Swiftsure class battleships

The two battleships of the Swiftsure class had been designed for the Chilean navy as a counter for Argentinean armoured cruisers, but in December 1903, after they had been launched but before they had been completed, they were purchased by the British Government.

Plans of Swiftsure Class Battleships
Plans of
Swiftsure Class

In order to fulfil their original purpose they had been designed to be lightly armoured but fast. They carried a relatively weak main armament of four 10in guns, but a more powerful secondary armament of fourteen 7.5in guns. In peacetime they were seen as of little practical use, being too weak to take on enemy battleships and too slow to hunt down modern cruisers, but during the First World War both would provide valuable service.

At the start of the war HMS Swiftsure was the flagship of the East Indies station, while HMS Triumph was in reserve at Hong Kong. The Swiftsure spent the early months of the war escorting Indian Army troop ships from Bombay to Aden. In November she became flagship of the naval forces in the Suez Canal and helped to defeat the Turkish invasion of Egypt. She then moved to the Dardanelles, taking part in the failed attempt to force the straits on 18 March. During 1916 she served with the 9th Cruiser Squadron in the Atlantic, before entering the Chatham reserve in 1917.

At the start of the war HMS Triumph had to be crewed by a combination of gunboat crews and volunteers from the army. She took part in the siege of Tsingtao, before joining the fleet off the Dardanelles. On 25 May 1915 she was sunk by U 21, with the loss of 73 of her crew.

Displacement (loaded)

Swiftsure 11,800t
Triumph 11,985t

Top Speed


Armour – deck


 - belt


 - bulkheads


 - barbettes


 - gun houses


 - battery


 - coning tower


 - decks



479ft 9in


Four 10 guns
Fourteen 7.5in guns
Fourteen 14pdr quick firing guns
Two 12pdr quick firing guns
Four 6pdr quick firing guns
Two 18in submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement







HMS Swiftsure
HMS Triumph

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 November 2007), HMS Swiftsure , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_swiftsure_class_battleships.html

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