HMS New Zealand (1904)

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HMS Zealandia, formerly HMS New Zealand, at Portland in late 1911, shortly after her name was changed.
Career (United Kingdom) Royal Navy Ensign
Class and type: King Edward VII class battleship
Name: HMS New Zealand (later HMS Zealandia)
Namesake: As New Zealand, the country of New Zealand
As Zealandia, the submerged ancient continent of Zealandia
Ordered: 1902/03 Estimates
Builder: Portsmouth Dockyard
Cost: £1,424,643[1]
Laid down: 9 February 1903
Launched: 4 February 1904
Completed: June 1905
Commissioned: 11 July 1905
Decommissioned: 20 September 1917
Renamed: Renamed HMS Zealandia on 1 December 1911
Nickname: The King Edward VII-class battleships were known as "The Wobbly Eight"
Fate: Sold for scrapping 8 November 1921
General characteristics
Class and type: King Edward VII class
Type: Predreadnought battleship
Displacement: 16,350 tons standard (as built)
Length: 453 ft 8 in (138.28 m)
Beam: 78 ft (24 m)
Draught: 25 ft 6 in (7.77 m)
Installed power: 18,000 ihp
Propulsion: Coal fired (with oil sprayers) water tube boilers
two 4-cylinder vertical compound expansion stream engines
2 screws
Speed: 18.5 knots (34 km/h)
Range: 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 km) at 18.5 knots (34 km/h); 5,270 nautical miles (9,760 km) at 10 knots (18.5 km/h)
Complement: 777

4 x BL 12-inch (304.8 mm) Mk IX guns (2 x 2)
4 x BL 9.2-inch (233.7 mm) Mk X guns (4 x 1)
10 x BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) Mk VII guns
14 x 12 pounder quick-firing guns
14 x 3 pounder quick-firing guns

5 x 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes (submerged), four on the beam and one in the stern[2]
Armour: Belt amidships: 9 inches tapering to 8 inches (203 mm)
Bulkheads: 12 inches (305 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm)
Barbettes: 12 inches (356 mm)
Main turrets (gunhouses): 12 inches (356 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm)
9.2 inch (234 mm) turrets: 9 inches (229 mm) to 5 inches (127 mm)
6 inch (152 mm) battery: 7 inches (178 mm)
Conning tower: 12 inches (305 mm)
Armoured deck: 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) to 1 inch (25.4 mm)
Notes: 2,164-2,238 tons coal maximum, 380 tons oil

HMS New Zealand was a King Edward VII class battleship of the Royal Navy. Like all ships of the class (apart from HMS King Edward VII) she was named after an important part of the British Empire, namely New Zealand. She was renamed HMS Zealandia in 1911, the only Royal Navy ship to have carried this name.

Technical Characteristics

HMS New Zealand was ordered under the 1902/03 Naval Estimates and built at Portsmouth Dockyard. She was laid down on 9 February 1903, launched on 4 February 1904, and completed in June 1905.[3]

Although New Zealand and her seven sister ships of the King Edward VII class were a direct descendant of the Majestic class, they were also the first class to make a significant departure from the Majestic design, displacing about 1,000 tons more and mounting for the first time an intermediate battery of four 9.2-inch (234-mm) guns in addition to the standard outfit of 6-inch (152-mm) guns. The 9.2-inch was a quick-firing gun like the 6-inch, and its heavier shell made it a formidable weapon by the standards of the day when New Zealand and her sisters were designed; it was adopted out of concerns that British battleships were undergunned for their displacement and were becoming outgunned by foreign battleships that had begun to mount 8-inch (203-mm) intermediate batteries. The four 9.2-inch were mounted in single turrets abreast the foremast and mainmast, and New Zealand thus could bring two of them to bear on either broadside. Even then, New Zealand and her sisters were criticized for not having, a uniform secondary battery of 9.2-inch guns, something considered but rejected because of the length of time it would have taken to design the ships with such a radical revision of the secondary armament layout. In the end, it proved impossible to distinguish 12-inch and 9.2-inch shell splashes from one another, making fire control impractical for ships mounting both calibers, although New Zealand had fire-control platforms on her fore- and mainmasts rather than the fighting tops of earlier classes.[4]

Like all British battleships since the Majestic class, the King Edward VII-class ships had four 12-inch (305-mm) guns in two twin turrets (one forward and one aft), the first five King Edwards, including New Zealand, mounting the Mark IX 12-inch. Mounting of the 6-inch guns in casemates was abandoned in New Zealand and her sister ships, the 6-inch instead being placed in a central battery amidships protected by 7-inch (178-mm) armored walls. Otherwise, New Zealand's armor was much as in the London class battleships, although there were various differences in detail from the Londons.[4]

New Zealand and her sisters were the first British battleships with balanced rudders since the 1870s and were very maneuverable, with a tactical diameter of 340 yards (311 m) at 15 knots (27.75 km/h). However, they were difficult to keep on a straight course, and this characteristic led to them being nicknamed "the Wobbly Eight" during their 1914-1916 service in the Grand Fleet. They had a slightly faster roll than previous British battleship classes, but were good gun platforms, although very wet in bad weather.[4]

Uniquely among the coal-powered King Edward VII-class ships, New Zealand did not have oil sprayers installed during her construction; their installation in the other seven ships was the first time this had been done in British battleships ad allowed allowed steam pressure to be increased rapidly, improving acceleration. The eight ships between them were given four different boiler installations for comparative purposes; New Zealand's outfit of 12[4] (or 18[1], according to some sources) Niclausse boilers and three cylindrical boilers allowed her to exceed her designed speed on trials[4], but installation of oil sprayers was impractical in Niclausse boilers.[5]

New Zealand was a powerful ship when she was designed, and completely fulfilled the goals set for her at that time. However, she was unlucky in that the years of her design and construction were ones of revolutionary advancement in naval guns, fire control, armor, and propulsion. She joined the fleet in mid-1905, but quickly was made obsolete by the commissioning of the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought at the end of 1906 and the large numbers of the new dreadnought battleships that commissioned in succeeding years. By 1914, New Zealand and her King Edward VII-class sisters were, like all predreadnoughts, so outclassed that they spent much of their 1914-1916 Grand Fleet service steaming at the heads of divisions of the far more valuable dreadnoughts, protecting the dreadnoughts from naval mines by being the first battleships to either sight or strike them.[6]

Operational history

HMS New Zealand commissioned on 11 July 1905 at Devonport Dockyard for service in the Atlantic Fleet. She underwent a refit at Gibraltar from October to December 1906, and transferred to the Channel Fleet on 4 March 1907. Under a fleet reorganization on 24 March 1909, the Channel Fleet became the 2nd Division, Home Fleet, and New Zealand became a Home Fleet unit in that division.[7]

In order to release her name for use by the new battlecruiser HMS New Zealand, which had heed been presented to the Royal Navy by the government of New Zealand, it became necessary to rename New Zealand in 1911. At first the name Caledonia, the Roman name for northern Great Britain, was favored, but this met opposition in New Zealand. Eventually, the name Zealandia, an ancient submerged continent, was agreed upon, and New Zealand was renamed Zealandia on 1 December 1911.[8]

Under a fleet reorganization in May 1912, Zealandia and all seven of her sisters of the King Edward VII class (Africa, Britannia, HMS Commonwealth, Dominion, Hibernia, Hindustan, and King Edward VII) were assigned to form the 3rd Battle Squadron, assigned to the First Fleet, Home Fleet. The squadron was detached to the Mediterranean in November 1912 because of the First Balkan War (October 1912-May 1913); it arrived at Malta on 27 November 1912 and subsequently participated in a blockade by an international force of Montenegro and in an occupation of Scutari. The squadron returned to the United Kingdom in 1913 and rejoined the Home Fleet on 27 June 1913[9]

Upon the outbreak of World War I, the 3rd Battle Squadron was assigned to the Grand Fleet and based at Rosyth. It was used to supplement the Grand Fleet's cruisers on the Northern Patrol; during this duty, Zealandia rammed a German submarine on 10 September 1914. On 2 November 1914, the squadron was detached to reinforce the Channel Fleet and was rebased at Portland. It returned to the Grand Fleet on 13 November 1914.[9] During sweeps by the fleet, she and her sister ships often steamed at the heads of divisions of the far more valuable dreadnoughts, where they could protect the dreadnoughts by watching for mines or by being the first to strike them.[6]

On 6 November 1915, a division of the 3rd Battle Squadron consisting of battleships Hibernia (the flagship), Russell, Albemarle, and Zealandia was detached from the Grand Fleet to serve in the Dardanelles Campaign. Albemarle had to return for repairs after suffering severe damage on the first night of the outbound voyage, but the other three ships pressed on and arrived at the Dardanelles on 14 December 1915. In late January 1916, Zealandia and Hibernia left the eastern Mediterranean to return to the United Kingdom, arriving at Portsmouth Dockyard on 6 February 1916. Zealandia underwent a refit there that lasted until March 1916, then rejoined the 3rd Battle Squadron and the Grand Fleet on 26 March 1916.[10]

On 29 April 1916, the 3rd Battle Squadron was rebased at Sheerness, and on 3 May 1916 it was separated from the Grand Fleet, being transferred to the Nore Command. Zealandia remained there with the squadron until September 1917, undergoing a refit at Chatham Dockyard from December 1916 to June 1917.[7]

On 20 September 1917, Zealandia left the 3rd Battle Squadron and paid off into reserve at Portsmouth Dockyard. While in reserve, she was refitted between January and September 1918 for use as a gunnery training ship,[10] receiving much of the upgraded fire control equipment that her sister ship Commonwealth did, although not torpedo bulges.[11] Although she never recommissioned or entered service as a gunnery training ship, she was included in many experiments, including the use of various types of fire control equipment.[10] She was used as a accommodation ship at Portsmouth beginning in 1919.[11]

Zealandia was placed on the disposal list on 2 June 1919, and on 8 November 1921 she was sold for scrapping to Stanlee Shipbreaking Company. She was resold to Slough Trading Company, then resold again to German scrappers, and left Portsmouth on 23 November 1923 for scrapping in Germany.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Burt, p. 233
  2. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, p. 38, says there were only four of these torpedo tubes
  3. Burt, p. 232
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, p. 38
  5. Burt, p. 241
  6. 6.0 6.1 Burt, p. 235
  7. 7.0 7.1 Burt, pp. 255, 258
  8. Burt, p. 258; some sources place the renaming date at 1 November 1911.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Burt, p. 255
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Burt, p. 258
  11. 11.0 11.1 Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, p. 9


  • Burt, R. A. British Battleships 1889-1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0-87021-061-0.
  • Chesneau, Roger, and Eugene M. Kolesnik, eds. Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships, 1860-1905. New York: Mayflower Books, Inc., 1979. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
  • 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 0-87021-907-3.* Dittmar, F. J. & Colledge, J. J., "British Warships 1914-1919", (Ian Allen, London, 1972), ISBN 0-7110-0380-7
  • Jane's Fighting Ships of World War One (1919), Jane's Publishing Company
  • Pears, Randolph. (1979). British Battleships 1892-1957: The great days of the fleets. G. Cave Associates. ISBN 978-0-906223-14-7
  • Careers of the King Edward VII class