H.M.S. Centurion (1911)

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H.M.S. Centurion (1911)
Pendant Number: 12 (Aug 1914)
35 (Jan 1918)
83 (Apr 1918)[1]
Builder: Devonport Royal Dockyard[2]
Ordered: 1910 Programme[3]
Laid down: 16 Jan, 1911[4]
Launched: 18 Nov, 1911[5]
Commissioned: 1 May, 1913
Scuttled: 9 Jun, 1944[6]
Fate: as a breakwater

H.M.S. Centurion was a dreadnought battleship of the Royal Navy and formed part of the King George V class. She saw constant service throughout the First World War and during the period after during Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, where a number of British battleships patrolled the Black Sea.

After a period in reserve Centurion was converted to a Target ship, for which rôle she was essentially gutted and converted to remote control. After many years in this duty she ended up as a decoy and anti-aircraft ship during the Mediterranean campaign of the Second World War. Towards the end of the war she was finally pronounced surplus to active requirements and was scuttled as a breakwater off Arromanches to facilitate landing of troops during the invasion of France in 1944.

Service

Pre-war

While launching she was caught by the wind and swung along side a moored cruiser, crushing one of the cruiser's boats while avoiding collision.

Doing trials off Portland on 9 December, 1912 she collided with the Italian steamship Derna which sank with the loss of 36 lives.

As completed she was equipped with an experimental searchlight director, a new innovation. She was completed with a light pole mast which eventually proved inadequate to carry the range of fire control devices developed since her launch. Progressively she was updated so as to be given a full-height tripod mast.

Centurion served in the Second Battle Squadron from at least December 1913, remaining with that squadron throughout the war.  In February 1919, she was sent to Portsmouth.[7] In March 1919, she found herself in Devonport with Ajax.[8] In May, she was on "miscellaneous service", remaining so until July at least.[9]

Jutland

Main article: H.M.S. Centurion at the Battle of Jutland

Centurion operated as part of the Second Battle Squadron at the Battle, under the command of Captain Michael Culme-Seymour.

Post-War

She completed to full crew at Malta 8 August, 1920.[10]

Centurion re-commissioned at Portsmouth on 24 April, 1922 and served for a time as flagship of Vice-Admiral Commanding, Reserve Fleet.[11]

In 1926 Centurion was slated to replace Agamemnon as target ship, and under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty was demilitarised with the removal of all her secondary armament and her five 13.5-in turrets. She was converted from mostly coal oiling to diesel to facilitate radio control. Her coal bunkers were filled with shingle to compensate for the loss of weight incurred by the loss of armament and ammunition. Her draught was increased from 27½ feet to 31. The tops of the engineering spaces were covered with armour plating, and all un-armoured spaces below decks were filled with cork to increase buoyancy.

A number of short-range wireless receiving and transmitting sets were installed along with eleven separate aerials. Instructions were passed from the controlling destroyer (H.M.S. Shikari) by use of a standard telephone using combinations of numbers. A substantially reduced complement of officers was carried although two hundred ratings were required to oversee the ship. During a shoot the crew would retire to mess-decks below the waterline where the chance of being hit was minimal. Despite her added weight and new fuel, the ship could still steam under remote control at a speed of 16 knots.

She re-commissioned at Portsmouth on 8 November, 1927.[12]

Second World War

In 1940 it was proposed that in common with other World War I vintage warships Centurion, then lying in H.M. Dockyard, Devonport, should be equipped as an Anti Aircraft ship for the Norwegian campaign. Before this could be approved, Norway and France fell to the Germans. As a last ditch measure, she was equipped with a number of small calibre weapons in the event of German invasion. As the threat of invasion receded and British naval forces suffered greater and greater losses in the Mediterranean, the Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided to have Centurion used as a block ship in the entrance to Tripoli (Libya).

Alterations

In 1913, Centurion was slated as part of the twelve ship order to receive a director along the lines of that developed in Neptune. She was fully equipped sometime in 1914 prior to the start of the war.[13]

In October 1914, the ship was to be given 5 Pattern 1582 Electric Radiators to warm cabins whose stoves could not be used for heating them.[14]

By the end of 1915, she had been equipped with a Torpedo Control Plotting Instrument Mark I in her T.C.T.. This probably made her the first ship in the class to be so equipped.[15]

Searchlights

In late 1913, two 24-in Automatic Motor Lamps manufactured by Messrs. Clarke, Chapman & Co. Ltd., a model which had recently been trialled in Vernon, were to be installed in the ship at Devonport Royal Dockyard for a three-month trial.[16]

Rangefinders

When in 1918 it was desired to give each capital ship possible an additional effective 9-foot rangefinder to support torpedo control, Centurion proposed one centrally on the fore bridge.[17]

Telescopes

In September 1914, the ship was to be sent sixteen 3/9 power telescopes and to return the same number of 2.5 power scopes, Pattern G. 329 upon receipt. These were likely to serve as trainer telescopes. Constrained supplies meant that 26% of the scopes actually supplied her may have wound up being 5/12 or 5/21 scopes.[18]

Radio

By the end of 1913, she and the rest of the Second Battle Squadron were all equipped with Battleship Auxiliary W/T sets.[19]

Captains

Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also

Footnotes

  1. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 33.
  2. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 33.
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 30.
  4. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 30.
  5. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 33.
  6. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 33.
  7. See Second Battle Squadron for citations.
  8. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (March, 1919). p. 19.
  9. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (May, 1919). p. 19 and Supplements through July.
  10. The Navy List. (January, 1921). p. 744.
  11. The Navy List. (April, 1925). p. 224.
  12. The Navy List. (July, 1931). p. 223.
  13. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 9-10.
  14. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 512 of 16 Oct, 1914.
  15. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1915. p. 60. Her sisters are not mentioned in the same source, but are referenced by mid 1917.
  16. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 702 of 5 Dec, 1913.
  17. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1918. p. 177.
  18. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 408 of 25 Sep, 1914.
  19. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. W/T Appendix, p. 13.
  20. Gaunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49. f. 161.
  21. Gaunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49. f. 161.
  22. Hood Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 114.
  23. Hood Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 114.
  24. The Navy List. (October, 1915). p. 392r.
  25. Culme-Seymour Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 477.
  26. Culme-Seymour Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 477.
  27. Kerr Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/225. f. 225.
  28. Kerr Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/225. f. 225.
  29. Keyes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 277.
  30. The Navy List. (December, 1916). p. 393.
  31. Keyes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 277.
  32. The Navy List. (February, 1919). p. 754.
  33. The Navy List. (August, 1919). p. 754.
  34. Heard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 84.
  35. Heard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 84.
  36. Stapleton-Cotton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/411. f. 411.
  37. The Navy List. (January, 1923). p. 735.
  38. Stapleton-Cotton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/411. f. 411.
  39. Bowring Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 317.
  40. Bowring Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 317.
  41. James Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45. f. 32.
  42. Bowring Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 317.
  43. James Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45. f. 32.
  44. James Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45. f. 32.
  45. James Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45. f. 32.
  46. MacFarlan Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/46. f. 176.
  47. MacFarlan Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/46. f. 176.
  48. Mackie, Colin. ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS.
  49. Hamilton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/46. f. 67.
  50. Tillard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/46. f. 95.
  51. Tillard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/46. f. 95.
  52. Plowden Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/46/64. f. 64.
  53. Legge Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/48/170. f. 574.
  54. Legge Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/48/170. f. 574.
  55. Watkins Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/50/154. f. 239.
  56. Watkins Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/50/154. f. 239.
  57. Whitworth Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49/232. f. 117.
  58. Whitworth Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49/232. f. 117.
  59. Legge Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/48/170. f. 574.
  60. Legge Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/48/170. f. 574.
  61. Beckett Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/55/100. f. 100.
  62. Beckett Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/55/100. f. 100.
  63. Mackie, Colin. ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS.

Bibliography


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