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HMS Hannibal (1896)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Hannibal.
HMS Hannibal.jpg
HMS Hannibal
United Kingdom
Namesake: Hannibal
Builder: Pembroke Dock
Laid down: 1 May 1895
Launched: 28 April 1896
Completed: April 1898
Commissioned: April 1898
Decommissioned: January 1920
Fate: Sold for scrapping 28 January 1920
General characteristics
Class and type: Majestic-class pre-dreadnought battleship
Displacement: 16,060 t (15,810 long tons; 17,700 short tons)
Length: 421 ft (128 m)
Beam: 75 ft (23 m)
Draught: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 × 3-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engines, twin screws
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Complement: 672

HMS Hannibal was a Majestic-class pre-dreadnought battleship built for the Royal Navy, and the sixth ship to bear the name HMS Hannibal. The ship was laid down at the Pembroke Dock in May 1894, she was launched in April 1896, and commissioned into the fleet in April 1898. She was armed with a main battery of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns and a secondary battery of twelve 6-inch (150 mm) guns. The ship had a top speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph).

Hannibal served with the Channel Fleet (later reorganised to the Atlantic Fleet) after commissioning in 1898. In 1906 she underwent a refit, which included a conversion from a coal burner to using oil. She was placed in reserve from 1907, only to be mobilised in July 1914 as a precautionary measure prior to the outbreak of World War I. From August 1914 to February 1915 Hannibal was a guard ship at Scapa Flow. Later that year, her main armament was removed and she was converted to a troopship, serving in this capacity during the Dardanelles campaign. From November 1915 to the end of the war, she served as a depot ship based in Alexandria, Egypt. She was disposed of in 1920 and scrapped later that year.


Right elevation, deck plan, and hull section as depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1902

Hannibal was 421 feet (128 m) long overall and had a beam of 75 ft (23 m) and a draft of 27 ft (8.2 m). She displaced up to 16,060 t (15,810 long tons; 17,700 short tons) at full combat load. Her propulsion system consisted of two 3-cylinder vertical triple-expansion steam engines powered by eight coal-fired cylindrical boilers. By 1907–08, she was re-boilered with oil-fired models.[1] Her engines provided a top speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) at 10,000 indicated horsepower (7,500 kW). The Majestics were considered good seaboats with an easy roll and good steamers, although they suffered from high fuel consumption. She had a crew of 672 officers and enlisted men.[2]

The ship was armed with four BL 12-inch Mk VIII guns in twin turrets, one forward and one aft. The turrets were placed on pear-shaped barbettes; six of her sisters had the same arrangement, but her sisters Caesar and Illustrious and all future British battleship classes had circular barbettes.[1][2] Hannibal also carried twelve QF 6-inch /40 guns. They were mounted in casemates in two gun decks amidships. She also carried sixteen QF 12-pounder guns and twelve QF 2-pounder guns. She was also equipped with five 18-inch (450-mm) torpedo tubes, four of which were submerged in the ship's hull, with the last in a deck-mounted launcher.[2] Hannibal and the other ships of her class had 9 inches (229 mm) of Harvey armour, which allowed equal protection with less cost in weight compared to previous types of armour. This allowed Hannibal and her sisters to have a deeper and lighter belt than previous battleships without any loss in protection.[1] The barbettes for the main battery were protected with 14 in (360 mm) of armour, and the conning tower had the same thickness of steel on the sides. The ship's armoured deck was 2.5 to 4.5 in (64 to 114 mm) thick.[2]

Service history[edit]

Hannibal in 1898

The keel for HMS Hannibal was laid down at the Pembroke Dock on 1 May 1894. Her completed hull was launched on 28 April 1896.[2] She went into the commissioned reserve upon completion in April 1898. On 10 May 1898 she went into full commission to serve in the Portsmouth division of the Channel Fleet, under the command of Captain Sir Baldwin Wake Walker.[3] She was part of a huge fleet of ships present in the Solent for the passage of the body of Queen Victoria from Cowes to Portsmouth on 2 February 1901. Captain George Augustus Giffard was appointed in command on 10 May 1902,[4] and she was present at the Coronation Fleet Review for King Edward VII on 16 August 1902. Earlier the same month, two officers and a seaman of the Hannibal drowned while on a fishing excursion outside Berehaven.[5] On 17 October 1903 she collided with and badly damaged her sister ship HMS Prince George off Ferrol, Spain. When a fleet reorganisation led to the Channel Fleet being redesignated the Atlantic Fleet on 1 January 1905, Hannibal became an Atlantic Fleet unit.[6] Hannibal transferred to the new Channel Fleet (formerly the Home Fleet) on 28 February 1905. This service ended on 3 August 1905, when she paid off into reserve at Devonport.[7]

Hannibal underwent a refit in 1906 in which she was converted to burn oil fuel and received fire control for her main battery. She then recommissioned in reserve on 20 October 1906.[8][9] In January 1907, Hannibal went into full commission as a temporary replacement for battleship HMS Ocean in the Channel Fleet while Ocean was under refit. When Ocean returned to service, Hannibal remained in Channel Fleet service as a temporary replacement for battleship HMS Dominion while Dominion was undergoing refit. When Dominion returned to service in May 1907, Hannibal went back into the commissioned reserve, becoming a part of the Portsmouth Division of the new Home Fleet[7] in July 1907.[9] While in commissioned reserve at Portsmouth, Hannibal suffered two significant mishaps. On 19 August 1909 she struck a reef in Babbacombe Bay, damaging her bottom. On 29 October 1909 she collided with torpedo boat HMS TB 105, suffering no damage herself but badly damaging the torpedo boat. She underwent a refit at Devonport from November 1911 to March 1912.[7]

The Royal Navy began a precautionary mobilisation in July 1914 when war appeared increasingly likely. As part of this, Hannibal and her sister ships HMS Mars, HMS Magnificent, and HMS Victorious formed the 9th Battle Squadron on 27 July 1914, stationed at the Humber to defend the British coast. Hannibal was serving as a guard ship on the Humber when World War I began in August 1914. The 9th Battle Squadron was dissolved on 7 August 1914, and Hannibal was transferred to Scapa Flow, where she served as a guard ship until relieved by the first-class protected cruiser HMS Royal Arthur on 20 February 1915. Hannibal then paid off at Dalmuir.[7]

The Majestic-class ships were by then the oldest and least effective battleships in service in the Royal Navy. While inactive at Dalmuir, Hannibal was disarmed between March and April 1915 except for four 6-inch (152-mm) guns and some lighter guns. Her 12-inch (305-mm) guns were taken for use aboard the new Lord Clive-class monitors HMS Prince Eugene and HMS Sir John Moore.[9] After she was disarmed, she was laid up at Scapa Flow and Loch Goil until September 1915. Hannibal recommissioned at Greenock on 9 September 1915 to serve as a troopship in the Dardanelles campaign. She arrived at Mudros in this capacity on 7 October 1915. In November 1915, Hannibal became a depot ship for auxiliary patrol craft at Alexandria, Egypt, supporting both forces operating from Egypt and those in the Red Sea until June 1919, leaving Egypt for Malta on 9 September. Hannibal was paid off for disposal at Malta on 25 October 1919,[10] was sold for scrapping on the 28 January 1920, and was broken up in Italy.[7]


  1. ^ a b c Gibbons, p. 137.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gardiner, p. 34.
  3. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (35513). London. 11 May 1898. p. 9. 
  4. ^ The Times, p. 10.
  5. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence - officers drowned". The Times (36837). London. 4 August 1902. p. 4. 
  6. ^ Burt, p. 134.
  7. ^ a b c d e Burt, p. 136.
  8. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Devonport Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 29. 1 November 1909. p. 115. 
  9. ^ a b c Gardiner & Gray, p. 7.
  10. ^ Ship's log, available at


  • Burt, R. A. (1988). British Battleships 1889–1904. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-061-7. 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-8317-0302-8. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-907-8. OCLC 12119866. 
  • Gibbons, Tony (1983). 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. ISBN 978-0-86101-142-1. 
  • "Naval & Military Intelligence". The Times (36763). 9 May 1902. p. 10.