HMS Donegal (1902)
Donegal at anchor
|Builder:||Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering, Govan|
|Laid down:||14 February 1901|
|Launched:||4 September 1902|
|Completed:||5 November 1903|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, 1 July 1920|
|Class & type:||Monmouth-class armoured cruiser|
|Displacement:||9,800 long tons (10,000 t) (normal)|
|Length:||463 ft 6 in (141.3 m) (o/a)|
|Beam:||66 ft (20.1 m)|
|Draught:||25 ft (7.6 m)|
|Installed power:||22,000 ihp (16,000 kW)
31 water-tube boilers
|Propulsion:||2 × shafts
2 × 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines
|Speed:||23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)|
HMS Donegal was one of 10 Monmouth-class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She was initially assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron upon completion in 1903 and ran aground en route to the China Station in 1906. She was briefly placed in reserve after repairs before she was assigned to the Home Fleet in 1907. She joined the 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station in 1909 before returning home for an assignment with the Training Squadron in 1912. Donegal was reduced to reserve before World War I began in August 1914 as part of the Third Fleet
Refitting at the beginning of the war, she was then assigned to Sierra Leone for convoy protection duties as part of the 5th Cruiser Squadron. She was transferred to several different cruiser squadrons of the Grand Fleet in 1915 where she escorted convoys to Archangelsk, Russia. In mid-1916 she was assigned to convoy escort duties in the Atlantic. Donegal rejoined the 4th Cruiser Squadron on North America and West Indies Station in 1917 and continued with convoy duties until the end of the war. Donegal was sold for scrap in 1920.
Design and description
Donegal was designed to displace 9,800 long tons (10,000 t). The ship had an overall length of 463 feet 6 inches (141.3 m), a beam of 66 feet (20.1 m) and a deep draught of 25 feet (7.6 m). She was powered by two 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, which produced a total of 22,000 indicated horsepower (16,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). The engines were powered by 31 Belleville boilers.  She carried a maximum of 1,600 long tons (1,600 t) of coal and her complement consisted of 678 officers and enlisted men.
Her main armament consisted of fourteen breech-loading (BL) 6-inch Mk VII guns. Four of these guns were mounted in two twin-gun turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure and the others positioned in casemates amidships. Six of these were mounted on the main deck and were only usable in calm weather. They had a maximum range of approximately 12,200 yards (11,200 m) with their 100-pound (45 kg) shells. Ten quick-firing (QF) 12-pounder 12 cwt guns were fitted for defence against torpedo boats. Donegal also carried three 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns and two submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes.
Beginning in 1915, the main deck six-inch guns of the Monmouth-class ships were moved to the upper deck and given gun shields. Their casemates were plated over to improve seakeeping. The twelve-pounder guns displaced by the transfer were repositioned elsewhere. At some point in the war, a pair of three-pounder anti-aircraft guns were installed on the upper deck.
The ship's waterline armour belt had a maximum thickness of four inches (102 mm) and was closed off by five-inch (127 mm) transverse bulkheads. The armour of the gun turrets and their barbettes was four inches thick while the casemate armour was five inches thick. The protective deck armour ranged in thickness from .75–2 inches (19–51 mm) and the conning tower was protected by ten inches (254 mm) of armour.
Construction and service
Donegal, named to commemorate County Donegal, was laid down by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering at their Govan shipyard on 14 February 1901 and launched on 4 September 1902. She was completed on 5 November 1903 and was initially assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet. Whilst en route to the China Station, she ran aground at Suez, Egypt on 2 March 1906 and had to return to Chatham Dockyard for repairs. The ship was briefly placed in reserve before she was assigned to the Home Fleet in 1907. Donegal was transferred to the 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station in 1909 and collided with the merchant ship SS Malaga at Gibraltar on 8 December. She returned home in 1912 for service with the Training Squadron of Home Fleet and sank the derelict merchantman SS Volturno with gunfire in October 1913. The ship was assigned to the reserve Third Fleet before the beginning of World War I in August 1914.
Refitting when the war began, Donegal was assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron at Sierra Leone for convoy protection duties when her refit was completed. She was transferred to the 6th Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet in January 1915 and then to the 7th Cruiser Squadron in November to escort convoys to Archangelsk. In March she was reassigned to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron until she was transferred to the 9th Cruiser Squadron in the mid-Atlantic for convoy escort. Donegal rejoined the 4th Cruiser Squadron on North America and West Indies Station in 1917 and continued with convoy duties until the end of the war. She was sold for scrap on 1 July 1920.
- "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.
- Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 70
- Friedman 2012, p. 336
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- Gardiner & Gray, p. 12
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- "Transcript: HMS DONEGAL - October 1914 to December 1916, British waters, Central & North Atlantic, North Russia (Part 1 of 2)". Royal Navy Log Books of the World War 1 Era. Naval-History.net. Retrieved 1 March 2014.