HMS Collingwood (1908)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Collingwood.
HMS Collingwood.jpg
HMS Collingwood at anchor, 1912
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Collingwood
Namesake: Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, 1st Baron Collingwood
Ordered: 26 October 1907
Builder: Devonport Royal Dockyard
Laid down: 3 February 1908
Launched: 7 November 1908
Commissioned: April 1910
Fate: Sold for scrap, 12 December 1922
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: St Vincent-class dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 19,700 long tons (20,000 t) (normal)
Length: 536 ft (163.4 m) (o/a)
Beam: 84 ft 2 in (25.7 m)
Draught: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Installed power: 24,500 shp (18,300 kW)
18 Yarrow boilers
Propulsion: 4 × shafts; 2 × steam turbine sets
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph)
Range: 6,900 nmi (12,800 km; 7,900 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 758

HMS Collingwood was a St Vincent-class dreadnought battleship built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She spent her whole career assigned to the Home and Grand Fleets and often served as a flagship. Aside from participating in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916, during which she damaged a German battlecruiser, her service during World War I generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea. The ship was deemed obsolete after the war and was reduced to reserve and used as a training ship. Collingwood was sold for scrap in 1922.

Design and description[edit]

Right elevation and plan of the first generation of British dreadnoughts from the 1912 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships

The design of the St Vincent class was derived from that of the previous Bellerophon class. Collingwood had an overall length of 536 feet (163.4 m), a beam of 84 feet 2 inches (25.7 m),[1] and a normal draught of 28 feet (8.5 m).[2] She displaced 19,700 long tons (20,000 t) at normal load and 22,800 long tons (23,200 t) at deep load. In 1911 her crew numbered 758 officers and enlisted men.[3]


Collingwood was powered by 2 sets of Parsons direct-drive steam turbines, each driving two shafts, using steam from eighteen Yarrow boilers. The turbines were rated at 24,500 shp (18,300 kW) and intended to reach a maximum speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). During her full-power, eight-hour sea trials on 17 January 1910, the ship only reached a top speed of 20.62 knots (38.19 km/h; 23.73 mph) from 26,789 shp (19,977 kW). She had a range of 6,900 nautical miles (12,800 km; 7,900 mi) at a cruising speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[4]


The St Vincent class was equipped with ten breech-loading (BL) 12-inch (305 mm) Mk XI guns in five twin gun turrets, three along the centreline and the remaining two as wing turrets. The secondary, or anti-torpedo boat armament, comprised twenty BL 4-inch (102 mm) Mk VII guns. Two of these guns were each installed on the roofs of the fore and aft centreline turrets and the wing turrets in unshielded mounts, and the other ten were positioned in the superstructure. All guns were in single mounts.[3] The ships were also fitted with three 18-inch torpedo tubes, one on each broadside and the third in the stern.[2]


The St Vincent-class ships had a waterline belt of Krupp cemented armour (KC) that was 10 inches (254 mm) thick between the fore and aftmost barbettes that reduced to a thickness of 2 inches (51 mm) before it reached the ships' ends. Above this was a strake of armour 8 inches (203 mm) thick. Transverse bulkheads 5 to 8 inches (127 to 203 mm) inches thick terminated the thickest parts of the waterline and upper armour belts once they reached the outer portions of the endmost barbettes.[5]

The three centreline barbettes were protected by armour 9 inches (229 mm) thick above the main deck that thinned to 5 inches (127 mm) below it. The wing barbettes were similar except that they had 10 inches of armour on their outer faces. The gun turrets had 11-inch (279 mm) faces and sides with 3 inches (76 mm) roofs. The three armoured decks ranged in thicknesses from .75 to 3 inches (19 to 76 mm). The front and sides of the forward conning tower were protected by 11-inch plates, although the rear and roof were 8 inches and 3 inches thick respectively.[6]


The guns on the forward turret roof were removed in 1911–12 and the upper forward pair of guns in the superstructure were removed in 1913–14. In addition, gun shields were fitted to all guns in the superstructure and the bridge structure was enlarged around the base of the forward tripod mast. During the first year of the war, a fire-control director was installed high on the forward tripod mast. Around the same time, the base of the forward superstructure was rebuilt to house four 4-inch guns and the turret-top guns were removed, which reduced her secondary armament to a total of fourteen guns. In addition a pair of 3-inch anti-aircraft (AA) guns were added.[7]

By April 1917, Collingwood mounted thirteen 4-inch anti-torpedo boat guns as well as single 4-inch and 3-inch AA guns. Approximately 50 long tons (51 t) of additional deck armour had been added after the Battle of Jutland. Before the end of the war the AA guns were moved from the deckhouse between the aft turrets to the stern and the stern torpedo tube was removed. In 1918 a high-angle rangefinder was fitted and flying-off platforms were installed on the roofs of the fore and aft turrets.[7]

Construction and career[edit]

Collingwood shortly after completion

Collingwood, named after Vice-Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood,[8] was ordered on 26 October 1907.[9] She was laid down at Devonport Royal Dockyard on 3 February 1908, launched on 7 November 1908 and completed in April 1910. Including her armament, her cost is variously quoted at £1,680,888[3] or £1,731,640.[10]

On 19 April 1910, she was commissioned and assigned to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet under the command of Captain William Pakenham.[11] With other members of the fleet she took part in regular peacetime exercises and on 11 February 1911 damaged her bottom plating on an uncharted rock off Ferrol. On 24 June the ship was present at the Coronation Fleet Review for King George V at Spithead.[9] Pakenham was relieved by Captain Charles Vaughan-Lee on 1 December.[11] On 1 May 1912 the 1st Division was renamed the 1st Battle Squadron.[9] The following month, on 22 June, Vaughan-Lee was transferred to the battleship Bellerophon and Captain James Ley assumed command as Vice-Admiral Stanley Colville hoisted his flag in Collingwood as commander of the 1st Battle Squadron.[11] The ship participated in the Parliamentary Naval Review on 9 July at Spithead before beginning a refit late in the year. In March 1913, she, and the 1st Battle Squadron, made a port visit to Cherbourg, France.[12] Midshipman Prince Albert (later King George VI) was assigned to the ship on 15 September 1913.[13] The ship hosted his older brother, Edward, Prince of Wales, during a short cruise on 18 April 1914. Two months later, Collingwood became a private ship when Colville hauled down his flag on 22 June.[12]

The 1st Battle Squadron at sea, April 1915. Collingwood is the ship third from the left.

Between 17 and 20 July, she took part in a test mobilisation and fleet review. On 29 July she sailed to the fleet's war station at Scapa Flow and began the patrols and training exercises that constituted the greater part of her service after the declaration of war on 4 August. She was briefly based (22 October to 3 November) with the greater part of the fleet at Lough Swilly while the defences at Scapa were strengthened. From 25 March to 14 April 1915, Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas temporarily hoisted his flag aboard Collingwood. King George V inspected the ship on 8 July. Rear-Admiral Ernest Gaunt temporarily used the ship as his flagship from 24 August to 24 September and from 10 December to 16 January 1916.[14]

Battle of Jutland[edit]

Main article: Battle of Jutland

Collingwood was assigned to the 5th Division of the 1st Battle Squadron at the Battle of Jutland, being the eighteenth ship from the head of the battle line after deployment.[12] During the first stage of the general engagement, the ship fired eight salvos from her main guns at the crippled light cruiser SMS Wiesbaden from 18:32,[Note 1] although the number of hits made, if any, is unknown. Her secondary armament then engaged the destroyer SMS G42 which was attempting to come to Wiesbaden '​s assistance, but failed to hit her. At 19:15 Collingwood fired two salvos of high explosive (HE) shells at the battlecruiser SMS Derfflinger, hitting her target once before she disappeared into the mist. The shell detonated in the German ship's sickbay and damaged the surrounding superstructure. Shortly afterwards, during the attack of the German destroyers around 19:20, she fired her main armament at a damaged destroyer without success and dodged two torpedoes that missed by 10 yards (9.1 m) behind and 30 yards (27 m) in front. This was the last time she fired her guns during the battle. Collingwood fired a total of 52 armor-piercing, capped and 32 HE shells from her main armament and 35 four-inch shells during the battle.[15] Prince Albert was a sub-lieutenant commanding the forward turret during the battle and he sat in the open on the turret roof during a lull in the action.[16]

After the battle, the ship was transferred to the 4th Battle Squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, who inspected Collingwood on 8 August.[17] On the evening of 18 August, the Grand Fleet put to sea in response to a message deciphered by Room 40 that indicated that the High Seas Fleet, minus II Squadron, would be leaving harbour that night. The German objective was to bombard Sunderland on 19 August, based on extensive reconnaissance conducted by Zeppelins and submarines. The Grand Fleet sailed with 29 dreadnought battleships and 6 battlecruisers while the Germans mustered 18 battleships and 2 battlecruisers. Throughout the next day, Admiral John Jellicoe and Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, commanders of the Grand and High Seas Fleets respectively, received conflicting intelligence; after reaching the location in the North Sea where the British expected to encounter the High Seas Fleet, they turned north in the erroneous belief that they had entered a minefield. Scheer turned south again, then steered south-eastward to pursue a lone British battle squadron sighted by an airship, which was in fact the Harwich Force of cruisers and destroyers under Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt. Realising their mistake, the Germans changed course for home. The only contact came in the evening when Tyrwhitt sighted the High Seas Fleet but was unable to achieve an advantageous attack position before dark, and broke off contact. The British and the German fleets returned home; the British lost two cruisers to submarine attacks, and one German dreadnought had been torpedoed.[18]

Collingwood received a brief refit at Rosyth in early September before rejoining the Grand Fleet. On 29 October Sturdee came aboard to present the ship with her battle honour, "Jutland 1916". Captain Wilmot Nicholson briefly assumed command on 1 December before transferring to the new battlecruiser Glorious upon his relief by Captain Cole Fowler on 26 March 1917. The ship was present at Scapa Flow when her sister ship Vanguard's magazines exploded on 9 July and her crew recovered the bodies of three men killed in the explosion. In January 1918 Collingwood and other older dreadnoughts cruised off the coast of Norway for several days, possibly to provide distant cover for a convoy to Norway.[19] Collingwood, along with the rest of the Grand Fleet, sortied on the afternoon of 23 April after radio transmissions revealed that the High Seas Fleet was at sea after a failed attempt to intercept the regular British convoy to Norway. However, the Germans were too far ahead of the British, and no shots were fired.[20] In early November she was at Invergordon where she received a brief refit in the floating dock based there and missed the surrender of the High Seas Fleet on the 21st. She was slightly damaged on 23 November while attempting to come alongside the oiler RFA Ebonol.[21]

In January 1919 Collingwood was transferred to Devonport where she was assigned to the Reserve Fleet, which was redesignated as the Third Fleet on 18 March on the dissolution of the Grand Fleet and she became its flagship. She became a tender to HMS Vivid on 1 October and served as gunnery and wireless telegraphy (W/T) training ship. The W/T school was transferred to Glorious on 1 June 1920 and the gunnery duties followed in early August; Collingwood returned to the reserve. She became a boys' training ship on 22 September 1921 until she was paid off on 31 March 1922. Collingwood was sold to John Cashmore Ltd for scrap on 12 December and arrived at Newport, Wales on 3 March 1923 to begin demolition.[21]


Battle ensigns flown by the ship during Jutland survive at the shore establishment of the same name and at the Roedean School in East Sussex.[22]


  1. ^ The times used in this section are in UT, which is one hour behind CET, which is often used in German works.


  1. ^ Burt, pp. 75–76
  2. ^ a b Preston, p. 125
  3. ^ a b c Burt, p. 76
  4. ^ Burt, pp. 76, 80
  5. ^ Burt, pp. 76, 78; Parkes, p. 503
  6. ^ Burt, pp. 76, 78; Parkes, p. 504
  7. ^ a b Burt, p. 81
  8. ^ Silverstone, p. 223
  9. ^ a b c Burt, p. 86
  10. ^ Parkes, p. 503
  11. ^ a b c Brady, Part One, p. 29
  12. ^ a b c Burt, p. 88
  13. ^ Judd, p. 28
  14. ^ Brady, Part One, pp. 29, 31–34; Burt, p. 88
  15. ^ Campbell, pp. 157, 205, 208, 212, 214, 229–30, 346, 348, 358
  16. ^ Gordon, pp. 454, 459
  17. ^ Brady, Part Two, p. 19
  18. ^ Massie, pp. 682–84
  19. ^ Brady, Part Two, pp. 19–22
  20. ^ Massie, p. 748
  21. ^ a b Brady, Part Two, pp. 23–24
  22. ^ Gordon, p. 417


  • Burt, R. A. (1986). British Battleships of World War One. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-863-8. 
  • Brady, Mark (May 2014). "HMS Collingwood War Record - Part One". Warship (London: World Ship Society) (176): 29–35. ISSN 0966-6958. 
  • Brady, Mark (September 2014). "HMS Collingwood War Record - Part Two". Warship (London: World Ship Society) (177): 19–24. ISSN 0966-6958. 
  • Campbell, N. J. M. (1986). Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-324-5. 
  • Gordon, Andrew (2012). The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-336-9. 
  • Judd, Denis (1982), King George VI: 1895–1952, London: Michael Joseph, ISBN 0-7181-2184-8 
  • Massie, Robert K. (2003). Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-45671-6. 
  • Parkes, Oscar (1990). British Battleships (reprint of the 1957 ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-075-4. 
  • Preston, Antony (1972). Battleships of World War I: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Battleships of All Nations 1914–1918. New York: Galahad Books. ISBN 0-88365-300-1. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0. 

External links[edit]