Sawed off stern battleships HMS Rodney & HMS Nelson

ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65620) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212370
ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS OF THE INTER-WAR PERIOD (Q 65620) The Nelson Class battleship HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205212370

 

Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, Nelson class battleships HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney were unique in being the only battleships in the world with all main batteries mounted on the foredeck as well as being the only European battleships armed with 16 inch guns.

 HMS Nelson during gunnery trials. Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum

In order to meet the restrictions something had to give. Hence Nelson and Rodney were given far less engine power than they needed and the ships were slow, their maximum speed being 23 knots vs King George V class battleships laid down in mid 1930s without treaty restrictions which could make 28 knots plus. KGV class had 14 inch guns. The Bismarck carried 15 inch guns as did HMS Hood and the other Royal Navy battlecruisers HMS Repulse and HMS Renown.

In spite of their efforts, the Admiralty had a difficult time making a workable design of the Nelson class battleships. One problem: if all main batteries were trained abaft the bridge structure and fired, then the explosive shock shattered the glass on the bridge.

FLEET MANOEUVRES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. 16 MARCH 1943, ON BOARD BATTLESHIP HMS RODNEY, FLEET EVASIVE MANOEUVRES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AS SEEN FROM THE BATTLESHIP HMS RODNEY. (A 15690) HMS NELSON, and the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE as seen from the RODNEY during the MANOEUVRES. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148718

 

MEN OF THE HMS RODNEY KEEP FIGHTING FIT. 20 JANUARY 1943, MERS-EL-KEBIR, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 14363) A game of deck hockey during the dog watches on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147535

You can see how massive these ships were even in their truncated state since they had the deck space required for a game of deck hockey, a popular sport in the Royal Navy of the era.

c/o GPO London

 

 

 

800px-Hms_victory

HMS Victory at Portsmouth naval base, 2008

 

The location of any Royal Navy warship in World War Two was a great secret, as it should have been. All ships had the same address, for example

HMS Victory

c/o GPO

London

(that is: care of the General Post Office, London)

Since all Royal Navy logistic and administrative systems were set up to support individual ships, all bases on land were named for ships as well. One was always assigned to a ship. This simple expedient prevented disruptive changes in the system of administration which worked well.

Officers and ratings assigned to the Admiralty or various government officers in London were, and still are, carried on the books of HMS Victory; Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

She was built in the Royal Navy’s Chatham Dockyard and officially commissioned in 1778 as a first-rate ship of the line carrying 104 guns. HMS Victory was placed in dry-dock at Portsmouth naval base in 1922 where she remains, the oldest warship in the world still in commission. (The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat)

She serves as the flagship of the First Sea Lord or professional head of the Royal Navy.

Photo of HMS Victory courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hms_victory.JPG