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HMS Cressy (1899)
HMS Cressy.jpg
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Class and type: Cressy-class armoured cruiser
Name: HMS Cressy
Namesake: Battle of Cressy
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd, Govan
Laid down: October 1898
Launched: 4 December 1899
Fate: Sunk by SM U-9 on 22 September 1914
General characteristics
Displacement: 12,000 tons
Length: 472 ft (144 m)
Beam: 69.5 ft (21.2 m)
Propulsion: triple expansion engines
twin screws
Speed: 21 knots (39 km/h)

2 × BL 9.2-inch (233.7 mm) Mk X guns
12 × BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) Mk VII guns

13 × 12 pdr guns
Armour: Belt: 6 inch
Deck: 3 inch

HMS Cressy was a Cressy-class armoured cruiser in the Royal Navy. Cressy was sunk on 22 September 1914 along with two of her sisterships, by the German U-boat U-9.

Service history

HMS Cressy was launched in December 1899, and after finishing her trials was passed into the fleet reserve at Portsmouth on 24 May 1901.[1] She was commissioned by Captain H. M. T. Tudor for service on the China Station on 28 May 1901,[2] but her departure was delayed for several months when her steering gear broke down shortly after leaving the base and she had to return. She eventually left home waters in early October 1901, arriving at Colombo 7 November,[3] Singapore and Hong Kong in November.

Shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, Cressy and her sister ships Bacchante, Euryalus, Hogue and Aboukir were assigned to the 7th Cruiser Squadron, patrolling 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.

Leading up to the battle

The Bacchante class had been placed in the Reserve Fleet. No money was to be spent repairing them, but they were to be used until they were completely worn out. In 1914, the best speed they could manage was 15 knots. Each ship had over 700 officers and men from the Royal Navy reserves, many being middle aged family men from local towns and villages. Each ship also carried nine cadets from the Royal Navy College at Dartmouth, most of whom were under 15.

The original plan was to support the destroyers of Reginald Tyrwhitt's Harwich Force, but frequent bad weather caused the plan to change and the cruisers became the front line as they could handle the rough seas. After weeks of daily patrols, their old engines could no longer even maintain 15 knots and speed dropped to 12 knots, and often as low as 9. And because they never sighted periscopes, they no longer zigzagged.

On 17 September, in rough seas, the destroyers were sent back to Harwich. On 20 September Rear-Admiral Arthur Christian returned to port with HMS Euryalus to coal, reducing the patrol to three ships, Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue. With Christian unable to transfer his flag, command devolved to Captain John Drummond of the Aboukir. They continued to patrol as the weather improved until sunrise on 22 September.[4]

The last day

Sketch of the Cressy sinking, by Henry Reuterdahl.

At 6:20 AM on 22 September, HMS Aboukir was torpedoed by SM U-9 and sank in 35 minutes. Thinking she had struck a mine, and sinking fast, the order was given to abandon ship. Hogue and Cressy approached to pick up survivors, throwing anything that would float into the water for the survivors to cling to. At 6:55, Hogue was struck by two torpedoes. U-9 dived and remained submerged. At 7:20, Cressy sighted a torpedo track, and the order was given "full speed ahead both", too late. Cressy was hit forward on the starboard side, and lurched high enough out of the water that a second torpedo passed under her stern. At 7:30, a third torpedo hit Cressy on the port beam, rupturing tanks in the boiler room and scalding the men. Cressy rolled to her starboard side, paused, then went bottom up with her starboard propeller out of the water. She remained in this position for 20 minutes, then sank at 7:55.

Cressy's boats had been sent to pick up survivors from the other two ships, and returned already loaded with men. As many as five men clung to a single life vest, and a dozen men to a single plank. Dutch fishing trawlers were in the area, but remained at a distance until 8:30 when the steamship Flora from Rotterdam arrived and rescued 286 men. The survivors were almost all naked, and so exhausted they had to be hauled aboard with tackle. The steamer Titan rescued another 147 men, and later eight of Tyrwhitt's destroyers arrived. A total of 837 men were rescued, but 1,397 men were lost.[5]


As a result of the losses, the Admiralty ordered all capital ships to remove themselves from danger in the future, and leave rescue attempts to smaller ships. Zigzagging at 13 knots was made mandatory for all large warships in submarine waters. On 15 October the protected cruiser HMS Hawke was lost to the same submarine, U-9, off Aberdeen, when she was steaming at 13 knots and not zigzagging. Only then did the Admiralty finally remove the old armoured cruisers from patrol duties. Lord Charles Beresford never again referred to submarines as "playthings" or "toys".[6]

In 1954 the British government sold the salvage rights to the ship and salvage is ongoing.[7]


  1. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 16 May 1901. 
  2. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 28 May 1901. 
  3. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 9 November 1901. 
  4. Massie. Castles of Steel. pp. 128–35. 
  5. Massie. Castles of Steel. pp. 136–7. 
  6. Massie. Castles of Steel. pp. 138–9. 
  7. "Booty Trawl". Pressdram Ltd. 2011. p. 31. 


External links

Coordinates: 52°15′01″N 3°40′08″E / 52.25028°N 3.66889°E / 52.25028; 3.66889

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