disable more than one of them. As well as the weight of the guns, accommodation had to be provided for the 31 men needed to operate each one (eight manning the gun itself, eight more in each of two magazines and seven in the shell room). The convert|6|in|mm|0|sing=on guns on the upper deck had only light shields when the class was built but in 1902-1903 they were enclosed within casemates.

The ships rolled excessively when first put into service, the captain of "Resolution" turning back to England on one occasion in rough weather in the Bay of Biscay in December 1893, but the fitting of bilge keels and the carrying of as heavy a coal store as possibly (up to 1,400 tonnes) remedied this fault to a great degree. However, sensationalist reporting of "Resolution" rolling heavily during the 1893 storm gave the ships a nickname, the "Rolling Ressies," which stuck with the ships throughout their lives. [Burt, p. 66-67]

Operational history

The ships spent their lives in the routine of the Victorian Royal Navy, participating in annual manoeuvres and occasional fleet reviews from their commissioning until the early 1900s. All saw service in home waters and many also served in the Mediterranean, where some saw service in the 1897-1898 blockade of Crete. The class generally went into the commissioned reserve around 1905. [Burt, pp. 80-84]

In 1906, the "Royal Sovereigns", like every other battleship in the world, were made obsolete with the launch of the revolutionary HMS "Dreadnought", the first all-big-gun battleship. They were consigned to less critical duties for the remainder of their service life, and began to appear on the disposal list in 1909. [Burt, pp. 80-84] Only two ships survived to see the outbreak of war in 1914, one of them ("Hood") quickly being sunk as a blockship. Only one, "Revenge" (renamed "Redoubtable" in 1915), saw action in World War I, bombarding the coast of Belgium in 1914 and 1915 before decommissioning. [Burt, p. 83-84]

hips in Class

HMS "Royal Sovereign"

"Royal Sovereign" served in the Channel Fleet (1892-1897), Mediterranean Fleet (1897-1902), Home Fleet (1902-1905), the new Channel Fleet (1905-1907), and the commissioned reserve (1907-1909) before going into material reserve in 1909. She was scrapped in 1913.

HMS "Hood"

"Hood" served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1893-1900) and (1901-1902), Home Fleet (1903-1904), and commissioned Reserve (1905-1907), then on subsidiary duties in home waters until decommissioned in 1911. She was sunk as a blockship at Portland harbour in November 1914.

HMS "Empress of India"

"Empress of India" (originally to have been named "Renown") served in the Channel Fleet (1893-1897), Mediterranean Fleet (1897-1901), Home Fleet (1902-1905), Reserve Fleet (1905-1907), and the new Home Fleet (1907-1912), and was sunk as a target in 1913.

HMS "Ramilles"

"Ramillies" served in the Mediterranean Fleet (1893-1903), Reserve Fleet (1903-1907), and Home Fleet (1907-1911), and was scrapped in 1913.

HMS "Repulse"

"Repulse" served in the Channel Fleet (1894-1902), Mediterranean Fleet (1902-1903), and Reserve Fleet (1905-1907), then in subsidiary roles until decommissioned and scrapped in 1911.

HMS "Resolution"

"Resolution" served in the Channel Fleet (1893-1901), then in various subsidiary and commissioned reserve duties until decommissioned in 1911 and scrapped in 1914.

HMS "Revenge" (later HMS "Redoubtable")

"Revenge" served in the Special Flying Squadron in 1896 as its flagship, then in the Mediterranean Fleet (1896-1900, during which service she was flagship during the blockade of Crete in 1898), then as flagship of the Home Fleet (1902-1905), in the Channel Fleet in 1905, and on various duties in the commissioned reserve (1905-1913). Bombarded the Belgian coast in 1914 and 1915 and was renamed "Redoubtable" in 1915, then decommissioned and was scrapped in 1919.

HMS "Royal Oak"

"Royal Oak" served in the Special Flying Squadron in 1896, Mediterranean Fleet (1897-1902), Home Fleet (1903-1905), Reserve Fleet (1905-1907), and new Home Fleet (1907-1911), before decommissioning in 1912 and being scrapped in 1914.

ee also

* List of battleships of the Royal Navy



* D. K. Brown, "Warrior to Dreadnought, Warship Development 1860-1906", ISBN 1-84067-529-2
* 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." New York, New York: Mayflower Books Inc., 1979. ISBN 0831703024.
* Archibald, E.H.H.; Ray Woodward (ill.) (1971). The Metal Fighting Ship in the Royal Navy 1860-1970. New York: Arco Publishing Co.. ISBN 0-6680-2509-3.

External links

* [ World War 1 Naval Combat]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Royal Sovereign — can refer to : * HMS Royal Sovereign, any of various ships of the Royal Navy * Royal Sovereign class battleship, a class of pre dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy * Revenge class battleship, a class of Royal Navy dreadnoughts sometimes… …   Wikipedia

  • Majestic class battleship — HMS Majestic Class overview Builders: Cammel Laird; J G Thomson, Clydebank; …   Wikipedia

  • HMS Royal Sovereign (1891) — HMS Royal Sovereign was a Royal Sovereign class battleship of the Royal Navy, the name ship of the class and the largest warship in the world at the time of her construction.Technical Characteristics Royal Sovereign was laid down on 30 September… …   Wikipedia

  • Fuji class battleship — The nihongo| Fuji class|富士型戦艦|Fuji gata senkan was a two ship class of pre dreadnought battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Fuji class was the first class of battleships in the Japanese Navy.BackgroundIn the late 19th century, the… …   Wikipedia

  • Indiana class battleship — The three Indiana class battleships were the first modern battleships to be built by the United States Navy. All launched in 1893, they were designed for coastal defense, being too low in the water to deal well with the waves of the open ocean.… …   Wikipedia

  • Revenge class battleship — The Revenge class battleships were five battleships of the Royal Navy, ordered as World War I loomed on the horizon, and launched in 1914–1916. There were originally to have been eight of the class, but two were later redesigned, becoming the… …   Wikipedia

  • Centurion class battleship — HMS Centurion Class overview Name: Centurion Builders: Chatham Dockyard, Portsmouth Dockya …   Wikipedia

  • Trafalgar class battleship — The two Trafalgar class battleships of the British Royal Navy were late nineteenth century ironclad warships. Both were named after naval battles won by the British during the Napoleonic wars under the command of Admiral Nelson.Laid down in 1886 …   Wikipedia

  • HMS Royal Sovereign — Several ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Royal Sovereign :* HMS Sovereign of the Seas , the great prestige ship of King Charles I, was launched in 1637 as a 102 gun first rate ship of the line. She was later renamed Royal Sovereign and …   Wikipedia

  • Swiftsure class battleship (1903) — Swiftsure class battleship HMS Triumph as completed in January 1904 Class overview Builders: Armstrong Whitworth …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”