HMS Hannibal (1896)

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HMS Hannibal
Career (United Kingdom) Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Hannibal
Namesake: Hannibal
Builder: Pembroke Dock
Laid down: 1 May 1895
Launched: 28 April 1896[1]
Completed: April 1898[1]
Commissioned: April 1898[2]
Decommissioned: January 1920[2]
Fate: Sold for scrapping 28 January 1920[2]
Notes: Disarmed and converted to troopship 1915; became depot ship 1915
General characteristics
Displacement: 14,900 tons
Length: 390 ft (120 m)
Beam: 75 ft (23 m)
Draught: 27 ft (8.2 m)
Propulsion: Oil and coal, triple expansion, 10,000 hp (7.5 MW)
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h)
Range: 4,700 nautical miles at 10 knots (8,695 km at 18.5 km/h)
Complement: 675

2 × BL 12-inch (304.8 mm) 35-caliber Mk VIII guns
12 × QF 6-inch (152.4 mm)) 40-caliber guns
16 × 12-pounder quick-firing guns
12 × 3 pounder quick-firing guns

5 × 18-inch (457-mm) torpedo tubes (four submerged, one above water)
Armor: Side belt 9 inches (229 mm)
Upper belt 6 inches (152 mm)
Bulkheads 14-12 inches (356-305 mm)
Barbettes 14 inches (356 mm)
Gunhouses 10 inches (254 mm)
Casemates 6 inches (152 mm)
Conning Tower 14 inches (356 mm)
Deck 4-2.5 inches (102-63.5 mm)

HMS Hannibal was a Majestic class pre-dreadnought battleship and the sixth ship to bear the name HMS Hannibal.

Technical characteristics

HMS Hannibal was laid down at Pembroke Dock on 1 May 1894 and launched on 28 April 1896. She was transferred to Portsmouth for completion, which was delayed by labor problems. She was completed in April 1898[3]

When the lead ship of the class, HMS Majestic, was launched in 1895, at 421 ft (128 m) long and with a full-load displacement of 16,000 tons, she was the largest battleship ever built at the time. The Majestics were considered good seaboats with an easy roll and good steamers, although they suffered from high fuel consumption.[4] Hannibal began life as a coal-burner, but was converted to burn fuel oil by 1907-1908.[5] Hannibal had side-by-side funnels, her class being the last British battleships with this arrangement; future battleship classes had funnels in a line.

Hannibal had pear-shaped barbettes and fixed loading positions for the main guns, unlike her sisters Caesar and Illustrious and future battleship classes, which had circular barbettes and all-around loading for their main guns.[6]

Hannibal and the other Majestic-class ships had 9 inches (229 mm) of Harvey armor, which allowed equal protection with less cost in weight compared to previous types of armor. This allowed Hannibal and her sisters to have a deeper and lighter belt than previous battleships without any loss in protection.[7] She was divided into 150 watertight compartments.

The Majestics boasted a new gun, the 46-ton 12-inch (305-mm) 35-caliber Mk VIII, the first new British battleships to mount a 12-inch (305-mm) main battery since the 1880s. One hundred thirteen miles (182 km) of wire were wrapped around each gun barrel, and each gun took nine months to manufacture. Hannibal carried four such guns in two barbettes (one forwad and one aft) with up to 400 rounds for each. The new gun, which would be the standard main armament of British battleships for sixteen years, was a significant improvement on the 13.5-inch (343-mm) gun which had been fitted on the Admiral and Royal Sovereign classes that preceded the Majestics[4] and was lighter. This saving in weight allowed Hannibal to carry a secondary battery of twelve 6-inch (152-mm) 40-caliber guns, a larger secondary armament than in previous classes.[7] She also had four submerged torpedo tubes in the bow and one above water in the stern.

Operational history

HMS Hannibal went into the commissioned reserve upon completion in April 1898. On 10 May 1898 she went into full commission to serve in the Channel Fleet. She was part of a huge fleet of ships present in the Solent for the passage of the body of Queen Victoria from Cowes to Portsmouth on 2 February 1901 and was present at the Coronation Fleet Review for King Edward VII on 16 August 1902. On 17 October 1903 she collided with and badly damaged her sister ship HMS Prince George off Ferrol, Spain. When a fleet reorganization led to the Channel Fleet being redesignated the Atlantic Fleet on 1 January 1905, Hannibal became an Atlantic Fleet unit.[2]

Hannibal transferred to the new Channel Fleet (formerly the Home Fleet) on 28 February 1905. This service ended on 3 August 1905, when she paid off into reserve at Devonport.[8] She underwent a refit in 1906 in which she was converted to burn oil fuel and received fire control for her main battery. She then recommissioned in reserve in October 1906.[9]

In January 1907, Hannibal went into full commission as a temporary replacement for battleship HMS Ocean in the Channel Fleet while Ocean was under refit. When Ocean returned to service, Hannibal remained in Channel Fleet service as a temporary replacement for battleship HMS Dominion while Dominion was undergoing refit. When Dominion returned to service in May 1907, Hannibal went back into the commissioned reserve, becoming a part of the Portsmouth Division of the new Home Fleet[8] in July 1907.[9]

While in commissioned reserve at Portsmouth, Hannibal suffered two significant mishaps. On 19 August 1909 she struck a reef in Babbacombe Bay, damaging her bottom. On 29 October 1909 she collided with torpedo boat HMS TB 105, suffering no damage herself but badly damaging the torpedo boat. She underwent a refit at Devonport from November 1911 to March 1912.[8]

The Royal Navy began a precautionary mobilization in July 1914 when war appeared increasingly likely. As part of this, Hannibal and her sister ships HMS Mars, HMS Magnificent, and HMS Victorious formed the 9th Battle Squadron on 27 July 1914, stationed at the Humber to defend the British coast. Hannibal was serving as a guard ship on the Humber when World War I began in August 1914.[8]

The 9th Battle Squadron was dissolved on 7 August 1914, and Hannibal was transferred to Scapa Flow, where she served as a guard ship until relieved by first-class protected cruiser HMS Royal Arthur on 20 February 1915. Hannibal then paid off at Dalmuir.[8]

The Majestic-class ships were by then the oldest and least effective battleships in service in the Royal Navy. While inactive at Dalmuir, Hannibal was disarmed between March and April 1915 except for four 6-inch (152-mm) guns and some lighter guns. Her 12-inch (305-mm) guns were taken for use aboard the new Lord Clive-class monitors HMS Prince Eugene and HMS Sir John Moore.[9] After she was disarmed, she was laid up at Scapa Flow and Loch Goil until September 1915.[8]

Hannibal recommissioned at Greenock on 9 September 1915 to serve as a troopship in the Dardanelles campaign. She arrived at Mudros in this capacity on 7 October 1915.[8]

In November 1915, Hannibal became a depot ship for auxiliary patrol craft at Alexandria, Egypt, supporting both forces operating from Egypt and those in the Red Sea until June 1919.[8]

Hannibal was placed on the disposal list at Alexandria in January 1920, and was sold for scrapping on 28 January 1920. She was scrapped in Italy.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Burt, p. 114
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Burt, p. 134
  3. Burt, pp. 114, 134
  4. 4.0 4.1 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905, p. 34
  5. Gibbons, p. 137.
  6. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860-1905, p. 34; Gibbons, p. 137.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Gibbons, p. 137
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Burt, p. 136
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921, p. 7


  • Burt, R. A. British Battleships 1889-1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0870210610.
  • Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, eds., Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1979. ISBN 0-85177-133-5
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: the complete record of all fighting ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham. ISBN 9781861762818. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Gibbons, Tony. The Complete Encyclopedia of Battleships and Battlecruisers: A Technical Directory of All the World's Capital Ships From 1860 to the Present Day. London: Salamander Books Ltd., 1983.
  • Gray, Randal, Ed. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1985. ISBN 0870219073.