HMS Valiant (1914)
HMS Valiant between 1930 and 1937
|Laid down:||31 January 1913|
|Launched:||4 November 1914|
|Commissioned:||19 February 1916|
|Out of service:||1948|
|Fate:||19 March 1948 sold for scrap|
|General characteristics (1917)|
|Class & type:||Queen Elizabeth-class battleship|
|Displacement:||29,150 tons (load displacement)|
|Length:||660 ft (200 m) (oa)|
|Beam:||90 ft 6 in (27.58 m)|
|Draught:||29 ft 7 in (9.02 m)–30 ft 8 in (9.35 m)|
|Aircraft carried:||2 (1918)|
|General characteristics (1945)|
|Displacement:||32,468 tons (load displacement)|
|Propulsion:||Parsons geared turbines|
|Speed:||23 knots (42.6 km/h)|
|Aircraft carried:||2 (capacity)|
HMS Valiant was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the British Royal Navy. She was laid down at the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan on 31 January 1913 and launched on 4 November 1914. She was completed in February 1916.
World War I
The contract for the construction of the Valiant was given to The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Limited. She was laid down in the same berth where the battlecruiser HMS Indomitable had been built. On the construction of Valiant by Admiralty contract, Fairfields lost £78,836. Her turbines were manufactured by Fairfields, and her armour plate was provided by William Beardmore and Company. Upon completion on 19 February 1916 under Captain Maurice Woollcombe she joined the recently formed Fifth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. At the Battle of Jutland she fired 288 15-inch shells at the German High Seas Fleet. Despite the severity of damage suffered by her sister ships (bar HMS Queen Elizabeth which did not take part in the battle), she suffered no damage. One of her 15-inch guns, which had been in Valiant at Jutland, was later removed and became one of the three guns of the Johore Battery at Singapore. On 24 August 1916 she collided with HMS Warspite and was under repair until 18 September.
Inter War Period
Between 1929 and 1930 she underwent a major refit. Anti-torpedo bulges were added, increasing beam to 31.70 m. The two funnels were trunked into one and a single octuple 2 pdr mountings were added. Two of the torpedo tubes were removed, and the aircraft platforms were replaced by a single catapult. These modifications brought the maximum displacement up to 35,970 tons.
On 2nd Dec 1930 she was recommisioned for service in the Atlantic where in 1931 her crew participated in the Invergordon Mutiny. March 1932 saw her transferred to the Home Fleet until in July 1935 she was once again in the Mediterranean.
In 1936 a second octuple 2 pdr mounting was added. Between March 1937 and November 1939 she underwent a second major refit at Devonport. The machinery was changed to eight Admiralty 3 drum boilers with four Parsons steam turbines producing a total of 80,000 shp (60,000 kW). Fuel load was 3,393 tons oil, and maximum speed was reduced to 23.5 knots (43.5 km/h) despite the increase in power, due to the increase in displacement and draught. Deck armour was increased to 5 inches (130 mm) over the magazines, 2.5 inches over the machinery while the new 4.5" guns had between 1 and 2 inches (51 mm) of armour. The secondary armament was changed to 20 × 4.5 inch Mk I dual purpose guns in 10 twin mountings and four octuple 2 pdr "pom pom" mountings. The ship's fire control was modernized to include the HACS MkIV AA fire control system and the Admiralty Fire Control Table Mk VII for surface fire control of the main armament. These modifications increased draught to 10 m and maximum displacement to 36,513 tons.
World War II
Valiant saw action at the Battle of Cape Matapan on 27–29 March 1941, and in the bombardment of Tripoli harbour on 21 April 1941 (accompanied by her sisters Barham and Warspite, the cruiser Gloucester and various destroyers). In May 1941, she operated off Crete, and was struck by two bombs.
On 19 December 1941, Valiant was seriously damaged by limpet mines placed by Italian frogmen of Decima Flottiglia MAS, who entered Alexandria harbor riding two-man "human torpedoes" ("maiali"). Her sister ship Queen Elizabeth was also damaged. Lieutenant Durand de la Penne placed the mines on Valiant. The other two teams attached their mines and escaped, but de la Penne's maiale broke down. De la Penne pushed the maiale under Valiant and left it on the bottom. Then he and his companion Corporal Emilio Bianchi emerged and were captured. They were interrogated by Captain Charles Morgan, but told him nothing, despite being locked in a compartment below the waterline. A few minutes before detonation, when it was too late to find and deactivate the mines, he informed Captain Morgan to allow the British to evacuate. They were returned to the locked compartment, which was just above where the mine would explode. De la Penne and Bianchi were injured by the explosion, but survived.
The mine attached to Valiant was not actually in touch with her hull, so the damage to Valiant was far less severe than to Queen Elizabeth. Despite having a heavy trim forward, her decks were above water, and she remained clear of the harbour bottom. Although nearly immobilised she was able, although only for few days, to give the impression of full battle readiness. This appearance was exploited by the Royal Navy. They allowed photographs of the seemingly undamaged ship to appear in the British press. Valiant was repaired in Durban, South Africa, and returned to the Mediterranean in 1943.
In 1944, she was sent to the Far East to join the Eastern Fleet. There she took part in raids against Japanese bases in Indonesia. On 8 August 1944, she was severely damaged in an accident with the floating drydock at Trincomalee, Ceylon. The drydock was being raised with Valiant in it by pumping water from ballast tanks. The tanks were emptied in the wrong sequence for Valiant 's weight distribution, which was exacerbated by her full munitions load. As a result, the drydock was over-stressed at its ends, broke its back and sank. Valiant 's two inner screws were jammed as well as one of her rudders. Valiant had remained in steam and was able to avoid worse damage or sinking. After the incident, the responsible Naval Constructor was disciplined.
It was decided to sail her to Alexandria, where there were suitable docking facilities, However she could not steer a straight course, and could not make more than 8 knots (15 km/h). She got as far as Suez Bay, but could not attempt the Suez Canal in that condition. Lt Cmdr Peter Keeble, an experienced diver and salvage expert, personally supervised the removal of her two inner screw shafts near the gland. The A-brackets holding the shafts and screws were also cut, dropping both screws and shafts to the bottom. Keeble had perfected available underwater cutting torches by combining British and Italian technology to cut away the thick propeller shafts. She returned to the UK and was decommissioned in July 1945.
Valiant formed part of the Imperieuse stoker mechanics' training establishment at Devonport for the rest of her career. She was sold for scrapping on 19 March 1948. She left Devonport for the breakers of Arnott Young at Cairnryan on 11 August of that year.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to HMS Valiant (ship, 1914).|
- Page on the ship at battleships-cruisers.co.uk
- Maritimequest HMS Valiant Photo Gallery
- HMS Valiant at navalhistories