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HMS Revenge (1892)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Revenge.
Revenge at anchor, about 1897
United Kingdom
Name: Revenge
Builder: Palmers
Cost: £954,825
Laid down: 12 February 1891
Launched: 3 November 1892
Completed: 22 March 1894
Commissioned: 14 January 1896
Decommissioned: October 1915
Renamed: Redoubtable, 2 August 1915
Fate: Sold for scrap, 6 November 1919
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Royal Sovereign-class predreadnought battleship
Displacement: 14,150 long tons (14,380 t) (normal)
Length: 380 ft (115.8 m) (pp)
Beam: 75 ft (22.9 m)
Draught: 27 ft 6 in (8.4 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts; 2 Triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph)
Range: 4,720 nmi (8,740 km; 5,430 mi) @ 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 695 (as flagship, 1903)

HMS Revenge was one of seven Royal Sovereign-class pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Royal Navy during the 1890s. She spent much of her early career as a flagship for the Flying Squadron and in the Mediterranean, Home and Channel Fleets. Revenge was assigned to the International Squadron blockading Crete during the revolt there against the Ottoman Empire. She was placed in reserve upon her return home in 1900, and was then briefly assigned as a coast guard ship before she joined the Home Fleet in 1902. The ship became a gunnery training ship in 1906 until she was paid off in 1913.

Revenge was recommissioned the following year, after the start of World War I, to bombard the coast of Flanders as part of the Dover Patrol, during which she was hit four times, but was not seriously damaged. She had anti-torpedo bulges fitted in early 1915, the first ship to be fitted with them operationally.[1] The ship was renamed Redoubtable later that year and was refitted as an accommodation ship by the end of the year. The last surviving member of her class, the ship was sold for scrap in November 1919.

Design and description[edit]

The design of the Royal Sovereign-class ships was derived from that of the Admiral-class ironclad battleships, greatly enlarged to improve seakeeping and to provide space for a secondary armament as in the preceding Trafalgar-class ironclad battleships.[2] The ships displaced 14,150 long tons (14,380 t) at normal load and 15,580 long tons (15,830 t) at deep load. They had a length between perpendiculars of 380 feet (115.8 m) and an overall length of 410 feet 6 inches (125.1 m), a beam of 75 feet (22.9 m), and a draught of 27 feet 6 inches (8.4 m).[3] As a flagship, Revenge's crew consisted of 695 officers and ratings in 1903.[4]

The Royal Sovereigns were powered by a pair of three-cylinder, vertical triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft. Their Humphrys & Tennant engines[3] were designed to produce a total of 11,000 indicated horsepower (8,200 kW) and a maximum speed of 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph) using steam provided by eight cylindrical boilers with forced draught. The ships carried a maximum of 1,420 long tons (1,443 t) of coal which gave them a range of 4,720 nautical miles (8,740 km; 5,430 mi) at a speed of 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[4]

Their main armament consisted of four breech-loading (BL) 13.5-inch (343 mm) guns mounted in two twin-gun barbettes, one each fore and aft of the superstructure.[5] Each gun was provided with 80 rounds.[4] Their secondary armament consisted of ten quick-firing (QF) 6-inch (152 mm) guns.[3] 200 rounds per gun were carried by the ships.[4] Sixteen QF 6-pounder (2.2 in (57 mm)) and a dozen QF 3-pounder (1.9 in (47 mm)) Hotchkiss guns were fitted for defence against torpedo boats. The two 3-pounders in the upper fighting top were removed in 1903–04, and all of the remaining light guns from the lower fighting tops and main deck followed in 1905–09. The Royal Sovereign-class ships mounted seven 14-inch (356 mm) torpedo tubes, although Revenge had four of hers removed in 1902.[6]

The Royal Sovereigns' armour scheme was similar to that of the Trafalgars, as the waterline belt of compound armour only protected the area between the barbettes. The 14–18-inch (356–457 mm) belt and transverse bulkheads 14–16 inches (356–406 mm) thick closed off the ends of the belt. Above the belt was a strake of 4-inch (102 mm) nickel-steel armour closed off by 3-inch (76 mm) transverse bulkheads.[3]

The barbettes were protected by compound armour, ranging in thickness from 11 to 17 inches (279 to 432 mm) and the casemates for the 6-inch guns had a thickness equal to their diameter. The thicknesses of the armour deck ranged from 2.5 to 3 inches (64 to 76 mm). The walls of the forward conning tower were 12–14 inches (305–356 mm) thick and the aft conning tower was protected by 3-inch plates.[4]

Construction and career[edit]

Aerial view of Revenge taken by Samuel Cody during naval trials of observation kites in 1908.

Revenge was the ninth ship of her name to serve in the Royal Navy[7] and was ordered under the Naval Defence Act Programme of 1889. The ship was laid down by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company at their shipyard in Jarrow in Tyne and Wear, England, on 12 February 1891. She was floated out of the drydock on 3 November 1892,[8] and completed on 22 March 1894[9] at a cost of £954,825.[5] Upon completion, Revenge was placed in reserve at Portsmouth. Almost two years later, she mobilised there on 14 January 1896 as flagship of the Particular Service Squadron, soon renamed the Flying Squadron, which was formed in response to rising tensions in Europe following the Jameson Raid and Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II's telegram of support to the Boer government. The squadron was briefly attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in the middle of the year.[10] When it was disbanded on 5 November, Revenge relieved the battleship Trafalgar as the flagship of the second-in-command of the Mediterranean Fleet.[11]

From February 1897 to December 1898, Revenge served in the International Squadron blockading Crete during the uprising there that led to the establishment of the Cretan State. During this time, she landed a force of Royal Marines on Crete to seize Fort Tzeddin, and, in September 1898, she went to Candia to support the British garrison there after it had been attacked by rebels.[11] Sometime in 1899, she suffered a cordite explosion in one of her 6-inch (152-mm) magazines due to spontaneous combustion, but the damage was not very severe because only three cartridges detonated.[12] In April 1900, the battleship Victorious replaced her and she returned home, paying off into Fleet Reserve at Chatham Dockyard. During this time the ship had a wireless telegraph installed.[13] On 18 April 1901, Revenge was recommissioned at Chatham by Captain Frederic Fisher to relieve Alexandra as both the coast guard ship at Portland and the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Gerard Noel, Admiral Superintendent of Naval Reserves.[14] In March 1902, she arrived at Portsmouth for a refit that included the provision of casemates for her upper-deck six-inch guns, and her crew was temporarily transferred to the elderly ironclad Hercules, which also took on her duties at Portland.[15] Captain Fisher and his crew were back on board Revenge in early June 1902, following gun trials after the repairs.[16] After the refit, she commissioned in October 1902 to serve as flagship of the Home Fleet upon its creation.[17]

Revenge (background) collided with the battleship Orion (foreground) in Portsmouth in 1912.

In April 1904, Revenge and her sister ship Royal Oak both struck a submerged wreck off the Scilly Isles while serving with the Home Fleet, damaging their bottoms. In July 1905, the ship participated in maneuvers with the Reserve Fleet and was then transferred to the Portsmouth Reserve Division on 1 September 1905. In June 1906, she relieved the battleship Colossus as the gunnery training ship at Portsmouth and was assigned to the gunnery school HMS Excellent.[18] On 13 June 1908, Revenge was struck by the merchant ship SS Bengore Head when the latter was cut loose by her tugboat during a sudden squall in Portsmouth Harbour.[19] In October 1909, she conducted gunnery tests on the obsolete battleship Edinburgh to evaluate the effects of shells against varying thicknesses of armour.[20] On 7 January 1912, the ship was badly damaged when, during a gale at Portsmouth, she broke loose from her moorings and drifted onto the bow of the dreadnought Orion.[17] Later that year, her guns were relined down to 10 inches (254 mm) for testing;[21] the liners were removed in October 1912.[17] Revenge was relieved as a gunnery training ship by the battleship Albemarle and paid off on 15 May 1913. She was laid up at Motherbank, awaiting disposal.[11]

World War I[edit]

Revenge was given a reprieve from the scrapyard by the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. The Admiralty decided to bring her back into service for use in coastal bombardment duties off the coast of Flanders. In September and October 1914, she was refitted at Portsmouth for this mission, which included relining her 13.5-inch (343-mm) guns down to 12 inches (305 mm),[11] improving their range by about 1,000 yards (914 meters).[22] Her refit completed, she was ordered on 31 October 1914 to stand by to relieve the battleship Venerable as flagship of the Dover Patrol. Revenge was declared ready for service on 5 November 1914, and was assigned to the Channel Fleet′s new 6th Battle Squadron along with the battleships Albemarle, Cornwallis, Duncan, Exmouth, and Russell. Plans for the squadron to participate in an attack on German submarine bases were cancelled due to bad weather on 14 November 1914, and instead Revenge and the battleship Majestic departed Dover, England, for Dunkirk, France.[11]

Redoubtable bombarding the Flemish coast in 1915. She has a deliberately induced list to increase the range of her guns.

Revenge participated in her first action of the war when she joined the gunboat Bustard, six British and four French destroyers, and a French torpedo boat in bombarding German troops from off Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on 22 November 1914. On 15–16 December 1914, Revenge bombarded German heavy artillery batteries, during which time she received two 8-inch (203-mm) shell hits, one of which penetrated her hull below the waterline and caused her to be withdrawn for repairs.[23] In early 1915, the ship participated in experiments using aircraft to observe and control her gunfire, but these were only partially successful.[24] In April and May 1915 she underwent a refit at Chatham Dockyard in which she had anti-torpedo bulges fitted.[25] Afterwards, Revenge conducted trials using sea-based observers on off-shore platforms to direct the bombardment.[26] On 2 August 1915, she was renamed Redoubtable.[7]

On 7 September 1915, she returned to combat, joining the gunboats Bustard and Excellent in bombarding German barracks and gun positions at Westende, inflicting much damage on the Germans. One of her anti-torpedo bulges was deliberately flooded to give her a list that would increase the range of her guns. The ship was hit by a pair of 6-inch (152-mm) shells during the action.[27] Redoubtable underwent another refit from October to December 1915. Afterwards, she was not recommissioned, instead serving as an accommodation ship at Portsmouth until February 1919. She was sold to Thos W Ward for scrapping for £42,750[28] on 6 November 1919, and subsequently broken up at Swansea and Briton Ferry.[7]


  1. ^ Burt, pp. 87, 90
  2. ^ Gardiner, p. 116; Parkes, pp. 359
  3. ^ a b c d Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 32
  4. ^ a b c d e Burt, p. 73
  5. ^ a b Parkes, p. 355
  6. ^ Burt, pp. 73, 85, 87, 94
  7. ^ a b c Colledge, p. 293
  8. ^ Burt, pp. 73, 94
  9. ^ Silverstone, p. 263
  10. ^ Burt, 94; Stilwell, pp. 147–49
  11. ^ a b c d e Burt, p. 94
  12. ^ Brown, p. 124
  13. ^ Burt, pp. 85, 94
  14. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36433). London. 19 April 1901. p. 10. 
  15. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36717). London. 17 March 1902. p. 10. 
  16. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36769). London. 16 May 1902. p. 11. 
  17. ^ a b c Parkes, p. 362
  18. ^ Burt, pp. 92, 94
  19. ^ "ACCIDENTS IN PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR". House of Lords Debates. Hansard. 1 July 1908. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  20. ^ Brown, pp. 116, 118–19; Burt, p. 94
  21. ^ Campbell 1982, p. 45
  22. ^ Campbell 1981, pp. 96, 202
  23. ^ Burt, pp. 94, 99; Corbett, pp. 19–20
  24. ^ Bacon, pp. 77, 79
  25. ^ Burt, pp. 87, 90, 99
  26. ^ Bacon, pp. 79–80
  27. ^ Bacon, p. 89; Burt, p. 99
  28. ^ Burt, p. 99


  • Bacon, Reginald, Admiral Sir (1919). The Dover Patrol: 1915 – 1917. I. London: Hutchinson. OCLC 830771800. 
  • Brown, David K. (1985). "Attack and Defence, No. 5: Prior to World War I – Part Two". In Lambert, Andrew. Warship IX. London: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 115–24. ISBN 0-85177-403-2. 
  • Burt, R. A. (2013). British Battleships 1889–1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-065-8. 
  • Campbell, N. J. M. (1981). "British Naval Guns 1880–1945 Nos. 2 and 3". In Roberts, John. Warship V. London: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 96–97, 200–02. ISBN 0-85177-244-7. 
  • Campbell, N. J. M. (1982). "British Naval Guns 1880–1945 No. 5". In Roberts, John. Warship VI. London: Conway Maritime Press. pp. 43–45. ISBN 0-87021-981-2. 
  • Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich, UK: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Corbett, Julian (1997). Naval Operations. History of the Great War: Based on Official Documents. II (reprint of the 1929 second ed.). London and Nashille, Tennessee: Imperial War Museum in association with the Battery Press. ISBN 1-870423-74-7. 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1992). Steam, Steel and Shellfire: The Steam Warship 1815–1905. Conway's History of the Ship. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 1-55750-774-0. 
  • Parkes, Oscar (1990). British Battleships (reprint of the 1957 ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-075-4. 
  • Phillips, Lawrie; Lieutenant Commander (2014). Pembroke Dockyard and the Old Navy: A Bicentennial History. Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7509-5214-9. 
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1984). Directory of the World's Capital Ships. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-88254-979-0. 
  • Stilwell, Alexander (2009). The Story of HMS Revenge. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Maritime. ISBN 978-1-84415-981-9. 

External sources[edit]