HMS Nelson

HMS Nelson was a battleship of the Royal Navy active in World War II.

Built under the constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty (1922) the design was limited to 35,000 tons and showed certain compromises. In order to accommodate 16-inch main guns in three turrets all the turrets were placed forward and the vessel's speed was reduced and maximum armour was limited to vital areas, as a consequence the crew were forbidden from firing all the main guns simultaneously as this would buckle the deck.

Nelson was laid down in December 1922 and built at Newcastle by Armstrong. Launched in September 1925, she was commissioned in August 1927 and joined by her sister ship HMS Rodney (built by Cammell Laird) in November. Nelson was unmodified during the 1930s and attached to the Home Fleet when war broke out.

Nelson was first deployed in the North Sea in October against a German formation of cruisers and destroyers, all of which easily evaded her. In November she was unsuccessfully attacked by U-56 near the Orkney Islands and was again shown up for pace in the futile pursuit of German battlecruisers. In December 1939 she struck a mine off the Scottish coast and was laid up for repairs until June 1940. Upon return to service she was deployed in the English Channel. From April 1941 she was on convoy escort, missing out on the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck.

In June 1941 Nelson was assigned to Force H, operating in the Mediterranean as an escort, on September 27, 1941, she was extensively damged by an Regia Aeronautica torpedo strike and was under repair until May 1942. She returned to Force H in August 1942, supporting Operation Torch around Algeria in November and the invasion of Sicily in July 1943 by coastal bombardment.

Nelson returned to England in late 1943 for a refit and a massive increase to her anti-aircraft defenses. Returning to action she supported the Normandy landings but hit two mines on June 18, 1944, and was sent to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for repairs. She returned in January 1945 and was deployed to the Indian Ocean and was used around Malaya.

Nelson returned home in November 1945, was reduced to a training vessel in July 1946 and decommissioned in February 1948. She was scrapped from March 1949 at Inverkeithing.

General Characteristics

  • Displacement: 33,900 tons net, 36,650 tons fully loaded
  • Length: 710 feet
  • Beam: 106 feet
  • Height: 28.7 feet
  • Speed: 23 knots from 45,000 SHP
  • Armament: nine 16-inch; 12 six-inch; 32 two-pounder antiaircraft (four VIII); four quad 40-mm Bofors AA ; 70 20-mm AA
  • Armour: maximum 14", deck 3.75" - 6.25", turrets 9" - 16"
  • Crew: 1361

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