HMS Revenge (1892)

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Career RN Ensign
Name: HMS Revenge; later HMS Redoubtable
Builder: Palmers
Laid down: 12 February 1891
Launched: 3 November 1892
Commissioned: March 1894
Decommissioned: October 1915
Renamed: HMS Redoubtable in August 1915
Nickname: The Royal Sovereign-class battleships were called the "Rolling Ressies"[1]
Fate: Sold December 1919 and scrapped
General characteristics
Displacement: 14,150 tons standard;
15,580 tons full load
Length: 410 ft 6 in (125.12 m)
Beam: 75 ft 0 in (22.86 m)
Draught: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Propulsion: two Humphreys vertical triple expansion, eight cylindrical boilers, two shafts
Speed: 17.5 knots
Complement: 712

4 x BL 13.5-inch (342.9 mm) guns, relined to 12 inch (305 mm) in 1914
10 x QF 6-inch (152.4 mm) guns
16 x 6 pounder guns
12 x 3 pounder guns

7 x 18 inch (460 mm) torpedo tubes (five above water, two underwater)
Armour: Partial 18 inch compound armour belt 8 feet 6 inches deep, with complete 4 inch steel belt above.

HMS Revenge was a pre-dreadnought battleship of the Royal Sovereign class of the British Royal Navy. She was renamed HMS Redoubtable in 1915.

Technical Characteristics

Revenge was laid down by Palmers on 12 February 1891, launched on 3 November 1892, and completed in March 1894. She was 410 feet long and had a maximum cruising speed of 17 knots. Her armament included four 67-ton 13.5-inch (343-mm) guns and several smaller calibre guns.

The Royal Sovereign class battleships were designed by Sir William White and were the most potent battleships in the world until HMS Dreadnought rendered them obsolete overnight in 1906. In their day the Royal Sovereigns had also embodied revolutionary improvements in firepower, armour and speed. The main armament of four 13.5-inch (343-mm) guns was housed in two barbettes, rather than turrets, at either end of the ship which allowed a high freeboard, greatly increasing their capacity for fighting in rough weather; however, they tended to develop a heavy roll in some conditions, and after HMS Resolution rolled badly in heavy seas in 1893, the entire class was nicknamed the "Rolling Ressies," which stuck even though the problem was quickly corrected by the fitting of bilge keels.[1] The secondary armament was designed to provide potent, quick firing support for the main battery. Despite their greatly increased weight, thanks to a main armour belt which ran for two thirds of their length, they were the fastest capital ships in the world in their time.

In 1906, the Royal Sovereigns, like every other battleship in the world, were made obsolete with the launch of the revolutionary HMS Dreadnought, the first all-big-gun battleship. Of the Royal Sovereign class, only Revenge survived to see the outbreak of World War I.

Operational history

Upon completion in March 1894, HMS Revenge commissioned into reserve at Portsmouth, United Kingdom. On 14 January 1896 she commissioned there as flagship of the Particular Service Squadron, soon renamed the Flying Squadron; she was flagship of the squadron, which was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet briefly in the middle of 1896, throughout its existence. When the squadron was disbanded, Revenge paid off at Portsmouth on 5 November 1896, and recommissioned the same day to relieve battleship HMS Trafalgar as flagship of the second-in-command of the Mediterranean Fleet.[2]

From February 1897 to December 1898, Revenge served in the International Squadron blockading Crete during the Greco-Turkish uprising there. During this duty, she landed a force of Royal Marines on Crete to seize Fort Tzeddin, and in September 1898 she went to Candia to support the British garrison there.[2]

On 15 December 1899, Revenge recommissioned at Malta to continue Mediterranean Fleet service. In April 1900, battleship HMS Victorious relieved her and she returned to the United Kingdom, paying off into Fleet Reserve at Chatham.[2]

On 18 April 1901, Revenge commissioned at Chatham to relieve HMS Alexandra as both coast guard ship at Portland and flagship of Admiral Superintendent Commanding Reserves. In early 1902 she went under refit. Later in 1902, she commissioned to serve as flagship of the Home Squadron upon its creation.[2]

In April 1904, Revenge and her sister ship HMS Royal Oak both struck a submerged wreck off the Scilly Isles while serving with the Home Fleet. Revenge suffered bottom damage.[3]

In July 1905, Revenge participated in maneuvers with the Reserve Fleet. She paid off at Portsmouth on 31 August 1905, then recommissioned on 1 September 1905 in the Portsmouth Reserve Division.[2]

In June 1906, Revenge relieved battleship HMS Colossus as gunnery training ship at Portsmouth and as tender to shore establishment HMS Excellent.[2]

On 13 June 1908, Revenge collided with the merchant ship SS Bengore Head. In October 1908, she tested a new model of 13.5-inch (343-mm) gun in firing and explosives tests against battleship HMS Edinburgh. On 7 January 1912 she suffered hull damage when, during a gale a Portsmouth, she broke from her moorings and collided with battleship HMS Orion. She was relieved as gunnery training ship by battleship HMS Albemarle and paid off on 15 May 1913. She went ito reserve, and then was laid up at Motherbank, awaiting disposal.[2]

Unlike her sister ships, Revenge was given a reprieve from the scrapyard by the outbreak of World War I in August 1914. It was decided to bring her back into service for use in coastal bombardment duties off the coast of Flanders. In September and October 1914, she was refitted at Portsmouth for this mission, including the relining of her 13.5-inch (343-mm) guns to 12-inch (305-mm) caliber. Her refit completed, she was ordered on 31 October 1914 to stand by to relieve battleship HMS Venerable as flagship there.[2]

Revenge was declared ready for service on 5 November 1914, and formed the Channel Fleet's new 6th Battle Squadron with battleships HMS Albemarle, HMS Cornwallis, HMS Duncan, HMS Exmouth. and HMS Russell. Plans for the squadron to participate in an attack on German submarine bases were cancelled due to bad weather on 14 November 1914, and instead Revenge and battleship HMS Majestic left Dover, England, for Dunkirk, France.[2]

Revenge took her first action of the war when she joined gunboat HMS Bustard, six British and four French destroyers and a French torpedo boat in bombarding German troops from off of Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on 22 November 1914. She was recalled to Dover the same day.

On 15 December 1914, Revenge returned to her bombardment duties, joining Majestic in searching for and bombarding German heavy artillery sites. She took two 8-inch (203-mm) shell hits, one of which penetrated her hull below the waterline and caused a serious leak. She again bombarded the Flanders coast on 16 December 1914.[2]

In April and May 1915 she underwent a refit at Chatham in which she had antitorpedo bulges fitted, the first ship to be fitted with them operationally.[4] In August 1915, she was renamed HMS Redoubtable.[2]

On 7 September 1915, she returned to combat, joining gunboats HMS Bustard and HMS Excellent in bombarding German troops at Ostend and German barracks and gun positions at Westend, inflicting much damage on the Germans.[2] One of her antitorpedo bulges was deliberately flooded to impart a list that would increase the range of her main battery.[2]

Redoubtable underwent another refit from October to December 1915. Afterwards, she was not recommissioned, instead serving as an accommodation ship at Portsmouth until February 1919.[5]

The last surviving member of her class, Redoubtable was sold for scrapping in December 1919.[5]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Burt, p. 66
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Burt, p. 83
  3. Burt, p. 82
  4. Burt, p. 80
  5. 5.0 5.1 Burt, p. 84


  • Burt, R. A. British Battleships 1889-1904. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1988. ISBN 0870210610.
  • Roger Chesneau and Eugene M. Kolesnik, ed., Conway's All The Worlds Fighting Ships, 1860-1905, (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1979), ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
  • Dittmar F.J and Colledge J.J. "British Warships 1914-1919, Ian allen, London, 1972. ISBN 0-7110-0380-7