H.M.S. Neptune (1909)

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H.M.S. Neptune (1909)
Pendant Number: 02 (1914)
89 (Jan 1918)
79 (Apr 1918)[1]
Builder: Portsmouth Royal Dockyard[2]
Ordered: 1908 Programme[3]
Laid down: 19 Jan, 1909[4]
Launched: 30 Sep, 1909[5]
Commissioned: 1 Feb, 1911
Sold: 1 Sep, 1922[6]
Fate: Scrapped
H.M.S. Neptune's Foretop, as seen from abaft.

H.M.S. Neptune was a battleship of the Royal Navy, and the only member of her class. She was laid down at Portsmouth Royal Dockyard in 1909, launched the same year, and completed at the beginning of 1911. After trials in the Mediterranean she became flagship of the principal British fleet, the Home Fleet, and in 1912 flagship of the First Fleet of the Home Fleets. She was relieved as fleet flagship in 1914 and joined the First Battle Squadron. At the outbreak of the Great War the First Fleet became the Grand Fleet, Neptune and was present at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. After the battle she was transferred to the Fourth Battle Squadron. Following the conclusion of the war and the dissolution of the Grand Fleet in 1919 Neptune was placed in reserve. She was sold for scrap in 1922.

Service

On 3 January, 1911, Captain Charles Martin-de-Bartolomé was appointed to H.M.S. Victory for command of Neptune,[7] which he commissioned at Portsmouth on 11 January, with the nucleus crew of Illustrious forming part of the complement.[8] She departed Portsmouth for the Mediterranean on trials on 21 January.[9] She tested her director on 11 March off Tetuoan,[10] before returning to Portsmouth on 20 March.[11]

She recommissioned at Portsmouth on 28 January, 1913.[12]

Jutland

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

Neptune was under the command of Captain Vivian Bernard and operating with the First Battle Squadron during the battle. She suffered no damage and contributed to fire against the light cruiser S.M.S. Wiesbaden.

Post-War

She recommissioned at Rosyth on 20 May, 1920.[13]

Telescopes

In September 1914, the ship was to be sent eight 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.[14]

Radio

This ship probably had Service Gear Mark II wireless upon completion.[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 Portsmouth Royal Dockyard for a three-month trial.[16]

The ship was also fitted with Siemens' No. 3 Twin Mountings for 24-in projectors. In 1914, some or all of these were to be modified to permit 90 degree elevation for use in anti-aircraft work.[17]

Armament

Main Battery

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.[18]

Neptune's ten 12-in guns were Mark XI mounted in B. XI turrets. The mounting could elevate 15 degrees and depress 5.

The gun sights were the same as those used in the St. Vincent class, and were limited to 15 degrees elevation and the dials were only graduated to 14 degrees. 6 degree super-elevation prisms would have been provided by 1916.

The deflection gearing constant was 136, with 1 knot equalling 2.30 arc minutes, calculated as 2900 fps at 5000 yards. Range drums were provided for full charge at 2850 fps, three-quarter charge at 2300 fps, as well as 6-pdr sub-calibre gun and 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles.

Muzzle velocity was corrected by adjustable scale plate between 2880 and 2580 fps. The adjustable temperature scale plate could vary between 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and a "C" corrector could alter the ballistic coefficient by +/- 20%.

Deflection was corrected by inclining the sight 4 degrees and by use of 4 degrees permanent right deflection.

The side position sighting lines 37.5 inches above and 39.5 inches abreast the bore, and the central scopes were 49.5 inches above and 42 inches abreast. The left-hand centre position sight was a free trainer's sight, able to swing freely in pitch.

A box of tools was provided for every 4 sights.

Secondary Battery

This section is sourced in The Sight Manual, 1916.[19]

Twelve 4-in B.L. Mark VII guns on P. II* mountings were arranged for broadside fire. They were similar to the P. II and P. II* equipment fitted in the Bellerophon, Orion, Indefatigable classes and other ships.

The mounting could elevate 15 degrees and depress 7 degrees, but though its sight could match the 15 degree elevation, the range dial was only graduated to 11.5 degrees (10,000 yards).

These cam-worked sights had range dials for 2750 fps, and 1-in and .303-in aiming rifles. M.V. could be corrected by adjustable pointer through +/- 150 fps.

The range dial may have been 14 inches in diameter with markings that came closer together at higher ranges, as in the P. II. If so, the marks were 34 inch apart for 50 yards difference at 500 yards and was 18 inch for 50 yards difference at 9,000 yards.

Like those in the St. Vincents, these sights were not F.T.P. sights, though the P. II* sights on later ships (e.g., some Orions) were.

The deflection gearing constant was 64.277 with 1 knot equal to 2.41 arc minutes, corresponding to 2800 fps at 2000 yards. Drift was corrected by inclining the sight 2 degrees.

The layer's sight line was 14 inches above the bore, and 15.25 inches left. The trainer's sight line was 15.25 inches above and 12.5 inches right.

The sight had a temperature corrector, but no "C" corrector.

The layer had an open sight. The trainer's sight could be used as a free sight with a counterweight.

In February, 1913, these mountings, along with many other 4-in and 6-in mountings in capital ships were to have illumination added for their training index racers.[20] In August of that 1913, Portsmouth Royal Dockyard was to supply head rests for these guns, to be fitted in the dockyard when the opportunity arose.[21]

The original storage was 150 rounds per gun,[22] but after the Battle of Jutland, when alterations to increase protection forced weight-savings to compensate, the ammunition allotment for these guns was to be reduced to 150 rounds per gun and 6 shrapnel rounds.[23]

Torpedoes

Three 18-in submerged tubes:[24]

  • two broadside forward, 12 feet 4.625 inches below load water line depressed 2 degrees, axis of tube 1 foot 10 inches above the deck
  • one stern tube 8.5 feet below load WL, depressed 1 degree, axis of tube 1 foot 8.625 inches above the deck

In 1913, it was approved as part of a general reallocation of 18-in torpedoes, to replace the Mark VI** H. or 18-in Mark VI*** H. torpedoes on Neptune, St. Vincent, Bellerophon and Dreadnought classes with with Mark VII* or Mark VI**.[25] The Admiralty had simultaneously imposed a limit of gyro angle settings of 20 degrees in these same ships. This restriction was lifted just before the war.[26]

In 1917/1918, the stern torpedo tube was removed altogether.[27]

Fire Control

Spotting

In late 1913, the ship landed a Pattern 740 Zeiss stereo spotting telescope Mark II at Portsmouth in order to take on a Ross Pattern 873 model for a three-month comparative evaluation.[28]

Rangefinders

The ship eventually had six rangefinders: one in the foretop and one in each turret roof, though the turrets were not initially equipped despite a widely-trusted source claiming they were.[29][30]

In 1918, a high-angle rangefinder (likely a 2m F.T. 29) was added to the control top, and possibly a general purpose rangefinder installed on its roof.[31] In October 1914, armoured hoods were being expedited for recently-crafted positions for a rangefinder in each turret.[32]

In June 1914, the ship was directed to return its Waymouth-Cooke Rangefinder to the manufacturer to replace the long telescope with a shorter one.[33]

Sometime during or after 1917, an additional 9-foot rangefinder on an open mounting was to be added specifically to augment torpedo control.[34]

Evershed Bearing Indicators

Neptune lacked this equipment as built, but was likely provided it for her main armament in 1916 or soon thereafter as approved in 1916.[35]

When so equipped, one might guess that her particulars resembled those of the Colossus class.

In 1917, it was approve that capital ships of Dreadnought class and later should have Evershed equipment added to their C.T., able to communicate with either the fore top or a controlling turret. If there were not enough room in the C.T., a bearing plate with open sights and 6-power binoculars would be added to the C.T.. At the same time, all directors were to be fitted with receivers and, "as far as possible", ships were to have fore top, G.C.T. and controlling turrets fitted to transmit as well as receive, though this was noted as being impossible in some earlier ships.[36]

Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter

At some point, Neptune was equipped with a pair of Mechanical Aid-to-Spotter Mark Is, one on each side of the foretop, keyed off the Evershed rack on the director. As the need for such gear was apparently first identified in early 1916, it seems likely that these installations were effected well after Jutland.[37]

In 1917, it was decided that these should have mechanical links from the director and pointers indicating the aloft Evershed's bearing.[38]

Gunnery Control

The control arrangements were as follows.[39]

Control Positions

  • Fore top
  • Main top
  • "A" turret
  • "X" turret

Some ships had C.O.S.s within the control positions so they could be connected to either T.S..[40]

Control Groups

The five 12-in turrets were each a separate group with a local C.O.S.[Inference] so that it could be connected to

  • Forward T.S.
  • After T.S.
  • Local control from officer's position within turret

Directors

Neptune, along with Thunderer, was one of the first ships fitted with a director, receiving hers in 1911. The prototype may have required some service modification, however, as Neptune was listed as part of the seventeen ship order in 1913.[41]

Main Battery

Neptune had a geared tripod-type director in a light aloft tower on the foremast along with a directing gun in "A" turret (rather than in "Y", as in most other ships).[42] The battery was not divisible into groups for split director firing.[43] Presumably, a C.O.S. in the T.S. allowed the following modes of director fire:

  1. All guns on aloft tower
  2. All guns on directing gun in "A" turret

The turret Elevation Receivers were pattern number H. 18, capable of matching the 15 degree elevation limit of the mountings. She was the only ship to carry this model. The Training Receivers were the single dial type, pattern number 5.[44]

Secondary Battery

The 4-in guns never had directors installed.[45]

Torpedo Control

By the end of 1917, common torpedo control additions to all capital ships were to be adopted where not already in place. Those for Dreadnought and later classes with 18-in tubes were to include:[46]

  • duplication of firing circuits and order and gyro angle instruments to allow all tubes to be directed from either C.T. or T.C.T.
  • navyphones from both control positions to all tube positions
  • bearing instruments between "control position, and R.F., and course and speed of enemy instruments where applicable, between the transmitting stations and the control positions."
  • range circuits between R.F.s and control positions

Transmitting Stations

Like all large British ships of the era prior to King George V and Queen Mary, Neptune had two T.S.s.[47]

Dreyer Table

Neptune was eventually retro-fitted with a Mark I Dreyer Table, but was never given Dreyer Turret Control Tables.[48]

Fire Control Instruments

Neptune continued the use of Barr and Stroud Mark II* range, deflection and order instruments that had been used by the preceding Bellerophon and St. Vincent classes.[49] Her transmitters, however, included correctional gear similar to Vickers F.T.P. systems then in use. In essence, these permitted a correction in range or deflection to be summed into the values transmitted, and the present correction handled separately on its own indicator.[50]

The ship also had Target Visible and Gun Ready signals, with indications of which turret could see the target and which guns were ready being visible in the T.S.s and control positions.[51]

In 1910, it was decided that the telaupad control of the secondary battery in Neptune, Indefatigable, Hercules and Colossus should be replaced with Rudolph voicepipes. Other ships in the Home Fleet had also been experimentally fitted, but a report on a final decision was still pending.[52]

Captains

Dates of appointment are provided when known.

See Also

Footnotes

  1. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 32.
  2. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 32.
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 25.
  4. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. p. 25.
  5. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 32.
  6. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships 1914–1919. p. 32.
  7. Bartolomé Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 208.
  8. "The Battleship Neptune" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Wednesday, 11 January, 1911. Issue 39479, col D, p. 7.
  9. "The Trials of the Neptune" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Monday, 23 January, 1911. Issue 39489, col C, p. 6.
  10. "Report on Director Firing trial of H.M.S. "Neptune" carried out 11th March 1912 at Tetuan." Docket in Lion's ship's cover. SC 251. Brass Foundry Out-Station, National Maritime Museum.
  11. "The Trials of the Neptune" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Tuesday, 21 March, 1911. Issue 39538, col C, p. 10.
  12. The Navy List. (April, 1914). p. 348.
  13. The Navy List. (January, 1921). p. 815.
  14. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 408 of 25 Sep, 1914.
  15. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1908. Wireless Appendix, p. 13.
  16. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 702 of 5 Dec, 1913.
  17. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1914. p. 52.
  18. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 35-36, 106, 108-109, Plates 11-13.
  19. The Sight Manual, 1916. pp. 89-90, 108, Plate 39.
  20. Admiralty Weekly Orders. The National Archives. ADM 182/4. 21 Feb, 1913 entries. pp. 3-4.
  21. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 470 of 22 Aug, 1913.
  22. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. p. 128.
  23. Grand Fleet Gunnery and Torpedo Orders. No. 167, part 5.
  24. Addenda (1911) to Torpedo Manual, Vol. III., 1909, p. 155.
  25. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1913. p. 8.
  26. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 207 of 31 July 1914.
  27. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. p. 116.
  28. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 662 of 21 Nov, 1913.
  29. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. p. 112. It appears likely that Burt is incorrect that the turrets had rangefinders when first completed, as many photos show them being without and as late as October 1914 the Admiralty was still asking that she have armoured hoods fitted atop the freshly-cut holes in the turret roofs.
  30. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 455 of 6 Oct, 1914.
  31. Burt. British Battleships of World War One. p. 116.
  32. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 455 of 6 Oct, 1914.
  33. Admiralty Weekly Order No. 68 of 26 June 1914.
  34. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 198. (C.I.O. 481/17).
  35. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1916. p. 145. Conspicuously not named in sections in Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914, pp. 33-9.
  36. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 230.
  37. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 25-6.
  38. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 230.
  39. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 7.
  40. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 7.
  41. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 3, Part 23. pp. 9-10.
  42. The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 88, 142.
  43. The Director Firing Handbook. p. 88.
  44. The Director Firing Handbook. pp. 144, 146.
  45. The Director Firing Handbook. p. 143.
  46. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1917. p. 209. (C.I.O. 4212/17.).
  47. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 6-7.
  48. Handbook of Captain F. C. Dreyer's Fire Control Tables, 1918. p. 3.
  49. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. pp. 72.
  50. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1910. p. 149.
  51. Handbook for Fire Control Instruments, 1914. p. 11.
  52. Annual Report of the Torpedo School, 1910. p. 149. (A.L.G. 12731/10/18960 of 16 Aug 1910).
  53. Bartolomé Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 208.
  54. The Navy List. (April, 1911). p. 348.
  55. Bartolomé Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 208.
  56. Everett Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 23.
  57. The Navy List. (August, 1912). p. 348.
  58. Everett Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 23.
  59. Lawson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 338.
  60. Lawson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 338.
  61. Hunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 354.
  62. Hunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 354.
  63. Sheppard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 393.
  64. The Navy List. (October, 1915). p. 396e.
  65. Sheppard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 393.
  66. Bernard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 15.
  67. The Navy List. (December, 1916). p. 396ee.
  68. Bernard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 15.
  69. Slayter Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42/445. f. 210.
  70. The Navy List. (November, 1917). p. 395w.
  71. Slayter Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42/445. f. 210.
  72. The Navy List. (December, 1918). p. 851.
  73. "Naval Appointments" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Tuesday, 7 January, 1919. Issue 41991, col C, p. 3.
  74. The Navy List. (August, 1919). p. 763.
  75. "Naval Appointments" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Tuesday, 7 January, 1919. Issue 41991, col C, p. 3.
  76. Adam Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 232.
  77. Adam Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 232.
  78. The Navy List. (November, 1919). p. 851.
  79. The Navy List. (January, 1920). p. 815.
  80. The Navy List. (February, 1920). p. 815.
  81. "Naval Appointments" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Tuesday, 20 July, 1920. Issue 42467, col F, p. 21.
  82. Parry Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45. f. 34.
  83. Parry Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45. f. 34.

Bibliography

  • 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.
  • Admiralty, Technical History Section (1919). The Technical History and Index: Fire Control in H.M. Ships. Vol. 3, Part 23. C.B. 1515 (23) now O.U. 6171/14. At The National Archives. ADM 275/19.
  • Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.
  • Brooks, John (2005). Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland: The Question of Fire Control. Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 0714657026. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Burt, R. A. (1986). British Battleships of World War One. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Burt, R A (2012). British Battleships of World War One. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591140535. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
  • Sumida, Jon Tetsuro (1989). In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, Technology and British Naval Policy, 1889-1914. Winchester, Mass.: Unwin Hyman, Inc.. ISBN 0044451040. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).


Dreadnought H.M.S. Neptune
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