HMS Essex (1901)
Essex at anchor
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Builder:||Pembroke Royal Dockyard, Wales|
|Laid down:||2 January 1900|
|Launched:||29 August 1901|
|Completed:||22 March 1904|
|Fate:||Sold for scrap, 8 November 1921|
|Class and 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 Essex was one of 10 Monmouth-class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. Upon completion she was assigned to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet. She was placed in reserve in March 1906 and recommissioned in 1909 for service with the 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station. In 1912 she returned home and was assigned to the Training Squadron of Home Fleet. After a refit the following year, she rejoined the 4th Cruiser Squadron in early 1914. After the beginning of World War I in August, she captured a German merchantman that same month. She remained in the Atlantic for the entire war, escorting convoys and searching for German commerce raiders. Essex was sold for scrap on 8 November 1921.
Design and description
Essex 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) designed to give a maximum speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). Essex, however, was one of three of the Monmouths that failed to meet her designed speed. 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. Essex 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
Essex, named to commemorate the English county, was laid down at Pembroke Royal Dockyard, Wales, on 2 January 1900 and launched on 29 August 1901, when she was christened by Mrs. Barlow, wife of the Captain-Superintendent of the dockyard. She was completed on 22 March 1904 and was initially assigned to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet. The ship was placed in reserve in March 1906 and suffered a six-inch gun explosion in July while training. She was recommissioned in September 1909 and assigned to the 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station. She was transferred to the Home Fleet Training Squadron in 1912 and was refitting the following year. She rejoined the 4th Cruiser Squadron in January 1914.
She served the entire war in the Atlantic, searching for German merchant ships and raiders and escorting convoys. She captured German ships on 10 August 1914 and 7 September 1916 in the Atlantic and captured another in May 1916 while stationed in the Canary Islands. Essex was sold for scrap on 8 November 1921 and broken up in Germany.
- "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.
- Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 70
- Friedman 2012, p. 336
- Friedman 2011, p. 81
- Friedman 2012, pp. 251–52, 260–61
- Friedman 2011, pp. 80–81
- Friedman 2012, pp. 280, 286
- Silverstone, p. 230
- "Naval & Military Intelligence" The Times (London). Wednesday, 3 January 1900. (36029), p. 4.
- "Naval & Military Intelligence" The Times (London). Friday, 30 August 1901. (36547), p. 8.
- Gardiner & Gray, p. 12
- A Diplomat's Wife in Mexico by Edith O'Shaughnessy, ch. XXIV
- HMS Essex logbook for 1914
- HMS Essex logbook for 19 April 1914
- Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
- Corbett, Julian. Naval Operations to the Battle of the Falklands. History of the Great War: Based on Official Documents I (2nd, reprint of the 1938 ed.). London and Nashville, Tennessee: Imperial War Museum and Battery Press. ISBN 0-89839-256-X.
- Friedman, Norman (2012). British Cruisers of the Victorian Era. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-59114-068-9.
- Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7.
- Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
- Massie, Robert K. (2004). Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-04092-8.
- Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0.
- "Transcript: HMS ESSEX - January 1914 to August 1916, 4th Cruiser Squadron West Atlantic, North America & West Indies Station, 9th Cruiser Squadron Atlantic (Canary Islands)". Royal Navy Log Books of the World War 1 Era. Naval-History.net. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
- Wells, John (1994). The Royal Navy: An Illustrated Social History, 1870–1982. Phoenix Mill, UK: A. Sutton. ISBN 0-7509-0524-7.