H.M.S. Majestic (1895)

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H.M.S. Majestic (1895)
Pendant Number: D.04 (1914)[1]
Builder: Portsmouth Royal Dockyard[2]
Ordered: 1893[3]
Laid down: 5 Feb, 1894[4]
Launched: 31 Jan, 1895[5]
Completed: Dec, 1895[6]
Commissioned: 12 Dec, 1895[7]
Torpedoed: 27 May, 1915[8]
Fate: by U 21 off Helles

H.M.S. Majestic was a battleship of the Royal Navy, and the lead ship of the Majestic class. She served as the flagship of the Channel Squadron from commissioning for eight years whence she went in and out of reserve until the Great War. She was relegated to secondary duties when recommissioned and for the Dardanelles Campaign she was despatched as a mine clearer. She was struck by two torpedoes while anchored off Gaba Tepe on 27 May, 1915, and capsized with the loss of forty crew.

Service

Early Career

Majestic's keel plate was laid down in No. 13 dock in the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard on 5 February, 1894. She was named by the Princess Louise and floated out of her dock on 31 January, 1895. She was commissioned as flagship of the Channel Squadron at Portsmouth on 12 December of that year under Captain Arthur Barrow with a crew transferred from H.M.S. Royal Sovereign.[9] She served as fleet flagship until 1904. Her construction was rumoured to have been delayed by armour plate being diverted to the construction of H.M.S. Magnificent at Chatham Royal Dockyard. In February of 1904, she paid off at Portsmouth before being recommissioned in July into the renamed Channel Fleet. On 14 December she suffered a coal gas explosion which left one sailor dead and two injured.

In late November 1904, while operating with the Channel Fleet, she suffered a fracture of the "A" tube near the muzzle in two of her Mark VIII 12-in guns led to an inspection of those same weapons in eleven ships. Initial responses from the D.N.O. was to surmise that the guns had been fired with tampeons in place. Fourteen more of the Forty-four guns inspected were found to be defective and were withdrawn from their ships. It was deemed that the sleeves were contracting near the muzzle, generally after about 50 full charge firings.[10]

In August, 1906 she joined the Atlantic Fleet and in October was commissioned into the Reserve. In February, 1907 she was attached to the Nore Division of the Home Fleet before undergoing a refit at H.M. Dockyard, Chatham which lasted until January, 1908. There she was refitted with Fire Control devices (which necessitated alteration to her fighting tops) and wireless equipment. Majestic then commissioned back into the Home Fleet before temporarily joining the Nore Division from February until June. From then until August, 1909 she was placed in the Devonport Division of the Home Fleet (with a nucleus crew, effectively in reserve).

In June, 1910 Majestic participated in manœuvres where in heavy fog she collided with H.M.S. Victorious. Majestic suffered no damage but Victorious had her stern-walk damaged and her starboard engine temporarily disabled. No blame was afterwards placed. From August, 1910 to May, 1912 she acted as a parent ship for other battleships in Devonport. With the reorganisation of the fleet on 1 May, 1912 she became part of the Third Fleet (of the Home Fleet), manned by a care and maintenance crew. She remained in reserve as part of the 4th Division in Devonport until the mobilisation at the outbreak of war.

In mid-July, 1914, the ship was ordered to take up station in the Humber as part of a force of four Majestic class battleships and two Cressy class cruisers being sent there to be demobilised on the 25th. Her crew was to be transferred to Ocean.[11]

Great War

On the outbreak of war Majestic was commissioned into the Seventh Battle Squadron of the Channel Fleet. In between 3–14 October, 1914 she formed part of the escort to the convoy bringing the first contingent of Canadian soldiers across the Atlantic Ocean for service in France. Until early 1915 she was engaged in patrolling the English Channel and had occasion to bombard the Belgian village of Lombardsijde. She was fitted as a "mine-bumper" and sent to participate in the first major naval assault on the Dardanelles on 18 March, under the command of Captain H. F. G. Talbot. She lent supporting gunfire in the Dardanelles until 26 May, 1915, when she became the flagship of Rear-Admiral Stuart Nicholson at Gaba Tepe.

On 27 May Majestic was anchored inshore amongst transports and esorts when a periscope was sighted 400 yards away and a torpedo wake streaming through a gap in the nearby ships. Despite her anti-torpedo nets being out, the torpedo fired by U.21 passed straight through the heavy mesh and hit her amidships. It was followed by another one and within seven minutes Majestic, betraying the lack of internal torpedo protection common to her generation, capsized. Forty men were killed, mostly by the exploding torpedoes, and the upturned ship rested on the remains of her masts for months, her keel protruding above the water, until at the end of 1915 they collapsed and she sank beneath the waves.

Funnel Bands

Majestic class ships had a pair of funnels abreast each other with idiosyncratic numbers of slender steam vent pipes afore and abaft each (in all cases somewhat shorter than the funnel). In Majestic's case, her port funnel had 2 vents abaft, and her starboard funnel a single vent abaft.

Majestic's funnels wore 2 red bands as of 1914.[12]

Radio

By the end of 1901, she was fitted or due to receive a Marconi W/T set.[13]

Torpedoes

In 1895, Majestic and Magnificent were the first ships provided the newest torpedoes, each being given seventeen 18-in Mark IX torpedoes and five 14-in Mark IV torpedoes for use with their boats.[14]

In June 1898, the Illustrious and Majestic became the second and third ships in the Royal Navy to receive torpedoes fitted for gyroscopes (but only two gyroscopes were provided), drawn from the Portsmouth Depot:[15]

Captains

Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also

Footnotes

  1. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 29.
  2. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 29.
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. p. 34.
  4. Burt. British Battleships: 1889-1904. p. 147.
  5. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 29.
  6. Burt. British Battleships: 1889-1904. p. 147.
  7. "Naval & Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Friday, 13 December, 1895. Issue 34759, col B, p. 7.
  8. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 29.
  9. "Naval & Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Friday, 13 December, 1895. Issue 34759, col B, p. 7.
  10. Principal Questions Dealt with by the Director of Naval Ordnance, 1905. pp. 393-6, 580-7.
  11. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 140 of 17 July 1914.
  12. Jane. Jane's Fighting Ships 1914. p. 54.
  13. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1901. p. 111.
  14. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1895. p. viii.
  15. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1898. p. 42.
  16. Barrow Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38/72. f. 65.
  17. Barrow Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38/72. f. 65.
  18. The Navy List. (October, 1898). p. 269.
  19. Milford Haven Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 59.
  20. Milford Haven Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/19. f. 391.
  21. Egerton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 396.
  22. Egerton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 396.
  23. Bradford Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 335.
  24. Bradford Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 335.
  25. Evan-Thomas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 105.
  26. Evan-Thomas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 105.
  27. Campbell Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38/221. ff. 195, 199.
  28. The Navy List. (October, 1904). p. 343.
  29. Campbell Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38/221. ff. 195, 199.
  30. The Navy List. (October, 1904). p. 343.
  31. Madden Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 83.
  32. Madden Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 83.
  33. Kingsmill Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 755.
  34. Kingsmill Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 755.
  35. Fraser Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 5.
  36. Fraser Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 5.
  37. Stileman Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/39/503. f. 1228.
  38. Stileman Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/39/503. f. 1228.
  39. Gaunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  40. Gaunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/20. f. 575.
  41. Nugent Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 469.
  42. Nugent Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 469.
  43. Fyler Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42/155. f. 182.
  44. Fyler Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42/155. f. 182.
  45. Chambers Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 407.
  46. Chambers Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 407.
  47. Borrett Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 505.
  48. The Navy List. (April, 1911). p. 342.
  49. Borrett Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 505.
  50. The Navy List. (July, 1913). p. 343.
  51. Gaunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49. f. 161.
  52. The Navy List. (April, 1914). p. 343.
  53. Underhill Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 480.
  54. Talbot Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/421. f. 421.
  55. The Navy List. (December, 1914). p. 353.
  56. Talbot Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/421. f. 421.
  57. Naval Operations. Volume II. index.

Bibliography

  • Dittmar, F.J.; Colledge, J.J. (1972). British Warships 1914–1919. London: Ian Allan.
  • Jane, Fred T. (editor) (1914, 1969). Jane's Fighting Ships 1914. Published 1914 by Sampson Low Marston, reprinted 1969 by Arco Publishing Company, New York.
  • Parkes, O.B.E., Ass.I.N.A., Dr. Oscar (1990). British Battleships 1860–1950. London: Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0850526043. (on Bookfinder.com).


Majestic Class Pre-dreadnought
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