HMS Erin

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HMS Erin in Moray Firth 1915 IWM SP 531.jpg
HMS Erin in Moray Firth, August 1915.
Ottoman Empire
Name: Reşadiye
Namesake: Mehmed V
Fate: Seized 22 August 1914
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Erin
Namesake: Erin
Laid down: 1 August 1911
Launched: 3 September 1913
Commissioned: August 1914
Decommissioned: December 1922
Fate: Scrapped
General characteristics
Type: Battleship
  • 27,500 long tons (27,940 t) (normal)
  • 30,250 long tons (30,740 t) (full load)
Length: 559 ft 6 in (170.54 m)
Beam: 91 ft (27.7 m)
Draught: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Installed power: 26,500 shp (19,800 kW)
Speed: 21 kn (38.9 km/h)
Complement: 1,070
  • Belt: 12 in (30.5 cm) (main); 9 in (22.9 cm) (upper)
  • Turrets: 4–11 in (10.2–27.9 cm)
Service record
Part of:

Royal Navy

Grand Fleet, 4th Battle Squadron at Scapa Flow (September–October 1914)
Grand Fleet, 2nd Battle Squadron at Scapa Flow (October 1914-October 1919)
Reserve at the Nore (October–December 1919)
Turret drill ship at Chatham (December 1919-December 1922)
Refit at Devonport (July–August 1920)
Broken up at Queenborough (December 1922)

World War I

Battle of Jutland

HMS Erin was a dreadnought battleship of the Royal Navy which was originally built in response to an order placed by the Ottoman government with the British Vickers company. She was intended, when accepted for service in the Ottoman Navy, to be named Reşadiye, as the first of two Reşadiye-class battleships. The Ottoman intention was to procure a battleship which was at least the equal of any other ship currently afloat or building.[1] The design was based on that of King George V, but with some features of Iron Duke. In August 1914, when the First World War broke out, the ship was nearly completed; but at the orders of Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, she was seized (together with another dreadnought battleship under construction in Britain for the Ottoman Navy, Sultan Osman I, which was renamed as HMS Agincourt) for use by the Royal Navy.

Design and appearance[edit]

The design was based closely on the design of King George V, but with a number of modifications. British battleships of the period were required by the Admiralty to be of a size that could be accommodated by existing docks, which imposed absolute limitations on beam and on draught. Erin was built with a greater beam and a shorter length than King George V, the greater stability so produced allowing for the installation of a heavier secondary battery and the positioning of "Q" turret one deck higher.[2] She had only a single mast, the foremast, which supported the fighting top and was situated ahead of the forefunnel. The legs of the tripod foremast spread forward rather than the more usual aft orientation; This was to allow the ship's boats to be worked by booms from this mast, in the absence of a mainmast. As a further result of this mast arrangement the charthouse could not be built as part of the conning tower, but was built as a separate structure around the base of the mast.[3]

She was built with a plough bow, a design which cut more cleanly through the water, leading to less water coming on board the forecastle in a heavy sea.

The two funnels were closer together than in any previous British dreadnought, and the appearance of the secondary battery was distinctive, extending as it did from "B" turret to "X" turret.[4]


The primary armament was ten 13.5-inch (343 mm) 45-calibre Mark VI guns, arranged in five double turrets all on the centre-line of the ship. "A" turret was positioned on the forecastle, with an unobstructed arc of fire over the bow of some 300 degrees. "B" turret was situated one deck higher, superfiring over "A" and with a similar arc of fire. "Q" turret was positioned between the after funnel and the after superstructure; it was situated at forecastle deck level, which was one deck level higher than the equivalent turret in the King George V-class or Iron Duke-class ships. The arc of fire of this turret was 300 degrees over the stern at full elevation; at lower elevations the after superstructure restricted fire to 120 degrees on either beam. "Y" turret was placed on the quarterdeck, one deck level below forecastle deck level. The arc of fire over the stern was an unobstructed 300 degrees. "X" turret was immediately forward of "Y", and superfired over it with a similar arc of fire. The ammunition carried was 80 rounds per gun.[5]

The secondary battery was more powerful than that carried by earlier or contemporary British battleships, being sixteen 6-inch (152 mm) 50-calibre Mark XVI guns disposed eight on either side in a maindeck battery extending from "B" to "X" turrets. All were 20 ft (6.1 m) above water at normal draught. The forward three had arcs of fire from directly ahead to 40 degrees aft of the beam; the two amidships guns bore from 65 degrees ahead to 65 degrees abaft the beam; the after three bore from 40 degrees before the beam to dead astern. The forward three tended to be wet in a heavy sea.[6] Ammunition carried was 150 rounds per gun.[7]

Ten 3 in (76 mm) guns were carried high in the superstructure.

Four 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes were installed, two on either beam. Ten torpedoes were carried.

In 1917, two 3 in (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns were added on the after superstructure. In 1918, runways for launching aircraft were added on the crowns of "B" and "Q" turrets.[6]


The main waterline armour belt was 12 in (305 mm) thick, and stretched from points level with the axes of "A" and "Y" barbettes. It extended to a depth below water of 3 ft 8 in (1.1 m) at normal draught.[6] Above the main belt was a narrow belt of 9 in (229 mm) armour, and above that a belt of 8 in (203 mm) which extended up to the level of the upper deck. Both of these strakes extended for the whole length of the main belt. Forward of "A" turret, the main belt was continued as a strake of 6 in (152 mm) for about one-third of the distance to the stem, continued further by armour of 4 in (102 mm) for a further third of this distance. The remainder of the bow was not armoured. Aft of the main belt, a short extension of 4 in (102 mm) armour ran half-way to the stern; beyond this, there was no side armour. The secondary battery was protected by 5 in (127 mm) of armour; an anti-torpedo bulkhead of thickness of 1–2 in (25–51 mm) ran the length of the citadel and extended from the lower deck down to the level of the keel.

Four of the decks were armoured. The forecastle deck, upper deck and maindeck were all of 1.5 in (38 mm) armour and the middle deck was of 1 in (25 mm), increasing to 3 in (76 mm) over the machinery and magazines.

The forward bulkhead ran from the end of the main belt across the ship to the forward aspect of "A" barbette. It was 8 in (203 mm) thick above the maindeck, and 5 in (127 mm) thick down to its lower limit on the lower deck. The after bulkhead was similar; 8 in (203 mm) running from the after ends of the main belt to "Y" barbette above the maindeck, and extending in 5 in (127 mm) down to the lower deck.

The turret faces were of 11 in (279 mm) thick; the roofs were 4 in (102 mm) and the turret sides 3 in (76 mm).

The armour of the barbettes was 10 in (254 mm) thick at the most exposed points, tapering down through 9 in (229 mm) and 3–5 in (76–127 mm), according to the degree of protection afforded by adjacent armoured structures; deck, side armour or neighbouring turret.

The conning tower received 12 in (305 mm) of armour on its exposed sides, and 4 in (102 mm) where it was shielded by the foremast structure.

The total weight of armour applied was 4,207 long tons (4,275 t).[8]


Four propellers were driven directly by four Parsons turbines. Steam to drive the turbines was produced in 15 Babcock & Wilcox boilers with a normal working pressure of 235 pounds per square inch (PSI). The designed rating was 26,500 shp (19,800 kW), and the expected maximum speed with this power was 21 kn (39 km/h; 24 mph). She could carry up to 2,120 long tons (2,154 t) of coal and 710 long tons (721 t) of fuel oil; her maximum range was 3,400 nmi (6,300 km; 3,900 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph) using coal only, and 5,300 nmi (9,800 km; 6,100 mi) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph) using both coal and oil.[7] This radius of action was significantly less than that of contemporary British battleships, but was wholly adequate for operations in the North Sea, where any action against the German High Seas Fleet would be anticipated.[2]


Erin in a floating drydock

Erin was ordered by the Ottoman Empire originally under the name of Reşad, but was renamed Reşadiye during construction. She was laid down at the Vickers shipyard on 6 December 1911, launched on 3 September 1913 and completed in August 1914. However, she was taken over for the Royal Navy on 22 August 1914 due to the outbreak of World War I and renamed Erin,[9] despite the completion of payments and the arrival of the Ottoman delegation to Britain for collecting the Reşadiye and another dreadnought battleship, Sultan Osman I, upon the end of their sea trials. Some historians have claimed that the seizing of Reşadiye and Sultan Osman I (renamed Agincourt) was instrumental in bringing the Ottoman Empire into the war on the side of the Central Powers; however, the Ottoman and German governments had already concluded a secret alliance on 2 August 1914. A proposal by the British government to compensate the Ottomans for the loss of their battleships was ignored.[10][11]

On 5 September 1914, she joined the Grand Fleet at its principal war base at Scapa Flow in Orkney. She was briefly part of the Fourth Battle Squadron, being transferred to the Second Battle Squadron in October 1914. On 31 May 1916, she was present at the Battle of Jutland. After the deployment of the battle fleet, the Second Battle Squadron formed the head of the line; its first division consisted of King George V (the flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir T. H. Martyn Jerram), Ajax, Centurion and Erin, which was therefore the fourth ship in the line.

Erin and Centurion conducting gunnery training in Scapa Flow, May 1917.
HMS Erin underway in a North Sea harbour, with a kite balloon moored aft, 1918

She remained with the Grand Fleet for the remainder of the war, seeing no further enemy action. In October 1919, she was placed in Reserve at the Nore. From December 1919, she was used at Chatham Dockyard as a turret drill ship. In July and August 1920, she underwent a refit at Devonport Dockyard. It had been intended that under the terms of the Washington treaty of 1921 she should be retained as a training ship, but a change of plan meant that this rôle was filled by Thunderer, and in May 1922, she was placed on the disposal list. On 19 December 1922, she was sold to the shipbreaking firm of Cox and Danks, and in 1923 she was broken up at Queenborough.[12]


  1. ^ Burt. p. 221.
  2. ^ a b Conway's. p. 36.
  3. ^ Parkes. p. 399.
  4. ^ Burt p. 229
  5. ^ Burt. p. 224.
  6. ^ a b c Parkes. p. 600.
  7. ^ a b Burt. p. 225.
  8. ^ Parkes. p. 597.
  9. ^ Burt. p. 230.
  10. ^ Parkes, p. 597
  11. ^ Gilbert, pp. 192-196.
  12. ^ Burt, p.230.


  • Burt, R. A. (1986). British Battleships of World War One. London: Arms and Armour Press. ISBN 0-85368-771-4.
  • Gardiner; Gray (1985). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • Gilbert, Martin (1971). Winston S. Churchill: The Challenge of War 1914–1916. III. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-13153-7.
  • Parkes, Dr. Oscar (1990). British Battleships 1860–1950. London: Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-604-3.

External links[edit]