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HMS Renown

HMS Renown HMS Courageous HMS Furious 1934

HMS Renown (R) with HMS Courageous (C) and HMS Furious (L) in 1934.

 

Eight ships of the Royal Navy have borne the name HMS Renown, whilst three others have borne the name at various stages in their construction.

The first recorded HMS Renown was a 20-gun fireship, previously the French ship Renommée. She was captured in 1651 by HMS Nonsuch and sold in 1654. The second was a 30-gun fifth rate, previously a French warship also coincidentally named Renommée. She was captured in 1747 by HMS Dover and broken up in 1771. The third Renown was a 50-gun fourth rate launched in 1774 and broken up in 1794. The fourth was a 74-gun third rate launched in 1798. She had been built under the name HMS Royal Oak, but was renamed in 1796. She was on harbour service from 1814 and was broken up in 1835. The fifth was a 91-gun second rate launched in 1857 and sold to Prussia in 1870.

The sixth Renown was to have been a Victoria-class battleship, but she was renamed HMS Victoria in 1887 and launched later that year. The seventh was to have been a Royal Sovereign-class battleship but she was renamed HMS Empress of India in 1890 and launched in 1891. The eigth was a Centurion-class battleship launched in 1895 and sold for scrap in 1914. The ninth Renown was to have been a Revenge-class battleship but she was renamed HMS Revenge in 1913 and launched in 1915. The tenth  was a Renown-class battlecruiser launched in 1916 and sold in 1948. The most recent vessel to carry the name HMS Renown was a Resolution-class nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine launched in 1967. She was paid off in 1996 and is currently awaiting disposal. This vessel was designated an SSBN, which means Submarine System (vessel type), Ballistic (armourment), Nuclear (power source).

Perhaps the most famous of these ships was the 1916 HMS Renown battlecruiser. She was the lead ship of her class of battlecruisers of the Royal Navy built during the First World War. She was originally laid down as an improved version of the Revenge-class battleships. Her construction was suspended on the outbreak of war on the grounds she would not be ready in a timely manner. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval to restart her construction as a battlecruiser that could be built and enter service quickly. The Director of Naval Construction, Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, quickly produced an entirely new design to meet Admiral Lord Fisher's requirements and the builders agreed to deliver the ships in 15 months. They did not quite meet that ambitious goal, but the ship was delivered a few months after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Renown, and her sister HMS Repulse, were the world's fastest capital ships upon completion.
 

Renown had an overall length of 794 feet, a beam of 90 feet, and a maximum draught of 30 feet. She displaced 27,320 long tons at normal load and 32,220 long tons at deep load. Her Brown-Curtis direct-drive steam turbines were designed to produce 112,000 shaft horsepower (84,000 kW), which would propel the ship at 32 knots. However, during trials in 1916, Renown's turbines provided 126,000 shp (94,000 kW), allowing her to reach a speed of 32.58 knots (37.49 mph). The ship normally carried 1,000 long tons of fuel oil, with a maximum capacity of 4,289 long tons. At full capacity, she could steam at a speed of 18 knots for 4,000 nautical miles.

The ship mounted six 42-calibre BL 15-inch Mk I guns in three twin hydraulically powered turrets, designated 'A', 'B', and 'Y' from bow to stern. Her secondary armament consisted of 17 BL 4-inch Mark IX guns, fitted in five triple and two single mounts. She mounted a pair of QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft guns mounted on the shelter deck abreast the rear funnel. She mounted two submerged tubes for 21-inch torpedoes, one on each side forward of 'A' barbette.

Renown's waterline belt of Krupp cemented armour measured six inches thick amidships. Her gun turrets were 7–9 inches thick with roofs 4.25 inches thick. As designed the high-tensile-steel decks ranged from 0.75 to 1.5 inches in thickness. After the Battle of Jutland in 1916, while the ship was still completing, an extra inch of high-tensile steel was added on the main deck over the magazines. Renown was fitted with a shallow anti-torpedo bulge integral to the hull which was intended to explode the torpedo before it hit the hull proper and vent the underwater explosion to the surface rather than into the ship. Despite these additions, the ship was still felt to be too vulnerable to plunging fire and Renown was refitted in Rosyth between 1 February and mid-April 1917 with additional horizontal armour, weighing approximately 504 long tons, added to the decks over the magazines and over the steering gear. Flying-off platforms were fitted on 'B' and 'X' turrets in early 1918. One fighter and a reconnaissance aircraft were carried.
 

Renown did not see combat during the war and was reconstructed twice between the wars; the 1920s reconstruction increased her armour protection and made other more minor improvements, while the 1930s reconstruction was much more thorough. The ship frequently conveyed royalty on their foreign tours and served as flagship of the Battlecruiser Squadron when HMS Hood was refitting.

HMS Renown bringing HRH Prince of Wales to Melbourne in May 1920
HMS Renown bringing HRH Prince of Wales to Melbourne in May 1920.

Renown's second major reconstruction began in September 1936, based on that of the battleship HMS Warspite. Her superstructure and funnels were razed to the level of the upper deck, her masts taken out and the ship's main and secondary armament was removed. The engines and boilers were replaced by Parsons geared turbines and eight Admiralty three-drum boilers operating at 400 psi. This saved some 2,800 tons of weight and allowed the two forward boiler rooms to be converted to 4.5-inch magazines and other uses. Renown's deck protection was somewhat upgraded by adding non-cemented armour where it had not been added earlier and protecting the new 4.5-inch magazines. As in Repulse hangars were built abreast her rear funnel and a catapult was fitted between the rear funnel and the aft superstructure.

The ship's 15-inch gun turrets were modified to the Mark I standard with their elevation increased to 30°. Twenty dual-purpose QF 4.5-inch Mark III guns in twin BD Mark II mountings replaced all of the four inch guns. Six of the gun turrets, three on each side, were abreast the forward funnel while the remaining four were mounted on abreast the main mast. The BD Mark II mounts had elevation limits of −5° to +80°. The Mark III gun fired a 55-pound high explosive shell and it's rate of fire was 12 rounds per minute. They had a maximum effective ceiling of 41,000 ft. The guns were controlled by four dual-purpose Mark IV fire-directors, two mounted on the rear of the bridge structure and the remaining two on the aft superstructure. Each gun was provided with 400 rounds of ammunition. Three octuple Mark VI 2-pounder mounts were fitted, two on a platform between the funnels and the third at the rear of the aft superstructure. Each was provided with a Mark III director. Four quadruple Vickers .50-calibre Mark III mounts were also added, two each on the forward and rear superstructures. The submerged torpedo tubes were removed and eight above-water torpedo tubes added. This reconstruction, at £3,088,008, was more than three times as expensive as her earlier reconstruction.

Renown was recommissioned on 28 August 1939 as part of the Home Fleet. Much like her sister Repulse, she spent September patrolling in the North Sea, but was transferred to Force K in the South Atlantic in October to help search for the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. The ship joined Force H at the Cape of Good Hope in November to prevent Admiral Graf Spee from breaking into the South Atlantic. She was unsuccessful in this, but sank the blockade runner SS Watussi on 2nd December. She remained in the South Atlantic even after Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled on  December 13th and did not return to the Home Fleet until March 1940. The ship became flagship of the Battlecruiser Squadron when Hood was paid off to refit that month. Renown supported British forces during the Norwegian Campaign and briefly engaged the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 9th April. Renown spotted the Germans ships and fired first, but she was hit first by two 11 inch shells that only slightly damaged her. A few minutes later she hit Gneisenau with one 15-inch and two 4.5-inch shells that knocked out the ship's main fire-control director and damaged the rangefinder on 'A' turret. The German ships were faster than Renown in the heavy weather and were able to successfully disengage after about 10 minutes. Renown underwnt repairs from 20th April to 18th May and provided cover during the evacuation from Norway in early June. Renown was transferred to Force H at Gibraltar in August and relieved Hood as flagship. She was transferred to the Home Fleet in November 1941 and became deputy fleet flagship when Duke of York was detached to take Winston Churchill to the Arcadia Conference in Washington, D.C. on 9th December. She provided cover for the inbound and outbound convoys to the Soviet Union in early March 1942. 
HMS Renown USS Texas 25 Jan 1942 Hvalfjord Iceland
Renown and USS Texas at Hvalfjord, Iceland, 25th January 1942.

 

Renown returned to Britain to refit from February to June 1943. Her catapult and aircraft were removed while the hangars were converted to offices. She received a total of 72 Oerlikon 20 mm light AA guns in 23 twin mounts and 26 single mounts were fitted between July 1942 and August 1943.   The ship brought Winston Churchill and his staff back from the Quebec Conference in September and conveyed them to the Cairo Conference in November. She rejoined the Home Fleet in December, just in time to be transferred to the Eastern Fleet a few weeks later. Renown arrived in Colombo at the end of January 1944 where she became flagship of the 1st Battle Squadron. In April she participated in Operation Cockpit, an air strike against port and oil facilities on Sabang, off the island of Sumatra. She bombarded Japanese-occupied facilities on Car Nicobar in the Nicobar Islands and Port Blair in the Andaman Islands between 30th April & 1st May. Renown supported the air strike against Surabaya, Java (Operation Transom) on 17th May as well as the follow-on attack against Port Blair on 21st June. After another air strike on 25th July on Sabang the ship bombarded the city. She bombarded facilities in the Nicobar Islands from 17th -19th October. On November 22nd Renown was replaced as flagship by HMS Queen Elizabeth and the ship began a refit at Durban from December to February 1945. She was recalled in March in case the remaining German heavy ships made a final sortie, and reached Rosyth on April 15th. She was given a brief refit when the concern about the German Navy proved illusory and was placed in reserve in May 1945. She was partially disarmed in July when six of her 4.5-inch turrets were removed as well as all of her light guns. The ship hosted a meeting between King George VI and President Truman on 3rd August when the latter was en route home to the US aboard the heavy cruiser USS Augusta. She was placed in reserve at the end of the war, and was decommissioned in 1946. The decision to dispose of the ship was announced on 21 January 1948 and she was towed to Faslane for scrapping on 3rd August.

The most recent ship to carry the name was the third of the Royal Navy's Resolution-class ballistic missile submarines. Built by Cammell Laird and launched on 25 February 1967, she was decommissioned in 1996. She was 425 feet long, with a beam of 33 feet and a draught of 30 feet. She displaced 7500 tons on the surface, and 8400 tons submerged. Powered by a Vickers / Rolls Royce pressurized water reactor, she produced 27,500 shp and could travel at 25 knots submerged. She carried a crew of 143.

HMS Renown submarine
Resolution-class SSBN HMS Renown at sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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