Sunday, 6 January 2013

6 January 1913 & battleships

On this day in 1913 an explosion of a boiler on the French battleship Massena killed 8 members of the crew.

Masséna was a pre-dreadnought (1885 to 1905) battleship of the French Navy, built in the 1890s, one of  five built in response to the seven shops built by the British navy. She was named after Marshal of France André Masséna.
French battleship Masséna  source

 The design of the Masséna was altered during construction, and her weight was increased, causing a stability problem that inhibited accurate firing of her guns.  She did however serve in both the Northern and Mediterranean Squadrons during her career,  including a period as the flagship of the Northern Squadron, but she was withdrawn from service before the outbreak of WWI in 1914. On 9 November 1915 she was scuttled at Gallipoli to create a breakwater to protect the withdrawing Allied forces.
In 1906 the British Royal Navy launched a revolutionary battleship - The Dreadnought – with an "all-big-gun" armament scheme and steam turbine propulsion. It had such an impact that all similar battleships built after her were referred to as "dreadnoughts," and earlier battleships became known as pre-dreadnoughts.  The arms race between the world powers, but principally Britain and Germany, was renewed.
HMS Dreadnought, 1906 source

The HMS Benbow  was an Iron Duke-class battleship, the third ship of that particular class, which was the last group of Dreadnought battleships built, in 1913. She measured over 622 feet in length and displaced 25,000 tons.
The HMS Benbow  source

Also in 1913 (November), the Jean Bart the first French "Dreadnought" was completed, and finished her trials before WWI began the following year.  Jean Bart escorted France, which was carrying the President of the French Republic, Raymond Poincaré, on a state visit to Saint Petersburg, Russia in July 1914, and they were returning when war broke out, but made it to France without encountering German ships.  She was later torpedoed, but was repaired and also saw service in WWII.
The Jean Bart in 1913, source

Another class of battleship, the  King George V-class battleship, was built around the same time at Scotts' shipyard at Greenock on the River Clyde.  One of four, The Ajax was launched in 1913.
The fledgling Australian Royal navy also commissioned a ship in 1913  - the HMAS Australia,  one of three Indefatigable-class battlecruisers built for the defence of the British Empire and ordered by the Australian government in 1909.
HMAS Australia, commissioned 1913 source

Some crew of the HMAS Australia
From 1859 until 1913, a squadron of the British Royal Navy was maintained in Australian waters, but now Australia was attempting to protect itself.  You can read more about he HMAS Australia here, although I do intend to look more closely at the Australian navy later in the year.  You can also read more about Dreadnoughts and the naval race before WWI, here.

Well, I have learnt a lot about ships today – I hope you have too!
As usual, more images on tumblr.

Deb xx

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