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HMS Venerable (1899)

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    Posted: 26 Oct 2010 at 14:47
HMS Venerable (1899)

HMS Venerable (1899) was a London class predreadnought battleship, a sub-class of the Formidable class battleships, and the third ship of the British Royal Navy to bear the name.

HMS Venerable.jpg
HMS Venerable at Malta in 1915.
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Venerable
Builder: Chatham Dockyard
Laid down: 2 January 1899
Launched: 2 November 1899
Completed: November 1902
Commissioned: 12 November 1902
Decommissioned: late December 1918
Fate: Sold for scrapping 4 June 1920
General characteristics
Class and type: Formidable class
Type: Predreadnought battleship
Displacement: 15,000 tons (approx)
Length: 431 ft 9 in (131 m)
Beam: 75 ft (23 m)
Draught: 25 ft 4 in
Propulsion: Water tube boilers, 2 x vertical triple expansion engines, 2 shafts, 15,500 ihp (11.6 MW)
Speed: 18.0 knots (33 km/h)
Range: 5,500 nautical miles (approx) at 10 knots (18 km/h)
Complement: 760
  • Belt 9 inches (229 mm)
  • Bulkheads 12 -9 inches (305 -229 mm)
  • Barbettes: 12 inches (305 mm),
  • Gunhouses: 10 -8 inches (254 -203 mm)
  • Casemates: 6 inches (152 mm)
  • Conning tower: 14 inches (356 mm)
  • Deck: 1 to 2.5 (25.4-64 mm)
Notes: Cost £1,159,853[1]

Technical Description

HMS Venerable was laid down at Chatham Dockyard on 2 January 1899, launched on 2 November 1899, and completed in November 1902[2]

Like the first three Formidable-class ships, Venerable and her four London-class sisters were similar in appearance to and had the same armament as the Majestic and Canopus classes that preceded them. The Formidables and Londons are often described as improved Majestics, but in design they really were enlarged Canopuses; while the Canopus class took advantage of the greater strength of the Krupp armor employed in their construction to allow the ships to remain the same size as the Majestics with increased tonnage devoted higher speed and less to armor without sacrificing protection, in the Formidables' and Londons' Krupp armor was used to improve protection without reducing the size of the ships.[3] The Formidables and Londons thus were larger than the two preceding classes, and enjoyed both greater protection than the Majestics and the higher speed of the Canopus class. The Formidables' and Londons' armor scheme was similar to that of the Canopuses, although, unlike in the Canopuses, the armor belt ran all the way to the stern; it was 215 feet (65.5 meters) long and 15 feet (4.8 meters) deep and 9 inches (229 mm) thick, tapering at the stem to 3 inches (76.2 mm) thick and 12 feet (3.7 meters) deep and at the stern to 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) thick and 8 feet (2.4 meters) deep. The main battery turrets had Krupp armor, 10 inches (254 mm) on their sides and 8 inches (203 mm) on their backs.[3]

The Formidables and Londons improved on the main and secondary armament of previous classes, being upgunned from 35-caliber to 40-caliber 12-inch (305-mm) guns and from 40-caliber to 45-caliber 6-inch (152-mm) guns. The 12-inch guns could be loaded at any bearing and elevation, and beneath the turrets the ships had a split hoist with a working chamber beneath the guns that reduced the chance of a cordite fire spreading from the turret to the shell and powder handling rooms and to the magazines.[3]

The Formidables and Londons had an improved hull form that made them handier at high speeds than the Majestics. They also had inward-turning screws, which allowed reduced fuel consumption and slightly higher speeds than in previous classes but at the expense of less manoeuvrability at low speeds.[3]

A change in design from that of the first three Formidables occurred in Venerable and the other four Londons, which is why the Londons often are considered a separate class.[4] The main difference in the Venerable and the other four Londons from the first three ships was thinner deck armor and some other detail changes to the armor scheme.[5]

Like all predreadnoughts, Venerable was outclassed by the dreadnought battleships that began to appear in 1906. Like other predreadoughts, however, Venerable took on some first-line duties during the early part of World War I.

Operational history

Pre-World War I

After many delays due to difficulties with her machinery contractors, HMS Venerable commissioned on 12 November 1902 for service as Second Flagship, Rear Admiral, Mediterranean Fleet. During her Mediterranean service, she ran aground outside Algiers harbor, suffering slight hull damage, and underwent a refit at Malta in 1906-1907.[6] On 12 August 1907 she was relieved as flagship by battleship HMS Prince of Wales, and her Mediterranean service ended on 6 January 1908, when she paid off at Chatham Dockyard.[6]

Venerable recommissioned on 7 January 1908 for Channel Fleet service. She paid off at Chatham for an extensive refit in February 1909.[6]

The refit complete, Venerable recommissioned on 19 October 1909 for service in the Atlantic Fleet. On 13 May 1912 she transferred to the Second Home Fleet at the Nore[6] and went into the commissioned reserve with a nucleus crew as part of the 5th Battle Squadron.[7]

World War I

When World War I broke out in August 1914, the 5th Battle Squadron was assigned to the in the Channel Fleet, based at Portland. Returning to full commission, Venerable patrolled the English Channel, and on 25 August 1914 covered the movement of the Portsmouth Marine Battalion to Ostend, Belgium,[6]

In October 1914, Venerable was attached to the Dover Patrol for bombardment duties in support of Allied troops fighting on the front, and bombarded German positions along the Belgian coast between Westende and Lombardsijde from 27 October 1914 to 30 October 1914. She also served as flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Dover Patrol, Rear Admiral Sir Horace Hood, from 27 October 1914 to 29 October 1914. On 3 November 1914, she was detached to support the East Coast Patrol during the Gorleston Raid, then returned to the 5th Battle Squadron.[6]

The 5th Battle Squadron transferred from Portland to Sheerness on 14 November 1914 to guard against a possible German invasion of the United Kingdom. The squadron returned to Portland on 30 December 1914.[8] Venerable again bombarded German positions near Westende on 11 March 1915 and 10 May 1915.[6]

Dardanelles campaign

On 12 May 1915, Venerable was ordered to the Dardanelles to replace battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Dardanelles Campaign. From 14 August 1915 to 21 August 1915, she supported Allied attacks on Ottoman Turkish positions at Suvla Bay.[9]

Adriatic operations

In October 1915, Venerable arrived at Gibraltar for a refit. Emerging from the refit in December 1915, she transferred to the Adriatic Sea to reinforce the Italian Navy against the Austro-Hungarian Navy, serving there until December 1916.[6]

Subsidiary duties

Venerable then returned to the United Kingdom, arriving at Portsmouth Dockyard on 19 December 1916, where she was laid up. In February and March 1918 she was refitted there as a depot ship, and she moved to Portland on 27 March 1918 to serve as a depot ship for minelaying trawlers. She was attached to the Northern Patrol through August 1918, then to the Southern Patrol from September to December 1918.[6]


Venerable paid off into care and maintenance at Portland at the end of December 1918. She was placed on the disposal list there in May 1919 and on the sale list on 4 February 1920. She was sold to Stanlee Shipbreaking Company for scrapping on 4 June 1920, resold to Slough Trading Company in 1922, then resold again to a German firm in the middle of 1922. She was towed to Germany for scrapping.[6]


  1. ^ Burt, p. 179
  2. ^ Burt, p. 178
  3. ^ a b c d Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905, p. 36
  4. ^ For example, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905, p. 37, and Burt, pp. 175-194, refer to the Londons as a separate class while Gibbons, p. 151, lists them all as part of the Formidable class. Burt refers to the Londons as the Bulwark class.
  5. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905, p. 37
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Burt, p. 194
  7. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, p. 8
  8. ^ Burt, p. 170
  9. ^ Burt, p. 194; Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, p. 8


  • 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.

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