King Edward VII-class battleship, HMS Dominion ( 41, 54, N.90)
The King Edward VII-class is sometimes refered to as a Semi-Dreadnought, as it was a further development of the pre-dreadnought type battleships in royal navy service, ordered in direct responce to the battleships coming into service with the Italian Regia Marina and the United States Navy which were equipt with heavy 8-icnh (200mm) secondary guns. Seeing this advancement as a threat the Royal Navy decided to build similar ships in order to maintain their advantage at sea. Initial proposals involved a battleship equipped with eight 7.5 in (190 mm) guns to support the main battery, but due to the direction of William Henry White, the Director of Naval Construction, these smaller guns were discared in favour of four 9.2 in (234 mm) guns. This armament was then mated with a hull based on the Majestic type, which had formed the basis for the previous four battleship designs that had entered service with the Royal Navy, though this marked the first significant change in the series. Unfortunately like all other pre-dreadnoughts that entered service in the mid 1900s, HMS Dominion was almost instantly obsolete due to the commissioning of the all-big gun HMS Dreadnought in december of 1906, which was armed with 10 heavy guns compared to the typical 4 of most pre-dreadnoughts.
In terms of dimensions, HMS Dominion was 453 feet 9 inches (138.30 m) long overall, with a beam of 75 ft (23 m) and a draft of 25 ft 8 in (7.82 m). The vessel like all King Edward VII-class battleships displaced 15,585 to 15,885 long tons (15,835 to 16,140 t) normally and up to 17,009 to 17,290 long tons (17,282 to 17,567 t) fully loaded, and was crewed by 777 officers and ratings. The ship was powered by a pair of 4-cylinder triple-expansion engines that drove two screws, with steam provided by sixteen water-tube boilers. These boilers were trunked into two funnels located amidship, giving the ship a respectable top speed of 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph) from 18,000 indicated horsepower (13,000 kW).
HMS Dominion’s main battery composed of four 12-inch (305 mm) 40-calibre guns mounted in twin-gun turrets fore and aft, which was supported by a heavy secondary battery of four 9.2 in (234 mm) guns in four single turrets, two on each broadside. In addition to this the vessel also mounted ten 6-inch (152 mm) 45-calibre guns mounted in casemates, in addition to fourteen 12-pounder 3 in (76 mm) guns and fourteen 3-pounder 47 mm (1.9 in) guns for defence against torpedo boats offering a very impressive broadside compared to previous vessels in service. Finally as was customary for battleships of the period she was also equipped with five 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes submerged in the hull; two were on each broadside, with the fifth in the stern.
In terms of armour, HMS Dominion had an armoured belt that was 9 inches (229 mm) thick; with the transverse bulkheads on the aft end of the belt varying between 8 to 12 in (203 to 305 mm) thick based on location. The sides of her main battery turrets were also 8 to 12 in thick, atop 12 in barbettes, and the 9.2 turrets had 5 to 9 in (127 to 229 mm) sides offering considerable protection to the more vunerable areas of the ship. The casemate battery was also protected with 7 in (178 mm) of armour plate along with her conning tower which had 12-inch-thick sides. The thinnest armour on the vessel were her two armoured decks, 1 and 2.5 in (25 and 64 mm) thick, respectively, creating a overall well armoured ship for her period.
HMS Dominion was initially ordered under the 1902 Naval Estimates along with the seven other ships in her class, and was like most of her class named for an important part of the British Empire in this case the Dominion of Canada. The ship was laid down Vickers’ yards at Barrow-in-Furness on 23 May 1902, with her first keel plate being placed by Lord Walter Kerr, First Sea Lord. HMS Dominion would then be launched on 25 August 1903 to undergo fitting out, before she could begin trials in may of 1905 to late July of the same year. After successful trials, HMS Dominion was officially commissioned on the 15th of August at Portsmouth Dockyard for service in the Atlantic Fleet. Her first year of service was uneventful, until she ran aground in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on 16 August 1906, resulting in her suffering severe damage to her hull plating and some minor flooding. The ship proceded to limp back to the Royal Naval Dockyard in the Imperial fortress colony of Bermuda for temporary repairs in september, including a temporary wooden bottom, this took until January of 1907, at wich point she returned to Chatham Dockyard for the completion of repairs which began in February.
During this period of time out of service, she was recommissioned for Channel Fleet service. After the fleet reorganization on 24 March 1909, the Channel Fleet became the 2nd Division, Home Fleet, and Dominion became a Home Fleet ship in that division. The fleet was again reoganized in may of 1912, resulting in HMS Dominion and all seven of her sisters (Africa, Britannia, Commonwealth, Hibernia, Hindustan, King Edward VII, and Zealandia) being assigned to form the 3rd Battle Squadron, attatched to the First Fleet of the Home Fleet. This squadron was detatched to the Mediterranean in November because of the First Balkan War (October 1912 – May 1913), where she arrived at malta on 27 November and subsequently participated in a blockade of Montenegro and in an occupation of Scutari. After the cessestion of hostilities the squadron returned to the United Kingdom in 1913 and rejoined the Home Fleet on 27 June.
World War I:
Upon the outbreak of the First World War, the 3rd Battle Squadron was under the command of Vice Admiral Edward Bradford, and was assigned to the Grand Fleet and based at Rosyth. The Squadron was composed of all 8 members of the King Edward VII-class, reinforced by five Duncan-class battleships. This large squadron of pre-drednoughts was used to supplement the Grand Fleet’s cruisers on the Northern Patrol routes. On the 6th of August, HMS Dominion was one of the elements of the Grand Fleet sortied to inspect the coast of Norway in search of a German naval base violating Norwegian neutrality. HMS Dominion’s role in this operation was to provide distant support, and when no base was found the ships returned to port the next day. On 14 August, the ships of the Grand Fleet went to sea for battle practice before conducting a sweep into the North Sea over a two day operation. During these sweeps, HMS Dominion would often steam at the heads of formations in order to protect the far more valuable dreadnoughts from possible mine strikes, by both watching for mines, along with potentially being the first to strike them. On the 25th of August HMS Dominion reported that two of her 12-inch guns had cracked, a problem also shared by her sister ship and squadron leader at the time HMSKing Edward VII, resulting in the squadron commander transferring the flag to HMS Dominion while his flagship was away for repairs. HMS King Edward VII returned on 1 September and resumed her role as flagship, allowing Dominion to leave to have her guns replaced in Devonport. The guns were successfully repaired and on the 2nd of November 1914, the squadron was temporarily detached to reinforce the Channel Fleet and was rebased at Portland, before being returned to the Grand Fleet on the 13th of November 1914.
Under this command HMS Dominion left port on the 14th of december along with her squadron to intercept the German forces preparing to raid Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby. Unfortunately after two days of sweeps they failed to locate any german vessels. Dominion again went to see with her squadron on the 12th of January 1915 for gunnary training, though this again was uneventful. this would soon change though, as on the 23rd of January, the Grand Fleet sortied to ambush the German 1 scouting group in what would later be known as the Battle of Dogger Bank. Unfortunately Dominion and her sisters arrived at 2 pm, and were too late to engage the Germans, as the armoured cruiser Blücher had already sunk and all subsequent German ships had fled. HMS Dominion patrolled the area for the rest of the night, before returning to Rosyth. From this base she would go to sea repeatedly over the next several months in sweeping sorties of hte north sea, though she failed to locate any enemy ships. The only thing of note being on April 21st, where a uboat launched two torpedos at HMS Dominion, though both failed to score a hit. A few more uneventful patrols followed, before Fleet activities were limited in July due to a threat of a coal miners strike, this strike continued into August, resulting in Jellicoe limiting all fleet activities in an effort to preserve his stocks of coal. Because of this the fleet went to sea without the oulder ships in the 3rd battle squadron, leaving HMS Dominion in port until the strike ended.
In may of 1916, HMS Dominion was again attacked by a German U-boat, which again failed to score a hit. though for the majority of her stint based at Sheerness she saw no action during her sweeps and patrols. In June of 1917 HMS Dominion underwent a refit at Portsmouth Dockyard, while her squadron began to dispurse, until by the 1st of march 1918, HMS Dominion and HMS Dreadnought were the only ships left in the once large squadron. Because the squadron had been reduced to only two ships, it was disbanded in the same month, and HMS Dominion was paid off to serve as a barracks ship for the Zeebrugge Raid and the First Ostend Raid. In this role she joined her sister HMS Hindustan and was used to house the crews for the ships involved in the operations while the men trained. they served in this capacity from Swin until early May, before HMS Dominion was transferred into the Nore Reserve where she was employed as an accommodation ship. This would be short lived though, and on the 29th of may 1919, HMS Dominion was placed on the disposal list at Chatham Dockyard and was sold for scrapping on the 9th of May 1921 to Thos. W. Ward. On 30 September 1923 she was towed to Belfast to be stripped, and she arrived at Preston for scrapping on 28 October 1924.
Displacement: Normal: 15,585 to 15,885 long tons (15,835 to 16,140 t)
Full load: 17,009 to 17,290 long tons (17,282 to 17,567 t)
Length: 453 ft 9 in (138.3 m) (loa)
Beam: 75 ft (22.9 m)
Draught: 25 ft 8 in (7.82 m)
Installed power: 16 water-tube boilers
18,000 ihp (13,420 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × triple-expansion steam engines
2 × screw propellers
Speed: 18.5 knots (34.3 km/h; 21.3 mph)
Armament: 4 × BL 12 in (305 mm) Mk IX guns
4 × BL 9.2 in (234 mm) Mk X guns
10 × BL 6 in (152 mm) Mk VII guns
14 × 12-pounder 3 in (76 mm) guns
14 × 3-pounder 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
2 x maxim machine guns
5 × 18-in (450-mm) torpedo tubes (submerged)
Hull Armour : Belt: 9 in (229 mm)
Bulkheads: 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
Barbettes: 12 in (305mm)
Turrets: Main battery: 8- 12 in (305mm)
9.2-inch battery: 5–9 in (127–229 mm)
Casemates: 7 in (178 mm)
Conning tower: 12 in (305mm)
Decks: 1–2.5 in (25–64 mm)
Additional Historical Pictures:
Photo from my own collection showing the rare angle of the rear of the ship, circa 1913
- Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4.
- HMS Dominion - Battleships-Cruisers.co.uk (Additional photos for those interested)
- HMS Dominion - Wikipedia
- Burt, R. A. (2013) . British Battleships 1889–1904. Barnsley: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-173-1.
- King Edward VII class battleships (Breakdown of the class)