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HMS Jupiter in the Great War - The Wartime Memories Project -

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HMS Jupiter



   

HMS Jupiter - Malta 1915

HMS Jupiter was a Majestic class pre-dreadnought battleship, built under the Spencer Programme (named after the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer) of 8 December 1893, which sought to counter the growing naval strength of France and the Russian Empire. With nine units commissioned, they were the largest class of battleships in history in terms of the number of member ships. This class was designed by Sir William White.

  • Ships in Majestic Class
  • Caesar
  • Hannibal
  • Illustrious
  • Jupiter
  • Magnificent
  • Majestic
  • Mars
  • Prince George
  • Victorious

When the lead ship, Majestic, was launched in 1895, at 421 ft (128 m) long and with a full-load displacement of 16,000 tons, she was the largest battleship ever built at the time. The Majestics were considered good seaboats with an easy roll and good steamers, although they suffered from high fuel consumption. They began life as coal-burners, but HMS Mars in 19051906 became the first battleship converted to oil-burning, and the rest were similarly converted by 19071908. The class was the last to have side-by-side funnels, with successor battleship classes having funnels in a line. Except for Caesar, Hannibal, and Illustrious, they had a new design in which the bridge was mounted around the base of the foremast behind the conning tower to prevent a battle-damaged bridge from collapsing around the tower. Although the earlier ships had pear-shaped barbettes and fixed loading positions for the main guns, Caesar and Illustrious had circular barbettes and all-around loading for their main guns, which established the pattern for future classes. Although Harvey armour had been used on battleship HMS Renown of the Centurion class, in the Majestics it was used in an entire class of British battleships for the first time. It allowed equal protection with less cost in weight compared to previous types of armour, allowing the Majestic class to have a deeper and lighter belt than previous battleships without any loss in protection.

The Majestics were given a new gun, the 46-ton BL 12 inch (305 mm) Mk VIII /35 gun. They were the first new British battleships to mount a 12 inch main battery since the 1880s. The new gun was a significant improvement on the 13.5 inch (343 mm) gun which had been fitted on the Admiral and Royal Sovereign classes that preceded the Majestics and was lighter. This saving in weight allowed the Majestic class to carry a secondary battery of twelve 6 inch (152 mm) 40-calibre guns, a larger secondary armament than in previous classes.

The Majestics were to be a benchmark for successor pre-dreadnoughts. While the preceding Royal Sovereign-class battleships had revolutionized and stabilised British battleship design by introducing the high-freeboard battleship with four main-battery guns in twin mountings in barbettes fore and aft, it was the Majestics that settled on the 12 inch (305 mm) main battery and began the practice of mounting armoured gunhouses over the barbettes; these gunhouses, although very different from the old-style, heavy, circular gun turrets that preceded them, would themselves become known as "turrets" and became the standard on warships worldwide. More directly, the Majestic design itself also was adapted by the Imperial Japanese Navy for its own Shikishima-class pre-dreadnoughts, as well as Mikasa, which was largely based on the Shikishimas.

When World War I broke out in August 1914, Jupiter was transferred to the 7th Battle Squadron of the Channel Fleet. During this service, she covered the passage of the British Expeditionary Force from England to France in September 1914. In late October 1914, Jupiter was reassigned to serve alongside her sister ship Majestic as a guard ship at the Nore. On 3 November 1914, Jupiter and Majestic left the Nore and relieved their sister ships Hannibal and Magnificent of guard ship duty on the Humber. In December 1914, Jupiter moved on to guard ship duty on the Tyne. On 5 February 1915, Jupiter was detached from her guard ship duty to serve temporarily as an icebreaker at Arkhangelsk, Russia, while the regular icebreaker there was under refit. In this duty, Jupiter made history by becoming the first ship ever to get through the ice into Arkhangelsk during the winter; her February arrival was the earliest in history there.

Jupiter left Arkhangelsk in May 1915 to return to the Channel Fleet, and was paid off at Birkenhead on 19 May 1915. She then began a refit by Cammell Laird there that lasted until August 1915. Her refit completed, Jupiter was commissioned at Birkenhead on 12 August 1915 for service in the Mediterranean Sea on the Suez Canal Patrol. On 21 October 1915, she was transferred to the Red Sea to become guard ship at Aden and flagship of the Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea Patrol. She was relieved of flagship duty by the troopship RIM Northbrook of the Royal Indian Marine on 9 December 1915 and returned to the Suez Canal Patrol for Mediterranean service. This lasted from April to November 1916, with a home port in Port Said, Egypt.

Jupiter left Egypt on 22 November 1916 and returned to the United Kingdom, where she was paid off at Devonport to provide crews for antisubmarine vessels. She remained at Devonport until April 1919, in commission as a special service vessel and auxiliary patrol ship until February 1918, when she was again paid off. After that she became an accommodation ship. In April 1919, Jupiter became the first Majestic-class ship to be placed on the disposal list. She was sold for scrapping on 15 January 1920, and on 11 March 1920 was towed from Chatham to Blyth to be scrapped.

John Doran


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