BUILDING SITE: Armstrong, Elswick, Great Britain
PREVIOUS NAME: HMS Glatton
LAUNCHED: 8 August 1914
2x 240mm cannons
4x 152mm cannons
4x 102mm cannons
2x 76mm cannons anti air
2x 45.7 cm Underwater Torpedo tubes in broadside
Displacement: 4.900 Ton
Crew: 270 men
2x Hawtorn Leslie & Co Triple Expansion steam eignes
Power: 4.500 IHK
Speed: 15 Knots
1914: Taken over by Great Britain, registered as monitor and managing director HMS Glatton
1918: Caught fire at Dover 11 September and sunk to avoid explosion
1926: Raised and scrapped
Pirctrue of a model of the ship and the anti torpedobulge (Model and torpedobulge — ImgBB)
Bjørgvin, which was under construction during the First World War, was seized by the British and renamed Glatton. In the British Navy it was registered as a monitor. The command was raised only on 31 August 1918, and on 11 September it arrived at Dover. On the same day, a fire broke out on board with subsequent explosions, and the British themselves sank the vessel with torpedo shots to avoid a major disaster.
Glatton was subsequently raised, but the wreck remained in Dover harbor until March 1926, when it was broken up.
Armoring of vessels gained momentum after the Battle of Hampton Roads during the American Civil War. Norway also acquired four such “floating fortresses”, called monitors, until 1872. However, they had a limited field of operation and after 1872 no investment was made in the concept.
Again, it became a professional question, among other things for the “Marine’s Regulation Commission”, whether Iman should focus on seagoing vessels or a narrower coastal defence. With limited finances, from 1877-1892 it was the archipelago defense that prevailed and we got a number (however considerably less than proposed) of unarmoured steam gunboats in 3 classes. In 1884, the Ministry of the Navy was merged with the Ministry of the Army, and the limited resources the Navy received were not enough to replace the monitors with new armored ships. With the strong technological development in the period, this meant that the Navy lagged behind in relation to other countries, including Sweden.
It was only when the union dispute escalated in 1895 that there was a real turning point in relation to betting on the Navy. Because Sweden was so superior militarily, they could keep Norway in place in the union by “rattling their sabers” (including their armored ships). Norway’s goal was not war, but a balance of power with Sweden. Then the allocation for the first two armored ships. without prior commission processing, went through on 25 July 1895, there was applause from the gallery. An extraordinary grant of NOK 10 million was no small matter either. In 1898-99, extraordinary grants were again given for two more armored ships.
A little about Bjørgvin and the other Coastal battleships
Although the new armored ships, in contrast to the monitors, had good seagoing characteristics, they were primarily coastal defense ships, with low speed and limited radius of action, but with heavy armament and good protection.
In the construction, many differences were made with the Swedes’ armored ships, especially their newest armored ship Oden, which they had to try to surpass.
The vessels had a skirt of armor attached to wooden beams in the width extension of the deck, and this armor was around the waterline of more than 15 cm. The deck, which itself was on 50 mm armor sloped from the side down below the waterline where it met the armor skirt. Between the armored skirt, the sloping deck and the deck beam it was then filled up with coal. A projectile that hit the waterline thus had to penetrate both the armor belt, the hull and the sloping armored deck to enter the vessel’s vital parts. The vessels also had a double bottom. An armored command tower was placed on the forward bridge where the commander had his place during battle. Great care was also taken to ensure that the vessels would not sink, even if they were hit, and it was therefore divided into a total of 46 watertight compartments, including the double bottom. Originally, the vessels had a “ram” or spar below the waterline in the bow, based on a good old fashioned spar idea. This was later removed in line with the changed tactics, but it would later turn out that such a frame had its hydrodynamic advantages.
Certain improvements were made from the first two to the next two ships. It was found, among other things, that the chimney was inappropriately high and they therefore went in for two slightly smaller chimneys at P/S Eidsvoll and P/S Norge. The development trend was that people gradually tried to squeeze more and better artillery into the vessels, which increased the displacement, but at the same time reduced the speed as the machinery’s performance was not increased accordingly. Otherwise, they were clearly distinguished from each other by the fact that P/S Harald Hårfagre and P/S Tordenskjold had black-painted hulls and yellow chimneys, which was not unusual at the time, while P/S Eidsvoll and P/S Norge would get it two years later new gray color above the waterline.
It is beyond any doubt that Norway, not only through the acquisition of the armored ships, but also through a general rearmament of the Armed Forces up to 1905, had strengthened its self-confidence, and its later position during the negotiations in Karlstad. Due to Russia’s unfortunate engagement with Japan, Sweden was able to transfer significant naval forces from its east coast to its west coast in June/July 1905. Our armored ships therefore played a particularly important role, both in relation to a possible real attack and thus in relation to the negotiation game. The way Norway was to dispose of its armored ships in this critical phase led to a bitter dispute between the offensive-minded rear admiral Børresen, who was commander of the armored ship squadron, and the more sober vice-admiral Sparre, who was commanding admiral.
Now, as is known, things went well, and after the dissolution of the union, some of the driving force towards a stronger naval defense also disappeared. Some of it is obviously due to financial considerations, but from a professional point of view it was probably just as wrong that the acquisition of the armored ships had not been anchored in a well-discussed plan about what the Navy’s tasks were and what role the armored ships were to fulfill. When justified planning proposals were eventually presented in 1908-09, there was still a professional focus on armored ships, but it was only when Norway’s neutrality was threatened in 1913 that the politicians were once again involved in such a move. But the two armored ships that were then ordered were never to be delivered.
World war one
After the tension in relation to Sweden had subsided, Norwegian politicians no longer saw any enemies, and when international tension increased, Norway chose a neutral position. According to the Hague Convention, neutral states are obliged to supervise their territory, according to given criteria, i.e. exercise a police authority in relation to other ship traffic. In addition, Norway could be far from certain that neither England nor Germany would benefit from some form of occupation of Norwegian territory. The west was especially vulnerable. Among other things, this was made visible in 1913 when Emperor Wilhelm, as a pure demonstration of power, came to an unveiling ceremony in Sogn escorted by 25 larger warships! Here the armored ships had to play an important role and the Storting now agreed to the building of two further armored ships from Armstrong in England at a cost of NOK 20 million. These, to be named P/S Nidaros and P/S Bjørgvin, were a further improvement on the old ones, although not as great as one might have expected. Nidaros was decommissioned on 9 June 1914 and should have been delivered in May 1915, but the needs of the British Navy superseded the foreign assignments. Navy Minister Churchill offered to take over/redeem the vessels in a friendly way “for the good of small nations”. Norway protested formally, but of course without effect.
The ironclads were the very backbone and the strategic reserve throughout the war. They constituted security for the use of the smaller vessels, which were largely hired and poorly equipped. They regularly conducted exercises. The armored ships developed a good relationship with the coastal population, and on special occasions they were constantly provided with “extra food” from civilians, which came in handy under otherwise scarce rations. They were not involved in so many specific operations, but when Norway laid mines at Utsira in 1918 to prevent the passage of belligerent submarines (read German) to the Atlantic, the armored ships probably helped to prevent these being swept away.
After the war, Norway was offered to take over Nidaros (renamed Gorgon), but declined this, partly because it had been rebuilt (extended width to withstand torpedo hits) so that there was no longer room in the dock for KJV, and partly because it was not political basis for such expenditure. Bjørgvin (renamed Glatton) had been sunk by the British themselves, after a fire and explosion on board. just 14 days after the command was lifted on 31 August 1918. In this sense, the British enjoyed limited pleasure from their seizures.
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