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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
  • 1 class information
  • 2 Building data
  • 3 Basic Details
  • 4 Machinery
  • 5 Main Armament
  • 6 Secondary Armament
  • 7 Torpedo armament
  • 8 Armour Protection
  • 9 Service History
class information[edit]

The St Vincent class were a follow on of the preceding Bellerophon class and because they were very different from the following single ship class, Neptune, they can be considered the final development ,as a class, of the Dreadnought. They were followed by the single ship class the Neptune in which the first super-firing turrets in a Royal navy battleship were fitted, the wing turrets were also staggered in this class allowing, in theory, a ten gun broadside.The new gun , a 50 calibre (C50) 12", made it's appearance in this class, the earlier Dreadnoughts had the 45 calibre weapon (C45). The new gun being 5 calibres or 5 feet longer needed a re-working of the basic design in the area of X and Y turrets to allow room for the longer weapon, there were slight modifications to the armour with an increase in thickness of the armoured deck but the deck below this was reduced in thickness so the overall effect was a negligible increase in protection.The machinery no longer had a separate cruising turbine in an attempt to improve the rather poor fuel consumption of the class, particularly when cruising, otherwise the class were identical to the Bellerophon's, the similarity and lack of correction of faults in these ships designs was the direct result of the Dreadnought arms race, the need to out-build any competitor meant that the follow on classes to the Dreadnought were built so quickly after the Dreadnought that there was no time for the design to properly evolve. It would take until the appearance of the Orion class in 1912 to make a start on these design defects, up until the appearance of the dreadnoughts the old idea of naval gunnery was little changed from the days of Nelson; get close and overwhelm the enemy with the sheer weight of shell fired hence the need for a thick armoured belt on the side of the ship and the Royal Navy's emphasis on the rate of fire.With the advent of heavier guns and longer ranges the old idea of protecting a ship by having a thick armoured belt was no longer sufficient. With the longer ranges the guns that fired the shells were using higher elevations resulting in a higher altitude of flight and thus a steeper angle of descent, or plunging fire, of the shells, to compound this better range finders and the advent of director control of the main battery was further increasing the ranges at which future battles would be fought. Although named Dreadnoughts they now had plenty to worry about in a long range gunnery battle, a plunging shell would easily penetrate their deck armour quite possible resulting in the loss of the ship.

Stv.jpg Scanned image from "Official Program of the Coronation Review" dated Spithead, June 24th 1911

Building data[edit]

St Vincent was built by HM Dockyard, Portsmouth being laid down on the 30th September 1907 and launched on the 10th September 1908 and commissioned on the 03rd May 1910 under the Command of Captain Douglas R.L. Nicholson as the 2nd. flagship of the 1st. Division of the Home fleet her building costs were £ 2,150,000

Basic Details[edit]

L 536' B 84' Draft 27' to 31'03" Displacement 19,250 tons Standard to approx 23,000 tons full load Crew 810 to 820 men.


Machinery: Quadruple propellers driven by Parsons direct drive steam turbines in a more or less identical layout to the Dreadnought with the exception that no cruising turbine was fitted instead an extra stage was fitted to the High pressure turbines, this was separated from the main turbine by a by-pass valve. As id the dreadnought and Bellerophon classes the high pressure turbines drove the outboard propeller shafts and the low pressure turbines the inner shafts developing just under 26,000 SHP on trials at 342 Rpm giving a maximum speed of 21.5 knots , normal power was 24,500 HP for 21 knots.Steam was provided by eighteen Babcock and Wilcox boilers arranged in three groups essentially coal fired they were however fitted with oil sprayers to permit faster raising of steam. Steam pressure was 235 psi with a heating surface of 63,414 square feetBunker capacity was 2,800 tons of coal and 940 tons of oil, consumption at full speed being in the order of 360 tons per day, range was 4,250 miles at 18 knots rising to 6,900 miles at 10 knots

Main Armament[edit]

Main battery Ten 12" C50 Mk11 guns in five twin turrets in the same layout as the preceding Dreadnought and Bellerophon classes.The New weapon was not a success, now fifty calibres in length the longer barrel was designed to give higher muzzle velocities and thus greater range and hitting power, it used a larger propellant charge of 307 lbs against the earlier 12" guns 258 lbs of MD size 45 cordite. The larger charge did not always burn correctly within the barrel length resulting in a very poor shell spread pattern, also the higher pressures within the gun barrel , something akin to 20-22 tons per square inch, caused serious wear and thus the guns only had a working life of around 220 rounds.Shell weights were the same for the earlier 12 " guns at 850 to 859 lbs the range was around 21,000 yards at 15 degrees elevation against 19,000 yards for the C45 guns of the earlier classes.As with the preceding classes only eight of the ten guns could be fired on either beam with four or six ahead and six or eight astern, the actual numbers depending on the relative bearing of the target.


This image courtesy of SN member and supporter hasse neren shows St Vincent without her torpedo nets shown in the first image, these were removed fairly early in WW1 so this dates the image as being post 1915

Secondary Armament[edit]

secondary batteryTwenty 4" C50 QF Mk7 guns all in single mounts in a mixture of 8 guns in casemates and 12 in open mounts these fired a 31lb shell to 11,500 yards .Four three pounder guns C50 were also carried, these could be used for AA surface or signalling duties, the shell wight was actually 3.3 lbs with a bore of 1.85" range was 5,600 yards with an AA ceiling of 15,000 feet.

Torpedo armament[edit]

Three below water tubes were fitted for 18 inch Whitehead torpedoes with one firing ahead and one on either beam.

Armour Protection[edit]

The armoured protection of the St Vincent class remained very similar to the Dreadnought and Bellerophon classes. The main belt was 10 inches tapering to 8 inches on the lower belt and although of Krupp cemented armour (KCA) this was rather inferior, it was also not carried high enough allowing plunging fire relatively easy access over the top of the belt to the weak deck armour. The armoured bulkheads closing off the citadel were of 8 inches KCA forwards and 5" KCA aft The fore and aft torpedo bulkheads were still set rather too far inboard and were really magazine screens rather than true torpedo bulkheads these ran from the forward end of the forward magazine to the aft end of the after magazine, thickness varied between 1 to 2 inches with 3 inches in way of the mid-ships p and Q turrets..The deck s were all of Krupp Non Cemented Armour ( KNCA), the upper-deck being ¾. " The main deck 1 ¾. Inches Middle deck 1 ½. Inches increasing to 3 inches as special protective screens over the magazines , boiler and engine spaces.The gun houses ( turrets) had 11 inch faces and 4 inch roofs all KCA , the forward control tower had 8 inches of KCA and it's communications tube 5 inches of KCA , whilst the figures for the aft tower were 4 inches also KCA.

Service History[edit]

As mentioned above she joined the 1st. Division of the Home fleet as the second flagship of Rear Admiral R.H. Peirse and under the command of Captain D.R.L. Nicholson.Present at Jutland on the 31st May 1916 in the 5th division of the 1st. Battle squadron (BS) led by Colossus under rear Admiral Guant followed by Collingwood, Neptune and St Vincent.St Vincent fired a total of 98 rounds of 12 " 90 being Armour Piercing Capped (APC) and eight being Common Percussion capped (CPC) she did not use her secondary armament at all. The St Vincent was not hit or damaged during the battle.

St Vincent began her engagement of the German battleships between 1833 and 1845 fire occasional salvo's but visibility was poor due to smoke and no hits were observed, it was alo uncertain which ship she had targeted, at 1854 she opened on the disabled German light cruiser Wiesbaden - probably with the eight CPC shells , at 1858 she altered course to evade the German torpedo attacks by the 6th and 9th destroyer flotillas .At 1915 ships of the German 1st Scouting group were sighted and St Vincent opened fire on the Seydlitz first followed by the Moltke, she hit the Seydlitz twice with 12" APC rounds at a range of 9,500 to 10,000 yards, due to visibility problems she checked fire 1926, the first shell to hit the Seydlitz was quite possibly a ricochet off the sea and pierced the hull and deck plating abreast the bridge structure and exploded on entry, damage to the 1 inch battery deck was substantial with heavy bulging of the deck and a large number of splinter holes, the explosion of the shell wrecked the sick bay splinters from this hit also entered the control tower through the viewing slits injuring one man, this hit also caused flooding of the port forward outer coal bunker over a length of 63 feet and later this flooding spread to the lower bunker and stokers bathrooms.The second 12 " hit and struck the 8 ¾ inch rear armour of the aft super-firing turret, the shell penetrated the armour on this already disabled turret and exploded inside the turret , the hole in the armour being 20 by 16 inches, damage in the turret was heavy with fragements wrecking all the optical and range-finding equipment, the explosion and fragments destroyed both shell hoists and rammers shells in the ready use racks were thrown about but did not explode and small fires started which were soon put out. Outside of the turret fragments penetrated the 1 inch thick battery deck and severed the electrical; wiring to the after turret which had to be worked from it's auxiliary training motor.At about 2000 St Vincent reported another near miss from a torpedo with it passing between her and the Neptune

Due to the German fleet executing a turn 180 degrees away the St Vincent made no further contact but id site an imaginary torpedo at 0230 the following morning whilst following the withdrawing German ships during that night. Post Jutland St Vincent spent her time on routine patrols and with other members of the Dreadnought design found herself side-lined by the newer super-dreadnoughts with 13.5 inch guns, In June 1916 she joined the 4th. BS increasingly in secondary roles she was reduced to reserve in March 1919 to become a gunnery training ship, another victim of the 1920's Washington treaties she was put on the disposal list in March 1921 and sold for scrap on the 01st December 1921

Article completed 05th October 2007 by Steve Woodward

Bibliography IWM own knowledge of the class, Jutland - John Campbell, Jutland - Geoffrey Bennett, Wikipedea (photograph of ship) -

St Vincent Class Battleships

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