HMS Albion (1898)

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HMS Albion (1898).jpg
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Albion
Ordered: 1896 Programme
Builder: Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, Leamouth, London
Laid down: 3 December 1896
Launched: 21 June 1898
Completed: June 1901
Commissioned: 25 June 1901
Decommissioned: August 1919
Fate: Sold for scrapping 11 December 1919
General characteristics
Class and type: Canopus-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 12,950 tons
Length: 431 ft (131 m)
Beam: 74 ft (23 m)
Draught: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Propulsion: 2 shafts, water tube boilers, vertical triple expansion steam engines, 15,400 ihp
Speed: 18.25 knots (33.80 km/h)
Complement: 750

HMS Albion was a British Canopus-class predreadnought battleship. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1901, she served on the China Station until 1905. She was then employed as part of the Channel Fleet until 1907, at which time she began service with the Atlantic Fleet. Following the outbreak of World War I, she saw action in operations against German Southwest Africa in 1914 and also served in the Dardanelles campaign against the Turks, supporting the landings at Gallipoli. She remained in the Mediterranean until 1916, and then returned to the United Kingdom for service as a guard ship for the remainder of the war. She was scrapped in 1920.

Technical description[edit]

HMS Albion was laid down by Thames Iron Works at Leamouth, London on 3 December 1896. Tragedy struck when she was launched on 21 June 1898;[3] after the Duchess of York christened her, a wave created by Albion's entry into the water caused a stage from which 200 people were watching to collapse into a side creek, and 34 people, mostly women and children, drowned[4] in one of the worst peacetime disasters in Thames history.[5] This was probably one of the first ever ship launchings to be filmed.[6] Albion's completion then was delayed by late delivery of her machinery. She finally began trials late in 1900, during which she was further delayed by machinery and gun defects, and she was not finally completed until June 1901.[7]

Albion was designed for service in the Far East, and to be able to transit the Suez Canal. She was designed to be smaller (by about 2,000 tons), lighter, and faster than her predecessors, the Majestic-class battleships, although she was slightly longer at 430 feet (131 meters). In order to save weight, she carried less armour than the Majestics, although the change from Harvey armour in the Majestics to Krupp armour in Albion 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, her armour was light enough to make her almost a second-class battleship.

Part of her armour scheme included the use of a special 1-inch (2.54 mm) 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]

Albion had four 12-inch (305-mm) 35-calibre guns mounted in twin turrets fore and aft, mounted in circular barbettes that allowed all-around loading, although at a fixed elevation. She also mounted twelve 6-inch (152-mm) 40-calibre guns (sponson mounting allowing some of them to fire fore and aft) in addition to smaller guns, and four 18-inch (457-mm) submerged torpedo tubes.[8]

The Canopus-class ships 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 may previous British battleships. The Canopus-class ships proved to be good steamers, consuming 10 tons of coal per hour at full speed,[9] with a high speed for battleships of their time, a full two knots faster than the Majestics.[10]

Operational history[edit]

Pre-World War I[edit]

HMS Albion was commissioned on 25 June 1901 at Chatham Dockyard, by Captain W. W. Hewett and a complement of 779 officers and men, to relieve battleship Barfleur on the China Station.[11] She arrived at Hong Kong on 11 September 1901,[12] and relieved Barfleur as second flagship of the China Station, based in that city. Captain Martyn Jerram was appointed in command in March 1902.[13] During her time on the station, she underwent refits at Hong Kong in 1902 and 1905.[4]

In 1905, the United Kingdom and Japan ratified a treaty of alliance, reducing the requirement for a large British presence on the China Station, and the Royal Navy recalled all its battleships from the station. At Singapore, Albion rendezvoused with her sister ships Ocean and Vengeance and battleship Centurion, and on 20 June 1905 the four battleships departed to steam in company to Plymouth, where they arrived on 2 August 1905.[14]

Albion then became part of the Channel Fleet. She soon suffered a mishap, colliding with battleship Duncan at Lerwick on 26 September 1905, but suffered no damage. Albion transferred to the commissioned Reserve on 3 April 1906, and underwent an engine and boiler refit at Chatham.[15] On 25 February 1907, Albion paid off at Portsmouth.[4]

On 26 February 1907, Albion recommissioned at Portsmouth for temporary service with the Portsmouth Division of the Home Fleet. She returned to full commission on 26 March 1907 to begin service in the Atlantic Fleet. During this service, she underwent a refit at Gibraltar in 1908 and at Malta in 1909.[4] She was with the fleet that visited London from 17 July to 24 July 1909 to be entertained by the citizens of the city, and on 31 July 1909 was present at the fleet review of the Home and Atlantic Fleets at Cowes by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.[16]

Albion ended her Atlantic Fleet service by paying off on 25 August 1909. She then began service at the Nore as parent ship[17] of the 4th Division, Home Fleet. She became a unit of the 3rd Fleet at the Nore in May 1912[17] and underwent a refit at Chatham that year.[4] She was stationed at Pembroke Dock in 1913.[17]

World War I[edit]

When World War I broke out in August 1914, Albion was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron,[17] Channel Fleet. On 15 August 1914, she became second flagship of the new 7th Battle Squadron. On 21 August 1914, she was sent to the Saint Vincent-Finisterre Station to provide battleship support to cruiser squadrons operating in the Atlantic in case German Navy heavy ships broke out into the open Atlantic. On 3 September 1914, she transferred her flag, becoming a private ship, and moved to the Cape Verde-Canary Islands station to relieve her sister ship Canopus there.[18]

Albion was transferred to the Cape of Good Hope Station in South Africa in October 1914, where she took up duty as a guard ship at Walvis Bay through November 1914. In December 1914 and January 1915, she participated in Allied operations against German Southwest Africa.[19]

Dardanelles campaign[edit]

Albion transferred to the Mediterranean in January 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles campaign. She took part in the bombardment of the Ottoman Turkish forts guarding the outer entrance to the Dardanelles on 18 February 1915 and 19 February 1915. Albion, Majestic, and Triumph became the first Allied battleships to enter the Turkish Straits during the Dardanelles campaign on 26 February 1915 when they made the initial attack on the inner forts. Albion then supported the first Allied landings in late February 1915 and early March 1915.[19]

In action against Ottoman forts on 1 March 1915, Albion took repeated hits but sustained no serious damage. She participated in the main attack on the forts on 18 March 1915, and supported the main landings at V Beach at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915. On 28 April 1915 she suffered significant damage from Ottoman shore batteries during an attack on Krithia, forcing her to retire to Mudros for repairs. Back in action on 2 May 1915, she again suffered damage necessitating repairs at Mudros.[19]

On the night of 22–23 May 1915, Albion beached on a sandbank off Gaba Tepe and came under heavy fire from Ottoman shore batteries. About 200 fragmentation shells hit her, but they could not penetrate her armor and did no serious damage,[19] and Albion suffered fewer than a dozen casualties. After efforts were made to free her by reducing her weight and by using the recoil of firing her main guns simultaneously, her sister ship Canopus towed her to safety on 24 May 1915, Albion still firing at the Ottoman forts while being towed clear. Albion left the area for repairs on 26 May 1915 and underwent a refit at Malta in May–June 1915.[18]

Later operations[edit]

On 4 October 1915, Albion arrived at Salonika to become a unit of the 3rd Detached Squadron, tasked with assisting the French Navy in a blockade of the coasts of Greece and Bulgaria and with reinforcing the Suez Canal Patrol. She embarked the first British Army contingent of 1,500 troops for Salonika and escorted French troopships carrying the French second contingent.[19]

Albion served on the Salonika Station until April 1916, then became a guard ship at Queenstown, Ireland, later that month. In May 1916 she moved to Devonport for a refit; that completed, she moved on to the Humber in August 1916 for service as a guard ship there.[19]

Subsidiary duties[edit]

In October 1918, Albion's service as a guard ship came to an end, and she was reduced to service as an accommodation ship.[19]


In August 1919, Albion was placed on the disposal list at Devonport. She was sold for scrapping on 11 December 1919. She left Devonport under her own steam on 3 January 1920, arriving at Morecambe for scrapping on 6 January 1920.[19]


  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 Burt, p. 159
  5. ^ "The Tragic Launch of HMS Albion". News - National Historic Ships UK. 18 January 2011. Retrieved 14 April 2016. 
  6. ^ Tales from the Shipyard
  7. ^ Burt, p. 141, 159
  8. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 35, 36; Gibbons, p. 145
  9. ^ Gibbons, p. 145
  10. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905, p. 35; Gibbons, p. 145
  11. ^ "Naval & military intelligence". The Times (36491). London. 26 June 1901. p. 11. 
  12. ^ "Naval & military intelligence". The Times (36559). London. 13 September 1901. p. 10. 
  13. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36709). London. 7 March 1902. p. 3. 
  14. ^ Burt, p. 97, 159
  15. ^ Burt, p. 159; Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921, p. 7
  16. ^ Burt, p. 153
  17. ^ a b c d Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921, p. 7
  18. ^ a b Burt, p. 159-160
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Burt, p. 160


  • 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. New York: Mayflower Books, Inc., 1979. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • 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.

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