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HMS Rodney
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Ordered: 1922
Laid down: 28 December 1922
Launched: 17 December 1925
Commissioned: 10 November 1927
Decommissioned: 1946
Struck: 1947
Motto: Non Generant Aquilae Columbas
(Latin) "Eagles do not breed doves"
Fate: Sold for scrap 26 March 1948
General characteristics
Displacement: 33,950 tons (38,000 full load)
Length: 710 ft (220 m) overall
Beam: 106 ft (32 m)
Draught: 33 ft (10 m)
Propulsion: 8 Admiralty 3-drum oil-fired boilers, 2 Brown-Curtis geared turbines, 2 shafts
45,000 hp (33.6 MW)
Speed: 23.8 knots (44.1 km/h) (trials)
Range: 7,000 nautical miles at 16 knots (13,000 km at 30 km/h)
Complement: 1,640
Sensors and
processing systems:
(1939) Type 79Y RADAR[1]

(1945) 9 × 16 inch (406 mm) guns (3 × 3)
12 × 6 inch (152 mm) Mk XXII guns(6 × 2)
6 × QF 4.7 inch (120 mm) Mk VIII anti-aircraft guns (6 × 1)
48 x 2 pdr anti-aircraft guns (6 × 8)

20 x 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns
Armour: 14.12 inch (358.6 mm) belt
6.32 inch (161 mm) deck
12 inch (300 mm) torpedo bulkhead
16.24 inch (412.5 mm) turret face
14 inch (360 mm) conning tower side
Aircraft carried: 2; 1 catapult on C turret

HMS Rodney (pennant number 29) was a Nelson-class battleship of the Royal Navy. She was named for Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney.

Built under the constraints of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, the design was limited to 35,000 tons and showed certain compromises. To accommodate 16 inch (406 mm) main guns in three turrets, all of the turrets were placed forward and the vessel's speed was reduced and maximum armour was limited to vital areas. Even with the design limitations forced on the designers by the treaty, the Rodney and Nelson were regarded as the most powerful battleships afloat until the new generation of all big gun ships was launched in 1936.

Rodney was laid down on 28 December 1922, the same date as her sister ship Nelson. She was built at Birkenhead by Cammell-Laird shipyard. Launched in December 1925, she was commissioned in November 1927, three months behind her sister. Her construction cost £7.617 million. Her captain in 1929 was Lieutenant Commander George Campell Ross (later Admiral), son of Sir Archibald Ross (marine engineer and pioneer in shipbuilding)



From commissioning until World War II broke out in September 1939, Rodney spent her entire time with the British Atlantic Fleet or Home Fleet. In 1931, the crews of both ships took part in the Invergordon Mutiny. In late December 1939, she was under refit and repair because she was having steering gear problems.

She was damaged by German aircraft at Karmøy, near Bergen on 9 April 1940 when hit by a 500 kg (1,103 lb) bomb that pierced the armoured deck, but did not explode. On 13 September 1940, she was transferred from Scapa Flow to Rosyth with orders to operate in the English Channel when the German invasion of Britain was expected. In November and December, she did convoy escort duties between Britain and Halifax, Nova Scotia. In January 1941, she participated in the chase of the German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, with no success. On 16 March, however, while escorting a convoy in the North Atlantic, she made contact with the German battlecruisers, but no battle followed, as the German ships turned away when they realized that they were facing superior firepower.


The Bismarck

In May 1941 while commanded by Admiral Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton, Rodney and two destroyers were escorting the troop ship RMS Britannic to Canada; the Britannic was taking civilians over to Canada, and would be bringing Canadian troops back to Britain. It was during this run on 24 May that she was called to join in the pursuit of the German battleship Bismarck. On 26 May, she joined up with King George V; Admiral Sir John Tovey sent the destroyers home because they were low on fuel, and had Rodney fall in behind King George V for the battle against the Bismarck the next day. On the early morning of 27 May 1941, along with the battleship King George V and the cruisers Norfolk, and Dorsetshire, she engaged the Bismarck, which had had its rudder machinery damaged by a Swordfish-launched torpedo the day before. Bismarck scored no hits before her guns were knocked out, after which Rodney closed with Bismarck until she was firing essentially a flat trajectory, and spotters could actually follow the shells to the target. One 16-inch (410 mm) shell was tracked from the gun to where it hit the face of Bismarck's #2 gunhouse (turret Bruno) and exploded, blowing out the back of the gunhouse. She later broke off action and was ordered home because of her low fuel status.

Force H

HMS Rodney adds her weight of shells to the Navy's pounding of enemy positions along the Caen coast.

After this, she went to Boston, Massachusetts' South Boston Navy Yard, for engine repairs. This is significant because the United States would not formally enter the war for several months and the stateside docking of the Rodney illustrated the U.S. government's true sympathies in the growing global conflict. Since the repairs would take several weeks to complete, the Rodney's crew was furloughed to local Civilian Conservation Corps camps. In the interim, some members of the crew struck up lasting relationships with American civilians. [1]

In September, Rodney was stationed with Force H in Gibraltar, escorting convoys to Malta. In November, she returned home, and was stationed in Iceland for a month. Then she underwent refit and repair until May 1942. After the refit, she returned to Force H, where she again escorted Malta convoys and took part in Operation Torch, the invasion of Northwest Africa. Later, she was involved with landings in Sicily and Salerno. From October 1943, she was in the Home Fleet, and took part in the Normandy invasion in June 1944, destroying targets at Caen and Alderney. In September 1944, she performed escort duties with a Murmansk convoy.

During the entire war, she steamed over 156,000 nautical miles (289,000 km) with no engine overhaul after 1942. Because of her frequent machinery problems and the fact that she had not been upgraded to the extent that her sister Nelson had, starting in December 1944, she was put in reserve in Scapa Flow, with her crew assigned to new construction. She remained there until she was sold for scrap in February 1948. She was scrapped starting 26 March 1948 at Inverkeithing.


  1. ^ Macintyre, Donald, CAPT RN "Shipborne Radar" United States Naval Institute Proceedings September 1967 p.75


  • Siegfried Breyer, Battleships and Battlecruisers (Doubleday and Company; Garden City, New York, 1973) (originally published in German as Schlachtschiffe und Schlachtkreuzer, J.F. Lehmanns Verlag, München, 1970). Contains various line drawings of the ship as built and as modified.
  • Ludovic Kennedy, Pursuit: The Sinking of the Bismarck.
  • Iain Ballantyne, "H.M.S. Rodney" (Warships of the Royal Navy).

See also

External links


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