HMS Vengeance (1899)

HMS Vengeance (1899)

HMS "Vengeance" was a Royal Navy predreadnought battleship of the "Canopus" class.

Technical Characteristics

HMS "Vengeance" was laid down by Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness on 23 August 1898 and launched on 25 July 1899.Burt, p. 141] Her completion was delayed by damage to the fitting-out dock, and she was not completed until April 1902. She was the first British battleship completely built, armed, and engined by a single company.

"Vengeance" and her five sister ships were designed for service in the Far East, where the new rising power Japan was beginning to build a powerful and dangerous navy, and to able to transit the Suez Canal. They were designed to be smaller (by about 2,000 tons), lighter, and faster than their predecessors, the "Majestic"-class battleships, although they were slightly longer at 430 feet (131 m). In order to save weight, "Vengeance" and her sisters carried less armor than the "Majestic"s, although the change from Harvey armor in the "Majestic"s to Krupp armor in "Vengeance" 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]

"Vengeance" had four 12-inch (305-mm) 35-caliber guns mounted in twin turrets fore and aft; these guns were mounted in circular barbettes that allowed all-around loading. Unlike any of her sisters, whose guns could be loaded only at a fixed elevation, "Vengeance" had an improved mounting that also allowed loading at any elevation; her turret gunhouses also differed from those of her sisters in being Krupp-armored and flat-sided, Krupp armor plates being difficult to curve. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905", p. 35] "Vengeance" 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]

"Vengeance" and the other "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 "Vengeance" commissioned on 8 April 1902 at Portsmouth for service with the Mediterranean Fleet. In July 1903 she transferred to the China Station to relieve her sister ship "Goliath", and underwent a refit at Hong Kong 1903-1904.

In 1905, the United Kingdom and Japan ratified a treaty of alliance, reducing the need for a large Royal Navy presence on the China Station and prompting a recall of all battleships from the station.Burt, p. 97] "Vengeance" was recalled on 1 June 1905 [Burt, p. 156] and proceeded to Singapore, where she and her sister ship "Albion" rendezvoused with their sister ship "Ocean" and battleship "Centurion". The four battleships departed Singapore on 20 June 1905 and steamed home in company, arriving at Plymouth on 2 August 1905. "Vengeance" paid off into the Devonport Reserve on 23 August 1905, and underwent a refit that lasted into 1906 during which her machinery was repaired. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8]

On 15 May 1906, "Vengeance" commissioned for service in the Channel Fleet. She transferred to the Home Fleet on 6 May 1908, and on 13 June 1908 was damaged in a collision with the merchant ship SS "Begore Head" at Portsmouth. She moved to the Nore Division, Home Fleet, at the Nore in February 1909, where she became a parent ship to special service vessels, ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8] and grounded in the Thames Estuary on 28 February 1909 without damage. In April 1909, she became tender to the Chatham Dockyard gunnery school, [Burt, p. 157] where she acted as a gunnery drill ship. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8]

On 29 November 1910, "Vengeance" suffered another mishap when she collided in fog with merchant ship SS "Biter", suffering damage to her side, net shelf, and net booms. [Burt, p. 157; "Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8; describes the ship she collided with as destroyer "Biter", but no such destroyer appears to have existed] "Vengeance" then served in the 6th Battle Squadron based at Portland, ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8, says she served in the 8th Battle Squadron from 1912 to 1913] then became a gunnery training ship at the Nore in January 1913.Burt, p. 157] ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8]

On the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, "Vengeance" was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron, Channel Fleet, for patrol duties in the English Channel and Atlantic ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8] transferring to the 7th Battle Squadron on 15 August 1914 to relieve battleship "Prince George" as flagship. She covered the landing of the Plymouth Marine Battalion at Ostend, Belgium, on 25 August 1914.

In November 1914 she transferred to West Africa for operations, against German Kamerun, then to Egypt to relieve armored cruisers "Black Prince" and "Warrior" as guard ship at Alexandria, then moved on to the Cape Verde-Canary Islands Station to relieve "Albion" as guard ship at Saint Vincent. [Burt, p. 157-158; "Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8]

On 22 January 1915, "Vengeance" was selected to take part in the Dardanelles campaign. She stopped at Gibraltar that month to embark Admiral John de Robeck and become second flagship of the Dardanelles squadron, and arrived at the Dardanelles in February 1915.Burt, p. 158] ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8]

"Vengeance" participated in the opening bombardment of the Ottoman Turkish entrance forts on 18 February and 19 February 1915, suffering some damage to her masts and rigging thanks to gunfire from the forts. She also took part in the main attack on the Narrows forts on 18 March 1915, supporting the main landings at Cape Helles in the Morto Bay area on 25 April 1915, and supported the ground troops during the Turkish attack on Allied positions at Anzac Cove on 19 May 1915. A submarine attacked her on 25 May 1915 without success.

By July 1915, "Vengeance" had boiler defects that prevented her from continuing combat operations, and she returned to the United Kingdom and paid off that month. She was under refit at Devonport until December 1915.

in 1916.

In February 1917, "Vengeance" returned to the United Kingdom and paid off. She was laid up until February 1918, when she recommissioned for use in experiments with anti-flash equipment for the fleet's guns. She completed these in April 1918, and then was partially disarmed, with four 6-inch (152-mm) main-deck casemate guns removed and four 6-inch (152-mm) guns being installed in open shields on the battery deck. ["Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921", p. 8] She then became an ammunition store ship in May 1918.

"Vengeance" was placed on the sale list at Devonport on 9 July 1920, and was sold for scrapping on 1 December 1921. She had an eventful trip to the scrapyard. After she departed Devonport under tow on 27 December 1921 en route Dover, her tow rope parted in the English Channel on 29 December 1921. French tugs located her and towed her Cherbourg, France. From there she was towed to Dover, where she finally arrived for scrapping on 9 January 1922.



*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.
* Dittmar, F. J., & J. J. Colledge., "British Warships 1914-1919", London: Ian Allen, 1972. ISBN 0-7110-0380-7.
*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.
* Pears, Randolph. "British Battleships 1892-1957: The Great Days of the Fleets". G. Cave Associates, 1979. ISBN 978-0906223147.

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