HMS Hannibal (1896)

HMS Hannibal (1896)

HMS "Hannibal" was a "Majestic" class predreadnought battleship and the sixth ship to bear the name HMS "Hannibal".

Technical characteristics

HMS "Hannibal" was laid down at Pembroke Dock on 1 May 1894 and launched on 28 April 1896. She was transferred to Portsmouth for completion, which was delayed by labor problems. She was completed in April 1898 [Burt, pp. 114, 134]

When the lead ship of the class, HMS "Majestic", was launched in 1895, at convert|421|ft|m|abbr=on long and with a full-load displacement of 16,000 tons, she 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] "Hannibal" began life as a coal-burner, but was converted to burn fuel oil by 1907-1908. [Gibbons, p. 137.] "Hannibal" had side-by-side funnels, her class being the last British battleships with this arrangement; future battleship classes had funnels in a line.

"Hannibal" had pear-shaped barbettes and fixed loading positons for the main guns, unlike her sisters "Caesar" and "Illustrious" and future battleship classes, which had circular barbettes and all-around loading for their main guns. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 34; Gibbons, p. 137.]

"Hannibal" and the other "Majestic"-class ships 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 "Hannibal" 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 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. "Hannibal" carried four such guns in two barbettes (one forwad 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 "Hannibal" to carry a secondary battery of twelve 6-inch (152-mm) 40-caliber 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 "Hannibal" went into the commissioned reserve upon completion in April 1898. On 10 May 1898 she went into full commission to serve in the Channel Fleet. She was part of a huge fleet of ships present in the Solent for the passage of the body of Queen Victoria from Cowes to Portsmouth on 2 February 1901 and was present at the Coronation Fleet Review for King Edward VII on 16 August 1902. On 17 October 1903 she collided with and badly damaged her sister ship HMS "Prince George" off Ferrol, Spain. When a fleet reorganization led to the Channel Fleet being redesignated the Atlantic Fleet on 1 January 1905, "Hannibal" became an Atlantic Fleet unit. [Burt, p. 134]

"Hannibal" transferred to the new Channel Fleet (formerly the Home Fleet) on 28 February 1905. This service ended on 3 August 1905, when she paid off into reserve at Devonport. [Burt, p. 136] She underwent a refit in 1906 in which she was converted to burn oil fuel and received fire control for her main battery. She then recommissioned in reserve in October 1906 ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7]

In January 1907, "Hannibal" went into full commission as a temporary replacement for battleship HMS "Ocean" in the Channel Fleet while "Ocean" was under refit. When "Ocean" returned to service, "Hannibal" remained in Channel Fleet service as a temporary replacement for battleship HMS "Dominion" while "Dominion" was undergoing refit. When "Dominion" returned to service in May 1907, "Hannibal" went back into the commissioned reserve, becoming a part of the Portsmouth Division of the new Home Fleet [Burt, p. 136] in July 1907. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7]

While in commissioned reserve at Portsmouth, "Hannibal" suffered two significant mishaps. On 19 August 1909 she struck a reef in Babbacombe Bay, damaging her bottom. On 29 October 1909 she collided with torpedo boat HMS "TB 105", suffering no damage herself but badly damaging the torpedo boat. She underwent a refit at Devonport from November 1911 to March 1912. [Burt, p. 136]

The Royal Navy began a precautionary mobilization in July 1914 when war appeared increasingly likely. As part of this, "Hannibal" and her sister ships HMS "Mars", HMS "Magnificent", and HMS "Victorious" formed the 9th Battle Squadron on 27 July 1914, stationed at the Humber to defend the British coast. "Hannibal" was serving as a guard ship on the Humber when World War I began in August 1914. [Burt, p. 136]

The 9th Battle Squadron was dissolved on 7 August 1914, and "Hannibal" was transferred to Scapa Flow, where she served as a guard ship until relieved by first-class protected cruiser HMS "Royal Arthur" on 20 February 1915. "Hannibal" then paid off at Dalmuir. [Burt, p. 136]

The "Majestic"-class ships were by then the oldest and least effective battleships in service in the Royal Navy. While inactive at Dalmuir, "Hannibal" was disarmed between March and April 1915 except for four 6-inch (152-mm) guns and some lighter guns. Her 12-inch (305-mm) guns were taken for use aboard the new "Lord Clive"-class monitors HMS "Prince Eugene" and HMS "Sir John Moore" ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 7] After she was disarmed, she was laid up at Scapa Flow and Loch Goil until September 1915. [Burt, p. 136]

"Hannibal" recommissioned at Greenock on 9 September 1915 to serve as a troopship in the Dardanelles campaign. She arrived at Mudros in this capacity on 7 October 1915. [Burt, p. 136]

In November 1915, "Hannibal" became a depot ship for auxiliary patrol craft at Alexandria, Egypt, supporting both forces operating from Egypt and those in the Red Sea until June 1919. [Burt, p. 136]

"Hannibal" was placed on the disposal list at Alexandria in January 1920, and was sold for scrapping on 28 January 1920. She was scrapped in Italy. [Burt, p. 136]



* 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". London: Conway Maritime Press, 1979. ISBN 0-85177-133-5
*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.

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