HMS Dominion (1903)

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HMS Dominion.jpg
HMS Dominion
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Dominion
Namesake: The Dominion of Canada
Ordered: 1903 Estimates
Builder: Vickers, Barrow
Cost: £1,453,718[1]
Laid down: 23 May 1902
Launched: 25 August 1903
Completed: July 1905
Commissioned: 15 August 1905
Decommissioned: 2 May 1918
Nickname(s): The King Edward VII-class battleships were known as "The Wobbly Eight"
Fate: Sold for scrapping 9 May 1921
General characteristics
Class and type: King Edward VII-class pre-dreadnought battleship
  • 16,350 tons standard
  • 17,000 tons full (as built)
Length: 453 ft 8 in (138.28 m)
Beam: 78 ft (24 m)
Draught: 25 ft 6 in (7.77 m)
Installed power: 18,000 ihp
Propulsion: 16 coal-fired (with oil sprayers) Babcock & Wilcox water-tube boilers, two 4-cylinder vertical compound expansion steam engines, two screws
Speed: 18.5 knots (34 km/h)
Range: 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 km) at 18.5 knots (34 km/h); 5,270 nautical miles (9,760 km) at 10 knots (18.5 km/h)
Complement: 777
  • Belt amidships: 9 inches tapering to 8 inches (203 mm)
  • Bulkheads: 12 inches (305 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm)
  • Barbettes: 12 inches (356 mm)
  • Main turrets (gunhouses): 12 inches (356 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm)
  • 9.2 inch (234 mm) turrets: 9 inches (229 mm) to 5 inches (127 mm)
  • 6 inch (152 mm) battery: 7 inches (178 mm)
  • Conning tower: 12 inches (305 mm)
  • Armoured deck: 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) to 1 inch (25.4 mm)
Notes: 2,164–2,238 tons coal maximum, 380 tons oil

HMS Dominion was a King Edward VII-class battleship of the Royal Navy. Like all ships of the class (apart from the lead ship of the class, HMS King Edward VII) she was named after an important part of the British Empire, namely the Dominion of Canada. She has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Dominion. Commissioned in 1905, she entered service with the Atlantic Fleet but ran aground in August 1906 in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Repairs took nearly a year, and upon completion, she was assigned to the Home Fleet. Following a reorganisation of the fleet in 1912, she, along with her King Edward VII class sister ships formed the 3rd Battle Squadron, which served in the Mediterranean.

When World War I broke out, the 3rd Battle Squadron was assigned to the Grand Fleet, with Dominion conducting operations as part of the Northern Patrol. In 1916, the squadron was detached to the Nore Command, and was subsequently dissolved in March 1918. She was a parent ship for the raids on Zeebrugge and Ostend, and, decommissioned in May, ended the war as an accommodation ship. She was disposed of in 1919 and eventually scrapped in 1924.

Technical characteristics

HMS Dominion was ordered under the 1902 Naval Estimates. She was laid down at Vickers' yards at Barrow-in-Furness on 23 May 1902, her first keel plate placed by Lord Walter Kerr, First Sea Lord.[3] She was launched on 25 August 1903, began trials in May 1905 and was completed in July 1905.[4]

Although Dominion and her seven sister ships of the King Edward VII class were a direct descendant of the Majestic class,[5] they were also the first class to make a significant departure from the Majestic design, displacing about 1,000 tons more and mounting for the first time an intermediate battery of four 9.2-inch (234-mm) guns in addition to the standard outfit of 6-inch (152-mm) guns. The 9.2-inch was a quick-firing gun like the 6-inch, and its heavier shell made it a formidable weapon by the standards of the day when Dominion and her sisters were designed; it was adopted out of concerns that British battleships were undergunned for their displacement and were becoming outgunned by foreign battleships that had begun to mount 8-inch (203-mm) intermediate batteries. The four 9.2-inch were mounted in single turrets abreast the foremast and mainmast, and Dominion thus could bring two of them to bear on either broadside. Even then, Dominion and her sisters were criticised for not having, a uniform secondary battery of 9.2-inch guns, something considered but rejected because of the length of time it would have taken to design the ships with such a radical revision of the secondary armament layout. In the end, it proved impossible to distinguish 12-inch and 9.2-inch shell splashes from one another, making fire control impractical for ships mounting both calibres, although Dominion had fire-control platforms on her fore- and mainmasts rather than the fighting tops of earlier classes.[6]

Like all British battleships since the Majestic class, the King Edward VII-class ships had four 12-inch (305-mm) guns in two twin turrets (one forward and one aft); the first five King Edwards, including Dominion, mounted the Mark IX 12-inch. Mounting of the 6-inch guns in casemates was abandoned in Dominion and her sister ships, the 6-inch instead being placed in a central battery amidships protected by 7-inch (178-mm) armoured walls. Otherwise, Dominion's armour was much as in the London class battleships, although there were various differences in detail from the Londons.[6]

Dominion and her sisters were the first British battleships with balanced rudders since the 1870s and were very maneuverable, with a tactical diameter of 340 yards (311 m) at 15 knots (27.75 km/h). However, they were difficult to keep on a straight course, and this characteristic led to them being nicknamed "the Wobbly Eight" during their 1914–1916 service in the Grand Fleet. They had a slightly faster roll than previous British battleship classes, but were good gun platforms, although very wet in bad weather.[6]

Primarily powered by coal, Dominion had oil sprayers installed during her construction, as did all of her sisters except HMS New Zealand, the first time this had been done in British battleships. These allowed steam pressure to be rapidly increased, improving Dominion's acceleration. The eight ships between them were given four different boiler installations for comparative purposes; Dominion's outfit of 16 Babcock & Wilcox boilers allowed her to exceed her designed speed on trials,[6] during which she exceeded 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h).[7]

Dominion was a powerful ship when she was designed, and completely fulfilled the goals set for her at that time. However, she was unlucky in that the years of her design and construction were ones of revolutionary advancement in naval guns, fire control, armor, and propulsion. She joined the fleet in mid-1905, but quickly was made obsolete by the commissioning of the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought at the end of 1906 and the large numbers of the new dreadnought battleships that commissioned in succeeding years.[5] By 1914, Dominion and her King Edward VII-class sisters were, like all predreadnoughts, so outclassed that they spent much of their 1914–1916 Grand Fleet service steaming at the heads of divisions of the far more valuable dreadnoughts, protecting the dreadnoughts from naval mines by being the first battleships to either sight or strike them.[8]

Operational history

Early career

HMS Dominion commissioned on 15 August 1905 at Portsmouth Dockyard for service in the Atlantic Fleet. She ran aground in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on 16 August 1906, suffering severe damage to her hull plating and some flooding. She arrived at Bermuda in September 1906; when these were completed in January 1907, she moved to Chatham Dockyard for completion of her repairs beginning in February 1907. While out of service at Chatham, she transferred to the Channel Fleet in March 1907.[9]

Her repairs were completed in May–June 1907, and she recommissioned for her Channel Fleet service. Under a fleet reorganization on 24 March 1909, the Channel Fleet became the 2nd Division, Home Fleet, and Dominion became a Home Fleet unit in that division.[9]

Under a fleet reorganization in May 1912, Dominion and all seven of her sisters of the King Edward VII class (Africa, Britannia, Commonwealth, Hibernia, Hindustan, King Edward VII, and Zealandia) were assigned to form the 3rd Battle Squadron, assigned to the First Fleet, Home Fleet, although Dominion was initially attached to the 2nd Battle Squadron and did not join the 3rd Battle Squadron until June 1912. The squadron was detached to the Mediterranean in November 1912 because of the First Balkan War (October 1912 – May 1913); it arrived at Malta on 27 November 1912 and subsequently participated in a blockade by an international force of Montenegro and in an occupation of Scutari. The squadron returned to the United Kingdom in 1913 and rejoined the Home Fleet on 27 June 1913[9]

World War I

Upon the outbreak of World War I, the 3rd Battle Squadron was assigned to the Grand Fleet and based at Rosyth. It was used to supplement the Grand Fleet's cruisers on the Northern Patrol. On 2 November 1914, the squadron was detached to reinforce the Channel Fleet and was rebased at Portland. It returned to the Grand Fleet on 13 November 1914.[9]

Dominion served in the Grand Fleet until April 1916,[9] serving temporarily as flagship, Vice Admiral, 3rd Battle Squadron, in August–September 1915.[10] During sweeps by the fleet, she and her sister ships often steamed at the heads of divisions of the far more valuable dreadnoughts, where they could protect the dreadnoughts by watching for mines or by being the first to strike them.[8]

On 29 April 1916, the 3rd Battle Squadron was rebased at Sheerness, and on 3 May 1916 it was separated from the Grand Fleet, being transferred to the Nore Command. Dominion remained there with the squadron until March 1918, being attacked unsuccessfully by a German submarine in May 1916 and undergoing a refit at Portsmouth Dockyard in June 1917.[9]

The units of the 3rd Battle Squadron had begun to disperse gradually in 1916, and by 1 March 1918, Dominion and battleship Dreadnought were the only ships left in the squadron. The squadron was finally dissolved in March 1918, and Dominion paid off to serve as a parent ship for the Zeebrugge Raid and the first Ostend Raid. She served in this capacity, stationed in the Swin, until May 1918.[11]

On 2 May 1918, Dominion paid off into the Nore Reserve. She was employed as an accommodation ship.[11]


On 29 May 1919, Dominion was placed on the disposal list at Chatham Dockyard. She was sold for scrapping on 9 May 1921 to Thos W Ward. On 30 September 1923 she was towed to Belfast to be stripped, and she arrived at Preston for scrapping on 28 October 1924.[11]


  1. ^ Burt, p. 233
  2. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, p. 38, says there were only four of these torpedo tubes
  3. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36776). London. 24 May 1902. p. 8.
  4. ^ Burt, pp. 232, 255
  5. ^ a b "HMS King Edward VII was lost to a German naval mine on January 6th, 1916"
  6. ^ a b c d Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1860–1905, p. 38
  7. ^ Burt, p. 241
  8. ^ a b Burt, p. 235
  9. ^ a b c d e f Burt, p. 255
  10. ^ Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921, p. 9
  11. ^ a b c Burt, p. 256


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