- Mar 16, 2016
We have more than a few threads about US bases and ships and other equipment named after Confederates.
While reading about the RN's Abercrombie class of monitors, found some interesting info stating that they were going to be named General Ulysses S. Grant, Admiral David Farragut, General Robert E. Lee and General Stonewall Jackson. (Only ONE naval figure?!? Geez...What about a HMS Rear Admiral Charles Wilkes - oh wait...nevermind. ) They were going to be named after American historical figures because the turrets were produced by Bethlehem Steel for the Greek ship Salamis - which was being built in Germany by AG Vulcan in Hamburg. With the outbreak of WWI, the ship could not be completed and the turrets not delivered. In November of 1914, Charles M. Schwab of Bethlehem Steel offered to sell the 4 turrets to Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, and the offer was accepted. The turrets were four, 14 inch (356 mm)/45cal BL MK II twin gun turrets. The Abercrombie class monitors were built to employ them.
Since the US was still neutral at the time, a more politically acceptable naming convention was used so no HMS Robert E. Lee, (or HMS Ulysses S. Grant for that matter), got to shell the Central Powers. Interestingly enough, the monitor that was going to be the Lee, ( Also known as M3, then HMS Raglan [for FitzRoy Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan]), was sunk during the Battle of Imbros by Yavuz Sultan Selim and Midilli.
So, to wrap up this twisted tale of the almost HMS Lee - American built turrets, for a Greek ship, to be assembled in Germany, sold to the RN, for a ship built in Scotland, by a Northern Ireland company, sent to fight in the Eastern Med, sunk by Turkish Navy vessels, that were formerly known as SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau of the Imperial German Navy. Funny old world...