- HMS Ocean during the Great War -
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1st July 1914 HMS Ocean
HMS Ocean (1900 - 1915) was built at Devonport Dockyard, laid down on 15th February 1897, launched on 5th July 1898, Commissioned in February 1900 and Mined in March 1915.
One of the Canopus class of pre-dreadnought battleships designed by Sir William White for use in the Far East and entered service between 1899 and 1902.
The lead ship was HMS Albion, which was followed by Canopus, Glory, Goliath, Ocean and Vengeance.
The class had primary armament consisting of four 12 inch (305 mm) 35 calibre long guns and six 6-inch (152 mm) 40 calibre long guns.
The introduction of HMS Dreadnought in 1906 rendered the class, and all other pre-dreadnought battleships, obsolete only a few years after the last-of-class entered service in 1902. The class saw service across the globe: in home waters, on the China Station, in the Mediterranean Fleet, in the Atlantic, in Africa, at Archangel, and in the Mediterranean where HMS Goliath and HMS Ocean were sunk during the Dardanelles campaign. The four surviving ships were reduced to subsidiary duties late in World War I and were scrapped in the early 1920s.
List of Ships in Canopus Class
- HMS Albion
- HMS Canopus
- HMS Glory
- HMS Goliath
- HMS Ocean
- HMS Vengeance
The Canopus-class battleships were designed for use in the Far East to counter the expanding Japanese navy and were required to be able to pass through the Suez Canal. They were designed to be smaller, lighter and faster than their predecessors, the Majestic-class battleships, although at 421.5 ft (128.5 m) they were slightly longer.
The armoured belt, situated at the waterline of the vessel, was 6 inches (152 mm) thick.
To save weight the Canopus class carried less armour than the Majestics, but a change from Harvey armour in the Majestics to Krupp armour in the Canopus class meant that the protective capability of the armour was maintained. Part of their armour scheme included the use of a special 1 in (25 mm) armoured deck over the armour belt to defend against plunging fire by the howitzers that France had reportedly planned to install on its ships, although this report proved to be false.
Like the Majestics, the Canopus class ships had four 12-inch (305 mm) guns mounted in twin turrets fore and aft. The final ship, Vengeance, had an improved mounting that allowed loading at any elevation; her turret gunhouses differed from those of her sisters in being Krupp-armoured and flat-sided (Krupp armour plates were difficult to form into curves). The ships mounted twelve 6-inch (152 mm) guns in armoured casemates as well having some smaller guns and four submerged 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes.
The Canopuses were the first British battleships with water-tube boilers, which generated more power for their weight when compared with the cylindrical boilers used in previous ships. The new boilers led to the adoption of fore-and-aft funnels, rather than the side-by-side funnel arrangement used in many previous British battleships. The Canopus-class ships proved to be good steamers, consuming 10 short tons (9.1 t) of coal per hour at full speed. At 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph) they were fast for battleships of their time, a full 2 kn (2.3 mph) faster than the Majestics. The Canopuses were able to reach 4,500 mi (7,200 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph) with a full load of coal.
First World War Service
When the First World War broke out, Ocean was assigned to the 8th Battle Squadron, Channel Fleet, which she joined on 14 August 1914. She was detached to Queenstown, Ireland on 21 August to serve as guard ship there and to support a cruiser squadron operating in that area. In September 1914, she was ordered to relieve her sister ship Albion on the Cape Verde-Canary Islands Station, but while en route was diverted to the East Indies Station to support cruisers on convoy duty in the Middle East. She escorted an Indian troop convoy to Bahrain in October 1914. From October–December 1914, she served as flagship of the squadron in the Persian Gulf supporting operations against Basra.
In December 1914, Ocean was stationed at Suez, Egypt, to assist in the defence of the Suez Canal. She anchored in the mouth of the southern end of the canal on 29 December and remained in that area until mid-January 1915, when she proceeded northward up the canal. On 3–4 February, she supported ground troops against an Ottoman Turkish attack on the canal.
Ocean transferred to the Dardanelles in late February 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles campaign. On 1 March, she was one of the ships that bombarded the entrance forts and took hits from Turkish mobile artillery batteries, but suffered no serious damage. She supported the landings at Sedd el Bahr on 4 March.
On 18 March, Ocean took part in the attack on the Narrows forts. When battleship Irresistible was disabled by a mine in Erenkui Bay and all of her surviving crew was taken off by destroyers except for her commanding officer and some volunteers trying to save her, Ocean was sent in to tow her out. Ocean ran aground during the attempt, and, after freeing herself, found it impossible to take Irresistible under tow because of the shallow water, Irresistible's list, and heavy enemy fire. Ocean then took off the remaining members of Irresistible's crew and left the abandoned battleship to her fate; Irresistible sank unobserved by Allied forces, at around 1930.
While retiring with Irresistible's survivors aboard, Ocean herself struck a drifting mine at around 1900. Her starboard coal bunkers and passageways flooded, her steering jammed hard to port, and she listed 15° to starboard. She came under fire from shore and began taking hits, which flooded her starboard engine room and prevented steering repairs. The crippled Ocean was abandoned at around 1930 with little loss of life, destroyers taking off most of her crew. She then drifted into Morto Bay, still under fire, and sank there unobserved by Allied forces at about 22:30. When destroyer Jed entered the bay later that evening to sink Ocean and Irresistible with torpedoes so that they could not be captured by the Turks, the two battleships were nowhere to be found.John Doran
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