HMS Centurion (1911)


HMS Centurion (1911)

HMS "Centurion" was the second battleship of the "King George V" class, built at HM Dockyard, Devonport.

The Great War

"Centurion" was attached upon completion to the 2nd Battle Squadron, led by sister-ship HMS|King George V|1911|6. She was present at the Battle of Jutland as part of the main body of Grand Fleet under the command of Captain Michael Culme-Seymour. She was third in line in the First Division of the Fleet behind HMS "King George V" and HMS|Ajax|1912|6.

After duty in the North Sea (where she was commanded for a time by Roger Keyes) she was sent to the Eastern Mediterranean in 1918 with HMS|Superb|1907|6 to oversee the capitulation of the Ottoman Empire. In 1919 "Centurion" was dispatched to the Black Sea in the Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War.

Interwar, World War II

With the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty Centurion was decommissioned and made a target ship to replace HMS|Agamemnon|1906|6 in 1924. She remained in this role at Portsmouth Harbour until April 1941, where she was fitted with a false superstructure so as to resemble the battleship HMS|Anson|79|6 then building at HM Dockyard, Portsmouth. On 4 April 1941, the Admiralty suggested that a heavy naval bombardment of the Libyan city of Tripoli should be made by the Mediterranean Fleet and followed up by blocking the port with a block ship, the "Centurion". Admiral Andrew Cunningham declined the offer due to her slow speeds and heavy enemy air cover, so this idea was shelved.

In June 1942, she sailed with Operation Vigorous in the eastern Mediterranean to simulate an operational battleship. Between 1942 and 1944 "Centurion" was stationed off Suez as an anti-aircraft ship and to give pause to Regia Marina action in the area—the Italians thought that her false wooden 13.5-inch guns were real and kept their superdreadnoughts away. Her final act after a long and somewhat understated career was to be sunk as a blockship off the Normandy beaches after D-Day. Reportedly the Germans thought that the old vessel had been sunk by shore batteries of the German 352nd Division with great loss of life when only 70 crewmen were observed leaving the sinking vessel; in fact these 70 men were the "entire" crew.

See also

* List of battleships
* List of battleships of the Royal Navy
* List of ship launches in 1911

External links

* [http://www.maritimequest.com/warship_directory/great_britain/battleships/centurion/hms_centurion.htm Maritimequest HMS Centurion Photo Gallery]


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