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HMS Canopus (1899)

Predreadnought Battleship

United Kingdom | 1899

"HMS Canopus led the six-strong Canopus-class of pre-Dreadnought battleships heading into World War 1."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one sea-going vessel design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for HMS Canopus (1899).
Water tube boilers feeding 2 x Vertical triple expansion steam engines developing 15,400 horsepower driving 2 x shafts astern.
18.0 kts
20.7 mph
Surface Speed
8,003 nm
9,210 miles | 14,822 km
The bow-to-stern, port-to-starboard physical qualities of HMS Canopus (1899).
431.0 ft
131.37 meters
O/A Length
74.0 ft
22.56 meters
26.0 ft
7.92 meters
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of HMS Canopus (1899).
4 x 12" BL (305mm) /35 Mk VIII main guns in two twin-gunned primary turrets (one fore, one aft).
12 x 6" (152mm) QF /40 secondary guns in single-gunned mountings.
10 x 12-pounder (76mm) Quick-Firing tertiary guns in single-gunned mountings.
6 x 3-pounder guns in single-gunned emplacements.
4 x 18" (450mm) torpedo tubes.
Ships-in-Class (6)
Notable series variants as part of the HMS Canopus (1899) family line as relating to the Canopus-class group.
HMS Canopus; HMS Albion; HMS Glory; HMS Goliath; HMS Ocean; HMS Vengeance

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/10/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

To counter the growing naval threat from both the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan to its interests in the Pacific, the British Royal Navy took to establishing an all-new class of fighting ships specifically for this theater of operations. This became the Canopus-class which numbered six-strong and designed for the rigors of far-off operations from home. The class was led by HMS Canopus and the lead-ship was eventually joined by sisters Glory, Albion, Ocean, Goliath, and Vengeance. Ocean and Goliath was both lost in action during the fighting of World War 1 in March and May, respectively of 1915.

The class were classified as pre-dreadnought warships upon the arrival of HMS Dreadnought in 1906. Pre-dreadnoughts succeeded ironclads but, themselves, were succeeded by dreadnought types thereafter due to lacking the latter's key qualities - a uniform main battery of guns and a steam-based turbine propulsion scheme. The Canopus-class became one of the final classes of pre-dreadnought warships to be completed anywhere in the world.

HMS Canopus was ordered in 1896 and its namesake originated from the Egyptian coastal town. Her keel was laid down on January 4th, 1897 by Portsmouth Dockyard and she was launched to sea on October 12th of that year. On December 5th, 1899 she was completed and formally commissioned into service with the Royal Navy.

The battleship displaced 14,500 tons short and held a running length of 431 feet, a beam measuring 74 feet, and a draught down to 26 feet. Power was from 2 x Vertical triple expansion steam engines fed by water tube boiler units developing 15,400 horsepower to drive 2 x Shafts astern. The vessel made headway at 18 knots. The Canopus-class were the first British battleship-type warships to rely on caol-fed water tube boilers - the main benefits being enhanced economy and power output when compared to contemporary options.

Aboard was a complement of some 750 personnel. The warship used a two-masted arrangement with the twin smoke funnels featured at midships. Armor protection reached 6" at the belt with 12" at each barbette and 6" at the casemates. The decks were protected in up to 2" of armor and the conning tower sat behind a stout 12" protection level.

The primary battery involved 4 x 12" (305mm) BL /35 caliber Mk VIII guns in two twin-gunned turrets backed by 12 x 6" (152mm) /40 caliber QF guns in single-gunned emplacements. Beyond this were 10 x 12-pounder (76mm) quick-firing guns and 6 x 3-pounder guns. Rounding out the armament suite were 4 x 18" (460mm) torpedo launchers. The main guns were held in two turrets, one situated fore and the other aft, with the smaller-caliber guns positioned about the hull superstructure.

HMS Canopus saw her major action during World War 1 (1914-1918) when she began service at the Falkland Islands. Her primary mission was to thwart German commerce raiders operating in the region. She took on a search for Vice Admiral Maximilian von Spee's cruiser squadron during actions in December 1914 and, while berthed at Port Stanley, she fired the first shots of the Battle of the Falklands (December 8th, 1914) against the foe. The battle ended as a critical British victory for von Spee's German East Asia Squadron was utterly destroyed with little loss to the Royal Navy.

In the early part of 1915, she was relocated to the Mediterranean Theater where she took part in the Dardanelles Campaign alongside French and Russian forces against a combined Ottoman, German, and Austrian-Hungarian element. The Ottoman victory in the campaign kept the attackers at bay - the Gallipoli Campaign forcing an Allied withdrawal by January of 1916. From then on, her days grew quieter as the warship was kept on station in the Mediterranean for the time being. In April of 1916, she was withdrawn and reworked as a barracks ship before the end of the war - which arrived with the Armistice of November 1918. Through it all, HMS Canopus sustained no wartime damage - her only such incident was a pre-war event in August 1904 when she was run into by the battleship Barfleur in Mounts Bay during maneuvers.

With her services no longer required in the post-World War 1 period, HMS Canopus was stripped of her usefulness and ultimately sold for scrapping on February 18th, 1920.

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Global operator(s) of the HMS Canopus (1899). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national naval warfare listing.

Shipbuilder(s): Portsmouth Dockyard - UK
National flag of the United Kingdom

[ United Kingdom ]
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Image of the HMS Canopus (1899)
Image from the Public Domain; drawing by Fred T. Jane.

Going Further...
HMS Canopus (1899) Predreadnought Battleship appears in the following collections:
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