HMS Good Hope

HMS Good Hope was a Drake class heavy cruiser. When completed these were amongst the faster ships in the world, and even in 1914 their top speed of 23kts compared well with the 23.5kts of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the more modern German cruisers that would sink the Good Hope at Coronel.

The Good Hope served in home waters for much of her career. In 1906 she was the flagship of the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet, and was one of the largest cruisers in the fleet. However that year saw the completion of HMS Dreadnaught, and a revolution in warship design. The next generation of cruisers would carry more of their heaviest guns, dangerously blurring the lines between the cruiser and the battleship and resulting in the heavily armed battlecruiser.

HMS Good Hope
HMS Good Hope

HMS Good Hope forward guns
HMS Good Hope

In 1908 the Good Hope became the flag ship of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron at South Africa. In 1913 she went into the naval reserve, but in July 1914 she was re-commissioned during the Test Mobilisation that took place just before the outbreak of the First World War.

At the outbreak of war, the Good Hope joined the 6th Cruiser Squadron as part of the Grand Fleet. However, she was soon detached from that squadron and sent to reinforce Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock’s South American Squadron, becoming his flagship.

Cradock was under orders to intercept Admiral von Spee’s cruiser squadron. This contained five modern cruisers, amongst them the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. These were also pre-Dreadnaught cruisers, but were much better armed than the Good Hope, each carrying eight 8.2in guns, six of which could be used on any one target (four of the guns were carried on the sides of each ship). The Good Hope’s two 9.2in guns were the only guns in the British squadron that were not outranged by the German 8.2in guns.

Learning that von Spee was planning to sail into the South Atlantic, Cradock took his fleet into the Pacific. There he was ambushed by von Spee at Coronel (1 November 1914). The Good Hope was lost with all hands, (as was the Monmouth), without causing any significant damage to the German fleet. Having been crippled earlier in the battle by fire from the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the Good Hope was eventually finished off by the German light cruiser Nürnberg.

Plans of Drake Class First Class Armoured Cruisers
Plans of Drake Class First Class Armoured Cruisers

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed




Armour – Belt


 - decks


 - bulkhead


 - turrets


 - barbettes


 - casemates


 - ammunition tubes


 - conning tower





533ft 6in


Two 9.2in (one fore and one aft)
Sixteen 6in quick firing
Fourteen 12pdr quick firing
Three 3pdr quick firing
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement



21 February 1901


8 November 1902


1 November 1914

The Scapegoat: The life and tragedy of a fighting admiral and Churchill's role in his death, Steve R. Dunn. Fascinating biography of Admiral Kit Cradock, the defeated commander at the battle of Coronel in 1914. Also serves as a history of the late Victorian and Edwardian Navy, looking at its strengths and flaws in the period leading up to the First World War, the Royal Navy's first serious trial since the Napoleonic Wars. [read full review]
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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)
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Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 August 2007), HMS Good Hope ,

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