Battleship

Last updated

The firepower of a battleship demonstrated by USS Iowa (c. 1984). The muzzle blasts distort the ocean surface. BB61 USS Iowa BB61 broadside USN.jpg
The firepower of a battleship demonstrated by USS Iowa (c. 1984). The muzzle blasts distort the ocean surface.

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.

Armour or armor is a protective covering that is used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or vehicle by direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or activity. Personal armour is used to protect soldiers and war animals. Vehicle armour is used on warships and armoured fighting vehicles.

Warship ship that is built and primarily intended for combat

A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more manoeuvrable than merchant ships. Unlike a merchant ship, which carries cargo, a warship typically carries only weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.

Artillery battery artillery unit equivalent to an infantry company

In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of artillery, mortars, rocket artillery, multiple rocket launchers, surface to surface missiles, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles etc., so grouped to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems. The term is also used in a naval context to describe groups of guns on warships.

Contents

The term battleship came into formal use in the late 1880s to describe a type of ironclad warship, [1] now referred to by historians as pre-dreadnought battleships. In 1906, the commissioning of HMS Dreadnought into the United Kingdom's Royal Navy heralded a revolution in battleship design. Subsequent battleship designs, influenced by HMS Dreadnought, were referred to as "dreadnoughts", though the term eventually became obsolete as they became the only type of battleship in common use.

Ironclad warship Steam-propelled warship protected by iron or steel armor plates

An ironclad is a steam-propelled warship protected by iron or steel armor plates used in the early part of the second half of the 19th century. The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells. The first ironclad battleship, Gloire, was launched by the French Navy in November 1859. The British Admiralty had been considering armored warships since 1856 and prepared a draft design for an armored corvette in 1857; in early 1859 the Royal Navy started building two iron-hulled armored frigates, and by 1861 had made the decision to move to an all-armored battle fleet. After the first clashes of ironclads took place in 1862 during the American Civil War, it became clear that the ironclad had replaced the unarmored ship of the line as the most powerful warship afloat. This type of ship would come to be very successful in the American Civil War.

Pre-dreadnought battleship Type of battleship, preceding the development of HMS Dreadnought

Pre-dreadnought battleships were sea-going battleships built between the mid- to late 1880s and 1905, before the launch of HMS Dreadnought. Pre-dreadnoughts replaced the ironclad battleships of the 1870s and 1880s. Built from steel, and protected by hardened steel armour, pre-dreadnought battleships carried a main battery of very heavy guns in barbettes supported by one or more secondary batteries of lighter weapons. They were powered by coal-fuelled triple-expansion steam engines.

HMS <i>Dreadnought</i> (1906) battleship of the Royal Navy which entered service in 1906

HMS Dreadnought was a Royal Navy battleship that revolutionised naval power. Dreadnought's name, and the class of battleships named after her, means "a fearless person". Dreadnought's entry into service in 1906 represented such an advance in naval technology that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the "dreadnoughts", as well as the class of ships named after it. Likewise, the generation of ships she made obsolete became known as "pre-dreadnoughts". Admiral Sir John "Jacky" Fisher, First Sea Lord of the Board of Admiralty, is credited as the father of Dreadnought. Shortly after he assumed office, he ordered design studies for a battleship armed solely with 12-inch (305 mm) guns and a speed of 21 knots. He convened a "Committee on Designs" to evaluate the alternative designs and to assist in the detailed design work.

Battleships were a symbol of naval dominance and national might, and for decades the battleship was a major factor in both diplomacy and military strategy. [2] A global arms race in battleship construction began in Europe in the 1890s and culminated at the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, [3] [4] [5] [6] the outcome of which significantly influenced the design of HMS Dreadnought. [7] [8] [9] The launch of Dreadnought in 1906 commenced a new naval arms race. Three major fleet actions between steel battleships took place: the long range gunnery duel at the Battle of the Yellow Sea [10] in 1904, the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, both, during the Russo-Japanese War, and the inconclusive Battle of Jutland (1916) during the First World War. Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of dreadnoughts of the war, it was the last major battle in naval history fought primarily by battleships. [11]

Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek word strategos, the term strategy, when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", or "'the art of arrangement" of troops. Military strategy deals with the planning and conduct of campaigns, the movement and disposition of forces, and the deception of the enemy.

Arms race competition between two or more parties to have more superior armed forces

An arms race occurs when two or more nations participate in interactive or competitive increases in "persons under arms" as well as "war material". Simply defined as a competition between two or more states to have superior armed forces; a competition concerning production of weapons, the growth of a military, and the aim of superior military technology.

Battle of Tsushima major naval battle between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War

The Battle of Tsushima, also known as the Battle of Tsushima Strait and the Naval Battle of the Sea of Japan in Japan, was a major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. It was naval history's only decisive sea battle fought by modern steel battleship fleets, and the first naval battle in which wireless telegraphy (radio) played a critically important role. It has been characterized as the "dying echo of the old era – for the last time in the history of naval warfare, ships of the line of a beaten fleet surrendered on the high seas".

The Naval Treaties of the 1920s and 1930s limited the number of battleships, though technical innovation in battleship design continued. Both the Allied and Axis powers built battleships during World War II, though the increasing importance of the aircraft carrier meant that the battleship played a less important role than had been expected.

The Limitation of Naval Armament in the 1920s included many separate treaties. In general, the treaties involved the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and France.

Aircraft carrier Warship that serves as a seagoing airbase

An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Typically, it is the capital ship of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to project air power worldwide without depending on local bases for staging aircraft operations. Carriers have evolved since their inception in the early twentieth century from wooden vessels used to deploy balloons to nuclear-powered warships that carry numerous fighters, strike aircraft, helicopters, and other types of aircraft. While heavier aircraft such as fixed-wing gunships and bombers have been launched from aircraft carriers, it is currently not possible to land them. By its diplomatic and tactical power, its mobility, its autonomy and the variety of its means, the aircraft carrier is often the centerpiece of modern combat fleets. Tactically or even strategically, it replaced the battleship in the role of flagship of a fleet. One of its great advantages is that, by sailing in international waters, it does not interfere with any territorial sovereignty and thus obviates the need for overflight authorizations from third party countries, reduce the times and transit distances of aircraft and therefore significantly increase the time of availability on the combat zone.

The value of the battleship has been questioned, even during their heyday. [12] There were few of the decisive fleet battles that battleship proponents expected, and used to justify the vast resources spent on building battlefleets. Even in spite of their huge firepower and protection, battleships were increasingly vulnerable to much smaller and relatively inexpensive weapons: initially the torpedo and the naval mine, and later aircraft and the guided missile. [13] The growing range of naval engagements led to the aircraft carrier replacing the battleship as the leading capital ship during World War II, with the last battleship to be launched being HMS Vanguard in 1944. Four battleships were retained by the United States Navy until the end of the Cold War for fire support purposes and were last used in combat during the Gulf War in 1991. The last battleships were stricken from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in the 2000s.

Torpedo self-propelled underwater weapon

A modern torpedo is a self-propelled weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with its target or in proximity to it.

Naval mine Explosive weapon for use in seas and waterways, triggered by the targets approach

A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, any vessel. Naval mines can be used offensively, to hamper enemy shipping movements or lock vessels into a harbour; or defensively, to protect friendly vessels and create "safe" zones.

Capital ship leading or primary ship in a naval fleet

The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they are generally the larger ships when compared to other warships in their respective fleet. A capital ship is generally a leading or a primary ship in a naval fleet.

History of battleships

Ships of the line

Napoleon (1850), the world's first steam-powered battleship TheNapoleonAtToulonIn1852ByLauvergne.jpg
Napoléon (1850), the world's first steam-powered battleship

A ship of the line was the dominant warship of its age. It was a large, unarmored wooden sailing ship which mounted a battery of up to 120 smoothbore guns and carronades. The ship of the line developed gradually over centuries and, apart from growing in size, it changed little between the adoption of line of battle tactics in the early 17th century and the end of the sailing battleship's heyday in the 1830s. From 1794, the alternative term 'line of battle ship' was contracted (informally at first) to 'battle ship' or 'battleship'. [14]

Smoothbore

A smoothbore weapon is one that has a barrel without rifling. Smoothbores range from handheld firearms to powerful tank guns and large artillery mortars. The majority of shotguns are smoothbores and the term can be synonymous.

Gun weapon designed to discharge projectiles or other material

A gun is a ranged weapon typically designed to pneumatically discharge projectiles that are solid but can also be liquid or even charged particles and may be free-flying or tethered.

Carronade naval smooth-bore short-barrel cannon

A carronade is a short, smoothbore, cast iron cannon which was used by the Royal Navy and first produced by the Carron Company, an ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland. It was used from the 1770s to the 1850s. Its main function was to serve as a powerful, short-range, anti-ship and anti-crew weapon. Carronades were initially found to be very successful, but they eventually disappeared as naval artillery advanced, with the introduction of rifling and consequent change in the shape of the projectile, exploding shells replacing solid shot, and naval engagements being fought at longer ranges.

The sheer number of guns fired broadside meant a ship of the line could wreck any wooden enemy, holing her hull, knocking down masts, wrecking her rigging, and killing her crew. However, the effective range of the guns was as little as a few hundred yards, so the battle tactics of sailing ships depended in part on the wind.

The first major change to the ship of the line concept was the introduction of steam power as an auxiliary propulsion system. Steam power was gradually introduced to the navy in the first half of the 19th century, initially for small craft and later for frigates. The French Navy introduced steam to the line of battle with the 90-gun Napoléon in 1850 [15] —the first true steam battleship. [16] Napoléon was armed as a conventional ship-of-the-line, but her steam engines could give her a speed of 12 knots (22 km/h), regardless of the wind condition. This was a potentially decisive advantage in a naval engagement. The introduction of steam accelerated the growth in size of battleships. France and the United Kingdom were the only countries to develop fleets of wooden steam screw battleships although several other navies operated small numbers of screw battleships, including Russia (9), the Ottoman Empire (3), Sweden (2), Naples (1), Denmark (1) and Austria (1). [17] [2]

Ironclads

The French Gloire (1859), the first ocean-going ironclad warship LaGloirePhotograph.jpg
The French Gloire (1859), the first ocean-going ironclad warship

The adoption of steam power was only one of a number of technological advances which revolutionized warship design in the 19th century. The ship of the line was overtaken by the ironclad: powered by steam, protected by metal armor, and armed with guns firing high-explosive shells.

Explosive shells

Guns that fired explosive or incendiary shells were a major threat to wooden ships, and these weapons quickly became widespread after the introduction of 8-inch shell guns as part of the standard armament of French and American line-of-battle ships in 1841. [18] In the Crimean War, six line-of-battle ships and two frigates of the Russian Black Sea Fleet destroyed seven Turkish frigates and three corvettes with explosive shells at the Battle of Sinop in 1853. [19] Later in the war, French ironclad floating batteries used similar weapons against the defenses at the Battle of Kinburn. [20]

Nevertheless, wooden-hulled ships stood up comparatively well to shells, as shown in the 1866 Battle of Lissa, where the modern Austrian steam two-decker SMS Kaiser ranged across a confused battlefield, rammed an Italian ironclad and took 80 hits from Italian ironclads, [21] many of which were shells, [22] but including at least one 300-pound shot at point-blank range. Despite losing her bowsprit and her foremast, and being set on fire, she was ready for action again the very next day. [23]

Iron armor and construction

HMS Warrior (1860), the Royal Navy's first ocean-going iron-hulled warship. HMS warriorjune20092.jpg
HMS Warrior (1860), the Royal Navy's first ocean-going iron-hulled warship.

The development of high-explosive shells made the use of iron armor plate on warships necessary. In 1859 France launched Gloire, the first ocean-going ironclad warship. She had the profile of a ship of the line, cut to one deck due to weight considerations. Although made of wood and reliant on sail for most journeys, Gloire was fitted with a propeller, and her wooden hull was protected by a layer of thick iron armor. [24] Gloire prompted further innovation from the Royal Navy, anxious to prevent France from gaining a technological lead.

The superior armored frigate Warrior followed Gloire by only 14 months, and both nations embarked on a program of building new ironclads and converting existing screw ships of the line to armored frigates. [25] Within two years, Italy, Austria, Spain and Russia had all ordered ironclad warships, and by the time of the famous clash of the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia at the Battle of Hampton Roads at least eight navies possessed ironclad ships. [2]

The French Redoutable, the first battleship to use steel as the main building material Le Redoutable (1889).jpg
The French Redoutable, the first battleship to use steel as the main building material

Navies experimented with the positioning of guns, in turrets (like the USS Monitor), central-batteries or barbettes, or with the ram as the principal weapon. As steam technology developed, masts were gradually removed from battleship designs. By the mid-1870s steel was used as a construction material alongside iron and wood. The French Navy's Redoutable, laid down in 1873 and launched in 1876, was a central battery and barbette warship which became the first battleship in the world to use steel as the principal building material. [27]

Pre-dreadnought battleship

Pre-Dreadnought USS Texas, built in 1892, was the first battleship of the U.S. Navy. Photochrom print c. 1898. USS Texas2.jpg
Pre-Dreadnought USS Texas, built in 1892, was the first battleship of the U.S. Navy. Photochrom print c. 1898.

The term "battleship" was officially adopted by the Royal Navy in the re-classification of 1892. By the 1890s, there was an increasing similarity between battleship designs, and the type that later became known as the 'pre-dreadnought battleship' emerged. These were heavily armored ships, mounting a mixed battery of guns in turrets, and without sails. The typical first-class battleship of the pre-dreadnought era displaced 15,000 to 17,000  tons, had a speed of 16 knots (30 km/h), and an armament of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns in two turrets fore and aft with a mixed-caliber secondary battery amidships around the superstructure. [1] An early design with superficial similarity to the pre-dreadnought is the British Devastationclass of 1871. [28] [29]

The slow-firing 12-inch (305 mm) main guns were the principal weapons for battleship-to-battleship combat. The intermediate and secondary batteries had two roles. Against major ships, it was thought a 'hail of fire' from quick-firing secondary weapons could distract enemy gun crews by inflicting damage to the superstructure, and they would be more effective against smaller ships such as cruisers. Smaller guns (12-pounders and smaller) were reserved for protecting the battleship against the threat of torpedo attack from destroyers and torpedo boats. [30]

The beginning of the pre-dreadnought era coincided with Britain reasserting her naval dominance. For many years previously, Britain had taken naval supremacy for granted. Expensive naval projects were criticised by political leaders of all inclinations. [2] However, in 1888 a war scare with France and the build-up of the Russian navy gave added impetus to naval construction, and the British Naval Defence Act of 1889 laid down a new fleet including eight new battleships. The principle that Britain's navy should be more powerful than the two next most powerful fleets combined was established. This policy was designed to deter France and Russia from building more battleships, but both nations nevertheless expanded their fleets with more and better pre-dreadnoughts in the 1890s. [2]

Diagram of HMS Agamemnon (1908), a typical late pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Agamemnon (1908) profile drawing.png
Diagram of HMS Agamemnon (1908), a typical late pre-dreadnought battleship

In the last years of the 19th century and the first years of the 20th, the escalation in the building of battleships became an arms race between Britain and Germany. The German naval laws of 1890 and 1898 authorised a fleet of 38 battleships, a vital threat to the balance of naval power. [2] Britain answered with further shipbuilding, but by the end of the pre-dreadnought era, British supremacy at sea had markedly weakened. In 1883, the United Kingdom had 38 battleships, twice as many as France and almost as many as the rest of the world put together. By 1897, Britain's lead was far smaller due to competition from France, Germany, and Russia, as well as the development of pre-dreadnought fleets in Italy, the United States and Japan. [31] The Ottoman Empire, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Chile and Brazil all had second-rate fleets led by armored cruisers, coastal defence ships or monitors. [32]

Pre-dreadnoughts continued the technical innovations of the ironclad. Turrets, armor plate, and steam engines were all improved over the years, and torpedo tubes were also introduced. A small number of designs, including the American Kearsarge and Virginiaclasses, experimented with all or part of the 8-inch intermediate battery superimposed over the 12-inch primary. Results were poor: recoil factors and blast effects resulted in the 8-inch battery being completely unusable, and the inability to train the primary and intermediate armaments on different targets led to significant tactical limitations. Even though such innovative designs saved weight (a key reason for their inception), they proved too cumbersome in practice. [33]

Dreadnought era

In 1906, the British Royal Navy launched the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought. Created as a result of pressure from Admiral Sir John ("Jackie") Fisher, HMS Dreadnought made existing battleships obsolete. Combining an "all-big-gun" armament of ten 12-inch (305 mm) guns with unprecedented speed (from steam turbine engines) and protection, she prompted navies worldwide to re-evaluate their battleship building programs. While the Japanese had laid down an all-big-gun battleship, Satsuma, in 1904 [34] and the concept of an all-big-gun ship had been in circulation for several years, it had yet to be validated in combat. Dreadnought sparked a new arms race, principally between Britain and Germany but reflected worldwide, as the new class of warships became a crucial element of national power. [35]

Technical development continued rapidly through the dreadnought era, with steep changes in armament, armor and propulsion. Ten years after Dreadnought's commissioning, much more powerful ships, the super-dreadnoughts, were being built.

Origin

Vittorio Cuniberti Vittoriocuniberti001.jpg
Vittorio Cuniberti

In the first years of the 20th century, several navies worldwide experimented with the idea of a new type of battleship with a uniform armament of very heavy guns.

Admiral Vittorio Cuniberti, the Italian Navy's chief naval architect, articulated the concept of an all-big-gun battleship in 1903. When the Regia Marina did not pursue his ideas, Cuniberti wrote an article in Jane's proposing an "ideal" future British battleship, a large armored warship of 17,000 tons, armed solely with a single calibre main battery (twelve 12-inch [305 mm] guns), carrying 300-millimetre (12 in) belt armor, and capable of 24 knots (44 km/h). [36]

The Russo-Japanese War provided operational experience to validate the "all-big-gun" concept. During the Battle of the Yellow Sea on 10 August 1904 Admiral Togo commenced deliberate 12 inch gun fire at the Russian flagship Tzesarevich at 14,200 yards (13,000 meters) [37] . At the Battle of Tsushima on 27 May 1905 Admiral Rozhestvensky's flagship fired the first 12 inch guns at the Japanese flagship Mikasa at 7,000 meters. [38] It is often held that these engagements demonstrated the importance of the 12-inch (305 mm) gun over its smaller counterparts, though some historians take the view that secondary batteries were just as important as the larger weapons when dealing with smaller fast moving torpedo craft. [2] Such was the case, albeit unsuccessfully, when the Russian flagship Suvorov at Tsushima had been sent to the bottom by destroyer launched torpedoes. [39]

When dealing with a mixed 10- and 12-inch armament. The 1903–04 design also retained traditional triple-expansion steam engines. [40]

A preliminary design for the Imperial Japanese Navy's Satsuma was an "all-big-gun" design. Japanese battleship Satsuma.jpg
A preliminary design for the Imperial Japanese Navy's Satsuma was an "all-big-gun" design.

As early as 1904, Jackie Fisher had been convinced of the need for fast, powerful ships with an all-big-gun armament. If Tsushima influenced his thinking, it was to persuade him of the need to standardise on 12-inch (305 mm) guns. [2] Fisher's concerns were submarines and destroyers equipped with torpedoes, then threatening to outrange battleship guns, making speed imperative for capital ships. [2] Fisher's preferred option was his brainchild, the battlecruiser: lightly armored but heavily armed with eight 12-inch guns and propelled to 25 knots (46 km/h) by steam turbines. [41]

It was to prove this revolutionary technology that Dreadnought was designed in January 1905, laid down in October 1905 and sped to completion by 1906. She carried ten 12-inch guns, had an 11-inch armor belt, and was the first large ship powered by turbines. She mounted her guns in five turrets; three on the centerline (one forward, two aft) and two on the wings, giving her at her launch twice the broadside of any other warship. She retained a number of 12-pound (3-inch, 76 mm) quick-firing guns for use against destroyers and torpedo-boats. Her armor was heavy enough for her to go head-to-head with any other ship in a gun battle, and conceivably win. [42]

HMS Dreadnought (1906) HMS Dreadnought (1911) profile drawing.png
HMS Dreadnought (1906)

Dreadnought was to have been followed by three Invincible-class battlecruisers, their construction delayed to allow lessons from Dreadnought to be used in their design. While Fisher may have intended Dreadnought to be the last Royal Navy battleship, [2] the design was so successful he found little support for his plan to switch to a battlecruiser navy. Although there were some problems with the ship (the wing turrets had limited arcs of fire and strained the hull when firing a full broadside, and the top of the thickest armor belt lay below the waterline at full load), the Royal Navy promptly commissioned another six ships to a similar design in the Bellerophon and St. Vincentclasses.

An American design, South Carolina, authorized in 1905 and laid down in December 1906, was another of the first dreadnoughts, but she and her sister, Michigan, were not launched until 1908. Both used triple-expansion engines and had a superior layout of the main battery, dispensing with Dreadnought's wing turrets. They thus retained the same broadside, despite having two fewer guns.

Arms race

In 1897, before the revolution in design brought about by HMS Dreadnought, the Royal Navy had 62 battleships in commission or building, a lead of 26 over France and 50 over Germany. [31] In 1906, the Royal Navy owned the field with Dreadnought. The new class of ship prompted an arms race with major strategic consequences. Major naval powers raced to build their own dreadnoughts. Possession of modern battleships was not only seen as vital to naval power, but also, as with nuclear weapons after WWII, represented a nation's standing in the world. [2] Germany, France, Japan, [43] Italy, Austria, and the United States all began dreadnought programmes; while Ottoman Turkey, Argentina, Russia, [43] Brazil, and Chile commissioned dreadnoughts to be built in British and American yards.

World War I

German High Seas Fleet during World War I German High Seas Fleet (Hoschseeflotte) during World War I.jpg
German High Seas Fleet during World War I

By virtue of geography, the Royal Navy was able to use her imposing battleship and battlecruiser fleet to impose a strict and successful naval blockade of Germany and kept Germany's smaller battleship fleet bottled up in the North Sea: only narrow channels led to the Atlantic Ocean and these were guarded by British forces. [44] Both sides were aware that, because of the greater number of British dreadnoughts, a full fleet engagement would be likely to result in a British victory. The German strategy was therefore to try to provoke an engagement on their terms: either to induce a part of the Grand Fleet to enter battle alone, or to fight a pitched battle near the German coastline, where friendly minefields, torpedo-boats and submarines could be used to even the odds. [45] This did not happen however, due in large part to the necessity to keep submarines for the Atlantic campaign. Submarines were the only vessels in the Imperial German Navy able to break out and raid British commerce in force, but even though they sank many merchant ships, they could not successfully counter-blockade the United Kingdom; the Royal Navy successfully adopted convoy tactics to combat Germany's submarine counter-blockade and eventually defeated it. [46] This was in stark contrast to Britain's successful blockade of Germany.

Britain's Grand Fleet Grand Fleet Assembly (front).jpg
Britain's Grand Fleet

The first two years of war saw the Royal Navy's battleships and battlecruisers regularly "sweep" the North Sea making sure that no German ships could get in or out. Only a few German surface ships that were already at sea, such as the famous light cruiser SMS Emden, were able to raid commerce. Even some of those that did manage to get out were hunted down by battlecruisers, as in the Battle of the Falklands, December 7, 1914. The results of sweeping actions in the North Sea were battles including the Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank and German raids on the English coast, all of which were attempts by the Germans to lure out portions of the Grand Fleet in an attempt to defeat the Royal Navy in detail. On May 31, 1916, a further attempt to draw British ships into battle on German terms resulted in a clash of the battlefleets in the Battle of Jutland. [47] The German fleet withdrew to port after two short encounters with the British fleet. Less than two months later, the Germans once again attempted to draw portions of the Grand Fleet into battle. The resulting Action of 19 August 1916 proved inconclusive. This reinforced German determination not to engage in a fleet to fleet battle. [48]

Warspite and Malaya at Jutland HMS Warspite and HMS Malaya during the battle of Jutland.jpg
Warspite and Malaya at Jutland

In the other naval theatres there were no decisive pitched battles. In the Black Sea, engagement between Russian and Ottoman battleships was restricted to skirmishes. In the Baltic Sea, action was largely limited to the raiding of convoys, and the laying of defensive minefields; the only significant clash of battleship squadrons there was the Battle of Moon Sound at which one Russian pre-dreadnought was lost. The Adriatic was in a sense the mirror of the North Sea: the Austro-Hungarian dreadnought fleet remained bottled up by the British and French blockade. And in the Mediterranean, the most important use of battleships was in support of the amphibious assault on Gallipoli. [49]

In September 1914, the threat posed to surface ships by German U-boats was confirmed by successful attacks on British cruisers, including the sinking of three British armored cruisers by the German submarine SM U-9 in less than an hour. The British Super-dreadnought HMS Audacious soon followed suit as she struck a mine laid by a German U-boat in October 1914 and sank. The threat that German U-boats posed to British dreadnoughts was enough to cause the Royal Navy to change their strategy and tactics in the North Sea to reduce the risk of U-boat attack. [50] Further near-misses from submarine attacks on battleships and casualties amongst cruisers led to growing concern in the Royal Navy about the vulnerability of battleships.

As the war wore on however, it turned out that whilst submarines did prove to be a very dangerous threat to older pre-dreadnought battleships, as shown by examples such as the sinking of Mesûdiye, which was caught in the Dardanelles by a British submarine [51] and HMS Majestic and HMS Triumph were torpedoed by U-21 as well as HMS Formidable, HMS Cornwallis, HMS Britannia etc., the threat posed to dreadnought battleships proved to have been largely a false alarm. HMS Audacious turned out to be the only dreadnought sunk by a submarine in World War I. [46] While battleships were never intended for anti-submarine warfare, there was one instance of a submarine being sunk by a dreadnought battleship. HMS Dreadnought rammed and sank the German submarine U-29 on March 18, 1915 off Moray Firth. [46]

The sinking of SMS Szent Istvan, after being torpedoed by Italian motor boats Bundesarchiv Bild 134-C2280, Szent Istvan, Sinkendes Linienschiff.jpg
The sinking of SMS Szent István, after being torpedoed by Italian motor boats

Whilst the escape of the German fleet from the superior British firepower at Jutland was effected by the German cruisers and destroyers successfully turning away the British battleships, the German attempt to rely on U-boat attacks on the British fleet failed. [52]

Torpedo boats did have some successes against battleships in World War I, as demonstrated by the sinking of the British pre-dreadnought HMS Goliath by Muâvenet-i Millîye during the Dardanelles Campaign and the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian dreadnought SMS Szent István by Italian motor torpedo boats in June 1918. In large fleet actions, however, destroyers and torpedo boats were usually unable to get close enough to the battleships to damage them. The only battleship sunk in a fleet action by either torpedo boats or destroyers was the obsolescent German pre-dreadnought SMS Pommern. She was sunk by destroyers during the night phase of the Battle of Jutland.

The German High Seas Fleet, for their part, were determined not to engage the British without the assistance of submarines; and since the submarines were needed more for raiding commercial traffic, the fleet stayed in port for much of the war. [53]

Inter-war period

For many years, Germany simply had no battleships. The Armistice with Germany required that most of the High Seas Fleet be disarmed and interned in a neutral port; largely because no neutral port could be found, the ships remained in British custody in Scapa Flow, Scotland. The Treaty of Versailles specified that the ships should be handed over to the British. Instead, most of them were scuttled by their German crews on June 21, 1919 just before the signature of the peace treaty. The treaty also limited the German Navy, and prevented Germany from building or possessing any capital ships. [54]

Profile drawing of HMS Nelson commissioned 1927 HMS Nelson (1931) profile drawing.png
Profile drawing of HMS Nelson commissioned 1927

The inter-war period saw the battleship subjected to strict international limitations to prevent a costly arms race breaking out. [55]

Scrapping of battleships in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania in December 1923 Scrapping Battleships 1923.jpg
Scrapping of battleships in the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania in December 1923

While the victors were not limited by the Treaty of Versailles, many of the major naval powers were crippled after the war. Faced with the prospect of a naval arms race against the United Kingdom and Japan, which would in turn have led to a possible Pacific war, the United States was keen to conclude the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. This treaty limited the number and size of battleships that each major nation could possess, and required Britain to accept parity with the U.S. and to abandon the British alliance with Japan. [56] The Washington treaty was followed by a series of other naval treaties, including the First Geneva Naval Conference (1927), the First London Naval Treaty (1930), the Second Geneva Naval Conference (1932), and finally the Second London Naval Treaty (1936), which all set limits on major warships. These treaties became effectively obsolete on September 1, 1939 at the beginning of World War II, but the ship classifications that had been agreed upon still apply. [57] The treaty limitations meant that fewer new battleships were launched in 1919–1939 than in 1905–1914. The treaties also inhibited development by imposing upper limits on the weights of ships. Designs like the projected British N3-class battleship, the first American South Dakotaclass, and the Japanese Kiiclass—all of which continued the trend to larger ships with bigger guns and thicker armor—never got off the drawing board. Those designs which were commissioned during this period were referred to as treaty battleships. [58]

Rise of air power

Bombing tests which sank SMS Ostfriesland (1909), September 1921 Ostfriesland bombed by Mitchells team p19.jpg
Bombing tests which sank SMS Ostfriesland (1909), September 1921

As early as 1914, the British Admiral Percy Scott predicted that battleships would soon be made irrelevant by aircraft. [59] By the end of World War I, aircraft had successfully adopted the torpedo as a weapon. [60] In 1921 the Italian general and air theorist Giulio Douhet completed a hugely influential treatise on strategic bombing titled The Command of the Air, which foresaw the dominance of air power over naval units.

In the 1920s, General Billy Mitchell of the United States Army Air Corps, believing that air forces had rendered navies around the world obsolete, testified in front of Congress that "1,000 bombardment airplanes can be built and operated for about the price of one battleship" and that a squadron of these bombers could sink a battleship, making for more efficient use of government funds. [61] This infuriated the U.S. Navy, but Mitchell was nevertheless allowed to conduct a careful series of bombing tests alongside Navy and Marine bombers. In 1921, he bombed and sank numerous ships, including the "unsinkable" German World War I battleship SMS Ostfriesland and the American pre-dreadnought Alabama. [62]

Although Mitchell had required "war-time conditions", the ships sunk were obsolete, stationary, defenseless and had no damage control. The sinking of Ostfriesland was accomplished by violating an agreement that would have allowed Navy engineers to examine the effects of various munitions: Mitchell's airmen disregarded the rules, and sank the ship within minutes in a coordinated attack. The stunt made headlines, and Mitchell declared, "No surface vessels can exist wherever air forces acting from land bases are able to attack them." While far from conclusive, Mitchell's test was significant because it put proponents of the battleship against naval aviation on the back foot. [2] Rear Admiral William A. Moffett used public relations against Mitchell to make headway toward expansion of the U.S. Navy's nascent aircraft carrier program. [63]

Rearmament

The Royal Navy, United States Navy, and Imperial Japanese Navy extensively upgraded and modernized their World War I–era battleships during the 1930s. Among the new features were an increased tower height and stability for the optical rangefinder equipment (for gunnery control), more armor (especially around turrets) to protect against plunging fire and aerial bombing, and additional anti-aircraft weapons. Some British ships received a large block superstructure nicknamed the "Queen Anne's castle", such as in Queen Elizabeth and Warspite, which would be used in the new conning towers of the King George V-class fast battleships. External bulges were added to improve both buoyancy to counteract weight increase and provide underwater protection against mines and torpedoes. The Japanese rebuilt all of their battleships, plus their battlecruisers, with distinctive "pagoda" structures, though the Hiei received a more modern bridge tower that would influence the new Yamatoclass. Bulges were fitted, including steel tube arrays to improve both underwater and vertical protection along the waterline. The U.S. experimented with cage masts and later tripod masts, though after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor some of the most severely damaged ships (such as West Virginia and California) were rebuilt with tower masts, for an appearance similar to their Iowa-class contemporaries. Radar, which was effective beyond visual range and effective in complete darkness or adverse weather, was introduced to supplement optical fire control. [64]

Even when war threatened again in the late 1930s, battleship construction did not regain the level of importance it had held in the years before World War I. The "building holiday" imposed by the naval treaties meant the capacity of dockyards worldwide had shrunk, and the strategic position had changed. [65]

In Germany, the ambitious Plan Z for naval rearmament was abandoned in favor of a strategy of submarine warfare supplemented by the use of battlecruisers and commerce raiding (in particular by Bismarck-class battleships). In Britain, the most pressing need was for air defenses and convoy escorts to safeguard the civilian population from bombing or starvation, and re-armament construction plans consisted of five ships of the King George Vclass. It was in the Mediterranean that navies remained most committed to battleship warfare. France intended to build six battleships of the Dunkerque and Richelieuclasses, and the Italians four Littorio-class ships. Neither navy built significant aircraft carriers. The U.S. preferred to spend limited funds on aircraft carriers until the South Dakotaclass. Japan, also prioritising aircraft carriers, nevertheless began work on three mammoth Yamatos (although the third, Shinano, was later completed as a carrier) and a planned fourth was cancelled. [13]

At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the Spanish navy included only two small dreadnought battleships, España and Jaime I. España (originally named Alfonso XIII), by then in reserve at the northwestern naval base of El Ferrol, fell into Nationalist hands in July 1936. The crew aboard Jaime I remained loyal to the Republic, killed their officers, who apparently supported Franco's attempted coup, and joined the Republican Navy. Thus each side had one battleship; however, the Republican Navy generally lacked experienced officers. The Spanish battleships mainly restricted themselves to mutual blockades, convoy escort duties, and shore bombardment, rarely in direct fighting against other surface units. [66] In April 1937, España ran into a mine laid by friendly forces, and sank with little loss of life. In May 1937, Jaime I was damaged by Nationalist air attacks and a grounding incident. The ship was forced to go back to port to be repaired. There she was again hit by several aerial bombs. It was then decided to tow the battleship to a more secure port, but during the transport she suffered an internal explosion that caused 300 deaths and her total loss. Several Italian and German capital ships participated in the non-intervention blockade. On May 29, 1937, two Republican aircraft managed to bomb the German pocket battleship Deutschland outside Ibiza, causing severe damage and loss of life. Admiral Scheer retaliated two days later by bombarding Almería, causing much destruction, and the resulting Deutschland incident meant the end of German and Italian participation in non-intervention. [67]

World War II

Yamato during sea trials, October 1941. Yamato during Trial Service.jpg
Yamato during sea trials, October 1941.
Pennsylvania leading battleship Colorado and cruisers Louisville, Portland, and Columbia into Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, January 1945 US warships entering Lingayen Gulf 1945.jpg
Pennsylvania leading battleship Colorado and cruisers Louisville, Portland, and Columbia into Lingayen Gulf, Philippines, January 1945

The German battleship Schleswig-Holstein—an obsolete pre-dreadnought—fired the first shots of World War II with the bombardment of the Polish garrison at Westerplatte; [68] and the final surrender of the Japanese Empire took place aboard a United States Navy battleship, USS Missouri. Between those two events, it had become clear that aircraft carriers were the new principal ships of the fleet and that battleships now performed a secondary role.

Battleships played a part in major engagements in Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean theaters; in the Atlantic, the Germans used their battleships as independent commerce raiders. However, clashes between battleships were of little strategic importance. The Battle of the Atlantic was fought between destroyers and submarines, and most of the decisive fleet clashes of the Pacific war were determined by aircraft carriers.

In the first year of the war, armored warships defied predictions that aircraft would dominate naval warfare. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau surprised and sank the aircraft carrier Glorious off western Norway in June 1940. [69] This engagement marked the only time a fleet carrier was sunk by surface gunnery. In the attack on Mers-el-Kébir, British battleships opened fire on the French battleships in the harbor near Oran in Algeria with their heavy guns, and later pursued fleeing French ships with planes from aircraft carriers.

The subsequent years of the war saw many demonstrations of the maturity of the aircraft carrier as a strategic naval weapon and its potential against battleships. The British air attack on the Italian naval base at Taranto sank one Italian battleship and damaged two more. The same Swordfish torpedo bombers played a crucial role in sinking the German battleship Bismarck.

The Imperial Japanese Navy's Yamato (1940), seen here under air attack in 1945, and her sister ship Musashi (1940) were the heaviest battleships in history. Japanese battleship Yamato under air attack off Kure on 19 March 1945 (80-G-309662).jpg
The Imperial Japanese Navy's Yamato (1940), seen here under air attack in 1945, and her sister ship Musashi (1940) were the heaviest battleships in history.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Within a short time, five of eight U.S. battleships were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. All three American aircraft carriers were out to sea, however, and evaded destruction. The sinking of the British battleship Prince of Wales and battlecruiser Repulse, demonstrated the vulnerability of a battleship to air attack while at sea without sufficient air cover, settling the argument begun by Mitchell in 1921. Both warships were under way and en route to attack the Japanese amphibious force that had invaded Malaya when they were caught by Japanese land-based bombers and torpedo bombers on December 10, 1941. [70]

At many of the early crucial battles of the Pacific, for instance Coral Sea and Midway, battleships were either absent or overshadowed as carriers launched wave after wave of planes into the attack at a range of hundreds of miles. In later battles in the Pacific, battleships primarily performed shore bombardment in support of amphibious landings and provided anti-aircraft defense as escort for the carriers. Even the largest battleships ever constructed, Japan's Yamatoclass, which carried a main battery of nine 18-inch (46 cm) guns and were designed as a principal strategic weapon, were never given a chance to show their potential in the decisive battleship action that figured in Japanese pre-war planning. [71]

The last battleship confrontation in history was the Battle of Surigao Strait, on October 25, 1944, in which a numerically and technically superior American battleship group destroyed a lesser Japanese battleship group by gunfire after it had already been devastated by destroyer torpedo attacks. All but one of the American battleships in this confrontation had previously been sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor and subsequently raised and repaired. When Mississippi fired the last salvo of this battle, the last salvo fired by a battleship against another heavy ship, she was "firing a funeral salute to a finished era of naval warfare". [72] In April 1945, during the battle for Okinawa, the world's most powerful battleship, [73] the Yamato, was sent out on a suicide mission against a massive U.S. force and sunk by overwhelming pressure from carrier aircraft with nearly all hands lost.

Cold War

Operation Crossroads Operation Crossroads Baker Edit.jpg
Operation Crossroads

After World War II, several navies retained their existing battleships, but they were no longer strategically dominant military assets. Indeed, it soon became apparent that they were no longer worth the considerable cost of construction and maintenance and only one new battleship was commissioned after the war, HMS Vanguard. During the war it had been demonstrated that battleship-on-battleship engagements like Leyte Gulf or the sinking of HMS Hood were the exception and not the rule, and with the growing role of aircraft engagement ranges were becoming longer and longer, making heavy gun armament irrelevant. The armor of a battleship was equally irrelevant in the face of a nuclear attack as tactical missiles with a range of 100 kilometres (60 mi) or more could be mounted on the Soviet Kildin-class destroyer and Whiskey-class submarines. By the end of the 1950s, smaller vessel classes such as destroyers, which formerly offered no noteworthy opposition to battleships, now were capable of eliminating battleships from outside the range of the ship's heavy guns.

The remaining battleships met a variety of ends. USS Arkansas and Nagato were sunk during the testing of nuclear weapons in Operation Crossroads in 1946. Both battleships proved resistant to nuclear air burst but vulnerable to underwater nuclear explosions. [74] The Italian battleship Giulio Cesare was taken by the Soviets as reparations and renamed Novorossiysk; she was sunk by a leftover German mine in the Black Sea on October 29, 1955. The two Andrea Doria-class ships were scrapped in 1956. [75] The French Lorraine was scrapped in 1954, Richelieu in 1968, [76] and Jean Bart in 1970. [77]

The United Kingdom's four surviving King George V-class ships were scrapped in 1957, [78] and Vanguard followed in 1960. [79] All other surviving British battleships had been sold or broken up by 1949. [80] The Soviet Union's Marat was scrapped in 1953, Parizhskaya Kommuna in 1957 and Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya (back under her original name, Gangut, since 1942) [81] in 1956-7. [81] Brazil's Minas Geraes was scrapped in Genoa in 1953, [82] and her sister ship São Paulo sank during a storm in the Atlantic en route to the breakers in Italy in 1951. [82]

Argentina kept its two Rivadavia-class ships until 1956 and Chile kept Almirante Latorre (formerly HMS Canada) until 1959. [83] The Turkish battlecruiser Yavûz (formerly SMS Goeben, launched in 1911) was scrapped in 1976 after an offer to sell her back to Germany was refused. Sweden had several small coastal-defense battleships, one of which, HSwMS Gustav V, survived until 1970. [84] The Soviets scrapped four large incomplete cruisers in the late 1950s, whilst plans to build a number of new Stalingrad-class battlecruisers were abandoned following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. [85] The three old German battleships Schleswig-Holstein, Schlesien, and Hessen all met similar ends. Hessen was taken over by the Soviet Union and renamed Tsel. She was scrapped in 1960. Schleswig-Holstein was renamed Borodino, and was used as a target ship until 1960. Schlesien, too, was used as a target ship. She was broken up between 1952 and 1957. [86]

USS Missouri launches a Tomahawk missile during Operation Desert Storm. Missouri missile BGM-109 Tomahawk.JPG
USS Missouri launches a Tomahawk missile during Operation Desert Storm.

The Iowa-class battleships gained a new lease of life in the U.S. Navy as fire support ships. Radar and computer-controlled gunfire could be aimed with pinpoint accuracy to target. The U.S. recommissioned all four Iowa-class battleships for the Korean War and the New Jersey for the Vietnam War. These were primarily used for shore bombardment, New Jersey firing nearly 6,000 rounds of 16 inch shells and over 14,000 rounds of 5 inch projectiles during her tour on the gunline, [87] seven times more rounds against shore targets in Vietnam than she had fired in the Second World War. [88]

As part of Navy Secretary John F. Lehman's effort to build a 600-ship Navy in the 1980s, and in response to the commissioning of Kirov by the Soviet Union, the United States recommissioned all four Iowa-class battleships. On several occasions, battleships were support ships in carrier battle groups, or led their own battleship battle group. These were modernized to carry Tomahawk (TLAM) missiles, with New Jersey seeing action bombarding Lebanon in 1983 and 1984, while Missouri and Wisconsin fired their 16-inch (406 mm) guns at land targets and launched missiles during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Wisconsin served as the TLAM strike commander for the Persian Gulf, directing the sequence of launches that marked the opening of Desert Storm, firing a total of 24 TLAMs during the first two days of the campaign. The primary threat to the battleships were Iraqi shore-based surface-to-surface missiles; Missouri was targeted by two Iraqi Silkworm missiles, with one missing and another being intercepted by the British destroyer HMS Gloucester. [89]

End of the battleship era

The American Texas (1912) is the only preserved example of a Dreadnought-type battleship that dates to the time of the original HMS Dreadnought. USS Texas BB-35.jpg
The American Texas (1912) is the only preserved example of a Dreadnought-type battleship that dates to the time of the original HMS Dreadnought.

After Indiana was stricken in 1962, the four Iowa-class ships were the only battleships in commission or reserve anywhere in the world. There was an extended debate when the four Iowa ships were finally decommissioned in the early 1990s. USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin were maintained to a standard where they could be rapidly returned to service as fire support vessels, pending the development of a superior fire support vessel. These last two battleships were finally stricken from the U.S. Naval Vessel Register in 2006. [90] [91] [92] The Military Balance and Russian Foreign Military Review states the U.S. Navy listed one battleship in the reserve (Naval Inactive Fleet/Reserve 2nd Turn) in 2010. [93] [94] The Military Balance states the U.S. Navy listed no battleships in the reserve in 2014. [95] The U.S. Marine Corps believes that the current naval surface fire support gun and missile programs will not be able to provide adequate fire support for an amphibious assault or onshore operations. [96] [97]

When the last Iowa-class ship was finally stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry, no battleships remained in service or in reserve with any navy worldwide. A number are preserved as museum ships, either afloat or in drydock. The U.S. has eight battleships on display: Massachusetts, North Carolina, Alabama, Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Texas. Missouri and New Jersey are museums at Pearl Harbor and Camden, New Jersey, respectively. Iowa is on display as an educational attraction at the Los Angeles Waterfront in San Pedro, California. Wisconsin now serves as a museum ship in Norfolk, Virginia. [98] Massachusetts, which has the distinction of never having lost a man during service, is on display at the Battleship Cove naval museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. [99] Texas, the first battleship turned into a museum, is on display at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, near Houston. North Carolina is on display in Wilmington, North Carolina. Alabama is on display in Mobile, Alabama. The wreck of the Arizona, sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, is designated a historical landmark and national gravesite.

The only other 20th-century battleship on display is the Japanese pre-dreadnought Mikasa. A replica of the Chinese ironclad Dingyuan was built by the Weihai Port Bureau in 2003 and is on display in Weihai, China.

Strategy and doctrine

Doctrine

USS Iowa fires a full broadside of her nine 16''/50 and six 5''/38 guns during a target exercise Uss iowa bb-61 pr.jpg
USS Iowa fires a full broadside of her nine 16″/50 and six 5″/38 guns during a target exercise

Battleships were the embodiment of sea power. For Alfred Thayer Mahan and his followers, a strong navy was vital to the success of a nation, and control of the seas was vital for the projection of force on land and overseas. Mahan's theory, proposed in The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660–1783 of 1890, dictated the role of the battleship was to sweep the enemy from the seas. [100] While the work of escorting, blockading, and raiding might be done by cruisers or smaller vessels, the presence of the battleship was a potential threat to any convoy escorted by any vessels other than capital ships. This concept of "potential threat" can be further generalized to the mere existence (as opposed to presence) of a powerful fleet tying the opposing fleet down. This concept came to be known as a "fleet in being" – an idle yet mighty fleet forcing others to spend time, resource and effort to actively guard against it.

Mahan went on to say victory could only be achieved by engagements between battleships, which came to be known as the decisive battle doctrine in some navies, while targeting merchant ships (commerce raiding or guerre de course, as posited by the Jeune École ) could never succeed. [101]

Mahan was highly influential in naval and political circles throughout the age of the battleship, [2] [102] calling for a large fleet of the most powerful battleships possible. Mahan's work developed in the late 1880s, and by the end of the 1890s it had acquired much international influence on naval strategy; [2] in the end, it was adopted by many major navies (notably the British, American, German, and Japanese). The strength of Mahanian opinion was important in the development of the battleships arms races, and equally important in the agreement of the Powers to limit battleship numbers in the interwar era.

The "fleet in being" suggested battleships could simply by their existence tie down superior enemy resources. This in turn was believed to be able to tip the balance of a conflict even without a battle. This suggested even for inferior naval powers a battleship fleet could have important strategic effect. [103]

Tactics

While the role of battleships in both World Wars reflected Mahanian doctrine, the details of battleship deployment were more complex. Unlike ships of the line, the battleships of the late 19th and early 20th centuries had significant vulnerability to torpedoes and mines—because efficient mines and torpedoes did not exist before that [104] —which could be used by relatively small and inexpensive craft. The Jeune École doctrine of the 1870s and 1880s recommended placing torpedo boats alongside battleships; these would hide behind the larger ships until gun-smoke obscured visibility enough for them to dart out and fire their torpedoes. [2] While this tactic was vitiated by the development of smokeless propellant, the threat from more capable torpedo craft (later including submarines) remained. By the 1890s, the Royal Navy had developed the first destroyers, which were initially designed to intercept and drive off any attacking torpedo boats. During the First World War and subsequently, battleships were rarely deployed without a protective screen of destroyers. [105]

Battleship doctrine emphasised the concentration of the battlegroup. In order for this concentrated force to be able to bring its power to bear on a reluctant opponent (or to avoid an encounter with a stronger enemy fleet), battlefleets needed some means of locating enemy ships beyond horizon range. This was provided by scouting forces; at various stages battlecruisers, cruisers, destroyers, airships, submarines and aircraft were all used. (With the development of radio, direction finding and traffic analysis would come into play, as well, so even shore stations, broadly speaking, joined the battlegroup. [106] ) So for most of their history, battleships operated surrounded by squadrons of destroyers and cruisers. The North Sea campaign of the First World War illustrates how, despite this support, the threat of mine and torpedo attack, and the failure to integrate or appreciate the capabilities of new techniques, [107] seriously inhibited the operations of the Royal Navy Grand Fleet, the greatest battleship fleet of its time.

Strategic and diplomatic impact

The presence of battleships had a great psychological and diplomatic impact. Similar to possessing nuclear weapons today, the ownership of battleships served to enhance a nation's force projection. [2]

Even during the Cold War, the psychological impact of a battleship was significant. In 1946, USS Missouri was dispatched to deliver the remains of the ambassador from Turkey, and her presence in Turkish and Greek waters staved off a possible Soviet thrust into the Balkan region. [108] In September 1983, when Druze militia in Lebanon's Shouf Mountains fired upon U.S. Marine peacekeepers, the arrival of USS New Jersey stopped the firing. Gunfire from New Jersey later killed militia leaders. [109]

Value for money

Battleships were the largest and most complex, and hence the most expensive warships of their time; as a result, the value of investment in battleships has always been contested. As the French politician Etienne Lamy wrote in 1879, "The construction of battleships is so costly, their effectiveness so uncertain and of such short duration, that the enterprise of creating an armored fleet seems to leave fruitless the perseverance of a people". [104] The Jeune École school of thought of the 1870s and 1880s sought alternatives to the crippling expense and debatable utility of a conventional battlefleet. It proposed what would nowadays be termed a sea denial strategy, based on fast, long-ranged cruisers for commerce raiding and torpedo boat flotillas to attack enemy ships attempting to blockade French ports. The ideas of the Jeune École were ahead of their time; it was not until the 20th century that efficient mines, torpedoes, submarines, and aircraft were available that allowed similar ideas to be effectively implemented. [104] The determination of powers such as Germany to build battlefleets with which to confront much stronger rivals has been criticised by historians, who emphasise the futility of investment in a battlefleet that has no chance of matching its opponent in an actual battle. [2]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Stoll, J. Steaming in the Dark?, Journal of Conflict Resolution Vol. 36 No. 2, June 1992.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 Sondhaus, L. Naval Warfare 1815–1914, ISBN   0-415-21478-5.
  3. Herwig pp. 35, 41, 42.
  4. Mahan 1890/Dover 1987 pp. 2, 3.
  5. Preston (1982) p. 24.
  6. Corbett (2015) Vol. II, p. 332, 333, "So was consummated perhaps the most decisive and complete naval victory in history"
  7. Breyer p. 115.
  8. Massie (1991) p. 471.
  9. Friedman (2013) p. 68, Captain Pakenham, British observer at Tsushima; "...When 12 inch guns are firing, 10 inch guns go unnoticed...Everything in this war has tended to emphasise the vast importance to a ship...of carrying some of the heaviest and furthest-shooting guns that can be got into her."
  10. Corbett (2015) Vol. 1, p. 380,381; the Russians turned back after Admiral Vitgeft was killed aboard his flagship, the battleship Tzesarevich; to remain bottled up in Port Arthur, pending arrival of the Russian Baltic Fleet in 1905. Known as the Battle of August 10 in Russia.
  11. Jeremy Black, "Jutland's Place in History", Naval History (June 2016) 30#3 pp. 16–21.
  12. O'Connell, Robert J. (1993). Sacred vessels: the cult of the battleship and the rise of the U.S. Navy. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-508006-3.[ page needed ]
  13. 1 2 Lenton, H. T.: Krigsfartyg efter 1860
  14. "battleship" The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. April 4, 2000.
  15. "Napoleon (90 guns), the first purpose-designed screw line of battleships", Steam, Steel and Shellfire, Conway's History of the Ship, p. 39.
  16. "Hastened to completion Le Napoleon was launched on May 16, 1850, to become the world's first true steam battleship", Steam, Steel and Shellfire, Conway's History of the Ship, p. 39.
  17. Lambert, Andrew, Battleships in Transition, pub Conway1984, ISBN   0-85177-315-X pages 144–147.
    In addition, the Navy of the North Germany Confederacy (which included Prussia) bought HMS Renown from Britain in 1870 for use as a gunnery training ship.
  18. "The canon-obusier [shell gun] originally constructed by Colonel Paixhans for the French Naval Service ... was subsequently designated the canon-obusier of 80, No 1 of 1841 ... the diameter of the bore is 22 centimetres (8.65 inches)." From Douglas, Sir Howard, A Treatise on Naval Gunnery 1855 (Conway Maritime Press, 1982; reprinting 1855 edition), p.201 ISBN   0-85177-275-7. The British undertook trials with shell guns at HMS Excellent starting in 1832. A Treatise on Naval Gunnery 1855, p. 198.
    For the U.S. introduction of 8-inch shell guns into the armament of line-of-battle ships in 1841, see Spencer Tucker, Arming the Fleet, US Navy Ordnance in the Muzzle-Loading Era (U.S. Naval Institute Pres, 1989), p.149. ISBN   0-87021-007-6.
  19. Lambert, Andrew D, The Crimean War, British Grand Strategy Against Russia, 1853–56, Manchester University Press, 1990, ISBN   0-7190-3564-3, pp. 60–61.
  20. Lambert, Andrew: Battleships in Transition, pp. 92–96.
  21. Clowes, William Laird, Four Modern Naval Campaigns, Unit Library, 1902, republished Cornmarket Press, 1970, ISBN   0-7191-2020-9, p. 68.
  22. Clowes, William Laird. Four Modern Naval Campaigns, pp. 54–55, 63.
  23. Wilson, H. W. Ironclads in Action – Vol 1, London, 1898, p. 240.
  24. Gibbons, Tony. The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships, pp. 28–29.
  25. Gibbons, pp. 30–31.
  26. Gibbons, p. 93.
  27. Conway Marine, "Steam, Steel and Shellfire", p. 96.
  28. Gibbons, Tony: The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships, p. 101.
  29. Beeler, John (2001). Birth of the battleship: British capital ship design 1870–1881. Annapoli, MD: Naval Institute Press. p. 224. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  30. Hill, Richard. War at Sea in the Ironclad Age, ISBN   0-304-35273-X. [ page needed ]
  31. 1 2 Kennedy, p. 209.
  32. Preston, Anthony. Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II[ page needed ]
  33. Preston, Anthony. Battleships of World War I, New York City: Galahad Books, 1972. [ page needed ]
  34. Gibbons, p. 168.
  35. Burgess; Heilbrun, Edwin; Margaret (January 11, 2013). "Dreadnaught: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War". Library Journal. 138 (18): 53. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  36. Cuniberti, Vittorio, "An Ideal Battleship for the British Fleet", All The World's Fighting Ships, 1903, pp. 407–409.
  37. Corbett (2015) Vol. 1 p.380, 381
  38. Corbett (2015) Vol. II p. 246
  39. Corbett (2015) Vol. II p.445
  40. Evans and Peattie, Kaigun, p. 159.
  41. Burr, Lawrence (2006). British Battlecruisers 1914–18. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. pp. 4–7. ISBN   978-1-84603-008-6.
  42. Gibbons, pp. 170–171.
  43. 1 2 Ireland, Bernard Janes War at Sea, p. 66.
  44. Gilbert, Adrian (2000). The encyclopedia of warfare: from earliest time to the present day, Part 25. Taylor & Francis. p. 224. ISBN   978-1-57958-216-6 . Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  45. Keegan, p. 289.
  46. 1 2 3 "Are Battleships Obsolete?". the Wells Brothers. 2001. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  47. Ireland, Bernard: Jane's War At Sea, pp. 88–95.
  48. Padfield 1972, p. 240.
  49. Andrew Marr's The Making of Modern Britain Episode 3.
  50. Massie, Robert. Castles of Steel, London, 2005. pp. 127–145.
  51. Compton-Hall, Richard (2004). Submarines at War 1914–18. Periscope Publishing Ltd. pp. 155–162. ISBN   978-1-904381-21-1.
  52. Massie, Robert. Castles of Steel, London, 2005. pp. 675.
  53. Kennedy, pp. 247–249.
  54. Ireland, Bernard: Jane's War At Sea, p. 118.
  55. Friedman, Norman. U.S. Battleships, pp. 181–2.
  56. Kennedy, p. 277.
  57. Ireland, Bernard. Jane's War at Sea, pp. 124–126, 139–142.
  58. Sumrall, Robert. The Battleship and Battlecruiser, in Gardiner, R: The Eclipse of the Big Gun. Conway Maritime, London. ISBN   0-85177-607-8. pp. 25–28.
  59. Kennedy, p. 199.
  60. From the Guinness Book of Air Facts and Feats (3rd edition, 1977): "The first air attack using a torpedo dropped by an aeroplane was carried out by Flight Commander Charles H. K. Edmonds, flying a Short 184 seaplane from HMS Ben-my-Chree on August 12, 1915, against a 5,000 ton (5,080 tonne) Turkish supply ship in the Sea of Marmara. Although the enemy ship was hit and sunk, the captain of a British submarine claimed to have fired a torpedo simultaneously and sunk the ship. It was further stated that the British submarine E14 had attacked and immobilised the ship four days earlier. However, on August 17, 1915, another Turkish ship was sunk by a torpedo of whose origin there can be no doubt. On this occasion Flight Commander C. H. Edmonds, flying a Short 184, torpedoed a Turkish steamer a few miles north of the Dardanelles. His formation colleague, Flight Lieutenant G. B. Dacre, was forced to land on the water owing to engine trouble but, seeing an enemy tug close by, taxied up to it and released his torpedo. The tug blew up and sank. Thereafter, Dacre was able to take off and return to the Ben-my-Chree."
  61. Boyne, Walter J. "The Spirit of Billy Mitchell". Air Force Magazine, June 1996.
  62. "Vice Admiral Alfred Wilkinson Johnson, USN Ret. The Naval Bombing Experiments: Bombing Operations (1959)". History.navy.mil. Archived from the original on April 9, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
  63. Jeffers, H. Paul (2006). Billy Mitchell: The Life, Times, and Battles of America's Prophet of Air Power. Zenith Press. ISBN   0-7603-2080-2. [ page needed ]
  64. "CombinedFleet.com". Combinedfleet.com. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
  65. Fuller, John (1945). Armament and history; a study of the influence of armament on history from the dawn of classical warfare to the second World War [by] Major General J.F.C. Fuller. New York City, New York: Scribner's Sons. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  66. Gibbons, p. 195.
  67. Greger, René. Schlachtschiffe der Welt, p. 251.
  68. Gibbons, p. 163.
  69. Gibbons, pp. 246–247.
  70. Axell, Albert: Kamikaze, p. 14.
  71. Gibbons, pp. 262–263.
  72. Samuel Eliot Morison, History of US Naval Operations in World War II Vol. 12, Leyte, p. 141.
  73. Jentschura, Dieter, Mickel p. 39.
  74. Operation 'Crossroads' – the Bikini A-bomb tests, in Ireland, Bernard (1996). Jane's Battleships of the 20th Century. New York: HarperCollins. pp. 186–87. ISBN   978-0-00-470997-0.
  75. Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. (technical assistance from Bill Gunston, Antony Preston, & Ian Hogg) Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare. London: Phoebus, 1978, Volume 2, p. 114.
  76. Fitzsimons, Volume 20, p. 2213, "Richelieu". No mention of her sister, Jean Bart.
  77. Gardiner, Robert (Ed.); (1980); Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922–1946; ISBN   0-85177-146-7; p. 260.
  78. Fitzsimons, Volume 15, p. 1636, "King George V"
  79. Fitzsimons, Volume 23, p. 2554, "Vanguard"
  80. Gardiner, pp. 7, 14.
  81. 1 2 Fitzsimons, Volume 10, p. 1086, "Gangut"
  82. 1 2 Fitzsimons, Volume 17, p. 1896, "Minas Gerais"
  83. Fitzsimons, Volume 1, p. 84, "Almirante Latorre"
  84. Gardiner, p. 368.
  85. McLaughlin, Stephen (2006). Jordan, John (ed.). Project 82: The Stalingrad Class. Warship 2006. London: Conway. p. 117. ISBN   978-1-84486-030-2.
  86. Gardiner, p. 222.
  87. Polmar, p. 129.
  88. History of World Seapower, Bernard Brett, ISBN   0-603-03723-2, p. 236.
  89. "Global Defence Review : Defence Power". April 26, 2009. Archived from the original on April 26, 2009.
  90. Naval Vessel Register for BB61. U.S. Navy, December 14, 2009. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  91. Naval Vessel Register for BB64. U.S. Navy, April 30, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
  92. "Iowa Class Battleship". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
  93. The Military Balance 2010. Routledge for The International Institute for Strategic Studies. January 1, 2010. ISBN   9781857435573 via Google Books.
  94. "TARGET&ЗВО".
  95. The Military Balance 2014. Routledge for The International The International Institute of Strategic Studies. January 24, 2014. ISBN   9781857437225 via Google Books.
  96. The USMC has revised its Naval Surface Gunfire Support requirements, leaving some questions as to whether or not the Zumwalt-class destroyer can meet the Marine qualifications.
  97. United States General Accounting Office. "Naval Surface Fires Support". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on March 15, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
  98. "WCBC files lawsuit" Archived April 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine . Associated Press. April 14, 2010. Retrieved April 15, 2010.
  99. "Battleship Cove: Exhibits". USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee. Archived from the original on April 2, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013.
  100. Massie, Robert K. Castles of Steel, London, 2005. ISBN   1-84413-411-3. [ page needed ]
  101. Mahan, A.T., Captain, U.S. Navy. Influence of Sea Power on History, 1660–1783. Boston: Little Brown, passim.
  102. Kennedy, pp. 2, 200, 206.
  103. Pike, John (May 3, 2007). "Fleet in Being". Global security. Archived from the original on February 13, 2009. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
  104. 1 2 3 Dahl, Erik J. (Autumn 2005). "Net-Centric before its time: The Jeune École and Its Lessons for Today". Naval War College Review. 58 (4). Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  105. "Battleships, Mines, and Torpedoes". Canadian Magazine. 22: 501–502. March 1904. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  106. It could presage an enemy sortie, or locate an enemy over the horizon. Beesly, Patrick. Room 40 (London : Hamish Hamilton)
  107. Beesly. [ page needed ]
  108. "USS Missouri". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Naval Historical Center. Archived from the original on April 9, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
  109. "USS New Jersey". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2007.

Related Research Articles

Battle of Jutland 1916 naval battle during World War I

The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle fought between Britain's Royal Navy Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, during the First World War. The battle unfolded in extensive manoeuvring and three main engagements, from 31 May to 1 June 1916, off the North Sea coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. Jutland was the third fleet action between steel battleships, following the long range gunnery duel at the Yellow Sea (1904) and the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War. Jutland was the last major battle in world history fought primarily by battleships.

Cruiser Type of large warships

A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.

Armored cruiser type of cruiser in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

The armored cruiser was a type of warship of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was designed like other types of cruisers to operate as a long-range, independent warship, capable of defeating any ship apart from a battleship and fast enough to outrun any battleship it encountered. Varying in size, it was distinguished from other types of cruiser by its belt armor—thick iron plating on much of the hull to protect the ship from shellfire much like that on battleships. The first armored cruiser, the Imperial Russian Navy's General-Admiral, was launched in 1873 and combined sail and steam propulsion. By the 1890s cruisers had abandoned sail and took on a modern appearance.

HMS <i>Revenge</i> (06) Lead Revenge-class battleship

HMS Revenge was the lead ship of five Revenge-class super-dreadnought battleships built for the Royal Navy during the First World War in the mid-1910s. The ships were developments of the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships, with reductions in size and speed to offset increases in armour protection whilst retaining the same main battery of eight 15-inch (381 mm) guns. She was laid down in 1913, launched in 1915, and was commissioned in February 1916, early enough to be worked up in time to see action with the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in May that year. During the engagement, she engaged German battlecruisers, damaging two of them before being forced to turn away to avoid torpedoes that damaged her squadron flagship and caused the squadron to lose contact with the rest of the fleet. Revenge emerged from the battle unscathed, but she saw no further action during the war, as the British and German fleets turned to more cautious strategies owing to the risk of submarines and naval mines.

HMS <i>Ajax</i> (1912) UK King George V-class battleship

HMS Ajax was the third of four King George V-class dreadnought battleships built for the Royal Navy in the early 1910s. After commissioning in 1913, she spent the bulk of her career assigned to the Home and Grand Fleets. Aside from participating in the failed attempt to intercept the German ships that had bombarded Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby in late 1914, the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 and the inconclusive Action of 19 August, her service during World War I generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea.

HMS <i>Princess Royal</i> (1911) Lion-class battlecruiser

HMS Princess Royal was the second of two Lion-class battlecruisers built for the Royal Navy before World War I. Designed in response to the Moltke-class battlecruisers of the Imperial German Navy, the ships significantly improved on the speed, armament, and armour of the preceding Indefatigable class. The ship was named for The Princess Royal, a title occasionally granted to the Monarch's eldest daughter.

SMS <i>Pommern</i> Deutschland-class battleship

SMS Pommern was one of five Deutschland-class pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Kaiserliche Marine between 1904 and 1906. Named after the Prussian province of Pomerania, she was built at the AG Vulcan yard at Stettin, Germany, where she was laid down on 22 March 1904 and launched on 2 December 1905. She was commissioned into the navy on 6 August 1907. The ship was armed with a battery of four 28 cm (11 in) guns and had a top speed of 18 knots. The ships of her class were already outdated by the time they entered the service, being inferior in size, armor, firepower, and speed to the revolutionary new battleship HMS Dreadnought.

SMS <i>Nassau</i> Nassau-class battleship of the Imperial German Navy

SMS Nassau was the first dreadnought battleship built for the Imperial German Navy, a response to the launching of the British battleship HMS Dreadnought. Nassau was laid down on 22 July 1907 at the Kaiserliche Werft in Wilhelmshaven, and launched less than a year later on 7 March 1908, approximately 25 months after Dreadnought. She was the lead ship of her class of four battleships, which included Posen, Rheinland, and Westfalen.

SMS <i>Kronprinz</i> First World War German battleship scuttled in Scapa Flow

SMS Kronprinz was the last battleship of the four-ship König class of the German Imperial Navy. The battleship was laid down in November 1911 and launched on 21 February 1914. She was formally commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 8 November 1914, just over 4 months after the start of World War I. The name Kronprinz refers to Crown Prince Wilhelm, and in June 1918, the ship was renamed Kronprinz Wilhelm in his honor. The battleship was armed with ten 30.5-centimeter (12.0 in) guns in five twin turrets and could steam at a top speed of 21 knots.

<i>König</i>-class battleship Class of battleships

The König class was a group of four battleships built for the German Kaiserliche Marine on the eve of World War I. The class was composed of König, Grosser Kurfürst, Markgraf, and Kronprinz. The most powerful warships of the German High Seas Fleet at the outbreak of war in 1914, the class operated as a unit throughout World War I: V Division of III Battle Squadron. The ships took part in a number of fleet operations during the war, including the Battle of Jutland, where they acted as the vanguard of the German line. They survived the war and were interned at Scapa Flow in November 1918. All four ships were scuttled on 21 June 1919 when Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the sinking of the entire High Seas Fleet. Three remain on the seafloor there; the Grosser Kurfürst was raised, towed off, and broken up for scrap.

SMS <i>Rheinland</i> Nassau-class battleship

SMS Rheinland was one of four Nassau-class battleships, the first dreadnoughts built for the German Imperial Navy. Rheinland mounted twelve 28 cm (11 in) main guns in six twin turrets in an unusual hexagonal arrangement. The navy built Rheinland and her sister ships in response to the revolutionary British HMS Dreadnought, which had been launched in 1906. Rheinland was laid down in June 1907, launched the following year in October, and commissioned in April 1910.

Dreadnought Type of battleship with a primary battery of large, uniform-caliber guns

The dreadnought was the predominant type of battleship in the early 20th century. The first of its kind, the Royal Navy's HMS Dreadnought, made such a strong impression on people's minds when launched in 1906 that similar battleships built subsequently were referred to generically as "dreadnoughts", and earlier battleships became known as "pre-dreadnoughts". Dreadnought's design had two revolutionary features: an "all-big-gun" armament scheme, with more heavy-calibre guns than previous ships; and steam turbine propulsion. As dreadnoughts became a symbol of national power, the arrival of these new warships was a crucial catalyst in the intensifying naval arms race between the United Kingdom and Germany. With the launch of a single ship, Dreadnought, the scales of naval power were reset overnight. As a result, dreadnought races sprang up around the world, including in South America, during the lead up to World War I. Successive designs increased rapidly in size and made use of improvements in armament, armour, and propulsion throughout the dreadnought era. Within five years, new battleships had outclassed Dreadnought. These more powerful vessels were known as "super-dreadnoughts". Most of the original dreadnoughts were scrapped after the end of World War I under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, but many of the newer super-dreadnoughts continued to be used throughout World War II. The only surviving dreadnought is USS Texas, located near the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site.

SMS <i>Hessen</i> pre-dreadnought battleship

SMS Hessen was the third of five pre-dreadnought battleships of the Braunschweig class. She was laid down in 1902, was launched in September 1903, and was commissioned into the German Kaiserliche Marine in September 1905. Named after the state of Hesse, the ship was armed with a battery of four 28 cm (11 in) guns and had a top speed of 18 knots. Like all other pre-dreadnoughts built at the turn of the century, Hessen was quickly made obsolete by the launching of the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought in 1906; as a result, she saw only limited service with the German fleet.

Battleships in World War II

World War II saw the end of the battleship as the dominant force in the world's navies. On the outbreak of the War, large fleets of battleships—many inherited from the dreadnought era decades before—were one of the decisive forces in naval thinking. By the end of the War, battleship construction was all but halted, and almost every remaining battleship was retired or scrapped within a few years of its end.

SMS <i>Markgraf</i> German battleship scuttled in Scapa Flow

SMS Markgraf was the third battleship of the four-ship König class. She served in the Imperial German Navy during World War I. The battleship was laid down in November 1911 and launched on 4 June 1913. She was formally commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 1 October 1914, just over two months after the outbreak of war in Europe. Markgraf was armed with ten 30.5-centimeter (12.0 in) guns in five twin turrets and could steam at a top speed of 21 knots. Markgraf was named in honor of the royal family of Baden. The name Markgraf is a rank of German nobility and is equivalent to the English Margrave, or Marquess.

References

Further reading