Cressy Class Cruiser (1899)

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The six armoured cruisers of the Cressy Class were completed between 1901 and 1904.

Overview of 6 vessels
Citations for this data available on individual ship pages
Name Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
Aboukir Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company 9 Nov, 1898 16 May, 1900 3 Apr, 1902 Torpedoed 22 Sep, 1914
Bacchante John Brown & Company 15 Feb, 1899 21 Feb, 1901 25 Nov, 1902 Sold 1 Jul, 1920
Cressy Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company 12 Oct, 1898 4 Dec, 1899 28 May, 1901 Torpedoed 22 Sep, 1914
Euryalus Vickers 18 Jul, 1899 20 May, 1901 5 Jan, 1904 Sold 1 Jul, 1920
Hogue Vickers, Barrow 14 Jul, 1898 13 Aug, 1900 19 Nov, 1902 Torpedoed 22 Sep, 1914
Sutlej John Brown & Company, Clydebank 15 Aug, 1898 18 Nov, 1899 6 May, 1902 Sold 9 May, 1921


In an important document dated 10 June, 1897, the Assistant Controller and Director of Naval Construction, Sir William H. White wrote: "The fundamental ideas on which this design is based, are as follows:—"

1. Special adaptation for service in with the Channel & Mediterranean Fleets; & the performance of all duties hitherto devolving on First Class Cruisers attached to Fleets.

2. Capacity for close action, as adjuncts to battleships.
3. Suitability for employment on detached services; if required to be used for the protection shipping, commerce & communications.

4. Armament, protection, speed & coal endurance to be such that the new cruisers should be formidable rivals to the best cruisers built or building for foreign Navies.[1]

White was influenced by a number of factors. He had in the previous two years visited France, Italy, Germany and Russia, and had acquainted himself with naval construction in those countries. The Cressy class, in his own words, "originated largely from what I found in progress in Italy in early 1895." Italy had for financial reasons nearly suspended battleship construction and had instead started constructing cruisers which could, "when necessary, be associated with battle-ships, & take part in fleet-actions." White noted that while, "for the Royal Navy there could be no question of the substitution of cruisers for battleships," he had decided "that the time had arrived when it had become necessary to construct cruisers for fleet-work, which should be capable of taking part in fleet-actions as adjuncts to battleships."

Having observed that cruisers took the historical duties of frigates, i.e. "scouts and attendants on the battle-ships" which "took no part in fleet-actions," he wrote that:

… there seems no absolutely no reason, under modern conditions, why first-class cruisers should hold aloof if designed & constructed suitably. This has become true largely through improvements in armour & armaments made in the last few years & the point seems of sufficient importance to justify further illustration.

If cruisers are to be built capable of acting with battle-ships in fleet-actions, they must be given such protection to buoyancy, stability, guns & crews, as will enable them to come to close quarters with the enemy without running undue risks.

Until the latest improvements in armour were made, the thicknesses & weights necessary to secure adequate protection, over a sufficient area & height of broadside, were such as to involve very large dimensions & cost, when associated with the high speeds & large coal supplies of necessary in cruisers. Consequently it may be said, with confidence, that no existing cruisers have the necessary protection to justify their undertaking close action with battle-ships, except it to be the Italian cruisers above mentioned & a few vessels similarly protected & of later date.


In September 1914, the ships were allowed four additional pairs of Pattern 343 Service Binoculars.[2]


In 1907, these ships, along with the Powerful, Drake, Monmouth and Devonshire classes and battleships of the Majestic, Canopus, London, and Duncan classes, were to land their searchlights from their tops and obtain two additional 24-inch models from their dockyards for placement on the shelter or boat deck. These were to be augmented by (or further upgraded to?) a pair of 36-in searchlights when they became available.[3]


During the war, along with those of other older ships, the eight 6-inch guns casemated on the main deck proved of little use in practical sea states. All were removed and half relocated to the upper deck in spray shields.[4]

9.2-in Guns

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916 except where noted.[5]

This section is also pertinent to King Alfred and possibly also to Good Hope.

  • two 9.2-in Mark X guns in single Mark VI mountings fore and aft, able to elevate 13 degrees and depress 5 degrees.

The sights were gear-worked with a range gearing constant of 37.04, graduated to 13 degrees (14,400 yards at full charge) but only able to elevate to 12.5 degrees. Range dials were provided for full charge at 2650 fps, reduced charge at 2150 fps, and 3-pdr sub-calibre and 1-in aiming rifle. M.V. was corrected by adjustable pointer to +/- 75 fps. The deflection was on a gearing constant of 77.95, 1 knot being 2.61 arc minutes, calibrated for 2643 fps at 5000 yards.

Drift was corrected by inclining the sight carrier 1.5 degrees. The sight lines were 12 inches above the bore, and offset to 45 inches left and 37.5 inches right.

A "C" corrector was fitted, presumably also a temperature corrector.

105 rounds per gun.[6]

6-in Guns

This section is generally sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916 except as noted.[7]

The twelve 6-in B.L. guns Mark VII were arranged in single mountings on the broadsides. The mountings may have possibly been P. III or P. IV of first or second series.

The eight guns on the main deck were later removed, with four being resited on the upper deck in spray shields.

100 rounds per gun, though room for 200 rounds per gun was provided.[8]

Other Guns

Some anti-torpedo boat guns and saluting guns.[9]

  • fourteen 12-pdr Q.F. guns with 300 rounds per gun
  • three 3-pdr Q.F. guns with 500 rounds per gun


  • two 18-in submerged broadside tubes forward, depressed three degrees and bearing abeam; axis of tube was 7 foot 7.5 inches below load water line and 1 feet 6 inches above deck.[10]

Dreyer Table

These ships never received Dreyer tables.[11]

Fire Control Instruments

By 1909, the 6 ships in this class were equipped with Vickers instruments for range, deflection and orders and with Barr and Stroud rate instruments:[12]

  • Vickers range transmitters: 6
  • Vickers deflection transmitters: 6
  • Vickers combined range and deflection receivers: 23
  • Vickers C.O.S.: 3
  • Vickers Check fire switches: 6
  • Barr and Stroud rate transmitters: 4
  • Barr and Stroud rate receivers: 8
  • Siemens Fire Gongs (turrets): 4 with 2 keys
  • Vickers Fire Gongs (elsewhere): 12 with 4 keys
  • Siemens Captain's Cease Fire Bells: 18 with 1 key

These ships lacked Target Visible and Gun Ready signals.[13]


In 1901, Cressy with the China Squadron and Aboukir in Reserve were listed as having or slated to receive a "1 to 52" W/T set.[14] Based on the push to deploy wireless in such units, it is likely that her sisters were completed with W/T or received them shortly thereafter.[Inference]

See Also


  1. This section is based on and quoted from S.11584. The National Archives. ADM 116/446. Unnumbered folios.
  2. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 331 of 8 Sep, 1914.
  3. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1907. p. 35. The location for each ship type was placement stipulated in C.N.2 11884/13066, 13.12.1906.
  4. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 4, Part 36. p. 9-10.
  5. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 55, 105-6, 108, 110.
  6. Form A. The National Archives. ADM 116/446
  7. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp 58, 105, 108, 110.
  8. Form A. The National Archives. ADM 116/446.
  9. Form A. The National Archives. ADM 116/446.
  10. Torpedo Manual, Vol. III, 1909. p. 265.
  11. Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. p. 3.
  12. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. pp. 56, 60.
  13. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
  14. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1901. p. 112.


  • "Cressy Class". Twin Screw Armoured Cruisers. Board approval of the design at The National Archives. ADM116/446.
  • Friedman, Norman (2012). British Cruisers of the Victorian Era. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1591140684 (on and
  • Admiralty, Technical History Section (1920). The Technical History and Index: Alteration in Armaments of H.M. Ships during the War. Vol. 4, Part 34. C.B. 1515 (34) now O.U. 6171/20. At The National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1910). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1909. Copy No. 173 is Ja 345a at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1914). Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. G. 01627/14. C.B. 1030. Copy 1235 at The National Archives. ADM 186/191.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1917). The Director Firing Handbook. O.U. 6125 (late C.B. 1259). Copy No. 322 at The National Archives. ADM 186/227.
  • Admiralty, Gunnery Branch (1918). Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. C.B. 1456. Copy No. 10 at Admiralty Library, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.

Cressy Class Armoured Cruiser
  Aboukir Bacchante Cressy  
  Euryalus Hogue Sutlej  
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