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Royal Navy vessels named after Confederates...

Discussion in 'Civil War History - The Naval War' started by USS ALASKA, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA 2nd Lieutenant

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    HMS_Raglan.jpg

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/HMS_Raglan.jpg

    ...almost.

    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. :whistling: ) 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...

    Cheers!
    USS ALASKA
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018

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  3. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    What a great photo, I love the paddle tug toddling along behind, my first thought is that it's Malta, Valetta harbour ,but I wonder if it could be Alexandria.
     
  4. Carronade

    Carronade 1st Lieutenant

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    Churchill, half American himself, also chose the term 'monitor' for the new ships and many to follow. The British had just discovered a need for shallow-draft bombardment ships to operate along the Belgian coast, so the sudden appearance of the turrets was quite timely.

    Here's a photo of the incomplete Salamis in Hamburg, at right. The other two big ships are the battle cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich and battleship Wurttemburg, also never completed.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA 2nd Lieutenant

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    Good eye! The caption from the source states "Raglan leaving Malta for Brindisi during the First World War."

    Cheers!
    USS ALASKA
     
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  6. Carronade

    Carronade 1st Lieutenant

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    The layout of the tug is reminiscent of many Civil War era steamers. The paddles are right amidships for maximum maneuverability, with the funnels, boilers, and coal bunkers forward and aft. This helped to maintain trim as the ship's supply of coal was used up.

    We don't often get to say this about monitors, but that's a rather attractive picture of old Raglan :smile:
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  7. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    Thanks, you don't often get views looking to that side of the harbour, most seem to be taken from the ramparts looking the other way, and of course the majority of phots were taken in Grand Harbour itself.
     
  8. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    They were quite impressive ships, able to get close inshore for maximum effect.
     
  9. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    Thanks for posting yet another piece of interesting, but little known naval history!
     
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  10. Stock

    Stock Private

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  11. Stock

    Stock Private

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    As a Southern raised boy (leaving great room for my father who was raised in Gettysburg), I say wonderful! I can't imagine how great it would be to see a ship pulling into an English port, named after a great Confederate! But, I do wonder why England would do it since they didn't much help the Confederacy out in our Civil War. But happy to see it. Jolly well happy to see it!
     
  12. yankeeblue

    yankeeblue Private

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    That's what I call diversity!
     
  13. TinCan

    TinCan Captain Forum Host

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    Could that be Fitzroy Somerset,1st Baron Raglan, famous for unclear orders?
     
  14. Talos

    Talos Corporal

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    On a side note, the American guns in these ships were the only cannons in the Royal Navy not to use cordite. When the guns reached the usual British barrel life, they were examined and found to still be in great condition and didn't need to be relined.

    The hull forms of these ships were insane. They looked like bumper cars with this massive bulge with a horizontal surface on top and bottom. Very poorly and quickly designed and it made them incredibly slow.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/SHIPS/Th...ONITORS/i-q8sSGbJ/1/f289e4bc/L/HAVELOCK-L.jpg
     
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  15. Story

    Story First Sergeant

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    Tumblehomme Extreme?
     
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  16. USS ALASKA

    USS ALASKA 2nd Lieutenant

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    These weapons and mountings had an unusual history. The Mark II guns were built by the Bethlehem Steel Company as part of a sub-contract from a German firm building the battlecruiser Salamis for Greece. After the start of World War I halted work on the battlecruiser, the guns and mountings were purchased by Britain to speed up construction of four monitors. The guns and mountings were disassembled and shipped to the Coventry Ordnance Works (for the Belfast-built monitors) and to the Elswick Ordnance Works (for the Tyne-built monitors).

    Besides the guns and twin mountings, Bethlehem Steel also sold Britain four complete sets of turret shield armor, two sets of 8 inch (20.3 cm) barbette armor and 4,000 rounds of ammunition. The Bethlehem mountings were electrically powered and quite unlike anything built in Britain. After their re-erection and check-out problems were corrected, they proved to be very reliable in service.

    These monitors were originally known as M1, M2, M3 and M4, then redesignated as Admiral Farragut, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and General Grant (showing their USA heritage). However, US diplomatic protests meant that they finally entered service as Abercrombie, Havelock, Raglan and Roberts.

    Eight of these guns were built to the Bethlehem design and consisted of a thin A tube and three layers, each of three tubes. The breech bush screwed into the outer two tubes and the hand-operated breech mechanism resembled the British Elswick type. The outer tubes were apparently not locked together very well and the guns drooped for the first few salvos until they warmed up after which they locked together properly. A further two guns were built by Woolwich as spares and were also designated as Mark II. These were to standard British wire wound construction standards but kept the same external contours as did the Bethlehem guns. These two guns were used to regun Abercrombie in May 1918.

    The two Bethlehem Mark II guns removed from Abercrombie in 1918 were closely examined by the British ordnance experts at Woolwich. The British were not impressed by the construction of these guns, noting that their poorly locked hoops and thin A tube gave them a low degree of safety. The general conclusion reached was that there was no particular advantage to copying USN practice in naval guns, mountings or propellant. However, they did conclude that all-steel guns built with few tubes would be superior to wire-wound guns. All-steel construction was adopted post-war and most British guns built after about 1930 were of that type. See
    15" (38.1 cm) Mark I, 18" (45.7 cm) Mark II and 12" (30.5 cm) Mark XIV for further information on the British transition from wire-wound to built-up construction methods.

    Although the British were unimpressed with the overall design of these guns and mountings, they did perhaps perform better under fire than did contemporary British designs. In January 1918, HMS Raglan was holed through the barbette by a
    28.3 cm (11.1 in) shell from the former SMS Goeben, now the Turkish Yavuz Sultan Selim. This hit ignited charges in the hand-up chambers between the handling rooms and gunhouse, but the flash was contained and did not spread below to the magazines. This may also have been due to the fact that the propellant was USN nitrocellulose and not British cordite.

    The accuracy of the Bethlehem guns varied from ship to ship. Abercrombie was noted for her accurate shooting, but Raglan's shots seemed to sometimes fall short. It was found that Roberts shot better after the guns had warmed up after a few shots. Late in World War I, British cordite was substituted for the US nitrocellulose propellant originally supplied. This resulted in a substantial loss of muzzle velocity and a matching reduction in maximum range.

    The 14"/45 (35.6 cm) Mark IV designation was given to two ex-USN guns provided as spares for the Abercrombie class but never used. These were similar to the Mark II but built with a very thin inner "A" tube and with the outer tubes properly locked together. Two further USN guns were provided and, as these differed by the use of Asbury roller cam breech mechanisms, were designated as Mark V. None of these Mark IV and Mark V guns were ever used by the British.

    As all of these guns were built to USN standards, their bore length by British standards was 44.5 calibers.

    1. Although the USN manufactured AP rounds for all their 14" (35.6 cm) guns, the British outfit for these monitors apparently consisted only of HE rounds. The original purchase from Bethlehem Steel included 500 rounds per gun. Additional projectiles were made in Britain and were entirely 4crh HE rounds. Additional NCT propellant was supplied from the USA, although cordite was substituted towards the end of the war.
    2. When examined by Woolwich, it was found that Abercrombie's guns were only about a third worn after firing about 250 rounds.
    3. Monitors also had 15 practice rounds per gun.
    4. NCT propellant was supplied in four equal charges. It was noted in Britain that the stowage containers for these were not airtight and the performance was less consistent than cordite charges used with other guns. Care had to be taken to maintain a steady magazine temperature and to select bags and projectiles of as near as possible equal weights before firing missions.

    "The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906-1922" by D.K. Brown
    "Big Gun Monitors: The History of the Design, Construction and Operation of the Royal Navy's Monitors" by Ian Buxton
    "Naval Weapons of World War Two" and "British Naval Guns 1880-1945 No 1" article in "Warship Volume V" both by John Campbell
    "US Battleships: A Design History," "Battleship Design and Development 1905-1945" and "US Naval Weapons" all by Norman Friedman
    "The Big Gun: Battleship Main Armament 1860-1945" by Peter Hodges
    ---
    Special help by Mozi Hashimoto

    357


    http://navweaps.com/Weapons/WNBR_14-45_mk2.php

    Cheers,
    USS ALASKA
     
  17. rebelatsea

    rebelatsea 1st Lieutenant

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    Err sorry they weren't poorly designed, they had very large bulges deliberately so facilitating flooding one side or the other to increase range. It also protected them from mine and torpedo explosions. As for speed ,well they weren't intended to chase about the ocean like short fat battlecruisers !
     
  18. Carronade

    Carronade 1st Lieutenant

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    It was just Churchill's idea; he had a sentimental if impractical side - and an American mother. No doubt he would have been glad of anything war-related that appeared to draw Britain and America closer - precisely why responsible voices in Britain objected to the names.
     
  19. Talos

    Talos Corporal

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    No, the poorly designed was in reference to the very full hull lines, particularly aft, which massively impeded speed. Buxton's "Big Gun Monitors" outright states that Froude (who ran the hull testing tank) was "aghast" when he saw the hull lines. They were designed for 10 knots, but the hull was so poorly designed that it would take at least double the allowed-for horsepower to achieve that. He was right; they only managed about 6-7 knots (Abercrombie made 7.04kts with new props in an unloaded trial run). You need more speed than that just to operate in bad weather (too slow to steam against a rough sea or decent current) and for easier deployments to the combat zone. They ended up usually being towed, they were so slow and bad sailors. The steering was even worse, very erratic especially at low speeds, Buxton compares it to the circular Russian Popov.

    They were designed super-quickly, to the point that by the time they sent the hull lines to Froude for testing the Admirality was already locked into that design and the horsepower levels less than half of what Froude said they'd need and gearing up for production, so they couldn't fix it. After that, because of wartime needs, they couldn't fix the hulls on later monitors either so it was a recurring problem on the large WWI monitors.

    It's still neat seeing the monitors being built at H&W in Belfast, since they were built on the same slip Titanic was a few years before, except they fit in two at a time.
     
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