HMS Ocean (1898)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Ocean.
HMS Ocean
HMS Ocean
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Ocean
Ordered: 1896/97 Estimates
Builder: Devonport Dockyard
Laid down: 15 February 1897
Launched: 5 July 1898
Commissioned: 20 February 1900
Fate: Sunk by mine, 18 March 1915
General characteristics
Class & type: Canopus-class battleship
Displacement: 12,950 long tons (13,160 t)
Length: 431 ft (131 m)
Beam: 74 ft (23 m)
Draught: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Installed power: 15,400 ihp (11,500 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × vertical triple expansion steam engines
water-tube boilers
2 × shafts
Speed: 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Complement: 750
Armament: 4 × BL 12 in (300 mm)/35 cal Mk VIII guns,[1] 12 × QF 6 in (150 mm)/40 cal guns,[1] 10 × QF 12 pounder (76.2mm) guns,[2] 6 × QF 3 pounder (47mm) guns,[2] 4 × 18-inch (450 mm) submerged torpedo tubes
Armour:

The fourth HMS Ocean was a Canopus-class battleship of the British Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1900, she entered service with the Mediterranean Fleet until January 1901, when she was transferred to the China Station. She was recalled from China in 1905 for service with the Channel Fleet after a period spent in reserve. From 1908 to early 1910, she was again assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet. By now outclassed by the emergence of the dreadnoughts, she was assigned to the Home Fleet.

Assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron following the outbreak of World War I, Ocean was involved in operations around Ireland. She also escorted troop convoys from India and assisted in the defence of the Suez Canal. In 1915, she was involved in the Dardanelles Campaign. On 18 March, she attempted to retrieve HMS Irresistible, which had been badly damaged by a mine in Erenkui Bay, but had to abandon her salvage efforts due to heavy Turkish gunfire. She instead evacuated the surviving crew of Irresistible but struck a mine while making for the open sea. Badly damaged, her crew and the survivors of Irresistible were taken off by destroyers and Ocean left to sink in Morto Bay.

Technical description[edit]

HMS Ocean QE2 66.jpg

HMS Ocean was laid down at Devonport Dockyard on 15 December 1897, launched on 5 July 1898, and completed in early 1900.[3] She was the first large armoured ship built at Devonport.[4]

Ocean 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 be able to transit the Suez Canal. They were designed to be smaller (by about 2,000 long tons (2,000 t)), lighter, and faster than their predecessors, the Majestic-class battleships, although they were slightly longer at 430 ft (130 m). To save weight, Ocean carried less armour than the Majestics, although the change from Harvey armour in the Majestics to Krupp armour in Ocean meant that the loss in protection was not as great as it might have been, Krupp armour having greater protective value at a given weight than its Harvey equivalent. Still, Ocean '​s armour was light enough to make her almost a second-class battleship.[citation needed] Part of her armour scheme included the use of a special 1 in (2.5 cm) armoured 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.[2]

Ocean had four 12 in (300 mm)/35 cal guns mounted in twin turrets fore and aft; these guns were mounted in circular barbettes that allowed all-around loading, although at a fixed elevation. Ocean also mounted twelve 6 in (150 mm)/40 cal guns (sponson mounting allowing some of them to fire fore and aft) in addition to smaller guns, and four 18-inch (450 mm) submerged torpedo tubes.[5]

The Canopuses 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 many previous British battleships. The Canopuses proved to be good steamers, consuming 10 long tons (10 t) of coal per hour at full speed,[6] with a high speed for battleships of their time, a full 2 kn (2.3 mph; 3.7 km/h) faster than the Majestics.[7]

Operational history[edit]

Pre-World War I[edit]

Ocean commissioned at Devonport on 20 February 1900 by Captain Assheton Curzon-Howe[8] and served in the Mediterranean Fleet until January 1901, when she was transferred to the China Station in response to the Boxer Rebellion. In September 1902, she suffered damage in a typhoon, and then underwent a refit that lasted into 1903.

When the United Kingdom and Japan ratified a treaty of alliance in 1905, the Royal Navy reduced its China Station presence and recalled all battleships from the station. As a result, Ocean and battleship Centurion left Hong Kong in company on 7 June 1905 and called at Singapore, where they rendezvoused with Ocean '​s sister ships Albion and Vengeance. The four battleships departed Singapore on 20 June 1905 and steamed home together, arriving at Plymouth on 2 August 1905.[9] Ocean went into reserve at Chatham Dockyard.[4]

Ocean returned to full commission on 2 January 1906 to serve in the Channel Fleet, undergoing refits at Chatham from January–March 1907 and from April–June 1908.[4]

On 2 June 1908, Ocean recommissioned for duty in the Mediterranean Fleet, undergoing a refit at Malta in 1908–1909[4] during which she received fire control.[10]

Ocean transferred to the 4th Division of the new Home Fleet on 16 February 1910. She underwent refits at Chatham in 1910 and 1911–1912.[4] In 1913–1914, she was stationed at Pembroke Dock, Wales, as part of the 3rd Fleet.[10]

World War I[edit]

When the First World War broke out, Ocean was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron, Channel Fleet, which she joined on 14 August 1914.[10] She was detached to Queenstown, Ireland on 21 August to serve as guard ship there and to support a cruiser squadron operating in that area. In September 1914, she was ordered to relieve her sister ship Albion on the Cape Verde-Canary Islands Station, but while en route was diverted to the East Indies Station to support cruisers on convoy duty in the Middle East. She escorted an Indian troop convoy to Bahrain in October 1914. From October–December 1914, she served as flagship of the squadron in the Persian Gulf supporting operations against Basra.[4]

In December 1914, Ocean was stationed at Suez, Egypt, to assist in the defence of the Suez Canal. She anchored in the mouth of the southern end of the canal on 29 December and remained in that area until mid-January 1915, when she proceeded northward up the canal. On 3–4 February, she supported ground troops against an Ottoman Turkish attack on the canal.[4]

Dardanelles campaign[edit]

Ocean transferred to the Dardanelles in late February 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles campaign. On 1 March, she was one of the ships that bombarded the entrance forts and took hits from Turkish mobile artillery batteries, but suffered no serious damage. She supported the landings at Sedd el Bahr on 4 March.[4]

On 18 March, Ocean took part in the attack on the Narrows forts.[4] When battleship Irresistible was disabled by a mine in Erenkui Bay and all of her surviving crew was taken off by destroyers except for her commanding officer and some volunteers trying to save her, Ocean was sent in to tow her out. Ocean ran aground during the attempt, and, after freeing herself, found it impossible to take Irresistible under tow because of the shallow water, Irresistible '​s list, and heavy enemy fire. Ocean then took off the remaining members of Irresistible '​s crew and left the abandoned battleship to her fate; Irresistible sank unobserved by Allied forces, at around 19:30.[11]

Loss[edit]

While retiring with Irresistible '​s survivors aboard, Ocean herself struck a drifting mine at around 19:00. Her starboard coal bunkers and passageways flooded, her steering jammed hard to port, and she listed 15° to starboard. She came under fire from shore and began taking hits, which flooded her starboard engine room and prevented steering repairs. The crippled Ocean was abandoned at around 19:30 with little loss of life, destroyers taking off most of her crew. She then drifted into Morto Bay, still under fire, and sank there unobserved by Allied forces at about 22:30. When destroyer Jed entered the bay later that evening to sink Ocean and Irresistible with torpedoes so that they could not be captured by the Turks, the two battleships were nowhere to be found.[12]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 36
  2. ^ a b c Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 35
  3. ^ Burt, p. 141
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Burt, p. 156
  5. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 35, 36; Gibbons, p. 145
  6. ^ Gibbons, p. 145
  7. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 35; Gibbons, p. 145
  8. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence" The Times (London). Friday, 19 January 1900. (36043), p. 10.
  9. ^ Burt, p. 97
  10. ^ a b c Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921, p. 8
  11. ^ Burt, p. 174
  12. ^ Burt, pp. 156, 174

References[edit]

  • Burt, R. A. British Battleships 1889–1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87021-061-0.
  • 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. & Colledge, J. J., "British Warships 1914–1919", (Ian Allen, London, 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 0-87021-907-3.

External links[edit]