22 October 2014

Remember the distinguished ship that was sadly scrapped

OCTOBER 24 will be the 102nd anniversary of the launch of the Devonport Dockyard-built dreadnought HMS Marlborough. An Iron Duke class battleship, she was one of the Royal Navy's last coal burning battleships.

Of 25,000 tons displacement, armed with ten 13.5 inch guns, she was powered by direct drive turbines driving four shafts to give a speed of 21 knots.

Like other British battleships, she was a wet ship in a heavy sea because of her low foc'sle but she was a steady and effective gun platform as she was to show during her performance in the Battle of Jutland.

On June 6 1914, she commissioned to become the Flagship of the First Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and at the Battle of Jutland on May 31 1916, she flew the flag of Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, Second-in Command of the Grand Fleet.

During the battle, she gave a good account of herself, scoring a number of heavy calibre hits on the enemy, but she in turn was struck by a torpedo possibly fired by the German light cruiser Wiesbaden, killing 2 stokers and causing some flooding. However, despite a list to starboard, she was able to maintain station and remained in action.

Eventually, she was ordered back to the Tyne under escort after Burney transferred his flag to HMS Revenge to continue his command. It would be three months before she was fully repaired. After the war, she saw action in the Black Sea in support of the White Russians, carrying out shore bombardment missions and also having the task of evacuating the Imperial Russian Family from Yalta who were fleeing from the Bolsheviks.

Between 1920-22, Marlborough was refitted and modernised at Devonport, after which she returned to the Mediterranean for further service. In 1926 she joined the Atlantic Fleet where she remained until 1929 when she was paid off into reserve.

In June 1931, she was used for a series of trials in Plymouth Sound to determine the strength of watertight compartments and hatches adjacent to her forward magazines. This involved the emplacement and detonation of increasing amounts of explosives until the damage finally necessitated docking.

On September 16 1931, she moved to Portsmouth to undertake more trials including aerial bombing before being placed on the disposal list. In May 1932, Marlborough finally met her end when she was sold to the Alloa Shipbreaking Company, arriving at Rosyth on June 23 1932 for scrapping, a sad end to a ship which had given distinguished service.

Source: Plymouth Herald. 22 October 2014

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