HMS Benbow (1913)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Benbow.
HMS Benbow1.jpg
HMS Benbow
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Benbow
Ordered: 1911
Builder: William Beardmore and Company, Glasgow
Laid down: 30 May 1912
Launched: 12 November 1913
Commissioned: 7 October 1914
Decommissioned: 1929
Fate: Sold for scrap March 1931
General characteristics
Type: Iron Duke-class battleship
  • Normal: 25,000 long tons (25,400 t) (normal)
  • Full load: 29,560 long tons (30,030 t)
Length: 622 ft 9 in (189.81 m) o/a
Beam: 90 ft (27.4 m)
Draught: 29 ft 6 in (8.99 m)
Installed power: 29,000 shp (22,000 kW)
Speed: 21.25 kn (24.5 mph; 39.4 km/h)
Range: 7,800 nmi (8,976 mi; 14,446 km) at 10 kn (11.5 mph; 18.5 km/h)
Complement: 995–1,022

HMS Benbow was an Iron Duke-class battleship of the Royal Navy, the third ship of the class and the third ship to be named in honour of Admiral John Benbow.

She was ordered under the 1911 Naval Estimates and built in the yards of William Beardmore and Company, of Glasgow. She was laid down on 30 May 1912 and launched on 12 November 1913. She was commissioned in October 1914 after the outbreak of the First World War .

She served during the First World War as part of the Grand Fleet, and led one of the squadrons of the Fleet in the major naval engagement of that war, the Battle of Jutland in 1916. She spent the rest of the war in home waters, but was dispatched to the Mediterranean after the end of the war, and then into the Black Sea. Here she carried out a number of shore bombardments in support of the White Russians in the Russian Civil War, until their collapse in 1920. She remained with the Mediterranean Fleet until 1926, when she returned to the Atlantic Fleet. She was decommissioned in 1929, disarmed under the terms of the London Naval Treaty in 1930 and was sold for scrapping in 1931.


Plan of the Iron Duke class

Benbow was 622 feet 9 inches (190 m) long overall and had a beam of 90 ft (27 m) and an average draught of 29 ft 6 in (9 m). She displaced 25,000 long tons (25,401 t) as designed and up to 29,560 long tons (30,034 t) at combat loading. Her propulsion system consisted of four Parsons steam turbines, with steam provided by eighteen Babcock & Wilcox boilers. Benbow had a fuel storage capacity of 3,200 long tons (3,300 t) of coal and 1,030 long tons (1,050 t) of oil. The engines were rated at 29,000 shaft horsepower (21,625 kW) and produced a top speed of 21.25 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph). Her cruising radius was 7,800 nautical miles (14,446 km; 8,976 mi) at a more economical 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph). Benbow had a crew of 995 officers and enlisted men, though during wartime this grew to up to 1,022.[1]

Benbow was armed with a main battery of ten BL 13.5-inch Mk V naval guns mounted in five twin gun turrets. They were arranged in two superfiring pairs, one forward and one aft; the fifth turret was located amidships, between the funnels and the rear superstructure. Close-range defence against torpedo boats was provided by a secondary battery of twelve BL 6-inch Mk VII guns. The ship was also fitted with a pair of QF 3-inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft guns and four 47 mm (2 in) 3-pounder guns.[Note 1] As was typical for capital ships of the period, she was equipped with four 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes submerged on the broadside. Benbow was protected by a main armoured belt that was 12 in (305 mm) thick over the ship's vitals. Her deck was 2.5 in (64 mm) thick. The main battery turret faces were 11 in (279 mm) thick, and the turrets were supported by 10 in (254 mm) thick barbettes.[1]

Service history[edit]

World War I[edit]

Battle of Jutland[edit]

Benbow experimenting with a kite balloon in 1916

Benbow served as the 4th Battle Squadron's flagship until June 1916. She was initially the flagship of Admiral Douglas Gamble, until he was replaced in February 1915 by Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee. Her commander was Captain H. W. Parker.

Prior to the Battle of Jutland, Benbow left Scapa Flow with the rest of the Grand Fleet under the command of Admiral John Jellicoe on 30 May 1916. She led the 4th Division, consisting of the battleships Bellerophon, Temeraire and Vanguard. The 4th Division formed the column of ships immediately to starboard of the fleet flagship, Iron Duke under Jellicoe as they steamed south eastwards to meet the German High Seas Fleet. At 1710 on 31 May, Benbow relayed a message to Jellicoe on Iron Duke that the High Seas Fleet was at sea with 26-30 battleships on a course of 347 in line ahead. This indicated that the German admiral was at sea with his full strength – 18 dreadnought-type battleships and ten pre-dreadnoughts and that the two sides were on a converging course.

Benbow opened fire at 1830 with intermittent salvoes at the lead German battleships of the König class. Poor visibility led to her ceasing fire 10 minutes later, having fired just six two-gun salvoes from her forward turrets. By 1900, she had made a turn to starboard, leading the 4th division past the wreck of the battlecruiser Invincible which had been destroyed by a magazine explosion. The turn brought them towards the German fleet, and at 1909 she again opened fire with her 6-inch (150 mm) batteries on the German destroyers of the 3rd flotilla at 8,000 yards (7,300 m), believing them to be making a torpedo attack. They were actually attempting to rescue the crew of the German light cruiser Wiesbaden, which had been disabled earlier by Invincible, and was now under fire from the Grand fleet. Benbow then shifted her fire to the 6th and 9th destroyer flotillas which had begun to launch torpedo attacks.

At 1917 Benbow opened fire on the German battlecruiser Derfflinger with a two gun salvo from her forward turret. The shells passed over the ship and Benbow readjusted her aim down 1,600 yards (1,500 m) and swung about to allow her after gun to fire. She then fired four 5 gun and one 4 gun salvoes, claiming a single hit on the German battlecruiser, which was later disproved. She again ceased fire at 1924 due to poor visibility caused by the smoke laid by the German destroyers during their torpedo attacks. The High Seas Fleet disengaged and fled to the south. At 2010 there was a brief skirmish between the German destroyers V46 and V69, and the British 2nd Light Cruiser squadron and Benbow, in which Benbow fired a single salvo of 6-inch (150 mm) shells and a single round from her B gun before the German ships escaped. This was the last contact with the enemy, and Benbow returned with the rest of the fleet to Scapa Flow. In total Benbow had fired 40 rounds of 13.5-inch (340 mm) shells, all of them being "Armour Piercing capped" (APC), and 60 rounds of 6-inch (150 mm) shells. She had managed to escape damage or casualties.

Later operations[edit]

She spent the remainder of the war at anchor at the 4th Division's home port of Scapa Flow, or on manoeuvres and routine patrols in the North Sea.


In 1919 Benbow was deployed in the Mediterranean, and then with the Black Sea squadron in support of the White Russians in the Russian Civil War. She carried out a number of shore bombardments, until she left the squadron in 1920. She became part of the Mediterranean fleet until 1926. Benbow's captain between 1921 and 1923 was James Fownes Somerville, later Sir James Fownes Somerville, Admiral of the Fleet.

Benbow left the Mediterranean in 1926 and joined the Atlantic Fleet until 1929, when she was paid off into reserve. She was disarmed in 1930 under the terms of the London Naval Treaty and placed on the disposal list. Benbow was sold for scrap in January 1931 and scrapped in March 1931 by Metal Industries, of Rosyth.[2]

Notable commanding officers[edit]


  1. ^ "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 20 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.
  1. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 31
  2. ^ Colledge & Warlow, p. 37
  3. ^ "Vice-Admiral Sir C. D. Carpendale" (obituary) in The Times dated 23 March 1968, Issue 57208, column F, p. 10


  • Burt, R. A. (2012). British Battleships 1919–1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591140528. 
  • Burt, R. A. (1986). British Battleships of World War One. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-863-8. 
  • Campbell, John (1998). Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 1558217592. 
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2010). Ships of the Royal Navy. Havertown, PA: Casemate Publishers. ISBN 9781612000275. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Halpern, Paul, ed. (2011). The Mediterranean Fleet, 1919–1929. Publications of the Navy Records Society. 158. Farnham: Ashgate for the Navy Records Society. ISBN 978-1-4094-2756-8. 
  • Jellicoe, John (1919). The Grand Fleet, 1914–1916: Its Creation, Development, and Work. New York, NY: George H. Doran Company. 
  • Massie, Robert K. (2003). Castles of Steel. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0345408780. 
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1995). Jutland: The German Perspective. London: Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-35848-7. 

External links[edit]