TYPE: Coastal Battleship/Kystslagsskip
CLASS: Tordenskjold class coastal battleship
SISTER SHIP: Harald Haarfagre
BUGDET: 4 056 000,- MIllion Norwegian Kroner
BUGDET OVERRUN: 5 366 000,- Million Norwegian Kroner
BUILDING SITE: Armstrong, Newcastle on Tyne, Great Britain
HOIST COMMAND: 21 March 1898
DECOMISSONED: Scrapped in 1948
2x 210mm cannons
6x 120mm cannons
6x 76mm semi automatic cannons
6x 37mm cannons
2x 45.7mm Whitehead Model VIa in Underwater Torpedotubes at broadside
ARMAMENT AFTER GERMAN TAKEOVER
6x 105 mm AA cannons.
2x 40 mm AA cannons.
14x 20 mm AA cannons.
Displacement: 3920 Metric Tons
Length: 92.7 Meter
Width: 14.8 Meter
Depth: 5.7 Meter
Eigne: 2x Triple Expansion steam-eigne
Power: 4.500 Indicated horsepower
Max Speed: 17.2 Knots
Hull material: Steel
Waterline/Sides: 178 millimeter
Cannon Tower: 203 Millimeter
Armored Deck: 50 Millimeter
Painted black above the waterline around the whole vessel, below the warterline it is painted red, adn with a white/gray belt separating the two colours on the waterline. mark thhe figureheads on both the front and back are painted yellow. Everything on the deck are painted yellow, including cannons, masts etc and the Chimney as well, with a black belt on the very top of the chimney. as seen in the picture below. Unsure when but it has also been painted grey, as shown in the header picture.
TIMELINE OF IMPORTANT EVENTS
1897: Test drive
1899: Squadron trip to Copenhagen
1899: Mobilization exercises
1900: Trip to Kiel and Marstrand
1900: Squadron exercises 1900, 01
1904: Squadron tour 1904, 05, 06, 08, 09, 13 & 13
1904: Winter expedition 1904 and 05
1905: Accompanied the royal ships Danneborg and Heimdal to Kristiania
1917: Cadet ship
1919: Cadet march 1919, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33
1919: Recruiting exercises 1919, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34
1934: Depot ship for cadets
1940: Accommodation ship for recruits in Horten
1940: Taken over by German forces
1941: Converted to a floating anti-aircraft battery with the name Nymphe
1945: Ran aground with a German crew on 17 May while sailing from Svolvær to Narvik and partially sank
1948: Raised and sold to a scrapper in Stavanger
In the winter of 1917-18, TORDENSKJOLD was fitted out as a cadet ship, and in the summer of 1918 it was released by FRITHJOF and HARALD HAARFAGRE. As a cadet ship, it carried out a total of 18 cadet cruises. At the outbreak of war in Norway on 9 April 1940, TORDENSKJOLD lay at the quay in Horten as an accommodation ship for Norwegian recruits who had been called up for training. The vessel, which was not equipped, was taken off
the Germans, and in 1941 it was converted into a floating anti-aircraft battery and given the name NYMPHE. When peace came in 1945, the vessel was in Svolvær. While sailing to Narvik, still with a German crew on board, TORDENSKJOLD ran aground and partially sank. It was later restored and in 1948 it was sold to Brødrene Anda in Stavanger for scrapping.
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 Regulatory Commission”, whether to invest in sea-going 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 Armed Forces, 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 fell 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.
About the vessels
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 selfconfidence, 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 due to financial considerations, of course, but from a professional point of view it was probably equally 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 was to have been delivered in May 1915, but the needs of the British Navy superseded the foreign missions. 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, following 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.
The interwar period
After 1918, we entered a period where the politicians again saw no threat to Norway, or where there was a strong belief that the League of Nations would prevent another major war.
Throughout this period, the armored ships were used to a large extent for training and practice purposes. P/S Tordenskjold in particular was given important tasks both with the search for Amundsen in 1928, and because it was frequently used as a cadet ship with many trips abroad. A lack of funds for upgrading meant that they were constantly lagging behind in relation to potential opponents.
From 1926, the Navy’s Regulatory Commission proposed comprehensive upgrades to the ships, without this being complied with. 11930 the radio direction finding equipment was so bad that it was dismantled, without replacement. Soon the same thing happened to the underwater torpedo tubes. The main battery on the two oldest was dismantled to act as land artillery in Ofoten, which was not realized. In 1937, the Navy’s Joint Technical Council recommended that 40 mm anti-aircraft guns be acquired and that the elevation of the 15 cm gun be increased to increase the range. This also did not come to fruition. More and more, including the mobilization commanders, believed that it would eventually be immoral to send the vessel crews into war with such little combat power. Among other things, something as simple as communication between commander and battery commander was missing.
Second World War
The tragic fate of P/S Eidsvoll and P/S Norway during the German attack is well known. Whether the initial disposition of the force or the result of the skirmish would have been different with more combat-capable vessels remains to be seen, but it does not seem unreasonable to think that at least P/S Norge would have done better if they had technically been more up to speed.
P/S Harald Haarfagre and P/S Tordenskjold were taken by Germans at Karljohansvern and were in German service as the anti-aircraft ships Thetis and Nymphe respectively throughout the war. They returned to the Navy after the war, but were sold and scrapped in 1947 and 1948 respectively.
Models of the armored ships
The Naval Museum has in its collection models of the three types of armored ships described above. The model of P/S Harald Haarfagre/Tordenskjold and P/S Eidsvoll/Norway was bought from a German model builder in 1947. The model of P/S Bjørgvin/Nidaros, on the other hand, was a gift from the shipyard in 1914.
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