- HMS Victorious during the Great War -
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1st July 1914 HMS Victorious
HMS Victorious. (1896 - 1923)
Majestic Class - pre-dreadnought Battleships.
The Majestic class was a class of pre-dreadnought battleships, built under the Spencer Programme (named after the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer) of 8 December 1893, that 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
- Prince George
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 1905–1906 became the first battleship converted to oil-burning, and the rest were similarly converted by 1907–1908. 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.
World War 1 Service
In July 1914 the Royal Navy began a precautionary mobilization as war began to seem imminent. As part of this, Victorious and her sister ships Hannibal, Mars, and Magnificent, formed the 9th Battle Squadron on 27 July 1914, stationed at the Humber to defend the British coast; Victorious remained there as guard ship after the 9th Battle Squadron was dissolved on 7 August 1914. In December 1914 she transferred to the Tyne to serve as guard ship there. On 4 January 1915 Victorious paid off at Elswick. The Majestic-class ships were by then the oldest and least effective battleships in service in the Royal Navy; Victorious was laid up on the Tyne February until September 1915 and her 12-inch (305-mm) guns were removed for use aboard the new Lord Clive-class monitors Prince Rupert and General Wolfe. Between September 1915 and February 1916, Palmers converted her into a repair ship at Jarrow.
The converted Victorious was commissioned as a repair ship on 22 February 1916 and arrived at Scapa Flow to replace the converted merchant ship Caribbean, which had been lost in September 1915, as repair ship for the Grand Fleet. Victorious performed this role there until March 1920 when she was renamed Indus II and transferred to Devonport for a refit to prepare her for service with the Indus Establishment. She arrived at Devonport on 28 March 1920 and paid off into a care and maintenance status while she awaited the beginning of her refit. Plans for the refit, however, were cancelled; work began to convert her into a harbor depot ship but, in April 1922, that conversion was cancelled before it could be completed and she was placed on the disposal list that month. Indus II was sold for scrapping on 19 December 1922, but the sale was cancelled on 1 March 1923. She was again sold on 9 April 1923 and was towed from Devonport to Dover to be scrapped.John Doran
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