Military Wiki
HMS Valiant (1914)
HMS Valiant between 1930 and 1937
HMS Valiant between 1930 and 1937
Name: HMS Valiant
Ordered: 1912
Builder: Fairfields
Laid down: 31 January 1913
Launched: 4 November 1914
Commissioned: 19 February 1916
In service: 1916
Out of service: 1948
Fate: 19 March 1948 sold for scrap
Status: Scrapped
General characteristics (1917)
Class & type: Queen Elizabeth-class battleship
Displacement: 29,150 tons (load displacement)
Length: 660 ft (200 m) (oa)
Beam: 90 ft 6 in (27.58 m)
Draught: 29 ft 7 in (9.02 m)–30 ft 8 in (9.35 m)
Propulsion: Brown Curtis turbines
24 × Babcock and Wilcox boilers
71,112 shp (trials)
Speed: 24 knots
Complement: 925/951

As built :
8 × BL 15 inch Mk I
14 × BL 6-inch (150 mm) Mk XII guns
2 × QF 3 inch 20 cwt A/A
4 × QF 3-pdr AA
4 × Submerged 21-inch torpedo tubes
Late 1916 :
2 6-inch guns removed from forecastle deck
1929 refit :
8 QF 2-pounder anti-aircraft guns added (1 x 8)
1936 :
8 QF 2-pounder anti-aircraft guns added (1 x 8)
1937 refit :
All 6-inch guns removed & replaced by 20 x QF 4.5-inch dual-purpose guns (10 x 2)
32 QF 2-pounder anti-aircraft guns (4 x 8);

16 x .5-inch machine guns : (4 x 4)[1]
Armour: Belt: 13–6 inches
Bulkheads: 6–4 inches
Barbettes: 10–4 inches
Turrets: 13–11 inches
Conning tower: 11 in; Director tower: 6in
Torpedo tubes; 6–4 inches
Decks: 3–1 in
Aircraft carried: 2 (1918)
General characteristics (1945)
Displacement: 32,468 tons (load displacement)
Propulsion: Parsons geared turbines
Speed: 23 knots (42.6 km/h)
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Type 273
Type 285

8 × BL 15 inch Mk I (4x 2)
20 × 4.5-inch/45 DP guns (10 x 2)
4 × Octuple QF 2-pdr
4 × Quadruple 0.5 inch Vickers machine gun

26 × Twin 20mm Oerlikon
Aircraft carried: 2 (capacity)

HMS Valiant was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the British Royal Navy. She was laid down at the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan on 31 January 1913 and launched on 4 November 1914. She was completed in February 1916.

World War I

The contract for the construction of the Valiant was given to The Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Limited. She was laid down in the same berth where the battlecruiser HMS Indomitable had been built. On the construction of Valiant by Admiralty contract, Fairfields lost £78,836.[2] Her turbines were manufactured by Fairfields, and her armour plate was provided by William Beardmore and Company.[3] Upon completion on 19 February 1916 under Captain Maurice Woollcombe she joined the recently formed Fifth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. At the Battle of Jutland she fired 288 15-inch shells at the German High Seas Fleet. Despite the severity of damage suffered by her sister ships (bar HMS Queen Elizabeth which did not take part in the battle) she suffered no damage. One of her 15-inch guns which had been in Valiant at Jutland was later removed and became one of the three guns of the Johore Battery at Singapore.[4] However, on 24 August that same year she collided with HMS Warspite and was in repairs until 18 September.[5]

Inter War Period

From 1919 to the end of 1924 she was part of the 1st Battle Squadron, Atlantic Fleet after which she was with the 1st Battle Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet until March 1929.[6]

Between 1929 and 1930 she underwent a major refit. Anti-torpedo bulges were added, increasing beam to 31.70 m. The two funnels were trunked into one and a single octuple 2 pdr mountings were added. Two of the torpedo tubes were removed, and the aircraft platforms were replaced by a single catapult. These modifications brought the maximum displacement up to 35,970 tons.

On 2nd Dec 1930 she was recommisioned for service in the Atlantic where in 1931 her crew participated in the Invergordon Mutiny. March 1932 saw her transferred to the Home Fleet until in July 1935 she was once again in the Mediterranean.

HMS Valiant in 1939, showing original casemates plated over and new 4.5 inch guns mounted higher

In 1936 a second octuple 2 pdr mounting was added. Between March 1937 and November 1939 she underwent a second major refit at Devonport. The machinery was changed to eight Admiralty 3 drum boilers with four Parsons steam turbines producing a total of 80,000 shp (60,000 kW). Fuel load was 3,393 tons oil, and maximum speed was reduced to 23.5 knots (43.5 km/h) despite the increase in power, due to the increase in displacement and draught. Deck armour was increased to 5 inches (130 mm) over the magazines, 2.5 inches over the machinery while the new 4.5" guns had between 1 and 2 inches (51 mm) of armour.[7] The secondary armament was changed to 20 × 4.5 inch Mk I dual purpose guns in 10 twin mountings and four octuple 2 pdr "pom pom" mountings. The ship's fire control was modernized to include the HACS MkIV AA fire control system and the Admiralty Fire Control Table Mk VII for surface fire control of the main armament.[8] These modifications increased draught to 10 m and maximum displacement to 36,513 tons.

World War II

On 21 April 1941, under the command of Admiral Cunningham, Valiant along with battleships Barham and Warspite, as well as the cruiser Gloucester and various destroyers, attacked Tripoli harbour.

She was one of three capital ships to take part in the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, and saw action at the Battle of Cape Matapan; she participated in actions during the battle of Crete, and was struck by two bombs. Along with her sister ship Queen Elizabeth, Valiant was mined and seriously damaged by human torpedoes of Italian Decima Flottiglia MAS in Alexandria harbour in December 1941. Lieutenant Durand de la Penne was the frogman who placed the limpet mine on the Valiant. While the other two torpedo crews had been able to attach the mines to the other ships and to go away with the torpedoes, the torpedo of de la Penne failed at some tenths metres from Valiant, so that de la Penne had to push the torpedo leaving it some metres below the hull of Valiant. Then he emerged and was captured with his companion Corporal Emilio Bianchi,[9] but he refused to inform the ship's Captain Charles Morgan of the mines and they were jailed under the sea level. A few minutes before detonation, when any attempt to find and deactivate the mines were not possible, he informed Cap. Morgan to allow the British to evacuate. They were then put back again under sea level, just above the place where the mine would explode. Although hurt during the explosion, de la Penne and Bianchi did survive. As the magnetic mines was not in touch with the hull of Valiant its damages were far less critical than Queen Elizabeth: despite having a heavy trim forward the decks were above water, and she remained clear of the harbour bottom. Although nearly immobilised she was able, although only for few days, to give the impression of full battle readiness, a subterfuge exploited by the Royal Navy who allowed photographs of the seemingly undamaged ship to appear in the British press. She was repaired in Durban, South Africa, and then returned to the Mediterranean to support the landings in Sicily (Operation Husky) and at Salerno (Operation Avalanche) in 1943.

She was sent to the Far East in 1944 as part of the Eastern Fleet, taking part in raids against Japanese bases in Indonesia. On 8 August 1944 whilst in the floating drydock at Trincomalee, Ceylon, she was severely damaged when the dock collapsed. The two inner screws were jammed as well as one of her rudders. Floating drydocks and the ships that they hold are raised through increased buoyancy gained when sea-water ballast is pumped out of ballast tanks. In Valiant's case, the sequence in which tanks were being emptied was inappropriate for the ship's weight distribution which was exacerbated by a full munitions load. As a result, the drydock was over-stressed at its ends, broke its back and sank. Valiant had remained in steam and was able to avoid worse damage or sinking.[10] After the incident, the responsible Naval Constructor was disciplined.[11]

It was decided to sail her to Alexandria where there were suitable docking facilities, however she could not steer a straight course, and could not make more than 8 knots (15 km/h). She got as far as Suez Bay, but could not attempt the canal in that condition. Lt Cmdr Peter Keeble, the experienced diver and salvage expert personally supervised the removal of her two inner screw shafts near the gland. The A-brackets holding the shafts and screws were also cut, dropping both screws and shafts to the bottom. Keeble had perfected available underwater cutting torches by combining British and Italian technology to enable the thick propeller shafts to be cut away.[12] She returned to the UK and was decommissioned in July 1945.

Post war

Valiant formed part of the Imperieuse stoker mechanics' training establishment at Devonport for the rest of her career.[13] She was sold for scrapping on 19 March 1948.[14] She left Devonport for the breakers of Arnott Young at Cairnryan on 11 August of that year.[15]


  1. Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p238
  2. Campbell. The Rise and Fall of Scottish Industry. p. 65. 
  3. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 28 January. 
  4. Hack and Blackburn. Did Singapore have to Fall?. p. 98. 
  5. "Queen Elizabeth Class Battleship". Retrieved 2008-03-08. 
  6. "HMS Valiant". WW2 Cruisers. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  7. Raven and Roberts, British Battleships of WW2, p247
  8. Brooks. "The Admiralty Fire Control Tables". p. p. 82. 
  9. Instead, the other four frogmen were able to put in place their mines just in touch of the sister battleship Queen Elizabeth and of the oil tanker Sagona and to land , being captured only after
  10. Spooner, Geoff. "Admiralty Floating Dock 23: A first hand account of the sinking". DiveSriLanka. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  11. Mason, Lt Cdr Geoffrey B (2003). "HMS VALIANT". SERVICE HISTORIES of ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS in WORLD WAR 2. Retrieved 1 February 2010. 
  12. Keeble, Peter. "Chapter 11". Ordeal by Water. 
  13. Parkes. British Battleships. pp. 177. 
  14. Dittmar; Colledge. British Warships: 1914-1919. p. 34. 
  15. "Error: no |title= specified when using {{Cite web}}". 11 August. 


  • Brooks, John (2003). "The Admiralty Fire Control Tables". pp. pp. 69–93. 
  • Campbell, Robert Hutcheson (1980). The Rise and Fall of Scottish Industry, 1707-1939. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers Ltd. 
  • Dittmar, F.J.; Colledge, J.J. (1972). British Warships 1914–1919. London: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0380-7. 
  • Hack, Karl; Blackburn, Kevin (2004). Did Singapore Have to Fall?: Churchill and the Impregnable Fortress. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-30803-8. 
  • Keeble, Peter (1957). Ordeal by Water. London: Longmans, Green and Company. 
  • Parkes, O.B.E., Ass.I.N.A., Dr. Oscar (1957). British Battleships 1860–1950. London: Seeley, Service and Co.. 

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