H.M.S. Majestic (1895)

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H.M.S. Majestic
Career Details
Pendant Number: D.04 (August, 1914)[1]
Builder: Portsmouth Royal Dockyard
Ordered: 1893
Laid down: 5 February, 1894
Launched: 31 January, 1895
Commissioned: 11 December, 1895
Sunk: 27 May, 1915
Cause: Torpedoed by U.21
General Characteristics
Displacement: 14,560 - 14,890 tons (normal)
15,730 - 16,060 tons (fully loaded)
Length: 390 feet
Beam: 75 feet
Draught: 26 feet 4 inches - 27 feet 6 inches
Propulsion: 2 Shaft Triple Expansion, 4,000 shp. 4 Yarrow boilers
Speed: 16.1 knots
Range: 4,700 miles at 10 knots
Complement: 673
Armament:
  • 2 × BL 9.2"/50 Elswick Pattern 'E' guns in single Mark IX mountings
  • 6 × BL 6"/49 Mark XVIII guns in single Mark IV mountings

H.M.S. Majestic was a pre-dreadnought of the Royal Navy, and the lead ship of the Majestic Class which along with the Royal Sovereign Class was to be the basis for all armoured ships until the construction of HMS Dreadnought. 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.

Early Career

Majestic's keel plate was laid down in № 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 British Channel Squadron at Portsmouth on 12 December of that year under Captain Arthur Barrow, with a crew transferred from H.M.S. Royal Sovereign. Her construction was rumoured to have been delayed by armour plate being diverted to the construction of HMS Magnificent at the HM Dockyard, Chatham. She was commissioned as the Flagship of the Channel Squadron and served as such until 1904. In February of that year 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 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 HM 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 HMS 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.

War Years

On the outbreak of war Majestic was commissioned into the 7th 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 from the German submersible 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.[2]

Footnotes

  1. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships: 1914-1919. p. 29.
  2. Jane. Jane's Fighting Ships 1914. p. 54.

Bibliography

Template:Majestic Class (1894)