HMS Argyll (1904)

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Argyll c1909 LOC det 4a16119.jpg
HMS Argyll at anchor, 1909
United Kingdom
Name: Argyll
Namesake: Argyll
Builder: Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering, Greenock
Laid down: 1 September 1902
Launched: 3 March 1904
Completed: December 1905
Fate: Wrecked on the Bell Rock, 28 October 1915
Status: Diveable wreck
General characteristics
Class and type: Devonshire-class armoured cruiser
Displacement: 10,850 long tons (11,020 t) (normal)
Length: 473 ft 6 in (144.3 m) (o/a)
Beam: 68 ft 6 in (20.9 m)
Draught: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Installed power:
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Complement: 610

HMS Argyll was one of six Devonshire-class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She was assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet upon completion and was transferred to the 5th Cruiser Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet in 1909. Two years later, she was detached to escort the royal yacht during King George V's trip to British India. Argyll was assigned to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron of the reserve Second Fleet in 1913.

Upon mobilisation in mid-1914 her squadron was assigned to the Grand Fleet; Argyll did not see combat before she ran aground and was wrecked in October 1915. Her crew were rescued without loss and the wreck was later salvaged before it was demolished. Nonetheless, it remains diveable.

Design and description[edit]

Model of Argyll at the Glasgow Museum of Transport

Argyll was designed to displace 10,850 long tons (11,020 t). The ship had an overall length of 473 feet 6 inches (144.3 m), a beam of 68 feet 6 inches (20.9 m) and a deep draught of 24 feet (7.3 m). She was powered by two 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, which produced a total of 21,000 indicated horsepower (16,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph). The engines were powered by sixteen Babcock & Wilcox and six cylindrical boilers. Argyll was the only ship of the class not to exceed 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) during her sea trials.[1] She carried a maximum of 1,033 long tons (1,050 t) of coal and her complement consisted of 610 officers and enlisted men.[2]

Her main armament consisted of four breech-loading (BL) 7.5-inch Mk I guns mounted in four single-gun turrets, one each fore and aft of the superstructure and one on each side.[3] The guns fired their 200-pound (91 kg) shells to a range of about 13,800 yards (12,600 m).[4] Her secondary armament of six BL 6-inch Mk VII guns was arranged in casemates amidships. Four of these were mounted on the main deck and were only usable in calm weather.[5] They had a maximum range of approximately 12,200 yards (11,200 m) with their 100-pound (45 kg) shells.[6] Argyll also carried 18 quick-firing (QF) 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns and two submerged 18-inch torpedo tubes.[1] Her two 12-pounder 8 cwt guns could be dismounted for service ashore.[3]

At some point in the war, the main deck six-inch guns of the Devonshire-class ships were moved to the upper deck and given gun shields. Their casemates were plated over to improve seakeeping and the four 3-pounder guns displaced by the transfer were landed.[7]

The ship's waterline armour belt had a maximum thickness of six inches (152 mm) and was closed off by five-inch (127 mm) transverse bulkheads. The armour of the gun turrets was also five inches thick whilst that of their barbettes was six inches thick. The protective deck armour ranged in thickness from .75–2 inches (19–51 mm) and the conning tower was protected by twelve inches (305 mm) of armour.[1]

Construction and service[edit]

Argyll, named to commemorate the Scottish county,[8] was laid down at Scotts Shipbuilding & Engineering at their Greenock shipyard on 25 March 1902 and was launched on 3 March 1904. She was completed in December 1905[1] and was assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet in January 1906. She was transferred to the 5th Cruiser Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet in 1909. Two years later she was detached from the squadron to escort the Royal Yacht Medina during the King's trip to the Delhi Durbar in India in 1911–12. She ran aground in Plymouth Sound on 28 December 1912. The following year she was assigned to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron of the Second Fleet.[9]

The squadron was assigned to the Grand Fleet in mid-1914 as the Navy mobilised for war. It spent much of its time with the Grand Fleet reinforcing the patrols near the Shetland and Faeroe Islands and the Norwegian coast[10] where Argyll captured a German merchantman on 6 August.[9] She ran aground on the Bell Rock near Dundee on 28 October 1915[11] at coordinates 56°26′N 2°23.5′W / 56.433°N 2.3917°W / 56.433; -2.3917Coordinates: 56°26′N 2°23.5′W / 56.433°N 2.3917°W / 56.433; -2.3917[12] at night during a storm. During the war, lighthouses were ordered to switch their lights off for fear of assisting German U-boats in their operations, and the light was only turned on by special permission. En route Argyll sent a signal requesting the light to be turned on, but the lighthouse did not have a radio and could only contacted by boat or visual signals. Attempts to notify the lighthouse failed, but the ship was not notified of the failure and proceeded in the expectation of using the light. Soon afterwards, she ran aground at 04:30, suffering extensive damage to much of the hull and starting a fire. Two destroyers, Hornet and Jackal, were sent and rescued her entire crew without serious injury.[13]

The Navy salvaged all of the valuable items on board, including her guns, and she was demolished by the salvage team. In 1970 her two propellers were recovered by divers and sold for scrap. She remains a diveable wreck.[12]


  1. ^ "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. ^ a b c d Chesneau & Kolesnik, p. 71
  2. ^ Friedman 2012, p. 336
  3. ^ a b Friedman 2012, p. 256
  4. ^ Friedman 2011, pp. 75–76
  5. ^ Friedman 2012, pp. 256, 260–61
  6. ^ Friedman 2011, pp. 80–81
  7. ^ Friedman 2012, p. 280
  8. ^ Silverstone, p. 211
  9. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 13
  10. ^ Corbett, Vol. I, pp. 31, 77, 206
  11. ^ Corbett, Vol. 2, p. 261
  12. ^ a b "HMS Argyll: Bell Rock, North Sea". Canmore. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  13. ^ Daysh


External links[edit]