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Monmouth-class cruiser

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Class overview
NameMonmouth class
Operators Royal Navy
Preceded byDrake class
Succeeded byDevonshire class
In commission1903–1921
General characteristics
TypeArmoured cruiser
Displacement9,800 long tons (10,000 t) (normal)
Length463 ft 6 in (141.3 m) (o/a)
Beam66 ft (20.1 m)
Draught25 ft (7.6 m)
Installed power
Propulsion2 × shafts; 2 × triple-expansion steam engines
Speed23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)

The Monmouth class was a ten-ship class of 10,000-ton armoured cruisers built around 1901 to 1903 for the Royal Navy and designed specifically for commerce protection. The ships were also referred to as County class cruisers as they carried the names of British counties.


Left elevation and deck plan as depicted in Jane's Fighting Ships 1914
Aft port casemate guns on Berwick, illustrating the unfortunate positioning

Expected only to fight light cruisers and armed merchant ships, the class was armed with fourteen 6-inch guns at a time when most British armoured cruisers also carried at least a pair of 9.2-inch guns: Four of the guns were mounted in two twin turrets at a good height, the remaining ten were installed in hull-mounted casemates, five on each side. The lower casemate guns were just a few feet above water, making them impossible to use in heavy seas. Sir John Fisher commented that "Sir William White designed the County class but forgot the guns."[1] On the other hand, they were relatively fast ships for their time.


The following table gives the build details and purchase cost of the members of the Monmouth class. Standard British practice at that time was for these costs to exclude armament and stores. The compilers of The Naval Annual revised costs quoted for British ships between the 1905 and 1906 editions. The reasons for the differences are unclear.[2]

Construction data
Ship Builder Date of Cost according to
Laid down Launch Completion (BNA 1905)[3] (BNA 1906)[4]
Monmouth London & Glasgow Shipbuilding, Govan 29 Aug 1899 13 Nov 1901 2 Dec 1903 £709,085 £979,591
Bedford Fairfield Shipping and Engineering, Govan 19 Feb 1900 31 Aug 1901 11 Nov 1903 £734,330 £706,020
Essex HM Dockyard, Pembroke 1 Jan 1900 29 Aug 1901 22 Mar 1903 £770,325 £736,557
Kent HM Dockyard, Portsmouth 12 Feb 1900 6 Mar 1901 1 Oct 1903 £733,940 £700,283
Berwick William Beardmore and Company 19 Apr 1901 20 Sep 1902 9 Dec 1903 £776,868 £750,984
Cornwall HM Dockyard, Pembroke 11 Mar 1901 29 Oct 1902 1 Dec 1904 £789,421 £756,274
Cumberland London & Glasgow Shipbuilding, Govan 19 Feb 1901 16 Dec 1902 1 Dec 1904 £751,508 £718,168
Donegal Fairfield Shipping and Engineering, Govan 14 Feb 1901 4 Sep 1902 5 Nov 1903 £752,964 £715,947
Lancaster Armstrong-Whitworth, Elswick 4 Mar 1901 22 Mar 1903 5 Apr 1904 £763,084 £732,858
Suffolk HM Dockyard, Portsmouth 25 Mar 1901 15 Jan 1903 21 May 1904 £783,054 £722,681


HMS Donegal at the Royal Naval Dockyard in the Imperial fortress colony of Bermuda circa 1918.
HMS Cornwall at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda circa 1918

Upon completion, the ships served briefly in home waters before being assigned to various oversea stations (the China Station and the North America and West Indies Station). During this time HMS Bedford was wrecked in the East China Sea in 1910 and scrapped.

Following the outbreak of World War I, the ships were primarily tasked with combating German commerce raiders, patrolling in both the North and South Atlantic. HMS Monmouth was assigned to Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock's squadron, and was sunk at the Battle of Coronel in November 1914. HMS Kent was also assigned to Cradock's squadron, but failed to join in time; she remained at the Falkland Islands and joined Vice-Admiral Doveton Sturdee's squadron, which also included HMS Cornwall. In the ensuing Battle of the Falklands in December 1914, HMS Kent pursued and sank the light cruiser Nürnberg, while HMS Cornwall pursued and sank the light cruiser Leipzig. HMS Kent continued the pursuit of the light cruiser Dresden, eventually locating her and forcing her to be scuttled at the Battle of Más a Tierra. In 1915, HMS Cornwall participated in the blockade of the light cruiser Königsberg in the Rufiji River.

After World War I, several of the ships served briefly as training ships. All soon were withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1920 and 1921.



  1. ^ Massie, Robert K. (2004). Castles of Steel. Balantine Books. ISBN 0-345-40878-0.
  2. ^ The 1906 figure for Monmouth is particularly high. but is as quoted in the original. The 1914 edition also quotes £979,591 as the cost of Monmouth.
  3. ^ Brassey's Naval Annual 1905, p234-243
  4. ^ Brassey's Naval Annual 1906, p208-215


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