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Dreadnought

DREADNOUGHT

DREADNOUGHT, a type of battleship that derived its name from the British warship Dreadnought, launched in 1906. This ship, which marked a new era in naval construction and made obsolete every battleship afloat, bettered its predecessors in displacement, speed, armor, and firepower. It had a displacement of 17,900 tons, a speed of 21.6 knots, a cruising radius of 5,800 sea miles, and was protected by armor eleven inches thick. It was the first battleship to be driven by turbines. Its main battery consisted of ten twelve-inch guns, making it the first all-big gun ship in the world. After its launching and until World War I, every battleship built with a main armament entirely of big guns all of one caliber was considered to be in the Dreadnought class.

The Dreadnought inaugurated a race in building battleships of this type between Great Britain, the United States, and other naval powers. In the United States, two ships of this type were designed and authorized in 1905 but were not launched until 1908. They were the South Carolina and Michigan, each with a 16,000-ton displacement


and armed with eight twelve-inch guns. The United States built fifteen other ships of this type before the out-break of World War I, all of greater tonnage than the Michigan and South Carolina. On 29 August 1916, Congress authorized a building program that included ten Dreadnoughts. During the war, this program was discontinued in favor of building destroyers for overseas duty but was resumed after the armistice. It was finally halted by the Washington Conference of 1922.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hough, Richard A. Dreadnought: A History of the Modern Battle-ship. New York, Macmillan, 1964.

Massie, Robert K. Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War. New York: Random House, 1991; New York: Ballantine, 1992.

Louis H.Bolander/a. r.

See alsoWarships ; Washington Naval Conference ; World War I, Navy in .

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dreadnought

dreadnought is the name given to a type of battleship introduced into the principal navies after the experiences of the Russo-Japanese War. The chief innovations were higher speed and a main armament of heavy guns of uniform calibre. The first to enter service was HMS Dreadnought in December 1906, although other ‘dreadnoughts’, including the American Michigan, had been designed earlier. Although innovative design kept Dreadnought's increases in size and cost moderate, by 1914 ‘super-dreadnoughts’ incorporated further increases in size, armour, and armament, which played a major rôle in the international naval rivalry of the early 20th cent.

Norman McCord

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dreadnought

dread·nought / ˈdredˌnôt/ (also dread·naught) • n. 1. hist. a type of battleship introduced in the early 20th century, larger and faster than its predecessors and equipped entirely with large-caliber guns. 2. archaic a heavy overcoat for stormy weather.

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dreadnought

dreadnought a type of battleship introduced in the early 20th century, larger and faster than its predecessors and equipped entirely with large-calibre guns. The term comes from the name of Britain's HMS Dreadnought, which was the first to be completed (1906).

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dreadnought

dreadnoughtabort, apport, assort, athwart, aught, besought, bethought, bort, bought, brought, caught, cavort, comport, consort, contort, Cort, court, distraught, escort, exhort, export, extort, fort, fought, fraught, import, methought, misreport, mort, naught, nought, Oort, ought, outfought, port, Porte, purport, quart, rort, short, snort, sort, sought, sport, support, swart, taught, taut, thought, thwart, tort, transport, wart, wrought •cohort • backcourt • Port Harcourt •forecourt • onslaught • dreadnought •Connacht • aeronaut • Argonaut •juggernaut • cosmonaut • astronaut •aquanaut • davenport • carport •passport • airport •Freeport, seaport •Shreveport •heliport, teleport •Stockport • outport • Coalport •spoilsport •Newport, viewport •hoverport •forethought, malice aforethought •afterthought • worrywart

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Dreadnought

DREADNOUGHT

When the Royal Navy commissioned HMS Dreadnought in December 1906, Britain's fleet gained an immediate technological advantage over any potential adversary at sea. This revolutionary battleship, displacing 17,900 tons, intensified the naval building race with imperial Germany and reset the standard by which all navies measured themselves.

The generation of battleships preceding the dreadnoughts were powerful warships but possessed two major disadvantages. The typical battleship of the 1890s, expecting to fight at relatively close ranges, mounted a mixed battery of four twelve-inch guns (in two turrets) and numerous intermediate-size guns. Major drawbacks of this arrangement included the difficulties of spotting and adjusting fire for mixed batteries, and of maintaining sets of spare parts for different types of guns. Pre-dreadnought battleships also were powered by reciprocating steam engines, whose operation at high speed (fifteen to eighteen knots)


caused extreme stress to the machinery, requiring frequent overhauls and forcing commanders to limit speeds to fourteen knots or less in order to avoid breakdowns.

HMS Dreadnought was a revolutionary design because it incorporated a number of innovations in a single hull. The first innovation was an all-biggun armament, a concept considered by British, Italian, and American naval architects for a number of years. An Admiralty design board, chaired by First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher (1841–1920), decided to arm the new ship with ten twelve-inch guns arranged in five twin turrets. With one turret on the bow, one on each wing, and two astern, the gun arrangement allowed Dreadnought to fire eight heavy guns in each broadside—giving her the equivalent long-range fire of two pre-dreadnought battleships. Fisher eliminated the intermediate-caliber guns and saved only a few light quick-firing guns to repel close-in torpedo boat attacks.

Moreover, Dreadnought was the first battleship to employ turbine engines, a new propulsion system employing fewer moving parts, requiring less space in the hull and accounting for less weight. The new turbines would give Dreadnought a design speed of almost twenty-one knots, a sustainable three-knot advantage over most potential enemies. Superior speed was seen as enabling battleships to close with a retreating enemy and control the range of an engagement. Fast battleships could maintain a range short enough for their own heavy twelve-inch guns to be effective but long enough to neutralize the shorter-range intermediate armament of the enemy. Fast battleships would also be able to stay out of range of a new threat to their command of the sea—torpedoes launched from swift torpedo boats and submarines.

Construction began on 2 October 1905 at Portsmouth Dockyard and was extraordinarily brief. Due to the prefabrication of many subsystems and an increased pace of construction by the already efficient dockyard staff, HMS Dreadnought was launched on 10 February 1906. By September 1906 her first captain, Reginald Bacon, began a systematic set of machinery, engine, steering, and armament trials. On 2 December, Dreadnought completed her acceptance trials and was commissioned to full complement on 11 December 1906.

Although contemporaries and historians alike have criticized Fisher for making all non-dreadnought designs obsolete, and hence negating Britain's already considerable battleship superiority, it was only a matter of time before other naval powers fielded such a design. In essence, Fisher stole the lead on all other navies. British yards, vastly superior in efficiency and capacity to most others in the world, would be able to build dreadnoughts at an unmatched rate. Germany, Britain's chief rival at sea by this time, began its own dreadnought program in 1909, and the competition led to further increases in ship size, caliber and number of heavy guns, and speed. Fisher also initiated another type of dreadnought called the battle cruiser, a warship with the light armor and high speed of a cruiser but possessing the size and heavy armament of a dreadnought battleship. In May 1916, thirty-seven British dreadnought battleships and battle cruisers met twenty-one German dreadnoughts at the Battle of Jutland.

It is ironic that the ship universally known for providing her name to the final generation of battleships never fired her main guns in anger. During World War I she served in home waters and on 18 March 1915 earned the recognition of being the only battleship to sink (by ramming a U-29) a German submarine. While her consorts faced the German High Seas Fleet at Jutland, she was refitting at Rosyth. After the war, she joined the Reserve Fleet but soon joined a growing list of ships sold for scrap.

See alsoGermany; Great Britain; Naval Rivalry (Anglo-German).

bibliography

Marder, Arthur J. From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904–1919. 5 vols. London, 1961–1970.

Massie, Robert K. Dreadnought: Britain, Germany and the Coming of the Great War. New York, 1991.

Roberts, John. The Battleship Dreadnought. Annapolis, Md., 1992.

Sumida, Jon T. In Defense of Naval Supremacy. Boston, Mass., 1989.

John J. Abbatiello

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