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HMS Audacious - the 13.5in guns

HMS Audacious - the 13.5in guns

HMS Audacious - the 13.5in guns

Picture showing the forward 13.5in guns of HMS Audacious, taken from the ship's bridge.


HMS Audacious (1785)

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/14/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

HMS Audacious was a three-masted sailing warship serving the English crown during the latter half of the 18th Century. Her keel was laid down in August of 1783 by builder Randall of Rotherhithe and the vessel launched to sea on July 23rd, 1785. She was an Arrogant-class "ship-of-the-line", her class numbering twelve similarly-designed and construction wooden vessels of the period led by HMS Arrogant herself. The class was based on the preceding Bellona-class appearing during the middle part of the century and itself numbering five ships. Well-armed but eventually deemed too small for their carried firepower, the Arrogant-class ships nonetheless played an important frontline role in British Naval actions heading into the next century.

Audacious displaced at 1,625 tons under load and featured a length of 168 feet with a beam of 46.8 feet and draught of 19.8 feet. Her sail plan was described as fully-rigged with her sole means of propulsion being her complex arrangement of sails across three main masts and several supporting structures about the ship. Her complete crew complement numbered about 550 and her range was only limited by onboard food stores and the condition of her hull and sailing equipment - the benefits of wind power during this period of naval warfare.

As a ship-of-the-line, she would be called to man a tactical position along the "line of battle", a tactic used consistently throughout the Age of Sail, calling for two approaching columns of opposing warships meeting and attempting to outmaneuver one another before displaying full broadsides. Additionally, Audacious carried the descriptor of "third rate" which loosely described the design as a two-gun-decked platform fielding between 64 and 80 total guns. The term was a rating system used to help better categorize these sailing fighting warships.

HMS Audacious managed a full stock of 74 guns amongst her various decks. Twenty-eight 32-pounder guns were featured on her primary gundeck and this was supplemented by twenty-eight 18-pounder guns along her upper gundeck. The quarterdeck was outfitted with fourteen 9-pounder guns while the forecastle featured an additional four 9-pounders. Collectively, Audacious could deliver considerable broadsides against an enemy ship or engage in offshore bombardment of enemy forces while in support of allied land units. Her class became well-known for their strong balance of firepower, speed, and maneuverability.

The British pressed their sailing ships hard during the peak of its empirical rule - its navy often times rated as one of the best in the world if not supplanted by the French or Spanish or some other power of the century. Audacious served well in the role of gunnery platform with her broad and large collection of guns and, as a result, she was expected to be featured during any major notable engagement due to her useful design attributes.

One of her most notable contributions was in support of British naval actions against the French during the Battle of the Nile from August 1st to August 3rd, 1798. The battle took place at Aboukir Bay, Egypt when still under rule by the Ottoman Empire and saw thirteen British ships-of-the-line aided by a single sloop against thirteen French ships-of-the-line and four supporting frigates. The action resulted in a decisive British naval victory as four of the French ships fell with nine being captured with the loss of as many as 5,000 and a over 3,000 taken prisoner. All this was against 218 British killed and 677 wounded in the fighting with no ships lost. The British contingent was led by none other than Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson and one of the surrendering French ships was Conquerant which was reconstituted by the Royal Navy as HMS Conqueror.

With a decorated ocean-going career behind her, HMS Audacious was finally held in reserve while being replaced by more capable fighting ships. She was broken up during August 1815, never to sail again under Royal Navy colors.


HMS Audacious

Several ships of the British Royal Navy have been named HMS Audacious.

    was a 74-gun third rate in service from 1785 to 1815. was a Audacious-classbattleship, launched in 1869, converted to a depot ship in 1902, later named Fisgard then Imperieuse, and sold for breakup in 1927. was a King George V-classdreadnought battleship, launched in 1912 and sunk by a naval mine in October 1914.
  • HMS Audacious was launched in 1897 as the cargo liner SS Montcalm and changed names multiple time, becoming HMS Audacious when she was a dummy warship between 1914–1916, and SS Polar Chief. [1]
  • HMS Audacious was an initial name of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle, of the Audacious class. The vessel was renamed HMS Eagle on 21 January 1946, two months before her launch on 19 March 1946. is an Astute-classsubmarine, launched on 28 April 2017 and commissioned on 3 April 2020.

A 14-gun sloop that HMS Magnanime captured from France in 1798, Audacieux, was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Audacieux. [2]


HMS Audacious: The Only Super-Dreadnought Sunk in WWI – By A German Naval Mine

The biggest, most advanced, most expensive, and most daunting war machinery of World War I was the super-dreadnought battleship. These great sea beasts were near unsinkable and, in fact, only one was sent to the bottom during the entire war. And it was practically sunk by mistake, at that.

This ship, the British HMS Audacious, was a King George V-class battleship, the peak of naval size, power, and capability and it barely made it off the shores of Britain. Imagine the Kaiser’s delight.

The naval power of Britain and Germany was a very contentious area during and leading up to WWI. Before air power was seen as crucial, ruling the waves was the key to controlling an empire out of Europe. Bismarck had actually warned the Kaiser not to build up the German Imperial Navy to such a great strength for fear that the British, by far the naval powerhouse of the age, would notice and act accordingly.

The HMS Audacious was laid down in 1911, launched in 1912, commissioned to the 2 nd battle squadron in 1913, and on October 27 th , 1914, was sent out for gunnery exercises in preparations to meet the Imperial German Navy in the great war.

Several years earlier, in 1906, the HMS Dreadnought was launched. This ship had massive guns, steam turbine propulsion, massive, heavy armor, and instantly became the terror of the seas. Battleships that were built before this became simply known as pre-dreadnought class. Some advancements, including 2,000 tons more displacement, even bigger guns, and the placement of these guns on the centerline of the ship, which came five years latter with the Orion Class ships, introduced the next level of behemoths known as super-dreadnoughts.

The HMS George V made some improvements to the Orion and it was in this fashion that the Audacious was built.

The Audacious had 23,400 long tons of displacement, 10 13.5” guns, 16 4” guns, 3 21” torpedo tubes, and Krupp armor up to 12” thick. This armor wasn’t always continuous, however, and much thinner in some places, which would be the ship’s downfall.

The Audacious carried a crew of 900. One improvement these King George V class battleships had over the Orion class was that the foremast was put ahead of the first smoke funnel, so visibility from the firing platform was vastly improved.

HMS Audacious

The total cost of the Audacious was £1,918,813, which would be over £200 million ($300 million) today.

Under the command of Captain Cecil F. Dampier, the Audacious left Lough Swilly in Scotland early in the morning for its gunnery exercises North of Ireland with six other super-dreadnoughts, including the King George V and the Orion. At 8:45, as the ship was turning, it struck a German mine.

A few days earlier, the German ship SS Berlin, a passenger liner recommissioned as a mine-laying vessel for the war, had laid a minefield right in the British shipping lane that runs between Ireland and Britain and through which crucial Atlantic travel and trade traversed.

The Berlin had been ordered to slip past the British sea blockade and lay mines in crucial areas the British were docking their ships on the West coast of Britain in the Firth of Clyde. Captain Pfundheller managed to guide the Berlin to the West coast, but couldn’t get close enough to his targets for fear of being discovered. He settled for mining the shipping lane and sailed off.

This, oddly enough and despite its success, was a failure which lost Captain Hans Pfundheller his command as he, due to lack of fuel, had to sail to the neutral port of Trondheim where he, his crew and his ship were interned for the rest of the war.

King George V Class Battleships in the background and Chantham Class light cruisers in the foreground in Kiel, 1914.

Two British merchant ships struck mines and sank, but the Admiralty didn’t hear the news in time before the Audacious and its battle squadron sailed through.

When the Audacious first felt the blast of the mine, Captain Dampier, fearing a German U-Boat assault, sent up the signal, and the rest of the Squadron steamed away.

Audacious attempted to limp its way the Ireland and beach there, but water continued to flood in and by 11:00, the central turbine was submerged. By 14:30, Captain Dampier had ordered all non-essential crew off the ship.

As fate would have it, the RMS Olympic, of the same White Star line as the Titanic, was sailing through and offered to tow the massive battleship. But the ship was too unmanageable and the tow line parted.

At 17:00, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet Sir John Jellicoe, heard news of the ships that had been sunk by the minefield the previous day and night and, though he had only ordered destroyers and tugs to assist the Audacious before, now was sending larger ships to assist.

All efforts were in vain, however, and at 19:15, with night falling, Captain Dampier, and the remaining crew abandoned ship.

At 20:45, the Audacious capsized. At 21:00, a massive explosion tore through the vessel and shook the seas. There were 474,800 lbs. of explosives on the ship. The blast sent shrapnel thousands of yards. On the light cruiser HMS Liverpool, 800 yards away, a petty officer was struck by an armor plate and killed, the only causality of the the whole incident.

Auxiliary cruiser “Berlin” of the Imperial German Navy, interned at Lofjord, in Trondheim, Norway.

British command quickly put full restrictions on any reporting of the Audacious’ sinking. Through the remainder of WWI, the British kept the ship on public lists of movements and activity. In 1918, the Secretary of the Admiralty released a “delayed announcement” of the sinking and even noted that the press “loyally refrained from giving it any publicity.”

Unfortunately, the Olympic had been carrying passengers from America. Many people took pictures and even motion film of the event who weren’t under British authority. By November 19 th of that year, German Admiral Reinhard Scheer had heard word of the Audacious, but after the war commended the British for not wanting to reveal weakness and hide from their enemy their true strength and abilities.


October 27, 1914: Governments Lie, and Lie (HMS Audacious Sunk)

On October 27, 1914, the virtually brand new British Super-Dreadnaught battleship, HMS Audacious, hit a mine off the North coast of Ireland and sunk without ever being used in combat. Of course, the British government did not tell the truth to the British people, a disturbing trend followed by governments all over the world throughout history.

Digging Deeper

Audacious was commissioned in August of 1913, a state of the art King George V class battleship, 598 feet long and displacing 23,400 metric (long) tons. Armed with a main battery of 10 X 13.5 inch guns in 5 twin turrets and a secondary battery of 16 X 4 inch guns to go with her 3 torpedo tubes, this 21 knot ship was a powerhouse of its day. The big guns fired a 1410 pound shell 22,000 meters.

Engaging in gunnery drills off Ireland at 0845 hrs on October 27, 1914, Audacious hit a mine near the engine rooms below the ship. Thinking the ship had been torpedoed, the submarine warning went up. The crew struggled to keep the ship afloat all day and into the night, but around 2100 the stricken ship rolled over and blew up, debris killing a man on another ship, the only casualty of the sinking! All 900 crew members survived, which has to be some sort of record for the sinking of such a large ship.

In spite of the numerous witnesses, including the crew of Audacious and the several naval vessels that assisted in trying to save the ship, as well as RMS Olympic (sister ship of the Titanic) which had also responded to assist, the British government kept the news of the sinking from the British people for the next 4 years, only announcing her loss after the war ended. This of course was ridiculous, as German intelligence determined the Audacious had been lost within a couple weeks of her sinking, and numerous Americans aboard the Olympic had witnessed the event. Photographs and even 1 moving picture film were made of the sinking.

Obviously, the British government did not trust the will of their own people to accept such a loss during wartime. You might expect totalitarian governments to lie and keep facts from their public, especially during wartime, but in a democracy this type of lying undermines the democratic process. This scenario is akin to the Nixon administration keeping the American people in the dark about operations in Cambodia and Laos during the Viet Nam War, although the enemy sure knew we were there!

Under the questionable cover of “state secrets” the public is kept from facts about many highly interesting and historically important events, even though it would seem an excessive amount of time has passed and the secret keeping seems no longer relevant. The US keeps information about the John F. Kennedy murder from the public, as well as information about the Martin Luther King, Jr. murder. The UK still keeps secrets from World War I and World War II (such as the Mata Hari case for crying out loud!).

Question for students (and subscribers): What are they hiding? Who are they protecting? Who’s reputation and legacy are they guarding? Don’t we deserve the truth? Tell us what you think about excessive government lying and secret keeping. Is it necessary, or just an excuse to cover things up? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

If you liked this article and would like to receive notification of new articles, please feel welcome to subscribe to History and Headlines by liking us on Facebook and becoming one of our patrons!

Your readership is much appreciated!

Historical Evidence

For more on this ship, please enjoy…

King, Andrew and Brown Sierra. “HMS Audacious.” Thalassocracy. Epiphany, 2008.


HMS Audacious: The Only Super-Dreadnought Sunk in WWI – By A German Naval Mine

The biggest, most advanced, most expensive, and most daunting war machinery of World War I was the super-dreadnought battleship. These great sea beasts were near unsinkable and, in fact, only one was sent to the bottom during the entire war. And it was practically sunk by mistake, at that.

This ship, the British HMS Audacious, was a King George V-class battleship, the peak of naval size, power, and capability and it barely made it off the shores of Britain. Imagine the Kaiser’s delight.

The naval power of Britain and Germany was a very contentious area during and leading up to WWI. Before air power was seen as crucial, ruling the waves was the key to controlling an empire out of Europe. Bismarck had actually warned the Kaiser not to build up the German Imperial Navy to such a great strength for fear that the British, by far the naval powerhouse of the age, would notice and act accordingly.

The HMS Audacious was laid down in 1911, launched in 1912, commissioned to the 2 nd battle squadron in 1913, and on October 27 th , 1914, was sent out for gunnery exercises in preparations to meet the Imperial German Navy in the great war.

Several years earlier, in 1906, the HMS Dreadnought was launched. This ship had massive guns, steam turbine propulsion, massive, heavy armor, and instantly became the terror of the seas. Battleships that were built before this became simply known as pre-dreadnought class. Some advancements, including 2,000 tons more displacement, even bigger guns, and the placement of these guns on the centerline of the ship, which came five years latter with the Orion Class ships, introduced the next level of behemoths known as super-dreadnoughts.

The HMS George V made some improvements to the Orion and it was in this fashion that the Audacious was built.

The Audacious had 23,400 long tons of displacement, 10 13.5” guns, 16 4” guns, 3 21” torpedo tubes, and Krupp armor up to 12” thick. This armor wasn’t always continuous, however, and much thinner in some places, which would be the ship’s downfall.

The Audacious carried a crew of 900. One improvement these King George V class battleships had over the Orion class was that the foremast was put ahead of the first smoke funnel, so visibility from the firing platform was vastly improved.

The total cost of the Audacious was £1,918,813, which would be over £200 million ($300 million) today.

Under the command of Captain Cecil F. Dampier, the Audacious left Lough Swilly in Scotland early in the morning for its gunnery exercises North of Ireland with six other super-dreadnoughts, including the King George V and the Orion. At 8:45, as the ship was turning, it struck a German mine.

A few days earlier, the German ship SS Berlin, a passenger liner recommissioned as a mine-laying vessel for the war, had laid a minefield right in the British shipping lane that runs between Ireland and Britain and through which crucial Atlantic travel and trade traversed.

The Berlin had been ordered to slip past the British sea blockade and lay mines in crucial areas the British were docking their ships on the West coast of Britain in the Firth of Clyde. Captain Pfundheller managed to guide the Berlin to the West coast, but couldn’t get close enough to his targets for fear of being discovered. He settled for mining the shipping lane and sailed off.

This, oddly enough and despite its success, was a failure which lost Captain Hans Pfundheller his command as he, due to lack of fuel, had to sail to the neutral port of Trondheim where he, his crew and his ship were interned for the rest of the war.

King George V Class Battleships in the background and Chantham Class light cruisers in the foreground in Kiel, 1914.

Two British merchant ships struck mines and sank, but the Admiralty didn’t hear the news in time before the Audacious and its battle squadron sailed through.

When the Audacious first felt the blast of the mine, Captain Dampier, fearing a German U-Boat assault, sent up the signal, and the rest of the Squadron steamed away.

Audacious attempted to limp its way the Ireland and beach there, but water continued to flood in and by 11:00, the central turbine was submerged. By 14:30, Captain Dampier had ordered all non-essential crew off the ship.

As fate would have it, the RMS Olympic, of the same White Star line as the Titanic, was sailing through and offered to tow the massive battleship. But the ship was too unmanageable and the tow line parted.

At 17:00, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet Sir John Jellicoe, heard news of the ships that had been sunk by the minefield the previous day and night and, though he had only ordered destroyers and tugs to assist the Audacious before, now was sending larger ships to assist.

All efforts were in vain, however, and at 19:15, with night falling, Captain Dampier, and the remaining crew abandoned ship.

At 20:45, the Audacious capsized. At 21:00, a massive explosion tore through the vessel and shook the seas. There were 474,800 lbs. of explosives on the ship. The blast sent shrapnel thousands of yards. On the light cruiser HMS Liverpool, 800 yards away, a petty officer was struck by an armor plate and killed, the only causality of the the whole incident.

Auxiliary cruiser “Berlin” of the Imperial German Navy, interned at Lofjord, in Trondheim, Norway.

British command quickly put full restrictions on any reporting of the Audacious’ sinking. Through the remainder of WWI, the British kept the ship on public lists of movements and activity. In 1918, the Secretary of the Admiralty released a “delayed announcement” of the sinking and even noted that the press “loyally refrained from giving it any publicity.”

Unfortunately, the Olympic had been carrying passengers from America. Many people took pictures and even motion film of the event who weren’t under British authority. By November 19 th of that year, German Admiral Reinhard Scheer had heard word of the Audacious, but after the war commended the British for not wanting to reveal weakness and hide from their enemy their true strength and abilities.


Loss of HMS Audacious


In August 1914 the German liner Berlin was taken in hand for conversion to an auxiliary mine-layer. Towards the end of September she set off from Wilhelmshaven on her first mission but turned back after spotting some British warships. On October 16 Berlin set off again on another mission, this time to lay mines in the Firth of Clyde.

Berlin made her way to the Irish Sea but a combination of extinguished coastal lights, used for navigation, and a large amount of British warship wireless traffic convinced Captain Pfundheller that he would be unable to reach his target area. Instead he decided to lay his mines in the nearest shipping lane, which was near Tory Island and Loch Swilly on the north coast of Ireland. Berlin laid her 200 mines in a V shape and then left the area, heading for Norway via Iceland, fuel and machinery problems forcing Berlin to seek internment in Trondheim, Norway, on 26 October.

Unknown to the German command the British Grand Fleet was using Loch Swilly as a base whilst the main base at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands was having its feeble defences against submarine attack improved. On 27 October 1914 Vice Admiral Warrender took the Second Battle Squadron, consisting of the "super-dreadnoughts" Centurion (flagship), Ajax, Audacious, King George V, Orion, Monarch and Thunderer, out of port on a gunnery exercise.

At approximately 08.45 as Audacious was turning a dull thud was heard on board, but at first it was not clear that it was an explosion. Once the ship stopped turning but did not right herself correctly the order to close watertight doors was given. The mine had struck on her port side just forward of the after engine room bulkhead. To counter the flooding some starboard side compartments were flooded but the ship still developed a 10-15 degree list. Captain Dampier set course for Loch Swilly at the best manageable speed on 9 knots but steering was hard.

The flooding was spreading, the central bulkhead which at first had contained the flooding was leaking and water was spreading into the ships central compartments and by 10.00 the central engine room was 5 foot deep in water and shortly after this the starboard engine room had to be abandoned leaving the dead in the water and eventually without any steam power for auxiliary machinery.

All but 250 essential crew were evacuated via the White Star liner SS Olympic, the light cruiser HMS Liverpool and destroyers and the decision to attempt to tow the crippled ship taken. At 14.00 SS Olympic made an attempt to tow but the Audacious was pulling to the west and the SS Olympic to the south resulting in the tow line parting. Attempts to tow were also made by HMS Liverpool and the collier Thornhill but on both occasions the attempt failed.

By 17.00 it was getting dark and soon after all but the last 50 crew were removed and at 18.15 the she was abandoned. For most of the day Audacious had not increased her list but was sinking by the stern but at 18.50 her list was seen to reach 30 degrees and at 20.45 she capsized. Quarter of an hour later there was a large explosion, thought to be either A or B magazine, followed by two secondary explosions and Audacious finally sank.

Although thankfully no lives had been lost the sinking of Audacious was a serious blow to the British Fleet. At the time several other British battleships were suffering from engine problems and several others were so new that they were not fully efficient yet. This meant that the British Fleet was much weaker in reality than on paper and the Grand Fleet Commander-in-Chief Admiral Jellicoe proposed that the loss was kept secret. This request was backed by the British Foreign Office who were keen to avoid the bad publicity for diplomatic reasons whilst trying to influence the then neutral Ottoman Empire and the request was agreed by the British cabinet. The loss of Audacious was not admitted until after the war and Audacious continued to appear in fleet lists. This censorship turned out to be a waste of time because on board SS Olympic had been many Americans who had witnessed and photographed much of the incident. When back in America and outside the reach of British censorship the loss was soon reported in the press. Soon everyone except the British acknowledged the loss and the continued British silence on the subject did the creditability of the British authorities damage.

At the time it was thought that Audacious had hit a floating mine disturbed by either Ajax or Centurion although a torpedo attack was not completely ruled out. The inquiry also found that the main reason for the loss was lack of strength in the longitudinal bulkheads which should have prevented flooding spreading. This resulting in the bulkhead buckling and making it impossible to close some of the watertight doors and valves that were necessary to stop the water spreading.


Warfare in News

The Royal Navy’s latest billion pound nuclear submarine finally edges out of its dry dock as it prepares to take to the water for the first time.

This brand new sub can hit targets a staggering 745 miles away with pin-point accuracy using the Tomahawk missile it carries. Pretty impressive right?

It is the first of two submarines built in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria and will be followed by a 1.4 billion pound sister sub. HMS AUDACIOUS is the fourth state of the art Astute submarine, built to serve with it's fellow attacking machines in the Royal Navy as the next generation of subs. Up until recently, the sub sat at one of Devonshire's largest dock's where hangers are still currently under development.

The submarines in this brand new series all have the ability to create their own oxygen and convert sea water into fresh drinking water for those on board. Built by BAE it has been labelled one of the ‘world’s most complex engineering challenges' and excitingly, it's now finally ready to take to the sea.


The following Submarine description was featured on The Sun :

The 318 ft long attack sub can circumnavigate the entire globe without surfacing. And unlike traditional submarines it is not fitted with periscopes. Images are instead delivered to the Control Room via fibre-optic cables.

The 7,400-tonne BAE Systems-built vessel is the fourth of seven Astute class submarines and is also armed with Spearfish torpedoes.

A spokesperson for manufacturers BAE Systems explained: “First she will go in the water for the first time, then she will take her first dive. The Royal Navy will take her on some trials and will decide where she will be moved to or stationed next.”


HMS Audacious: The Only Super-Dreadnought Sunk in WWI – By A German Naval Mine

The biggest, most advanced, most expensive, and most daunting war machinery of World War I was the super-dreadnought battleship. These great sea beasts were near unsinkable and, in fact, only one was sent to the bottom during the entire war. And it was practically sunk by mistake, at that.

This ship, the British HMS Audacious, was a King George V-class battleship, the peak of naval size, power, and capability and it barely made it off the shores of Britain. Imagine the Kaiser’s delight.

The naval power of Britain and Germany was a very contentious area during and leading up to WWI. Before air power was seen as crucial, ruling the waves was the key to controlling an empire out of Europe. Bismarck had actually warned the Kaiser not to build up the German Imperial Navy to such a great strength for fear that the British, by far the naval powerhouse of the age, would notice and act accordingly.

The HMS Audacious was laid down in 1911, launched in 1912, commissioned to the 2 nd battle squadron in 1913, and on October 27 th , 1914, was sent out for gunnery exercises in preparations to meet the Imperial German Navy in the great war.

Several years earlier, in 1906, the HMS Dreadnought was launched. This ship had massive guns, steam turbine propulsion, massive, heavy armor, and instantly became the terror of the seas. Battleships that were built before this became simply known as pre-dreadnought class. Some advancements, including 2,000 tons more displacement, even bigger guns, and the placement of these guns on the centerline of the ship, which came five years latter with the Orion Class ships, introduced the next level of behemoths known as super-dreadnoughts.

The HMS George V made some improvements to the Orion and it was in this fashion that the Audacious was built.

The Audacious had 23,400 long tons of displacement, 10 13.5” guns, 16 4” guns, 3 21” torpedo tubes, and Krupp armor up to 12” thick. This armor wasn’t always continuous, however, and much thinner in some places, which would be the ship’s downfall.

The Audacious carried a crew of 900. One improvement these King George V class battleships had over the Orion class was that the foremast was put ahead of the first smoke funnel, so visibility from the firing platform was vastly improved.

The total cost of the Audacious was £1,918,813, which would be over £200 million ($300 million) today.

Under the command of Captain Cecil F. Dampier, the Audacious left Lough Swilly in Scotland early in the morning for its gunnery exercises North of Ireland with six other super-dreadnoughts, including the King George V and the Orion. At 8:45, as the ship was turning, it struck a German mine.

A few days earlier, the German ship SS Berlin, a passenger liner recommissioned as a mine-laying vessel for the war, had laid a minefield right in the British shipping lane that runs between Ireland and Britain and through which crucial Atlantic travel and trade traversed.

The Berlin had been ordered to slip past the British sea blockade and lay mines in crucial areas the British were docking their ships on the West coast of Britain in the Firth of Clyde. Captain Pfundheller managed to guide the Berlin to the West coast, but couldn’t get close enough to his targets for fear of being discovered. He settled for mining the shipping lane and sailed off.

This, oddly enough and despite its success, was a failure which lost Captain Hans Pfundheller his command as he, due to lack of fuel, had to sail to the neutral port of Trondheim where he, his crew and his ship were interned for the rest of the war.

King George V Class Battleships in the background and Chantham Class light cruisers in the foreground in Kiel, 1914.

Two British merchant ships struck mines and sank, but the Admiralty didn’t hear the news in time before the Audacious and its battle squadron sailed through.

When the Audacious first felt the blast of the mine, Captain Dampier, fearing a German U-Boat assault, sent up the signal, and the rest of the Squadron steamed away.

Audacious attempted to limp its way the Ireland and beach there, but water continued to flood in and by 11:00, the central turbine was submerged. By 14:30, Captain Dampier had ordered all non-essential crew off the ship.

As fate would have it, the RMS Olympic, of the same White Star line as the Titanic, was sailing through and offered to tow the massive battleship. But the ship was too unmanageable and the tow line parted.

At 17:00, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet Sir John Jellicoe, heard news of the ships that had been sunk by the minefield the previous day and night and, though he had only ordered destroyers and tugs to assist the Audacious before, now was sending larger ships to assist.

All efforts were in vain, however, and at 19:15, with night falling, Captain Dampier, and the remaining crew abandoned ship.

At 20:45, the Audacious capsized. At 21:00, a massive explosion tore through the vessel and shook the seas. There were 474,800 lbs. of explosives on the ship. The blast sent shrapnel thousands of yards. On the light cruiser HMS Liverpool, 800 yards away, a petty officer was struck by an armor plate and killed, the only causality of the the whole incident.

Auxiliary cruiser “Berlin” of the Imperial German Navy, interned at Lofjord, in Trondheim, Norway.

British command quickly put full restrictions on any reporting of the Audacious’ sinking. Through the remainder of WWI, the British kept the ship on public lists of movements and activity. In 1918, the Secretary of the Admiralty released a “delayed announcement” of the sinking and even noted that the press “loyally refrained from giving it any publicity.”

Unfortunately, the Olympic had been carrying passengers from America. Many people took pictures and even motion film of the event who weren’t under British authority. By November 19 th of that year, German Admiral Reinhard Scheer had heard word of the Audacious, but after the war commended the British for not wanting to reveal weakness and hide from their enemy their true strength and abilities.


HMS Audacious - the 13.5in guns - History

Part of the King George V-class consisting of the King George V (ex-Royal George), Audacious, Centurion and Ajax, preceded by the Orion-class and succeeded by the Iron Duke-class. Laid down at Cammell Laird along the River Mersey, England in March 1911, launched on 14 September 1912, completed in August 1913 and sunk after striking a mine laid by the German auxiliary minelayer Berlin off Tory |Island, Ireland on 27 October 1914.

Displacement of 23.400 tons and as dimensions 182,3 x 27,1 x 8,5 metres or 598 x 89 x 28 feet. The 4 Parsons direct drive turbines and 18 Yarrow boilers supplied via 4 shafts 31.000 shp allowing a speed of 21 knots. Coal bunker 3.180 ton and oil-bunker capacity 800 tons allowing with a speed of 10 knots a range of 6.370 nautical miles. The oil was spread over the coil to obtain an improved burning. The armour consisted of a 20,3-30,5cm/8-12” thick belt, 2,5-10,2cm/1-4” thick decks, 10,2-25,4cm/4-10” thick bulkheads with the barbettes and turrets protected by respectively 7,6-25,4cm/3-10”and 27,9cm/11” (faces). The armament consisted of 5x2-34,3cm/13.5” breech loading Mk V guns, 16x1-10,2cm/4” breech loading Mk VII guns, 4-4,7cm/3pd guns, 5 machineguns and 3-53,3cm/21” submerged torpedo tubes. Crew numbered 900 men.