HMS Audacious

HMS Audacious was a King George V class battleship that became the first British battleship to be sunk during the First World War. At the time of her sinking she was only one year old, having been completed in May 1913 and was the third newest battleship in the British fleet (behind HMS Iron Duke and HMS Marlborough). The Audacious had served in the Second Battle Squadron of the Home Fleet from her time of commission until August 1914, when she became part of the Grand Fleet.

HMS Audacious
HMS Audacious

On 27 October 1914 she was sailing off the northern coast of Ireland, when she struck mines off Lough Swilly. This was a newly laid minefield across the main route from American to Liverpool, and had claimed the outbound steamer Manchester Commerce on the previous day.

The Audacious was not seriously damaged by the mines, but some of the damage was outside the central armoured box, and that lightly protected area began to flood. Efforts were made to tow the Audacious to safety, but the flooding made her increasingly hard to handle, and she floundered in increasingly rough weather.

The pictures show on this page were featured in the Illustrated War News of 9 December 1914, over a month after the sinking. The loss of the Manchester Commerce was mentioned in the 4 November edition, without any mention of the fate of the Audacious. The text that accompanied the pictures on 9 December didn't tell any direct lies, describing the content of the pictures, and referring to the class in general terms. At the time of the sinking it was decided to keep it secret, as at that moment the Grand Fleet did not have a significant advantage in numbers over the German High Seas Fleet.


Displacement (loaded)

25,700t deep load

Top Speed

21 kts


6,730 nautical miles at 10kts

Armour - deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - turret faces



597ft 6in


Ten 13.5in 45 calibre Mk V guns
Sixteen 4in 50 calibre Mk VII gusn
Four 3pdr guns
Three 21in submerged torpedo tubes (2 beam, 1 stern)

Crew complement



14 September 1912


October 1913

Sunk by mine

27 October 1914

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 September 2007), HMS Audacious ,

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