HMS Valiant (1914)

HMS Valiant (1914)

HMS "Valiant" was a "Queen Elizabeth"-class battleship of the Royal Navy. She was laid down at the Fairfield shipyards, Govan on 31 January 1913 and launched on 4 November 1914. She was completed in February 1916.

World War I

The contract for the construction of the "Valiant" was given to The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Limited. She was laid down in the same berth where the battle cruiser HMS "Indomitable" had been built. On the construction of "Valiant" by Admiralty contract, Fairfields lost £78,836. [cite book | last = Campbell| title = The Rise and Fall of Scottish Industry |page = p. 65 ] Her turbines were manufactured by Fairfields, and her armour plate was provided by William Beardmore and Company. [Cite newspaper The Times |articlename=Engineering Works and Trades |author= |section=News |day_of_week=Wednesday |date=28 January |page_number=17 |issue=40432 |column=A ] Upon completion on 19 February 1916 under Captain Maurice Woollcombe she joined the recently formed Fifth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. At the Battle of Jutland she fired 288 15-inch shells at the German High Sea Fleet. Despite the severity of damage suffered by her sister ships (bar HMS "Queen Elizabeth" which did not take part in the battle) she suffered no damage. One of her 15-inch guns which had been in "Valiant" at Jutland was later removed and became one of the three guns of the Johore Battery at Singapore. [cite book | last = Hack and Blackburn| title = Did Singapore have to Fall?|page = p. 98 ] However, on 24 August that same year she collided with HMS "Warspite" and was in repairs until 18 September. [cite web |url= |title=Queen Elizabeth Class Battleship |accessdate=2008-03-08 |format=HTML |work= ]

Inter War Period

Between 1929 and 1930 she underwent a major refit. Antitorpedo bulges were added, increasing beam to 31.70 m. The two funnels were trunked into one and a single octuple 2 pdr mountings were added. Two of the torpedo tubes removed, and the aircraft platforms were replaced by a single catapult. These modifications brought the maximum displacement up to 35,970 tons.

In 1931 her crew participated in the Invergordon Mutiny.

In 1936 a second octuple 2 pdr mounting was added. Between March 1937 and November 1939 she underwent a second major refit at Devonport. The machinery was changed to eight Admiralty 3 drum boilers with four Parsons steam turbines producing a total of 80,000 shp. Fuel load was 3,393 tons oil, and maximum speed was reduced to 23.5 knots despite the increase in power, due to the increase in displacement and draught. The secondary armament was changed to 20 × 4.5 inch Mk I dual purpose guns in 10 twin mountings and four octuple 2 pdr "pom pom" mountings. These modifications increased draught to 10 m and maximum displacement to 36,513 tons.

World War II

She was one of three capital ships to take part in the Destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, and saw action at the Battle of Cape Matapan; she participated in actions during the battle of Crete, and was struck by two bombs. Along with her sister ship "Queen Elizabeth", "Valiant" was mined and seriously damaged by Italian frogmen in Alexandria harbour in December 1941. As one of the magnetic mines had detached prior to exploding, her condition was far less critical than Queen Elizabeth: despite having a heavy trim forward the decks were above water, and she remained clear of the harbour bottom [cite book | last = Winton| first = John| title = Cunningham| publisher = John Murray Publishers ] . Although nearly immobilised she was able to give the impression of full battlereadiness, a subterfuge exploited by the Royal Navy who allowed photographs of the seemingly undamaged ship to appear in the British press. She was repaired in Durban, South Africa, and then returned to the Mediterranean to support the landings in Sicily (Operation Husky) and at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) in 1943.

She was sent to the Far East in 1944 as part of the Eastern Fleet, taking part in raids against Japanese bases in Indonesia. On 8 August 1944 whilst in the floating dock at Trincomalee, Ceylon, she was severely damaged when the dock collapsed with the result that repairs were stopped. The two inner screws were jammed as well as one of her rudders. It was decided to sail her to Alexandria where there were suitable docking facilities, however she could not steer a straight course, and could not make more than 8 knots. She got as far as Suez Bay, but could not attempt the canal in that condition. Lt Cmdr Peter Keeble, the experienced diver and salvage expert personally supervised the removal of her two inner screw shafts near the gland. The A-brackets holding the shafts and screws were also cut, dropping both screws and shafts to the bottom. Keeble had perfected available underwater cutting torches by combining British and Italian technology to enable the thick propellor shafts to be cut away thereby allowing "Valiant" to proceed through the Suez Canal. [cite book | last = Keeble| first = Peter| title = Ordeal by Water| publisher = Longmans, Green and Company |page = Chapter 11 ] She returned to the UK and was decommissioned in July 1945.

Post war

"Valiant" formed part of the "Imperieuse" stoker mechanics' training establishment at Devonport for the rest of her career. [cite book |title=British Battleships |last=Parkes |pages=p.177 ] She was sold for scrapping on 19 March 1948. [cite book |title=British Warships: 1914-1919 |last=Dittmar |authorlink= |coauthors=Colledge |pages=p.34 ] She left Devonport for the breakers of Arnott Young at Cairnryan on 11 August of that year. [Cite newspaper The Times |articlename=Valiant's Last Voyage |section=News in Brief |author= |day_of_week=Wednesday |date=11 August |page_number=7 |issue=51147 |column=E ]




External links

* [ Royal Navy History, HMS Valiant, Institute of Naval History]
* [ British Dreadnought Battleships]
* [ Page on the ship at]
* [ Maritimequest HMS Valiant Photo Gallery]

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