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HMS Aboukir (1900)
HMS Aboukir.jpg
HMS Aboukir
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Name: HMS Aboukir
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Govan
Launched: 16 May 1900
Fate: Sunk by U-9, 22 September 1914
General characteristics
Class & type: Cressy-class armoured cruiser
Displacement: 12,000 long tons (12,000 t)
Length: 472 ft (144 m)
Beam: 69 ft 6 in (21.18 m)
Propulsion: 2 × triple expansion steam engines
2 × screws
Speed: 21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h)
Armament: 2 × BL 9.2 in (230 mm) Mk X guns
12 × BL 6 in (150 mm) Mk VII guns

HMS Aboukir was a Cressy-class armoured cruiser.

She was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Govan, Scotland and launched 16 May 1900. In March 1901 she arrived at Portsmouth Dockyard to be completed,[1] which she was in early in 1902.

Service history

First World War

The Cressy-class vessels had rapidly become obsolete due to the great advances in naval architecture in the years leading up to the First World War. At the outbreak of the war, these ships were mostly staffed by reserve sailors. Aboukir was one of four ships that made up Rear Admiral Henry H Campbell's 7th Cruiser Squadron.

Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Aboukir and her sister ships — Bacchante, Euryalus, Hogue and Cressy — were assigned to patrol the Broad Fourteens of the North Sea in support of a force of destroyers and submarines based at Harwich which blocked the Eastern end of the English Channel from German warships attempting to attack the supply route between England and France.


"Victories of U-9" - a contemporary German postcard showing the sinking Aboukir and Hogue with the photo of Weddigen in the corner.

At around 06:00 on 22 September, the three cruisers (the flagship Baccante with Rear-Admiral Arthur Christian had had to return to harbour to refuel) were steaming at 10 kn (12 mph; 19 km/h) in line ahead and they were spotted by the German submarine U-9, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Otto Weddigen. Although they were not zigzagging, all of the ships had lookouts posted to search for periscopes and one gun on each side of each ship was manned.

Weddigen ordered his submarine to submerge and closed the range to the unsuspecting British ships. At close range, he fired a single torpedo at Aboukir. The torpedo broke her back, and she sank within 20 minutes with the loss of 527 men.

The captains of Cressy and Hogue thought Aboukir had struck a floating mine and came forward to assist her. They stood by and began to pick up survivors. At this point, Weddigen fired two torpedoes into Hogue, mortally wounding that ship. As Hogue sank, the captain of Cressy realised that the squadron was being attacked by a submarine, and tried to flee. However, Weddigen fired two more torpedoes into Cressy, and sank her as well.

The entire battle had lasted less than two hours, and cost the British three warships, 62 officers and 1,397 ratings. This incident established the U-boat as a major weapon in the conduct of naval warfare.

In 1954, the British government sold the salvage rights to the ship and salvage is ongoing.[2]

In fiction

The character Diana Marfleet in the novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies had been engaged to one of Aboukir's officers, killed when the ship was sunk. It was this loss which made her take up the job of a nurse tending wounded soldiers, and specifically give long and devoted treatment to the book's protagonist, severely wounded in a later part of the war, and eventually fall in love with him.[citation needed]

See also


  1. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 12 March 1901. 
  2. "Booty Trawl". Pressdram Ltd. 2011. p. 31. 

External links

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