Canopus class battleships (1897)

United Kingdom (1897)
Canopus, Albion, Glory, Goliath, Ocean, Vengeance

Successors of the Majestic

Five ships of a new class of battleships were ordered on the 1896 plan. A sixth was on the 1897 plan. They were defined as faster versions of the Majestic, and at the same time to operate in the Far East to counterpoise especially the growing weight of the Nippon Navy. A real quadrature of the circle was also made, by reducing the thickness of the armor and the total weight of 2000 tons, by using Krupp steel rather than Harvey. Their armor and their artillery disposition remained modeled on those of the Majestic. Their “turrets” were actually relatively light barbettes, made of Krupp steel plates. The loading system was also new and allowed to operate it with parts inclined at all angles. These were also the first British battleships to have water tube boilers. The latter, Belleville, were scarcely heavier than the old ones and they put pressure on 300 bars, as against 155 on the old ones.

Brassey's diagram of the class
Brassey’s diagram of the class


Canopus drawing by Alfred T. janes

The arrangement of these new boilers also made that their funnels were found in tandem and not side by side, provision kept thereafter for the future battleships. Test power reached 13,500 hp and reached speed of 18.5 knots. As expected, their career began with a long stay in the Far East squadron, which culminated after the Japanese victory against Russia in 1905 by a cautious military alliance with the Japanese Empire. As a result of this threat, the British repatriated a number of ships including these battleships into the Home Fleet, to ward off the growing threat of the Hochseeflotte.


HMS canopus front artillery

HMS Albion

HMS Albion was in the 1906 Sailing Squadron before reemerging in Chatham in 1907. He was posted to the Home Fleet in Portsmouth and then to the Fleet. Atlantic. During the Great War he was sent to South Africa. Then he was assigned to the Mediterranean, bombing the strong Turks at the Dardanelles. He was touched seriously. After repairs, he sent troops to Salonica. Finally, he was stationed as coastguard of the Southeast fleet from the end of 1915 until 1918. He was assigned to Devonport, disarmed and used as a utility pontoon until 1922.

12 inches gun right elevation
12 inches gun right elevation

HMS Canopus

The HMS Canopus served in the Channel, then in the Mediterranean, and returned to the metropolis, before being assigned to Port Stanley in the Malvinas at the end of 1914. He could not take part in the fleet of Cradock which was defeated by the Von Spee squadron, but his guns fired a few later against German cruisers without results. He then rallied to the Dardanelles, then blockaded Smyrna, and returned in 1916 to Chatham, set aside, and sold in 1920.

HMS Albion shelling Turkish forts of the Dardanelles
HMS Albion shelling Turkish forts of the Dardanelles

HMS Glory

HMS Glory was sent during the war to North America and then to the East Indies as flagship. He then worked in the Red Sea, then in the Mediterranean, defending the Suez Canal. He then joined Archangel and remained there as a coast guard until 1919 before the sale and demolition.

HMS Goliath

HMS Goliath served in the Channel, then in Scotland in 1914. He covered troop landings in Belgium (Ostend), and in the East Indies, and in November he was on the Rufiji River in Africa, firing the Königsberg. He was sent to the Dardanelles in 1915, to support the operations at Cape Helles, and twice touched. Finally, on the night of May 13, it was torpedoed and sunk by the Turkish submarine Muavenet, sinking in a few moments carrying 570 men.

HMS Ocean in 1900
HMS Ocean in 1900

HMS Ocean

HMS Ocean was based in the Mediterranean, then in the Home Fleet and in the war in Pembroke. At the beginning of the war, he was sent to Queenstown in Jamaica, then to the East Indies. In November, he was in the Persian Gulf, then served in the Mediterranean, and fought the Dardanelles from February to March 1915. On the 18th, he struck a mine, after having wandered, hit by large Turkish caliber. It sank in three hours, leaving almost all of its surviving crew to evacuate.

Launching of HMS Vengeance
Launching of HMS Vengeance

HMS Vengeance

HMS Vengeance served in Channel, then in Home Fleet. Unhappy in his career, he hit a freighter, then ran aground in the Thames, and hit the destroyer Biter in 1910. In 1914 they still served as a training ship for gunners. He served then in the Atlantic with the 8th squadron of line, and in November 1914, operated against Cameroon, German colony. He was then detached to Egypt, then to Cape Verde. He was Admiral De Robeck’s flagship in Gibraltar, before joining the Dardanelles. He fired the forts of Cape Helles, covered the landings, before returning to Egypt. He then rallied to the East Indies, then returned to Egypt, opera again on the East African coast, and then in South Africa. He returned to Devonport in 1917 and was rearmed and kept as a ship-prescription. It was dropped from the lists in 1919, and demolished in 1921.

Canopus
Artist’s Rendition of HMS Canopus

Neptune specifications

Dimensions 128,47 x 22,56 x 7,98 m (ft)
Displacement 13,150t, 14,300 Tons FL
Crew 682 Peacetime
Propulsion 2 shafts, 3 TE engines, 20 Belleville boilers, 13,500cv.
Speed 18 knots ()
Range 6,330 nautical miles (11,720 km; 7,280 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Armament 4 x 305, 12 x 152, 10 x 76, 6 x 47, 4 x 457 mm TT (sub).
Armor Belt 152, Battery 254, Barbettes 305, turrets 203, blockhaus 152, decks 51 mm.

Sources/Read More

Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley: Seaforth
Burt, R. A. (2013) [1988]. British Battleships 1889–1904. Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing
Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships: 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press
Canopus-class on Wikipedia

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