HMS Majestic (1895)

HMS Majestic (1895)

HMS "Majestic" was a "Majestic"-class predreadnought battleship of the Royal Navy.

Technical Characteristics

HMS "Majestic" was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard on 5 February 1894 and launched on 31 January 1895. She was completed in December 1895 [Burt, p. 114]

When launched, "Majestic", at convert|421|ft|m|abbr=on long and with a full-load displacement of 16,000 tons, was the largest battleship ever built at the time. The "Majestic"s were considered good seaboats with an easy roll and good steamers, although they suffered from high fuel consumption. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 34] "Majestic" began life as a coal-burner, but was converted to burn fuel oil by 1907-1908. [Gibbons, p. 137.] "Majestic" and her sisters were the last British battleships to have side-by-side funnels, successor classes having funnels in a line.

"Majestic" had a new design in which the bridge was mounted around the base of the foremast behind the conning tower to prevent a battle-damaged bridge from collapsing around the tower. She had pear-shaped barbettes and fixed loading positons for the main guns as did six of her sisters, although her sisters "Caesar" and "Illustrious" had circular barbettes and all-around loading for their main guns, ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 34] which established the pattern for future classes. [Gibbons, p. 137.]

"Majestic" and her sisters had 9 inches (229 mm) of Harvey armor, which allowed equal protection with less cost in weight compared to previous types of armor. This allowed "Majestic" and her sisters to have a deeper and lighter belt than previous battleships without any loss in protection. [Gibbons, p. 137] She was divided into 150 watertight compartments.

The "Majestics" boasted a new gun, the 46-ton 12-inch (305-mm) 35-caliber ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 36] Mk VIII, the first new British battleships to mount a 12-inch (305-mm) main battery since the 1880s. One hundred thirteen miles (182 km) of wire were wrapped around each gun barrel, and each gun took nine months to manufacture. "Majestic" carried four such guns in two barbettes (one forward and one aft) with up to 400 rounds for each. The new gun, which would be the standard main armament of British battleships for sixteen years, was a significant improvement on the 13.5-inch (343-mm) gun which had been fitted on the Admiral and "Royal Sovereign" classes that preceded the "Majestic"s. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 34] and was lighter. This saving in weight allowed "Majestic" to carry a secondary battery of twelve 6-inch (152-mm) 40-caliber ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 36] guns, a larger secondary armament than in previous classes. [Gibbons, p. 137] She also had four submerged torpedo tubes in the bow and one above water in the stern.

Operational History

HMS "Majestic" commissioned into the Channel Squadron on 12 December 1895. She was present at the Fleet Review at Spithead for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria on 26 June 1897 and at the Coronation Review for King Edward VII on 16 August 1902. She underwent a refit at Portsmouth from February to July 1904, and she became a unit of the Atlantic Fleet when a reorganization resulted in the Channel Fleet becoming the Atlantic Fleet in January 1905. On 1 October 1906, she paid off into reserve at Portsmouth. [Burt, p. 130]

"Majestic" recommissioned at Portsmouth on 26 February 1907 to become flagship of the Nore Division in the new Home Fleet, stationed at the Nore. She began a refit later that year in which she received radio and new fire control systems. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7] When the flag was transferred to another ship in January 1908, she became a private ship in the Nore Division. [Burt, p. 130]

In June 1908, "Majestic" transferred to the Devonport Division of the Home Fleet, stationed at Devonport. Her refit was completed in 1909, and in March 1909 she transferred to the 3rd Division at Devonport, then in August 1910 to the 4th Division at Devonport, where she underwent another refit in 1911. [Burt, p. 130]

In May 1912, "Majestic" became part of the 7th Battle Squadron in the 3rd Fleet at Devonport. On 14 July 1912 she collided with her sister ship HMS "Victorious" during maneuvers, suffering no serious damage. [Burt, p.130]

Upon the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, "Majestic" and the rest of the 7th Battle Squadron were assigned to the Channel Fleet. "Majestic" underwent a refit in August and September 1914, then covered the passage of the British Expeditionary Force to France in September 1914. She was detached from the 7th Battle Squadron from 3 October 1914 to 14 October 1914 to escort the first Canadian troop convoy. [Burt, p. 130]

At the end of October 1914, "Majestic" was transferred to the Nore to serve as guard ship there. On 3 November 1914, she transferred to the Humber to serve as guard ship there. In December 1914 she became a unit of the Dover Patrol, and combined with battleship HMS "Revenge" to bombard German coastal artillery from off of Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on 15 December 1914. In January 1915, she was based at Portland. [Burt, p. 130]

In February 1915, "Majestic" was assigned to participate in the upcoming Dardanelles Campaign to open the Turkish Straits, and she departed early that month under the command of Captain H. F. G. Talbot to join the Mediterranean Fleet. Upon arriving at Malta, she was fitted with what was termed "mine-catching" gear [Burt, p. 130] so that she could serve as a "mine-bumper". ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7. ] She joined the Dardanelles force on 24 February 1915, and on 26 February 1915 departed Tenedos to bombard the Ottoman Turkish inner forts at the Dardanelles that morning. [Burt, p. 130]

On 26 February 1915, "Majestic" and battleships HMS "Albion" and HMS "Triumph" became the first Allied heavy ships to enter the Turkish Straits during the campaign, firing on the inner forts from 0914 until 1740 hours. "Majestic" took a hit below the waterline, but was able to continue operations and patrolled the area again on 27 February 1915. She supported the early landings, shelling the forts from 1125 until 1645 hours on 1 March 1915 and again while parolling on 3 March 1915. She arrived at Mudros on 8 March 1915. [Burt, p.130]

On 9 March 1915, "Majestic" circumnaviagted the entrance to the Dardanelles and bombarded Ottoman Turkish positions from 1007 until 1215 hours. She returned to Tenedos on 10 March 1915, patrolled off the Dardanelles again on 15 March 1915, and again returned to Tenedos on 16 March 1915. [Burt, p. 130]

"Majestic" participated in the final attempt to force the straits by naval power alone on 18 March 1915. She opened fire on Fort 9 at 1420 hours and also engaged Turkish field guns hidden in woods. She shelled Fort 9 while the fort fired on the mortally damaged battleship HMS "Ocean", not ceasing fire until 1835 hours. "Majestic" was hit four times, twice in her lower tops and twice on her forecastle, and returned to Tenedos at 2200 hours with one dead and some wounded crew members. [Burt, pp. 130-131]

"Majestic" returned to patrol duties on 22 March 1915. She shelled Turkish positions on 28 March 1915 from 0950 to 1015 and from 1250 to 1340 hours and again opened fire on 14 April at 1458 hours. On 18 April, she fired on the abandoned British submarine "E15" aground near Fort Dardanos and in danger of being captured; two picket boats, one from "Majestic" and one from "Triumph", destroyed "E15" with torpedoes, although the boat from "Majestic" was itself sunk by Turkish shore batteries while retiring. "Majestic" returned to Tenedos on 21 April 1915. [Burt, p. 131]

On 25 April 1915, "Majestic" was back in action, signalling London that Allied landings had begun at Gallipoli and supporting them with coastal bombardments until 1915 hours. She brought 99 wounded troops aboard at 2110 hours and recovered all her boats before anchoring off Gallipoli for the night. On 26 April 1915, she was back in action early, opening fire at 0617 hours. On 27 April 1915 she exchanged fire with Turkish guns, with several Turkish shells achieving very near misses before both sides ceased firing at 1130 hours. On 29 April 1915 she again was anchored off Gallipoli. [Burt, p. 131]

"Majestic" relieved "Triumph" as flagship of Admiral Nicholson, ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7] commanding the squadrons supporting the troops ashore off Cape Helles, on 25 May 1915. [Burt, p. 131, although "Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7, says that the date of becoming flagship was 26 May 1915]

On 27 May 1915, while stationed off W Beach at Cape Helles, "Majestic" became the third battleship to be torpedoed off the Gallipoli peninsula in two weeks. Around 0645 hours, Commander Otto Hersing of the German submarine "U-21" fired a single torpedo through the defensive screen of destroyers and anti-torpedo nets, striking "Majestic" and causing a huge explosion. The ship began to list to port and in nine minutes ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7, says she capsized in seven minutes] had capsized in 54 feet (16 m) of water, killing 49 men. [Burt, p.131, and "Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7, put the total lost at 40 men.] Her masts hit the mud of the sea bottom, and her upturned hull remained visible for many months until it was finally submerged when her foremast collapsed during a storm [Burt, p. 131] on the night of 17 November 1915.



* Burt, R. A. "British Battleships 1889-1904". Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0870210610.
* Chesneau, Riger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, eds., "Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905", (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1979), ISBN 0-85177-133-5
* Dittmar, F. J., and J. J. Colledge, J. J. "British Warships 1914-1919". London: Ian Allen, 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 Majestic Photo Gallery]

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