HMS Dreadnought

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HMS Dreadnought

Built in 1905-6 in Portsmouth, England, the battleship HMS Dreadnought was the result of a design overseen by the ‘Committee on Designs’ which had been convened by the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John ‘Jacky’ Fisher. Fisher is credited with being the father of the Dreadnought. HMS Dreadnought was the first of the Royal Navy’s main warships to be driven by steam turbines, giving her a speed of 21 knots which, on completion, made her the world’s fastest battleship. Her battery of guns with a uniform calibre also made HMS Dreadnought different to other battleships of the time. A complete class of warship was named after HMS Dreadnought and all battleships that had existed before her became known as pre-Dreadnoughts.

Why was HMS Dreadnought Built?
In the early 20th century a battleship with similar calibre guns, as opposed to the normal arrangement of a few large guns and a lots of smaller guns, was becoming the desired concept. This, coupled with the additional speed that could be gained using the new steam turbines, led the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John ‘Jacky’ Fisher, to order design studies that would incorporate these advances. HMS Dreadnought was the result.

When and Where was HMS Dreadnought Built?
HMS Dreadnought was laid down on October 2, 1905, in HM Dockyard, Portsmouth. Fisher had a target of completing the ship in a year so, in an effort to reach this target, a large amount of material had been stored and around 6,000 man weeks had been spent in manufacture before the keel had been laid. The total cost of building the battleship HMS Dreadnought was £1,785,683.

When was HMS Dreadnought Launched?
HMS Dreadnought was launched on February 10, 1906, and christened by King Edward VII. HMS Dreadnought began her initial sea trials on October 3, 1906, under the command of her first Captain, Reginald Bacon, and on October 17 fired a broadside for the first time. The battleship HMS Dreadnought was commissioned into the Royal Navy on December 11, 1906.

How Big was HMS Dreadnought?
HMS Dreadnought was 527ft long , had a beam of 82ft 1in, displaced 18,120 long tons and had a deep load draught of 29ft 7.5in. HMS Dreadnought was powered by 18 Babcock and Wilcox boilers with 2 Parsons turbine sets driving 4 shafts and 4 three bladed propellers. She had a top speed of 21 knots and carried a complement of 700 to 810 crew.

What Armor Protected HMS Dreadnought?
Krupp Cemented Armour was the main armor used on HMS Dreadnought however Krupp non-cemented Armour was also used. The armor on the Barettes varied from 4 to 11 inches as did the Belt armor. The bulkheads were 8 inches, the Conning Tower armor was 11 inches, the Deck was 0.75 to 3 inches and the Turret armor was 3 to 12 inches.

What Armament did HMS Dreadnought Carry?
The heavy guns on HMS Dreadnought were ten 12 inch guns mounted in pairs within five gun turrets. The one front and two rear turrets were on the centreline of the ship with the remaining two on either side of the torpedo control tower. This provided HMS Dreadnought with the ability to fire a broadside of eight guns. Twenty seven 12 pounder guns provided the secondary armament. These guns were mounted on the turret tops and superstructure. Five 18 inch torpedo tubes completed the armament, with two forward tubes and three tubes at the rear.

The Shakedown Cruise of HMS Dreadnought
In December 1906 HMS Dreadnought headed for the Mediterranean Sea on her shakedown cruise. Having called at Spain, Gibraltar and Sardinia, HMS Dreadnought headed across the Atlantic to Trinidad’s Port of Spain before returning to Portsmouth on March 23, 1907. HMS Dreadnought achieved an average speed of 17 knots during this cruise and the problems that surfaced were sorted out during the refits that followed.

The Dreadnought Hoax
In 1910 HMS Dreadnought became the target of a hoax. Irish prankster Horace de Vere Cole managed to persuade the Royal Navy to allow a delegation of Abyssinian royals to tour HMS Dreadnought. The party were in fact friends of Cole, disguised with black makeup and costumes, and included author Virginia Woolf with a fake beard.

HMS Dreadnought in the Home Fleet
HMS Dreadnought became flagship of the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet in 1907 and continued in that role until she was replaced, in 1911, by HMS Neptune and was transferred to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet (later renamed the 1st Battle Squadron). HMS Dreadnought took part in the Coronation Fleet Review of King George V in June 1911, and in 1912 she was transferred to the 4th Battle Squadron where she became flagship. HMS Dreadnought spent September to December 1913 training in the Mediterranean.

HMS Dreadnought and WW1
When WW1 broke out HMS Dreadnought was the 4th Battle Squadron’s flagship and based in Scapa Flow. On December 10, 1914, HMS Benbow replaced HMS Dreadnought as flagship. On March 18, 1915, HMS Dreadnought became the only battleship to deliberately sink a submarine when she cut in half the German submarine SM U-29 in the Pentland Firth. HMS Dreadnought missed the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 as she was undergoing a refit in Portsmouth from April 18 to June 22, and on July 9 HMS Dreadnought became the 3rd Battle Squadron’s flagship and was based on the Thames at Sheerness.

HMS Dreadnought Final Years
Returning to the Grand Fleet in March 1918, HMS Dreadnought resumed her role as flagship of the 4th Battle Squadron. This was short lived as HMS Dreadnought underwent another refit in July 1918, and on August 7 was put into the Reserve at Devonport. On February 25, 1919, the battleship HMS Dreadnought was re-commissioned as the tender Hercules and acted as a parent ship for the Reserve.

Fate of HMS Dreadnought
HMS Dreadnought was put up for sale on March 31, 1920, and on May 9, 1921, was sold for scrap to the steel company Thos W Ward. HMS Dreadnought was broken up after arriving at Thos W Ward’s Inverkeithing premises, in Scotland, on January 2, 1923.

HMS Dreadnought Specifications:

Class and Type: Dreadnought Battleship Complement: 700 to 910
18,120 long tons Length: 527ft (160.6m) Beam: 82ft 1in (25.0m) Draft: 29ft 7.5in (9.0m)
23,000 shp (17,000kW) 18 Babcock & Wilcox Boilers Propulsion: 2 x twin Parsons steam turbines, 4 shafts, 4 x 3 bladed propellers Speed: 21 knots Range: 6,620 nautical miles
10 (5 x 2) 12 ins (305mm) guns - 27 x 12 pounder (76mm) guns - 5 x 18 ins (450mm) torpedo tubes
Barbettes: 4 to 11 ins (102 - 279mm) - Belt: 4 to 11 ins (102 - 279mm) - Bulkheads: 8 ins (203mm) - Conning Tower: 11 ins (279mm) - Deck: .75 to 3 ins (19 - 76mm) - Turrets: 3 to 12 ins (76 - 305mm)

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Published 2018

Global Anchor Limited

Modified 2018

By James Drake

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