HMS Africa

At least two Royal Navy ships have born the name HMS Africa.

  • A ship of the line. (see below)
  • A King Edward VII class battleship commissioned in 1905. (see below)

HMS Africa, 64 was a 3rd rate ship of the line.

She was present at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 under the command of Captain Henry Digby.

She was part of the British squadron commanded by Sir Philip Broke at the celebrated battle between HMS Guerriere and USS Constitution which took place on August 12,1812.

A later HMS Africa was a pre-Dreadnought battleship; the last battleship constructed at Chatham Dockyard, England - subsequent classes being too large for the yard. She was the penultimate King Edward VII Class Battleship, being commissioned in 1905.

Africa initially joined the Atlantic Fleet, subsequently becoming the flagship of Vice Admiral Sir William Henry May, commander of the 3rd and 4th divisions of the Home Fleet in August 1911. Ships in these divisions had a small permanent core crew, being brought up to full complement with reservists in time of war. However, in May 1912 she was brought back to full crew with the 3rd Battle Squadron, which was made up of the eight King Edward VII class battleships. Although very manoeuverable, these were known as the "Wobbly Eight" on account of their difficulty in steering a straight course.

Lieutenant Charles Samson made the first British shipboard aircraft takeoff from Africa on January 10, 1912 in a Shorts Aircraft pusher seaplane from a platform constructed on the foredeck whilst the ship was at anchor in the River Medway, England.

The 3rd battle squadron became part of the Grand Fleet on the outbreak of the First World War, and Africa was was present at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, but she played little part as by then the faster and better-armed post-Dreadnought battleships made ships such as Africa a liability to the fleet. In 1917, she went into refit and had the 6 inch guns on the main deck replaced with four 6 inch guns a deck higher because the original guns were awash in even slightly rough weather.

After the First World War, she was briefly the depot ship of the 9th Cruiser Squadron. She was sold for scrap on June 30, 1920, having served through the First World War without ever firing her guns at an enemy ship.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: normal 16,350 tons, full draft 17,500 tons
  • Length: 453 feet 6 inches (138 m)
  • Beam: 78 feet (23.7 m)
  • Draft: 26 feet 9 inches (8.2 m)
  • Speed: 18 knots max, 16 knots crusing
  • Complement: 777
  • Armour: 9 inch belt amidships, 12 inch barbettes, 9 inch main turrets, 7 inch secondary turrets. 2 inch armoured deck
  • Armament: four 12 inch guns (2 main turrets), four 9.2 inch guns (4 secondary turrets), ten 6-inch guns, five 18 inch torpedo tubes (4 broadside, one stern), 14 12 pounder guns, fourteen 3 pounder guns, two maxim machine guns
  • Engines: 4 cylinder triple expansion, 2 screws

The name was also slated for two aircraft carriers cancelled with the end of the Second World War, firstly one of the Audacious class. When that ship was cancelled, the name was allocated to a member of the cancelled Malta class.

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