SHIP CLASS: Hapsburg-class
SHIPS-IN-CLASS (3): SMS Habsburg; SMS Arpad; SMS Babenberg
PROPULSION: 16 x Belleville boilers with 2 x 4-cylinder vertical triple expansion steam engines driving 2 x shafts.
Detailing the development and operational history of the SMS Arpad Predreadnought Battleship.
Entry last updated on 12/10/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The Hapsburg-class (also "Habsburg") pre-dreanought battleships of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were the first deep water warships constructed by the fledgling monarchy since the middle of the 1870s. This class was a group three ocean-going warships - led by SMS Habsburg herself and joined by sisters SMS Arpad and SMS Babenberg. The three were relatively effective battleships on paper, at least for their time, but were soon undone by the arrival of HMS Dreadnought in 1905 - which rendered all previous "mixed-gun" battleships obsolete.
SMS Arpad was built by STT and named after the Grand Prince of the Hungarians (the 10th Century Chief of the Magyars, a Hungarian national hero). Her keel was laid down on June 10th, 1899 and she was launched to sea on September 11th, 1901. The vessel was formally commissioned for service on June 15th, 1903.
Her basic design offered her the capability to operate in the important Adriatic Sea. The warship's armor protection was deemed a positive but it was in her limited and mixed armament (mainly her primary guns) that the vessel was to suffer in the upcoming war. Of note is that the class was one of the first anywhere in the world to make use of an electrically-driven main armament.
As built, the warship displaced 8,365 tons (short) and showcased a length of 375.9 feet, a beam of 65 feet and a draught of 24.5 feet. Her installed power was 16 x Belleville boilers feeding several vertical triple-expansion steam engines driving up to 14,307 horsepower to 2 x Shafts. In ideal conditions, the vessel could make headway at 19.5 knots.
Her profile involved a pair of smoke funnels seated inline near midships. These were book-ended by the twin mast arrangement. A primary gun turret was held over the forecastle and another facing out over the stern. Several smaller caliber guns were fitted in casements along her sides. The superstructure was typical of the time and ran from just aft of the forward turret to just ahead of the aft turret. Internally there was a crew of about 638 men. Armor protection reached up to 8.7" at the waterline, 1.6" along the deck, 11" at the turrets and casemates and up to 5.9" at the conning tower.
Armament was led by 3 x 240mm (24cm) /40 caliber Krupp C97 series guns, these fitted as two to the forward turret and one to the aft turret. Then there were 12 x 150mm /40 caliber Krupp C96 guns in limited-firing arc positions along the design followed by 10 x 66mm /45 caliber Skoda-made guns. Also installed were 6 x 47mm /44 caliber Skoda quick-firing guns, 2 x 47mm /33 caliber Skoda quick-firing guns and 2 x 450mm (17.7") torpedo tubes.
Arpad began her service with the Austro-Hungarian Navy in 1903. She participated in fleet exercises for the first few years of her operation and completed several voyages in Mediterranean waters into 1904. During her refit of 1910-1911, her superstructure was reworked as a weight-savings measure and it was in this form that the vessel was put to sea in time for World War 1 (1914-1918).
Arpad operated with IV Division when war broke out between the empires. When Italy allied against the Central Powers, the Austro-Hungarian Navy used Arpad and others to shell Italian ports. This was proven by her actions at Ancona in May 1915. As dwindling natural resources crippled the Austro-Hungarian war effort, Arpad was berthed in harbor and not allowed to travel out to meet the enemy - instead she was to serve as a floating, defensive-minded battery but her career ended in November of 1918 with the Armistice.
Arpad and her class were given to Britain as war prizes in the immediate post-war period to which the country then sold off the hulks to Italy who proceeded to scrap the trio in 1920-1921. By this time, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no more, replaced by a collection of smaller countries heading into the 1920s.