HMS Albion (1898)


HMS Albion (1898)

HMS "Albion" was a British "Canopus"-class predreadnought battleship.

Technical Description

HMS "Albion" was laid down by Thames Iron Works at Blackwall on 3 December 1896. Tragedy struck when she was launched on 21 June 1898; [Burt, p. 141] after the Duchess of York christened her, a wave created by "Albion's" entry into the water caused a stage from which 200 people were watching to collapse into a side creek, and 34 people, mostly women and children, drowned. [Burt, p. 159] "Albion's" completion then was delayed by late delivery of her machinery. She finally began trials late in 1900, during which she was further delayed by machinery and gun defects, and she was not finally completed until June 1901. [Burt, p. 141, 159]

"Albion" was designed for service in the Far East, and to be able to transit the Suez Canal. She was designed to be smaller (by about 2,000 tons), lighter, and faster than her predecessors, the "Majestic"-class battleships, although she was slightly longer at 430 feet (131 meters). In order to save weight, she carried less armor than the "Majestic"s, although the change from Harvey armor in the "Majestic"s to Krupp armor in "Albion" meant that the loss in protection was not as great as it might have been, Krupp armor having greater protective value at a given weight than its Harvey equivalent. Still, her armor was light enough to make her almost a second-class battleship.

Part of her armor scheme included the use of a special 1-inch (2.54 mm) armored deck over the belt to defend against plunging fire by howitzers that France reportedly planned to install on its ships, although this report proved to be false. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 35]

"Albion" had four 12-inch (305-mm) 35-caliber guns mounted in twin turrets fore and aft, mounted in circular barbettes that allowed all-around loading, although at a fixed elevation. She also mounted twelve 6-inch (152-mm) 40-caliber guns (sponson mounting allowing some of them to fire fore and aft) in addition to smaller guns, and four 18-inch (457-mm) submerged torpedo tubes. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 35, 36; Gibbons, p. 145]

The "Canopus" class ships were the first British battleships with water-tube boilers, which generated more power at less expense in weight compared with the cylindrical boilers used in previous ships. The new boilers led to the adoption of fore-and-aft funnels, rather than the side-by-side funnel arrangement used in may previous British battleships. The "Canopus"-class ships proved to be good steamers, consuming 10 tons of coal per hour at full speed, [Gibbons, p. 145] with a high speed for battleships of their time, a full two knots faster than the "Majestic"s. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 35; Gibbons, p. 145]

Operational History

HMS "Albion" commissioned on 25 June 1901 at Chatham Dockyard to relieve battleship "Barfleur" on the China Station. On 9 September 1901, she relieved "Barfleur" as second flagship of the China Station at Hong Kong. During her time on the station, she underwent refits at Hong Kong in 1902 and 1905. [Burt, p. 159]

In 1905, the United Kingdom and Japan ratified a treaty of alliance, reducing the requirement for a large British presence on the China Station, and the Royal Navy recalled all its battleships from the station. At Singapore, "Albion" rendezvoused with her sister ships "Ocean" and "Vengeance" and battleship "Centurion", and on 20 June 1905 the four battleships departed to steam in company to Plymouth, where they arrived on 2 August 1905. [Burt, p. 97, 159]

"Albion" then became part of the Channel Fleet. She soon suffered a mishap, colliding with battleship "Duncan" at Lerwick on 26 September 1905, but suffered no damage. "Albion" transferred to the commissioned Reserve on 3 April 1906, and underwent an engine and boiler refit at Chatham. [Burt, p. 159; "Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7] On 25 February 1907, "Albion" paid off at Portsmouth. [Burt, p. 159]

On 26 February 1907, "Albion" recommissioned at Portsmouth for temporary service with the Portsmouth Division of the Home Fleet. She returned to full commission on 26 March 1907 to begin service in the Atlantic Fleet. During this service, she underwent a refit at Gibraltar in 1908 and at Malta in 1909. [Burt, p. 159] She was with the fleet that visited London from 17 July to 24 July 1909 to be entertained by the citizens of the city, and on 31 July 1909 was present at the fleet review of the Home and Atlantic Fleets at Cowes by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. [Burt, p. 153]

"Albion" ended her Atlantic Fleet service by paying off on 25 August 1909. She then began service at the Nore as parent ship ["Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7] of the 4th Division, Home Fleet. She became of unit of the 3rd Fleet at the Nore in May 1912 ["Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7] and underwent a refit at Chatham that year. [Burt, p. 159] She was stationed at Pembroke Dock in 1913. ["Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7]

When World War I broke out in August 1914, "Albion" was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron, ["Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7] Channel Fleet. On 15 August 1914, she became second flagship of the new 7th Battle Squadron. On 21 August 1914, she was sent to the Saint Vincent-Finisterre Station to provide battleship support to cruiser squadrons operating in the Atlantic in case German Navy heavy ships broke out into the open Atlantic. On 3 September 1914, she transferred her flag, becoming a private ship, and moved to the Cape Verde-Canary Islands station on to relieve her sister ship "Canopus" there. [Burt, p. 159-160]

"Albion" was transferred to the Cape Station in South Africa in October 1914, where she took up duty as a guard ship at Walfisch Bay through November 1914. In December 1914 and January 1915, she participated in Allied operations against German Southwest Africa. [Burt, p. 160]

"Albion" transferred to the Mediterranean in January 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles campaign. She took part in the bombardment of the Ottomam Turkish forts guarding the outer entrance to the Dardanelles on 18 February 1915 and 19 February 1915. "Albion", "Majestic", and "Triumph" became the first Allied battleships to enter the Turkish Straits during the Dardanelles campaign on 26 February 1915 when they made the initial attack on the inner forts. "Albion" then supported the first Allied landings in late February 1915 and early March 1915. [Burt, p. 160]

In action against Ottoman forts on 1 March 1915, "Albion" took repeated hits but sustained no serious damage. She participated in the main attack on the forts on 18 March 1915, and supported the main landings at V Beach at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915. On 28 April 1915 she suffered significant damage from Ottoman shore batteries during an attack on Krithia, forcing her to retire to Mudros for repairs. Back in action on 2 May 1915, she again suffered damage necessitating repairs at Mudros. [Burt, p. 160]

On the night of 22 May-23 May 1915, "Albion" beached on a sandbank off Gaba Tepe and came under heavy fire from Ottoman shore batteries. About 200 fragmentation shells hit her, but they could not penetrate her armor and did no serious damage, [Burt, p. 160] and "Albion" suffered fewer than a dozen casualties. After efforts were made to free her by reducing her weight and by using the recoil of firing her main guns simultaneously, her sister ship "Canopus" towed her to safety on 24 May 1915, "Albion" still firing at the Ottoman forts while being towed clear. "Albion" left the area for repairs on 26 May 1915 and underwent a refit at Malta in May-June 1915. [Burt, p. 159-160]

On 4 October 1915, "Albion" arrived at Salonika to become a unit of the 3rd Detached Squadron, tasked with assisting the French Navy in a blockade of the coasts of Greece and Bulgaria and with reinforcing the Suez Canal Patrol. She embarked the first British Army contingent of 1,500 troops for Salonika and escorted French troopships carrying the French second contingent. [Burt, p. 160]

"Albion" served on the Salonika Station until April 1916, then became a guard ship at Queenstown, Ireland, later that month. In May 1916 she moved to Devonport for a refit; that completed, she moved on to the Humber in August 1916 for service as a guard ship there. [Burt, p. 160]

In October 1918, "Albion's" service as a guard ship came to an end, and she was reduced to service as an accommodation ship. In August 1919, she was placed on the disposal list at Devonport. She was sold for scrapping on 11 December 1919. She left Devonport under her own steam on 3 January 1920, arriving at Morecambe for scrapping on 6 January 1920. [Burt, p. 160]

Notes

References

*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: Mayflower Books, Inc., 1979. ISBN 0831703024.
*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

* [http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/canopus_class.htm#HMS%20Albion Battleships-Cruisers.co.uk Photo Gallery]
* [http://www.maritimequest.com/warship_directory/great_britain/pages/battleships/hms_albion.htm MaritimeQuest HMS Albion pages]


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