HMS Monmouth

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HMS Monmouth was the first of ten Monmouth class first class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy between 1899, when the Monmouth was laid down and 1904 when the last five of the class were completed. The previous Drake class of cruisers were large, fast and expensive. The Monmouth class was designed to keep the speed but reduce the size and cost. The resulting ship was 4,000 tonnes lighter and 50 feet shorter that the Drake class ships. This had been achieved by reducing the thickness of the main armour belt from 6in to 4in and by removing the two 9.2in guns carried on the Drakes.

HMS Monmouth
HMS Monmouth

HMS Monmouth - the guns
HMS Monmouth - the guns

Instead the Monmouth class cruisers carried fourteen 6in guns. Four of those guns were carried in two turrets, one fore and one aft, with the remaining ten carried in casemates, five on each side of the ship. Although the class was criticized for its lack of firepower at the time, the Monmouth would be the only member of the class to be lost in battle, and eight of the ten ships built survived until 1920-21 when they were sold off.

The Monmouth spent some of its early career in the Mediterranean, joining the 1st Cruiser Squadron. In January 1906 she went into the reserve at Devonport, but only for three months. In April 1906 she was sent to the China Station. In 1913 she was back in home waters with the 3rd Fleet. At the outbreak of the First World War she was part of the 5th Cruiser Squadron, but she was soon detached from that squadron and sent to join Admiral Christopher Cradock’s South American station.

In October 1914 Cradock learnt that Admiral von Spee, at the head of a squadron of five modern cruisers, was planning to leave the Pacific for the South Atlantic. Cradock decided to move into the Pacific in an attempt to prevent this.  At Coronel (1 November 1914) Cradock was effectively ambushed by von Spee’s squadron. The Monmouth’s 6in guns were outranged by the 8.2in guns carried on von Spee’s best ships, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. The Monmouth was lost with all hands without being able to inflict any damage on the German ships.

Displacement (loaded)

9,800t

Top Speed

23kts

Range

 

Armour – belt

4in-2in

 - bulkhead

5in

 - barbettes

5in

 - turrets

5in

 - casemates

4in-2in

 - ammunition hoists

2in

 - decks

.75in-2in

 - conning tower

10in

Length

463ft 6in

Armament

Fourteen 6in quick firing
Ten 12pdr quick firing
Three 3pdr quick firing
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

687

Launched

13 November 1901

Completed

2 December 1903

Sunk

1 November 1914

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 August 2007), HMS Monmouth , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Monmouth.html

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