HMS Duke of Edinburgh

HMS Duke of Edinburgh was the name ship of the Duke of Edinburgh class of first class armoured cruisers, a class that consisted of the Duke of Edinburgh and her sister ship the Black Prince. The two ships served together for most of their careers, until the loss of the Black Prince at Jutland.

Prior to the First World War the two ships served with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (Atlantic Fleet) to 1907, then with the 1st Cruiser Squadron (1907-1908), the 5th Cruiser Squadron (Atlantic Fleet) from 1908-1912 and the 3rd Cruiser Squadron from 1912-1913.

Plans of Duke of Edinburgh Class First Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of
Duke of Edinburgh Class
First Class Armoured Cruisers

In 1913 they moved to the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet, where they took part in the search for the Goeben and the Breslau. When those German ships reached safety in the Dardanelles, they were sent into the Red Sea, to watch for German liners at Massawa. On 17 August 1914 HMS Duke of Edinburgh captured the Argo Company steamer Altair, before her master had even learnt of the outbreak of war.

The two ships were briefly separated at the start of November. While the Black Prince went to Gibraltar, the Duke of Edinburgh provided naval support for an Indian Army force that destroyed the Turkish fort at Sheikh Syed, opposite Perim, at the entrance to the Red Sea, on 9 November 1914.

The two ships were then allocated to a new West Coast of Africa Squadron that was being raised to deal with any threat from Admiral von Spee’s cruiser squadron. Von Spee’s defeat at the battle of the Falklands removed that threat, and in December the Black Prince and the Duke of Edinburgh (along with the Warrior and the Donegal) joined the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. The Black Prince, Duke of Edinburgh, Donegal and Warrior made up the First Cruiser Squadron. HMS Warrior was the flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Robert K. Arbuthnot, the commander of the Squadron, although on 24 January 1915 the Duke of Edinburgh was acting as temporary flagship while the Warrior was absent. The First Cruiser Squadron was a valuable addition to the cruiser force, then heavily engaged in the northern blockade, replacing the elderly Edgar class cruisers of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron. 

On the eve of the battle of Jutland the First Cruiser Squadron was at Invergordon, with the battleships of the Second Battle Squadron and part of the Eleventh Destroyer Flotilla. By this point the Donegal had been replaced by HMS Defence. They entered the battle towards the end of the first day (31 May 1916). As the Grand Fleet sailed towards the battle, the First and Second Cruiser Squadrons formed the advance guard, with the First Cruiser Squadron on the right. The cruiser screen was sixteen miles ahead of the main fleet.

The First Cruiser Squadron soon began involved in the battlecruiser battle. The Defence, with Admiral Arbuthnot, was hit by two heavy salvos and burst into flames. Soon after this the advancing German fleet discovered the presence of the Grand Fleet for the first time. The Duke of Edinburgh had become somewhat detached from the Defence and found herself on the disengaged (safe) side of the battlecruisers. She suffered no hits and no casualties during the battle. The Black Prince was not so luck. During the night she found herself in the middle of the German fleet and was destroyed with the loss of all hands.

After Jutland the Duke of Edinburgh  joined the Second Cruiser Squadron, the First Squadron having suffered 50% losses. During 1917 she served on Atlantic convoy duty, and between August and November 1918 was on the North American and West Indies Station. After the war she served briefly at Immingham, in the Humber Estuary, before being sold in 1920.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck

1.5in over steering gear
1in main deck
1in over battery
0.75in lower deck

 - belt

6in amidships
4in forward

 - bulkheads


 - 6in battery


 - barbettes


 - turrets

7.5in front
5.5in sides
4.5in back

 - ammo tubes


 - conning tower



505ft 6in


Six 9.2in guns
Ten 6in quick firing guns
Twenty two 3pdr quick firing guns
Three 18in submerged torpedoes.

Crew complement



14 June 1904


20 January 1906




H. Blackett (1915, 1916)

Before the Battlecruiser - The Big Cruiser in the World’s Navies 1865-1910, Aidan Dodson. Looks at the development and careers of the ‘big cruiser’, the most heavily armed cruisers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a type that eventually evolved in the battlecruiser. Covers the development of the type, its combat experience while still state of the art, its role in the First World War, as well as looking at the technical specifications of all of the ships that fell into this category (Read Full Review)
cover cover cover


Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 September 2007), HMS Duke of Edinburgh ,

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