HMS Albemarle

HMS Albemarle was a Duncan class ship that saw little real action during the First World War, missing a posting to the Dardanelles after her bridge was swept away during a storm. Before the war she had served as the flagship of the rear-admiral of the Atlantic Fleet (1907-1909), at Gibraltar (1909-1910) and at Portsmouth (1910-1912), before becoming a gunnery tender and member of the 6th Battle Squadron at Portsmouth.

Plans of Duncan Class Battleships
Plans of
Duncan Class

At the start of August 1914 the “Duncan” class ships made up the 6th Battle Squadron of the channel fleet. On 5 August, before all five ships had joined the squadron, they were offered to Jellicoe for service in the Grand Fleet. HMSs Russell, Albemarle and Exmouth were already fully crewed, and so were sent ahead, with the other two members of the class following behind. They joined the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet (with the King Edward VII class ships), remaining there until 2 November. During their time at Scapa the “Duncans” formed part of the Northern Patrol, operating north of the Shetlands.

The five “Duncans” remained in the south when the rest of the squadron returned to Scapa in mid-November. They were formed into a new 6th Battle Squadron, under Rear-Admiral Stuart Nicholson, originally created for an attack on Zeebrugge.

When that attack finally happened, the Albemarle was not involved. The squadron was then broken up, and the Duncans scattered. During 1915 HMS Albemarle returned to the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. In November she was one of a number of ships detached from this squadron to reinforce the fleet at the Dardanelles. On 6 November, with HMSs Russell, Hibernia and Zealandia she set sail from Rosyth, but on 11 November the squadron ran into a severe gale in the Pentland Firth which forced them back to Scapa. HMS Albemarle actually lost her bridge during the storm!

As a result of this damage, she never reached the Dardanelles and at the start of 1916 she was still with the 3rd Battle Squadron. She was then sent to northern Russia to act as an ice breaker in the White Sea, to keep the crucial Russian supply lines open. By the start of 1917 she had been paid off to free up her crew, and for the rest of the war she served as an accommodation ship at Devonport.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - gun houses


 - casemates


 - conning tower





Four 12in guns
Twelve 6in quick firing guns
Ten 12pdr quick firing guns
Six 3pdr guns
Four 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement



5 March 1901


November 1903


Captain Nugent

Sold for break up


British Battleships 1889-1904 New Revised Edition, R A Burt. Magnificent study of the Royal Navy's pre-dreadnought battleships, amongst the most powerful ships in the world when built, but seen as obsolete by the outbreak of war in 1914. Traces the development of the 'classic' pre-dreadnought design and the slow increase in the power of the secondary armament, leading up to the all-big gun ships that followed. [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 (5 November 2007), HMS Albemarle ,

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