HMS Suffolk (1903)

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HMS Suffolk LOC ggbain.16829.jpg
Suffolk at anchor
United Kingdom
Name: Suffolk
Namesake: Suffolk
Builder: Portsmouth Royal Dockyard
Laid down: 25 March 1901
Launched: 15 January 1903
Completed: 21 May 1904
Fate: Sold for scrap, 1 July 1920
General characteristics
Class and type: Monmouth-class armoured cruiser
Displacement: 9,800 long tons (10,000 t) (normal)
Length: 463 ft 6 in (141.3 m) (o/a)
Beam: 66 ft (20.1 m)
Draught: 25 ft (7.6 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Complement: 678

HMS Suffolk was one of 10 Monmouth-class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. Upon completion she was assigned to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet and was then assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean in 1909 after a lengthy refit. She returned home for another refit in 1912 and became the flagship of the 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station in 1913.

After the beginning of World War I in August 1914, Suffolk became a private ship and searched for German commerce raiders while protecting British shipping. She captured a German merchantman shortly after the war began. She remained in the Atlantic until she became flagship of the China Station in 1917 In late 1918 the ship was deployed to Vladivostok to support the Siberian Intervention during the Russian Civil War. She returned home in 1919 and briefly became a training ship before she was sold for scrap in 1920.

Design and description[edit]

Suffolk was designed to displace 9,800 long tons (10,000 t). The ship had an overall length of 463 feet 6 inches (141.3 m), a beam of 66 feet (20.1 m) and a deep draught of 25 feet (7.6 m). She was powered by two 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, which produced a total of 22,000 indicated horsepower (16,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). Suffolk, however, was one of two Monmouths that exceeded her designed speed; during her sea trials she reached 24.7 knots (45.7 km/h; 28.4 mph). The engines were powered by 31 Niclausse boilers.[1] She carried a maximum of 1,600 long tons (1,600 t) of coal and her complement consisted of 678 officers and enlisted men.[2]

Her main armament consisted of fourteen breech-loading (BL) 6-inch Mk VII guns.[3] Four of these guns were mounted in two twin-gun turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure and the others positioned in casemates amidships. Six of these were mounted on the main deck and were only usable in calm weather.[4] They had a maximum range of approximately 12,200 yards (11,200 m) with their 100-pound (45 kg) shells.[5] Ten quick-firing (QF) 12-pounder 12 cwt guns were fitted for defence against torpedo boats.[2] Suffolk also carried three 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns and two submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes.[1]

Beginning in 1915, the main deck six-inch guns of the Monmouth-class ships were moved to the upper deck and given gun shields. Their casemates were plated over to improve seakeeping. The twelve-pounder guns displaced by the transfer were repositioned elsewhere. At some point in the war, 2 three-pounder anti-aircraft guns were installed on the upper deck.[6]

The ship's waterline armour belt had a maximum thickness of four inches (102 mm) and was closed off by five-inch (127 mm) transverse bulkheads. The armour of the gun turrets and their barbettes was four inches thick while the casemate armour was five inches thick. The protective deck armour ranged in thickness from .75–2 inches (19–51 mm) and the conning tower was protected by ten inches (254 mm) of armour.[1]

Construction and service[edit]

Suffolk underway in a harbour

Suffolk, named to commemorate the English county,[7] was laid down at Portsmouth Royal Dockyard on 25 March 1901 and launched on 15 January 1903. She was completed on 21 May 1904[1] and was assigned to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet.[8] In October 1904 Captain (later First Sea Lord) David Beatty assumed command until he returned home in late 1905.[9] The ship returned home in 1907 for a lengthy refit. She returned to the Mediterranean in 1909 and was assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron. She began another refit at Devonport Royal Dockyard in October 1912. When it was completed in February 1913, she became the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Craddock's 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station.[10]

After the start of the war, Cradock transferred his flag to the faster and more heavily armed Good Hope while Suffolk remained in the Atlantic hunting for German raiders. She captured a German merchant ship on 8 August and remained in the Atlantic until August 1917 when she became flagship of the China Station. She became a private ship in November 1918 and deployed to Vladivostok to support the Siberian Intervention against the Bolsheviks. Suffolk returned home in 1919 and became a cadet training ship before she was listed for sale in April 1920.[10] The ship was sold for scrap on 1 July and broken up in 1922 in Germany.[7]


  1. ^ "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. ^ a b c d Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 70
  2. ^ a b Friedman 2012, p. 336
  3. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 81
  4. ^ Friedman 2012, pp. 251–52, 260–61
  5. ^ Friedman 2011, pp. 80–81
  6. ^ Friedman 2012, pp. 280, 286
  7. ^ a b Silverstone, p. 268
  8. ^ Gardiner & Gray, p. 12
  9. ^ Lambert, p. 335
  10. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, pp. 12–13