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HMS Marlborough (1912)
HMS Marlborough
HMS Marlborough
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Marlborough
Namesake: John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
Ordered: 1911
Builder: Devonport Dockyard
Laid down: 25 January 1912
Launched: 24 October 1912
Commissioned: June 1914
Struck: 1932
Fate: Sold for scrap, 27 June 1932
General characteristics
Class & type: Iron Duke-class battleship
Displacement: 25,000 tons (normal)
29,500 tons(deep load)
Length: 622 ft 9 in (189.8 m)
Beam: 90 ft (27.4 m)
Draught: 32 ft 9 in (10.0 m)
Propulsion: 4 shaft Parsons steam turbines, driving four propellers, 18 Babcock & Wilcox or Yarrow boilers delivering 29,000 hp
Speed: 21.25 knots (39.36 km/h)
Range: 14,000 nautical miles (25,930 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h)
Complement: 925

10 × BL 13.5-inch (342.9 mm) /45 guns in five twin turrets
12 × BL 6-inch (152.4 mm) /45 Mk VII guns in single casemate mountings
2 × QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft guns

4 × 21 inch submerged beam torpedo tubes
  • Belt: 8 to 12 in (203 to 305 mm) (lower); 9 in (229 mm) (middle); 8 in (203 mm) (upper); 4 to 6 in (102 to 152 mm) (ends)
  • Deck: 1 in (25.4 mm) (forecastle); 1.25 to 2 in (31.8 to 50.8 mm) (upper); 1 in (25.4 mm) (middle, amidships); 1.5 to 2.5 in (38.1 to 63.5 mm) (middle, aft); 1 to 2.5 in (25.4 to 63.5 mm) (lower)
  • Bulkheads: 4 to 8 in (102 to 203 mm)
  • Casemates: 6 in (152 mm)
  • Barbettes: 7 to 10 in (178 to 254 mm)
  • Turrets: 11 in (279 mm)
  • Conning Tower: 11 in (279 mm); 3 to 4 in (76 to 102 mm) (hood); 3 to 6 in (76 to 152 mm) (base); 6 in (152 mm) (torpedo control tower)

HMS Marlborough was an Iron Duke-class battleship of the Royal Navy, named in honour of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, and launched in 1912. In World War I she served in the 1st Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow. She fought at the Battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916, where she was hit by a torpedo, killing two and injuring two.

In 1919, in the Russian Civil War, Marlborough was on duty in the Black Sea and, on orders of King George V, rescued his aunt, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and other members of the Russian Imperial Family, including Grand Duke Nicholas and Prince Felix Yusupov.



The ships of the Iron Duke class were a modification of the design of the previous King George V class of 1911 and cost in the region of £1,891,600.[1] Marlborough carried a main armament of ten 13.5 inch guns mounted in five twin turrets.[1] The 13.5-inch (343 mm) guns had been initially developed for the Orion class and were so successful that the type was fitted to the succeeding battleship classes, including the Iron Dukes. The guns were fitted along the centre line with B and X turrets superfiring over A and Y turrets. Q turret was sited amidships, and had restricted firing arcs. B and X were restricted from firing directly over A and Y due to the possibility of muzzle blast entering the lower turrets' sighting hoods which were still placed in the forward ends of the turret roofs.[2]

A more radical departure was the replacement of the 4-inch (102 mm) guns of the secondary armament with twelve 6-inch (152 mm) guns. These made Marlborough more capable of engaging the larger destroyers and torpedo boats then being built. Admiral of the Fleet Jackie Fisher had been opposed to mounting such heavy weapons on the grounds of economy, and because he believed they would be rendered useless in bad weather. He had retired by the time the class were being designed, but the guns were still heavy for a secondary armament and so they were mounted low in casemates. This had the predicted effect of often rendering them unusable in poor weather. Attempts were made to alleviate the situation including mounting Marlborough's as far back as possible to help reduce wetness but met with limited effectiveness.[3] Marlborough's 6-inch (152 mm) guns were fitted in casemates, with five either side of the forecastle deck and two right aft in the hull below the quarter deck, rather than in the deck houses, as had been the practice before. The two stern 6-inch (152 mm) guns were subsequently found to be so wet as to be useless. They were re-sited on the forecastle deck, but the forward batteries continued to be swamped in heavy seas. Eventually rubber sealing joints for the gun ports were designed and fitted at Scapa Flow to try to alleviate the situation.[1] The fitting of the larger guns made Marlborough 25 feet (7.6 m) longer, 1-foot (0.30 m) wider and 10 inches (254 mm) deeper and 2,000 tons heavier than previous classes.[3]

She was also armed with two 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft guns on her after superstructure in 1914, making the class the first British battleships to carry anti aircraft guns.[3] Marlborough carried four submerged 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes mounted along her sides, but unlike preceding classes, she did not carry a stern mounted torpedo tube. Her total broadside was ten 13.5-inch (343 mm) guns, six 6-inch (152 mm) guns and two 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[1]


Marlborough's armour was an improvement on the preceding King George V's. She used Krupp Cemented Armour. The main armour belt was 12 inches (300 mm) thick at the waterline, reduced to 8 inches (200 mm) at the lower edge. The fore and aft armoured bulkheads were 8 inches (200 mm) thick, but 3 inches at the lower edges, whilst the screen bulkheads were just 1.5 inches thick. These extended to the engine rooms and magazines only. The torpedo protection for the boiler rooms consisted of the wing coal bunker spaces. The barbettes had 10 inches (250 mm) of armour when mounted externally of the main ship armour, but only 3 inches (76 mm) when mounted internally. The turrets were armoured with 11 inches (280 mm) on the faces, with decreasing amounts on the sides and tops. The decks meanwhile had 2.5-inch (64 mm) thick protecting machinery spaces and magazines, but this was reduced to 1-inch (25 mm) in non-vital areas. Finally Marlborough's conning tower was protected by 11-inch (280 mm) thick armour.[1]


The design of Marlborough's machinery closely followed the earlier classes of Dreadnoughts, consisting of four propellers being driven by Parsons direct drive steam turbines. The machinery spaces were divided into three with the inboard shafts leading to the central engine room and the outer shafts to the port and starboard wing engine rooms. The two inboard shafts were driven by the high pressure ahead and astern turbines with the ahead turbines having an extra stage for cruising, this was separated from the main turbine by a bypass valve. The outer shafts were driven by the ahead and astern low pressure turbines, for cruising the outboard turbines would be shut down, the ship relying on the inboard shafts alone. The eighteen Babcock and Wilcox boilers were arranged in three groups of six, although coal fired oil spraying equipment was fitted for quickly raising steam. The engines were designed to produce 31,000 ihp (23,000 kW) and speed of 21.5 knots (39.8 km/h).[3] On trials though Marlborough exceeded this, producing 32,013 ihp (23,872 kW).[1][3] She could carry 3,250 tons of coal and 1,050 tons of oil, giving a range of 7,780 nautical miles (14,410 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h).[1]

Construction and commissioning

Marlborough was ordered under the 1911 Naval Estimates and the contract to build her was awarded to Devonport Dockyard, of Plymouth. She was laid down on 25 January 1912 and launched on 24 October 1912.[4] She was commissioned in June 1914, the second of the Iron Dukes to do so, behind her sister HMS Iron Duke. She cost in region of £2,043,437.[1][3] The month after commissioning she joined the 1st Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet, then based at Scapa Flow.[3]

Service history

The grave in Cathays Cemetery, Cardiff, of a Petty Officer from HMS Marlborough

Along with the remainder of the 1st battle squadron, of which she was its flagship until February 1917, Marlborough saw action at the battle of Jutland.[3] After firing 162 13.5 inch shells, she was hit by a torpedo that killed two and wounded two others.[3] Marlborough had to be towed back to port with a slight list.[4] After repairs were finished on 29 July 1916, she returned to the Grand Fleet.[3]

In 1919, in the Russian Civil War, Marlborough was on duty in the Black Sea. On orders of King George V, the ship rescued his aunt, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, and other members of the Russian Imperial Family, including Grand Duke Nicholas and Prince Felix Yusupov.[5] Following the war, Marlborough was retained by the Royal Navy under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty until 1932, when she was sold for scrap.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Jane's Fighting Ships of World War One (1919), Jane's Publishing Company
  2. Gasrdin er, Gray, pg 68
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Iron Duke class
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Marlborough
  5. King, p. 209


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