HMS Royal Sovereign (1916) BB (8th)
This the eighth Royal Sovereign was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard on
15-Jan-1914, launched 29-Apr-1915 and commissioned as the Royal Sovereign on
18-April-1916, and completed May-1916.
She first served with the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, but took no part in the Battle of Jutland as she was still 'working up'. The remainder of the war was spent in the North Sea with the 1st Battle Squadron.
After WWI she spent time with both the Atlantic and Mediterranean Fleets, until 4-October 1927. When she went into reserve at Portsmouth and a major refit.
On completion of the refit on 15-May-1929, she was re-commissioned in the 1st Battle Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet.
Took part in the King George V Silver Jubilee Fleet Review 16-Jul-1935.
In August 1935, she re-commissioned as a training ship in the 2nd Battle Squadron, Atlantic Fleet. Another refit took place between 2-June-1937 and 18-February-1938, following which she rejoined the 2nd Battle Squadron, Home Fleet.
31-August-1939 found her at war stations with the Home fleet at Scapa Flow.
She saw plenty of action in the Mediterranean, and later the Atlantic, including the hunt for the Bismarck
7-December-1941 saw her on the way to join the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean. She remained there until ordered for a major refit at the Philadelphia, Naval Yard, in the United States, in October 1942. In a curious incident while crossing the Atlantic for this, while in company with the oil tanker Bulk oil, a German U-boat surfaced less than 200 yards away on the port side. This was so close that none of the Royal Sovereign's guns could be brought to bear, and also it was too close for the U-Boat to fire a torpedo without damaging herself. However the oil tanker did have a gun fitted aft which could have fired. When the Sovereign's Captain signalled the tanker asking in effect why it hadn't opened fire. The Merchant Navy reply was that '... wasn't that what the Royal Navy escort was for!".
On her return to Rosyth from Philadelphia in January 1944, she still had a large list of defects which could not be rectified at US Yards.
These were rectified and work done to make her ready for transfer to the Soviet Northern Fleet, which was done 30-May-1944, when she was renamed Arkhangelsk.
The Arkhangelsk returned to Rosyth and transferred back to the Royal Navy, becoming the Royal Sovereign again on 9-February-1949. Unfortunately she was such a poor condition that the re-commissioning and hoisting of the White Ensign was a mere formality.
She was placed on the Disposal List and sold 05-Apr-1949, for breaking up at Inverkeithing.
Other HMS Sovereign
Royal Sovereign Class (1916) BB
This page last edited -
03 February, 2013.
Copyright © Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.