Fast battleship

A fast battleship was a battleship which emphasised speed without – in concept – undue compromise of either armor or armament. Most of the early World War I-era dreadnought battleships were typically built with low design speeds, so the term "fast battleship" is applied to a design which is considerably faster. The extra speed of a fast battleship was normally required to allow the vessel to carry out additional roles besides taking part in the line of battle, such as escorting aircraft carriers.

A fast battleship was distinguished from a battlecruiser in that it would have been expected to be able to engage hostile battleships in sustained combat on at least equal terms. The requirement to deliver increased speed without compromising fighting ability or protection was the principal challenge of fast battleship design. While increasing length-to-beam ratio was the most direct method of attaining a higher speed, this meant a bigger ship that was considerably more costly and/or could exceed the naval treaty tonnage limits (where these applied – such as the Washington Naval Treaty shaping naval fleet composition after World War I). Technological advancements such as propulsion improvements and light, high-strength armor plating were required in order to make fast battleships feasible.

Unlike battlecruiser, which became official Royal Navy usage in 1911,[1] the term fast battleship was essentially an informal one. The warships of the Queen Elizabeth class were collectively termed the Fast Division when operating with the Grand Fleet. Otherwise, fast battleships were not distinguished from conventional battleships in official documentation; nor were they recognised as a distinctive category in contemporary ship lists or treaties. There is no separate code for fast battleships in the US Navy's hull classification system, all battleships, fast or slow, being rated as "BB".

HMS Queen Elizabeth aerial view 1918
HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first "fast battleship" of the Dreadnought era, in 1918.
Dunkerque-1
French battleship Dunkerque

Origins

Between the origins of the armoured battleship with the French Gloire and the Royal Navy's Warrior at the start of the 1860s, and the genesis of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth class in 1911, a number of battleship classes appeared which set new standards of speed. The Warrior herself, at over 14 knots (26 km/h) under steam, was the fastest warship of her day as well as the most powerful. Due to the increasing weight of guns and armour, this speed was not exceeded until Monarch (1868) achieved 15 knots (28 km/h) under steam. The Italian Italia of 1880 was a radical design, with a speed of 18 knots (33 km/h), heavy guns and no belt armour; this speed was not matched until the 1890s, when higher speeds came to be associated with second-class designs such as the Renown of 1895 (18 knots) and the Swiftsure and Triumph of 1903 (20 knots). In these late pre-dreadnought designs, the high speed may have been intended to compensate for their lesser staying power, allowing them to evade a more powerful opponent when necessary.

060502 Fast Battleships Figure 1
Figure 1

From about 1900, interest in the possibility of a major increase in the speed of Royal Navy battleships was provoked by Sir John ("Jackie") Fisher, at that time Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet.[2] Possibly due to Fisher's pressure, The Senior Officer's War Course of January 1902 was asked to investigate whether a ship with lighter armour and quick-firing medium guns (6-inch to 10-inch (152 mm – 254 mm) calibre), with a 4-knot (7 km/h) advantage in speed, would obtain any tactical advantage over a conventional battleship.[3] It was concluded that "gun power was more important than speed, provided both sides were determined to fight"; although the faster fleet would be able to choose the range at which it fought, it would be outmatched at any range. It was argued that, provided that the fighting was at long range, an attempt by the faster fleet to obtain a concentration of fire by "crossing the T" could be frustrated by a turn-away, leading to the slower fleet "turning inside the circle of the faster fleet at a radius proportional to the difference in speed"[4] (Figure 1). War games conducted by the General Board of the US Navy in 1903 and 1904 came to very similar conclusions.[5]

Fisher appears to have been unimpressed by these demonstrations, and continued to press for radical increases in the speed of battleships. His ideas ultimately came to at least partial fruition in the Dreadnought of 1906; like Warrior before her, Dreadnought was the fastest as well as the most powerful battleship in the world.

Early dreadnoughts

Dreadnought was the first major warship powered by turbines. She also included a number of other features indicating an increased emphasis on speed:

  • An improved hull form was developed, with increased length-to-beam ratio.
  • The thickness of the main belt was reduced to 11 inches, compared to 12 inches for preceding classes.
  • The belt terminated at the upper deck, the usual "upper belt" being deleted
  • The forecastle was raised, allowing higher sustained speed in heavy seas.

In the decade following the construction of the Dreadnought, the Royal Navy's lead in capital ship speed was eroded, as rival navies responded with their own turbine-powered "dreadnoughts". Meanwhile, in the UK, Fisher continued to press for still higher speeds, but the alarming cost of the new battleships and battlecruisers provoked increasing resistance, both within the Admiralty and from the new Liberal Government that took office in 1906. As a result, a number of potentially significant fast battleship designs failed to achieve fruition.

A notable abortive design was the 22,500-ton "X4" design of December 1905. This would have been a true fast battleship by the standards of the time, carrying the same armament and protection as Dreadnought at a speed of 25 knots (46 km/h). In the event, the British lead in dreadnought and battlecruiser construction was deemed to be so great that a further escalation in the size and cost of capital ships could not be justified. The X4 design is often described as a "fusion" of the Dreadnought concept with that of the battlecruiser, and it has been suggested that she "would have rendered the Invincibles obsolete".[6]

Fisher was again rebuffed in 1909 over the first of the 13.5-in-gunned "super-dreadnoughts", the Orion class; of the two alternative designs considered, one of 21 knots (39 km/h) and the other of 23 knots (43 km/h), the Board of Admiralty selected the slower and cheaper design. Fisher had his dissent recorded in the board minutes, complaining that "we should not be outclassed in any type of ship".[7]

Queen Elizabeth class

In the event, Fisher's aspirations for faster battleships were not fulfilled until after his retirement in 1910. Following the success of the 13.5-inch (343 mm) gun, the Admiralty decided to develop a 15 inch gun to equip the battleships of 1912 construction programme. The initial intention was that the new battleships would have the same configuration as the preceding Iron Duke class, with five twin turrets and the then-standard speed of 21 knots (39 km/h). However, it was realised that, by dispensing with the amidships turret, it would be possible to free up weight and volume for a much enlarged power plant, and still fire a heavier broadside than the Iron Duke.

060502 Fast Battleships Figure 2
Figure 2

Although War College studies had earlier rejected the concept of a fast, light battlefleet (see "Origins" and Figure 1, above), they were now supportive of the concept of a Fast Division of 25 knots (46 km/h) or more, operating in conjunction with a conventional heavy battleline, which could use its advantage in speed to envelop the head of the enemy line (Figure 2). Compared to Fisher's idea of speeding up the entire battlefleet, the advantages of this concept were that there would be no need to compromise the fighting power of the main fleet, and that it would be possible to retain the use of the existing (and still brand-new) 21-knot ships. Up to this time, it had been assumed that the role of a Fast Division could be fulfilled by the battlecruisers, of which there were at that time ten completed or on order.[8] However, it was realised that there were now two problems with this assumption. The first was the likelihood that the battlecruisers would be fully committed in countering the growing and very capable German battlecruiser force. The second was that, as the then First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, put it, our beautiful "Cats" had thin skins compared to the enemy's strongest battleships. It is a rough game to pit ... seven or nine inches of armour against twelve or thirteen".[9]

The new battleships would, in fact, be the most heavily armoured dreadnoughts in the fleet. The original 1912 programme envisaged three battleships and a battlecruiser. However, given the speed of the new ships, it was decided that a new battlecruiser would not be needed. In the event, five ships were built, the extra unit, HMS Malaya, being funded by the Federated Malay States. The battleship design for the following year's programme, which became the Revenge class, also had 15-inch (381 mm) guns, but reverted to the 21-knot (39 km/h) speed of the main battlefleet. Again, no battlecruiser was included, a decision which suggests that the fast battleships were perceived at that time as superseding the battlecruiser concept.

Battle of Jutland

When the fast battleship concept was put to the test at the Battle of Jutland, the Queen Elizabeths had been temporarily attached to Vice-Admiral Beatty's Battlecruiser Squadron at Rosyth (this was to release the Invincible-class battlecruisers of the Third Battlecruiser Squadron for gunnery practice at Scapa Flow).[10] The Queen Elizabeths proved an outstanding success, firing with great rapidity, accuracy and effect, while surviving large numbers of hits from German 28.4 cm (11-inch) and 30.5 cm (12-inch) shells, and successfully evading the main German battlefleet during the so-called run to the North. In the fighting, Warspite was severely damaged, suffered a steering failure and was obliged to withdraw, while Malaya suffered a serious cordite fire which nearly caused her loss.[11] However, both ships returned safely to port. This was in notable contrast to the performance of the battlecruisers, of which three (out of nine present) were destroyed by magazine explosions after a relatively small number of hits.

When the main body of the Grand Fleet came into action, the Queen Elizabeths were unable to reach their intended station ahead of the battleline, and instead joined the rear of the line, seeing little further action. Meanwhile, the six surviving battlecruisers assumed the "Fast Division" role, operating ahead of the battleline with some success, exploiting their advantage of speed to damage the head of the German line with virtual impunity.

Jutland was a crippling blow to the reputation of the existing battlecruisers. However, it also reinforced the views of the commander-in-chief, Sir John Jellicoe, that the Queen Elizabeths were too slow to operate with the Battlecruiser Fleet on a permanent basis. Based on combat reports, Jellicoe erroneously credited the German König-class battleships with 23 knots (43 km/h), which would mean that Queen Elizabeths, which were good for just 24 knots (44 km/h), would be in serious danger if they were surprised by a battlefleet headed by these ships.[12]

The Admiral class

Even before Jutland, Jellicoe and Beatty had expressed concern at the lack of new construction for the Battlecruiser Fleet, and the inadequacy of the ships already provided. Early in 1916, they had rejected proposals for a new fast battleship design, similar to the Queen Elizabeth but with reduced draught, pointing out that, with the five new Revenge-class nearing completion, the fleet already had a sufficient margin of superiority in battleships, whereas the absence of battlecruisers from the 1912 and 1913 programmes had left Beatty's force with no reply to the new 30.5 cm (12-inch) –gunned German battlecruisers.[13] Jellicoe had believed that the Germans intended to build still more powerful ships, with speeds of up to 29 knots (54 km/h), and hence had called for 30-knot (56 km/h) ships to fight them. Although two new battlecruisers (Renown and Repulse) had been ordered in 1914, and were being constructed remarkably quickly, Jellicoe had argued that, although their speed was adequate, their armour protection (dramatically reduced at Fisher's insistence) was insufficient.[13]

The 1915 design had therefore been recast as a 36,000 ton battlecruiser with 8 15-inch (381 mm) guns, and a speed of 32 knots (59 km/h).[14] The main belt was only 8 inches thick, sloped outwards to give the same protection as a vertical 9-inch belt. A class of four ships had been authorised, the first being laid down on 31 May – the day that Jutland was fought.

The losses at Jutland led to a reappraisal of the design. As noted above, the British were now convinced that their fast battleships were battleworthy but too slow, and their battlecruisers – even the largest – unfit for sustained battle. As a result, the new ships were radically redesigned in order to achieve the survivability of the Queen Elizabeths while still meeting the requirement for 32-knot (59 km/h) battlecruisers, although this reworking was flawed. The resulting ships would be the Admiral-class battlecruisers; at 42,000 tons by far the largest warships in the world. In 1917 construction was slowed down, to release resources for the construction of anti-submarine vessels; when it became clear that the threatened new German battlecruisers would not be completed, the last three were suspended and ultimately canceled, leaving only the lead ship, Hood, to be completed.

Although the Royal Navy always designated Hood as a battlecruiser, some modern writers such as Antony Preston have characterised her as a fast battleship, as she theoretically had the protection of the Queen Elizabeths while being significantly faster.[15] On the other hand, the British were well aware of the protection flaws remaining despite her revised design, so she was intended for the duties of a battlecruiser and served in the battlecruiser squadrons throughout her career. Moreover, the scale of her protection, though adequate for the Jutland era, was at best marginal against the new generation of 16-inch (406 mm) gunned capital ships that emerged soon after her completion in 1920, typified by the US Colorado class and the Japanese Nagato class.

Other designs, 1912–1923

During the First World War, the Royal Navy was unique in operating both a Fast Division of purpose-built battleships and a separate force of battlecruisers. However, the 1912–1923 period saw a series of advances in marine engineering which would eventually lead to a dramatic increase in the speeds specified for new battleship designs, a process terminated only by the advent of the Washington Naval Treaty. These advances included:[16]

  • small-tube boilers, allowing more efficient transfer of heat from boiler to propulsive steam;
  • increases in steam pressure and temperature;
  • reduction gearing, which allowed propellers to rotate at a slower, and more efficient, speed than the turbines that powered them;[16]

By the early 1920s, the wealth of the US and the ambition of Japan (the two Great Powers least ravaged by World War I) were forcing the pace of capital ship design. The Nagato class set a new standard for fast battleships, with 16-inch (406 mm) guns and a speed of 26.5 knots (49.1 km/h). The Japanese appear to have shared Fisher's aspiration for a progressive increase in the speed of the whole battlefleet, influenced partly by their success at outmanoeuvring the Russian fleet at Tsushima, and partly by the need to retain the tactical initiative against potentially larger hostile fleets. The immediate influence of the Nagatos was limited by the fact that the Japanese kept their actual speed a closely guarded secret, admitting to only 23 knots (43 km/h).[17] As a result, the US Navy, which had hitherto adhered steadily to a 21-knot (39 km/h) battlefleet, settled for a modest increase to 23 knots (43 km/h) in the abortive South Dakota class of 1920.

The Japanese planned to follow up the Nagatos with the Kii class, (ten 16-inch (406 mm) guns, 29.75 knots, 39,900 tons) described as "fast capital ships" and, according to Conway's, representing a fusion of the battlecruiser and battleship types. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy, alarmed at the rapid erosion of its pre-eminence in capital ships, was developing even more radical designs; the 18-inch (457 mm) gunned N3 class and the 32-knot (59 km/h), 16-inch (406 mm) gunned G3 class both of some 48,000 tons. Officially described as battlecruisers, the G3s were far better protected than any previous British capital ship, and have generally been regarded, like the Kiis, as true fast battleships.[18] The G3s were given priority over the N3s, showing that they were considered fit for the line of battle, and orders were actually placed. However, both the British and the Japanese governments baulked at the monstrous cost of their respective programmes, and ultimately were forced to accede to US proposals for an arms limitation conference; this convened at Washington DC in 1921, and resulted in the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty. This treaty saw the demise of the giant fast battleship designs, although the British used a scaled-down version of the G3 design to build two new battleships permitted under the treaty; the resulting Nelson-class vessels were completed with the modest speed of 23 knots (43 km/h).

The Italian Caracciolo class battleships were designed to be similar to the Queen Elizabeth class, with eight 15-inch guns and a top speed of 28 knots, and therefore can be considered fast battleships. However, construction (begun in 1914–1915) was stopped by the war, and none was ever completed.[19]

Washington Treaty era

The signatories of the Washington Treaty were the US, UK, Japan, France, and Italy; at that time the only nations in the world with significant battlefleets. As a result, the terms of the Washington Treaty, and the subsequent treaties of London 1930 and London 1936 had a decisive effect on the future of capital ship design.

The treaties extended the definition of capital ship to cover all warships exceeding 10,000 tons standard displacement or carrying guns exceeding 8-inch calibre; imposed limits on the total tonnage of capital ships allowed to each signatory; and fixed an upper limit of 35,000 tons standard displacement for all future construction. These restrictions effectively signaled the end of the battlecruiser as a distinct category of warship, since any future big-gun cruiser would count against the capital ship tonnage allowance. It also greatly complicated the problem of fast battleship design, since the 35,000 ton limit closed off the most direct route to higher speed, as the increasing length-to-beam ratio would have meant a bigger ship.

Evidence of continued interest in high-speed capital ships is given by the fact that, although the signatories of the treaties were allowed to build 16-inch (406 mm) gunned ships as their existing tonnage became due for replacement, most of them passed up the opportunity to do so, preferring instead lighter-armed but faster ships. A British Admiralty paper of 1935 concludes that a balanced design with 30-knot (56 km/h) speed and 16-inch (406 mm) guns would not be possible within the 35,000 ton limit, since it would be either insufficiently armoured or too slow; it is clear that by this date the 23-knot (43 km/h) speed of the Nelsons was considered insufficient. The recommended design (never built) was one with nine 15-inch (381 mm) guns and speed "not less than 29 knots" [54 km/h].[20]

The 15-inch (381 mm) gunned Littorio and Richelieu classes, built in the 1930s by Italy and France respectively, reflect similar priorities to the British.

Four capital ships of the treaty era were built to displacements appreciably less than the 35,000 limit; the French Dunkerque and Strasbourg, and the German Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The Dunkerque class was built in response to the German Panzerschiff (or "pocket battleship") Deutschland class. The Panzerschiffe were, in effect, a revival of the late 19th century concept of the commerce-raiding armoured cruiser; long-ranged, heavily armed, and fast enough to evade a conventional capital ship. Likewise, the Dunkerque, can be regarded as a revival of the armoured cruiser's nemesis, the battlecruiser. With 29-knot (54 km/h) speed and 330 mm (13 inch) guns, she could operate independently of the fleet, relying on her speed to avoid confrontation with a more powerful adversary, and could easily overtake and overwhelm a Panzerschiff, just as Sturdee's battlecruisers had done to von Spee's cruisers at the Falkland Islands in 1914. On the other hand, as a member of the line of battle, alongside the elderly and slow dreadnoughts that made up the rest of the French battlefleet, the design would make no sense, since her speed would lose its value and neither her armament nor her protection would be at all effective against a modern 16-inch (406 mm) gunned battleship such as Nelson.

The Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were Germany's response to the Dunkerques. They were an attempt to redress the inadequacies of the Panzerschiff design in speed, survivability and powerplant (the diesel engines of the Panzerschiffe were unreliable and produced severe vibration at high speed), and used much material assembled for the Panzerschiffe programme (most significantly, the six triple 11-inch (279 mm) gun mountings originally intended for Panzerschiffe D to F).[21] Although much larger than the Dunkerques, the Gneisenaus were also not intended for the line of battle; apart from their insufficient armament, set-piece battles against the vastly more numerous Allied battlefleets had no place in Germany's strategic requirements. Instead, the two German ships relied throughout their career on their superlative speed (over 32 knots) to evade the attentions of Allied capital ships. On Gneisenau, the nine 28 cm (11 in) SK C/34 guns in three triple turrets were supposed to be replaced with six 38 cm (15 in) SK C/34 guns in twin turrets, which would have rectified her key weakness, but work was cancelled.

The treaties also allowed the reconstruction of surviving battleships from the First World War, including up to 3,000 tons additional protection against torpedoes, high-altitude bombing and long-range gunnery.[22] In the late 1930s, the Italian and Japanese navies opted for extremely radical reconstructions: in addition to replacing the powerplant in their existing ships, they lengthened the ships by adding extra sections amidships or aft. This had a double benefit; the extra space allowed the size of the powerplant to be increased, while the extra length improved the speed/length ratio and so reduced the resistance of the hull.[23] As a result, both navies realised significant increases in speed; for example the Japanese Ise class was increased from 23 to 25 knots (46 km/h), and the Italian Conte di Cavour class from 21 to 27 knots (39 to 50 km/h).[24] France, the UK and the US took a less radical approach, rebuilding their ships within their original hulls; boilers were converted to oil-firing or replaced, as were the engines in some cases, but increases in the output of the powerplant were generally canceled out by increases in the weight of armour, anti-aircraft armament and other equipment.[25]

The exception to the European battleship trend was Japan, which refused to sign the Second London Treaty. It rather uncharacteristically settled for a moderate speed of 27 knots (50 km/h), for the sake of heroic level of protection and firepower in the 18.1-inch (460 mm) gunned 64,000 ton displacement Yamato class.

After much debate, the US settled on two 35,000 ton classes, also with a speed of 27 knots (50 km/h), in the North Carolina and South Dakota classes. Due to treaty restrictions, firepower and protection were emphasised first, although both did manage respectable speed increases compared to their World War I contemporaries to be able to operate as carrier escorts. The US signed the Second London Treaty but was quick to invoke an "escalator clause" to increase the main battleship caliber from 14-to-16-inch (356 to 406 mm) as Italy and Japan refused to adopt it. This made the North Carolina a somewhat unbalanced ship, being designed to resist shells from the 14-inch (356 mm) guns that it was originally intended to carry, but being up-gunned during construction. The South Dakota rectified this with protection proof against 16-inch (406 mm) guns. In order to counter the increase in armor weight and stay within tonnage limits, the South Dakota class had to go with a shorter hull to reduce the length of the required protected area, compensating by installing more powerful machinery than the North Carolina, and this made the ships somewhat cramped. The balanced 35,000 ton design was achieved by combining highly efficient lightweight double-reduction gear machinery, which reduced the length and volume of the armored citadel, with a sloped internal armored belt, which increased protection without increasing overall armor thickness. The US also used the treaty's "escalator clause" to order the 45,000 ton, 33-knot (61 km/h) Iowa class after Japan's withdrawal from the treaty. Being free of treaty limitations, the Iowa class had new 16-inch (406 mm) guns with a greater maximum range, and it had even more powerful engines and a lengthened hull for a significantly faster speed over the North Carolinas and South Dakotas.

World War II designs

VG DOY
The British battleships Vanguard (left) and Howe (right) moored alongside each other - these two were among the last battleships to be completed

In 1938 the US, UK, and France agreed to invoke the escalator clause of the Second London Treaty, allowing them to build up to 45,000 tons standard.[27] By this time, all three allied nations were already committed to new 35,000-ton designs: the US North Carolinas (two ships) and South Dakotas (four), the British King George V class (five ships) and the French Richelieus (two completed out of four planned, the last of the class, Gascogne, to a greatly modified design).

The UK and US laid down follow-on classes, designed to the new 45,000 ton standard, in 1939 and 1940 respectively. The US succeeded in completing four of the intended six Iowa class, but the British Lion class were not built; two of the planned four units were laid down in the summer of 1939, but neither was completed due to limited capacity to produce the turrets and guns. They would have embarked nine 16-inch (406 mm) guns and, at 29 to 30 knots (50 to 60 km/h), would have been slightly faster than the King George V class. The UK did complete one final battleship to an "emergency" design, the Vanguard, a modified Lion design that could use the 15-inch (381 mm) gun mountings removed from the World War I "large light cruisers" Courageous and Glorious after their conversion to aircraft carriers. Her design revised during the war to adopt lessons from the loss of other ships, she was completed in 1946 and was similar in speed to the Lions.

The last US battleship design was the first since 1922 to be entirely free of treaty constraints. The huge Montana-class battleships represent a return to "normal American practice" in battleship design,[28] with massive protection, heavy firepower, and moderate speed (27 knots). At 60,500 tons standard, they approached the size of the Yamatos, which they resembled in concept. Five of these ships were ordered, but they were ill-suited to the needs of fast carrier task force operations, and none were laid down.

Summary of "fast battleship" classes

The following classes of warship have been considered to be fast battleships, in accordance with the definition used in this article and/or with contemporary usage. The list includes all new construction of the 1930s and 1940s, along with some reconstructions; this reflects the fact that, while not all of these ships were notably fast by contemporary standards of new construction, they were all much faster than the considerable number of capital ships built in the pre-Treaty era and still in service at that time.[29] All speeds are design speeds, sourced from Conway's;[30] these speeds were often exceeded on trial, though rarely in service.

Royal Navy
  • Queen Elizabeth class (25 knots): the prototype fast battleship class
  • Hood (32 knots), the sole member of the Admiral class, was characterised by the Royal Navy as a battlecruiser throughout her lifetime; nonetheless some modern authorities characterise her as a fast battleship, as she appeared on paper to be an improvement over the Queen Elizabeth class.[31]
  • King George V class (28 knots)
  • Vanguard (30 knots)
United States Navy
Imperial Japanese Navy (Dai-Nippon Teikoku Kaigun)
  • Kongō class – as reconstructed (30.5 knots). Originally classified as battlecruisers, these ships were reclassified as battleships after their first reconstruction in 1929–1931.[32] Even after a second reconstruction in the late 1930s, they remained relatively weak in armament and protection by Second World War standards.[33]
  • Nagato class – as completed (26.5 knots). Unusually for a Japanese design, the speed was reduced to 25 knots (46 km/h) when the class was reconstructed in 1934–36.[34]
  • Yamato class (27 knots)
German Navy (Kriegsmarine)
  • Scharnhorst class (also known as the Gneisenau class) (32 knots). These ships were officially designated kleine Schlachtschiffe ("small battleships"). The contemporary Royal Navy termed them "battlecruisers", on the basis of their exceptionally high speed and weak armament.
  • Bismarck class (30.8 knots)[35]
French Navy (Marine Nationale)
  • Dunkerque class (29.5 knots). As with the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the contemporary Royal Navy termed these ships "battlecruisers". Some modern French-language sources also characterise these ships as battlecruisers (croiseurs de bataille) rather than battleships (cuirassés or bâtiments de ligne).[36]
  • Richelieu class (30 knots)
Italian navy (Regia Marina)

References

  1. ^ Admiralty Weekly Order no. 351, 24 November 1911; quoted in Roberts (2003), p. 24
  2. ^ Roberts (2003), p. 11
  3. ^ Roberts (2003), p. 16
  4. ^ Roberts (2003), p. 17
  5. ^ Brown (2003a), p. 188
  6. ^ Roberts (2003), p. 26
  7. ^ Roberts (2003), p. 32
  8. ^ Three Invincible class, three Indefatigable, two Lion class, HMS Queen Mary and Tiger
  9. ^ Churchill (2005), Part 1, Chapter 5
  10. ^ The Invincibles were the oldest of the British battlecruisers.
  11. ^ Campbell (1986), p. 132
  12. ^ Jellicoe (2006), Chapter 13; the relevant passage is available on-line at the War Times Journal website
  13. ^ a b Roberts (2003), p. 56
  14. ^ Roberts (2003), p. 58
  15. ^ Preston (2002), p. 96
  16. ^ a b Friedman (1978), p. 92
  17. ^ Gardiner (1985), p. 231
  18. ^ Gardiner (1985), p. 41
  19. ^ Gardiner (1985), p. 260
  20. ^ ADM1/9387: Capital Ships: Protection (1935), Available on-line via the HMS Hood Association Website
  21. ^ Chesneau (1980), p. 225
  22. ^ Friedman (1978), p. 67
  23. ^ Friedman (1978), pp. 47–48
  24. ^ Chesneau (1980), pp. 171, 284
  25. ^ Chesneau (1980), passim
  26. ^ Friedman (1978), p. 307
  27. ^ Chesneau (1980), p. 99
  28. ^ Chesneau (1980), p. 100
  29. ^ Chesneau (1980), p. 89
  30. ^ Gardiner (1985) for Queen Elizabeth and Nagato; Chesneau (1980) for other classes, including reconstructions
  31. ^ These include Preston (2002) and Brown (2003b).
  32. ^ Chesneau (1980), p. 173
  33. ^ Robert Lundgren (2010). Tony DiGiulian (ed.). "Kirishima Damage Analysis" (PDF).
  34. ^ Chesneau (1980), p. 172
  35. ^ Asmussen, John. "Bismarck: Gallery". www.bismarck-class.dk. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  36. ^ For examples of the characterisation of the Dunkerque class on French-language websites, see: Histoire de la seconde guerre mondial(for croiseur de bataille); le.fantasque.free.fr (for bâtiment de ligne); and merselkebir.org (in French) Archived 2007-05-24 at the Wayback Machine (for cuirassé).

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  • Gardiner, Robert (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-245-5.
  • Jellicoe, John Rushworth (2006) [1919]. Roger Chesnau (ed.). The Grand Fleet 1914–1916. Stowmarket, UK: Ad Hoc Publications. ISBN 978-0-946958-50-4.
  • Preston, Antony (2002). The World's Worst Warships. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-754-2.
  • Roberts, John (2003). Battlecruisers. Caxton Editions. ISBN 978-1-84067-530-6.
Amenities ship

An amenities ship is a ship outfitted with recreational facilities as part of a mobile naval base. Amenities ships included movie theaters and canteens staffed by mercantile crews of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service. These ships were intended to provide a place where British Pacific Fleet personnel could relax between operations.

Battlecruiser

The battlecruiser, or battle cruiser, was a type of capital ship of the first half of the 20th century. They were similar in displacement, armament and cost to battleships, but differed slightly in form and balance of attributes. Battlecruisers typically had slightly thinner armour and a lighter main gun battery than contemporary battleships, installed on a longer hull with much higher engine power in order to attain greater speeds. The first battlecruisers were designed in the United Kingdom in the first decade of the century, as a development of the armoured cruiser, at the same time as the dreadnought succeeded the pre-dreadnought battleship. The goal of the design was to outrun any ship with similar armament, and chase down any ship with lesser armament; they were intended to hunt down slower, older armoured cruisers and destroy them with heavy gunfire while avoiding combat with the more powerful but slower battleships. However, as more and more battlecruisers were built, they were increasingly used alongside the better-protected battleships.

Battlecruisers served in the navies of the UK, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, Australia and Japan during World War I, most notably at the Battle of the Falkland Islands and in the several raids and skirmishes in the North Sea which culminated in a pitched fleet battle, the Battle of Jutland. British battlecruisers in particular suffered heavy losses at Jutland, where their crews' poor fire safety and ammunition handling practices left them vulnerable to catastrophic magazine explosions following hits to their main turrets from large-calibre shells. This dismal showing led to a persistent general belief that battlecruisers were too thinly armoured to function successfully. By the end of the war, capital ship design had developed, with battleships becoming faster and battlecruisers becoming more heavily armoured, blurring the distinction between a battlecruiser and a fast battleship. The Washington Naval Treaty, which limited capital ship construction from 1922 onwards, treated battleships and battlecruisers identically, and the new generation of battlecruisers planned was scrapped under the terms of the treaty.

Improvements in armor design and propulsion created the 1930s "fast battleship" with the speed of a battlecruiser and armor of a battleship, making the battlecruiser in the traditional sense effectively an obsolete concept. Thus from the 1930s on, only the Royal Navy continued to use "battlecruiser" as a classification for the World War I–era capital ships that remained in the fleet; while Japan's battlecruisers remained in service, they had been significantly reconstructed and were re-rated as full-fledged fast battleships.Battlecruisers were put into action again during World War II, and only one survived to the end. There was also renewed interest in large "cruiser-killer" type warships, but few were ever begun, as construction of battleships and battlecruisers was curtailed in favor of more-needed convoy escorts, aircraft carriers, and cargo ships. In the post–Cold War era, the Soviet Kirov class of large guided missile cruisers have also been termed "battlecruisers".

Coastal submarine

A coastal submarine or littoral submarine is a small, maneuverable submarine with shallow draft well suited to navigation of coastal channels and harbors. Although size is not precisely defined, coastal submarines are larger than midget submarines, but smaller than sea-going submarines designed for longer patrols on the open ocean. Space limitations aboard coastal submarines restrict fuel availability for distant travel, food availability for extended patrol duration, and number of weapons carried. Within those limitations, however, coastal submarines may be able to reach areas inaccessible to larger submarines, and be more difficult to detect.

General stores issue ship

General stores issue ship is a type of ship used by the United States Navy during World War II and for some time afterwards.

The task of the general stores issue ship was to sail into non-combat, or rear, areas and disburse general stores, such as canned goods, toilet paper, office supplies, etc., to ships and stations.

Guard ship

A guard ship is a warship assigned as a stationary guard in a port or harbour, as opposed to a coastal patrol boat which serves its protective role at sea.

HMS Hood

HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, she was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood. One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, Hood had design limitations, though her design was revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction. For this reason, she was the only ship of her class to be completed. Despite the appearance of new and more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for 20 years after her commissioning, and her prestige was reflected in her nickname, "The Mighty Hood".

Hood was involved in several showing-the-flag exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939, including training exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and a circumnavigation of the globe with the Special Service Squadron in 1923 and 1924. She was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet following the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to Britain in 1939 for an overhaul. By this time, advances in naval gunnery had reduced Hood's usefulness. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues, but the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 forced the ship into service without the upgrades.

When war with Germany was declared, Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and she spent the next several months hunting for German commerce raiders and blockade runners between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea. After a brief overhaul of her propulsion system, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Relieved as flagship of Force H, Hood was dispatched to Scapa Flow, and operated in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet. In May 1941, the battleship Prince of Wales and she were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic, where they were to attack convoys. On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded, and sank within 3 minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew. Due to her perceived invincibility, the loss affected British morale.

The Royal Navy conducted two inquiries into the reasons for the ship's quick demise. The first, held soon after the ship's loss, concluded that Hood's aft magazine had exploded after one of Bismarck's shells penetrated the ship's armour. A second inquiry was held after complaints that the first board had failed to consider alternative explanations, such as an explosion of the ship's torpedoes. It was more thorough than the first board and concurred with the first board's conclusion. Despite the official explanation, some historians continued to believe that the torpedoes caused the ship's loss, while others proposed an accidental explosion inside one of the ship's gun turrets that reached down into the magazine. Other historians have concentrated on the cause of the magazine explosion. The discovery of the ship's wreck in 2001 confirmed the conclusion of both boards, although the exact reason the magazines detonated is likely to remain unknown since that area of the ship was destroyed in the explosion.

HMS Vanguard (23)

HMS Vanguard was a British fast battleship built during the Second World War and commissioned after the end of the war. She was the biggest and fastest of the Royal Navy's battleships, the last battleship to be launched in the world, and the only ship of her class.

The Royal Navy anticipated being outnumbered by the combined German and Japanese battleships in the early 1940s, and had therefore started building the Lion-class battleships. However the time-consuming construction of the triple-16-inch turrets for the Lion-class would delay their completion until 1943 at the earliest. The British had enough 15-inch (381 mm) guns and turrets in storage to allow one ship of a modified Lion-class design with four twin-15-inch turrets to be completed faster than the Lion-class vessels that had already been laid down.

Work on Vanguard was started and stopped several times during the war, and her design was revised several times during her construction to reflect war experience. These stoppages and changes prevented her from being completed before the end of the war.

Vanguard's first task after completing her sea trial at the end of 1946 was, early the next year, to convey King George VI and his family on the first Royal Tour of South Africa by a reigning monarch. While refitting after her return, she was selected for another Royal Tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1948. This was cancelled due to King George's declining health and Vanguard briefly became flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet in early 1949. After her return home in mid-1949, she became flagship of the Home Fleet Training Squadron. Throughout her career, the battleship usually served as the flagship of any unit to which she was assigned. During the early 1950s, Vanguard was involved in a number of training exercises with NATO forces. In 1953 she participated in Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Review. While she was refitting in 1955, the Admiralty announced that the ship was going to be put into reserve upon completion of the work. Vanguard was sold for scrap and was broken up beginning in 1960.

Japanese battleship Haruna

Haruna (榛名) was a warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I and World War II. Designed by the British naval engineer George Thurston and named after Mount Haruna, she was the fourth and last battlecruiser of the Kongō class, amongst the most heavily armed ships in any navy when built. Laid down in 1912 at the Kawasaki Shipyards in Kobe, Haruna was formally commissioned in 1915 on the same day as her sister ship, Kirishima. Haruna patrolled off the Chinese coast during World War I. During gunnery drills in 1920, an explosion destroyed one of her guns, damaged the gun turret, and killed seven men.

During her career, Haruna underwent two major reconstructions. Beginning in 1926, the Imperial Japanese Navy rebuilt her as a battleship, strengthening her armor and improving her speed and power capabilities. In 1933, her superstructure was completely rebuilt, her speed was increased, and she was equipped with launch catapults for floatplanes. Now fast enough to accompany Japan's growing carrier fleet, Haruna was reclassified as a fast battleship. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Haruna transported Imperial Japanese Army troops to mainland China before being redeployed to the Third Battleship Division in 1941. On the eve of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, she sailed as part of the Southern Force in preparation for the Battle of Singapore.

Haruna fought in almost every major naval action of the Pacific Theater during World War II. She covered the Japanese landings in Malaya (in present-day Malaysia) and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1942 before engaging American forces at the Battle of Midway and during the Guadalcanal Campaign. Throughout 1943, Haruna primarily remained at Truk Lagoon (Micronesia), Kure Naval Base (near Hiroshima), Sasebo Naval Base (near Nagasaki), and the Lingga Islands (in present-day Indonesia), and deployed on several occasions in response to American carrier airstrikes on Japanese island bases. Haruna participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, engaging American vessels in the latter. In 1945, Haruna was transferred to Kure Naval Base, where she was sunk by aircraft of Task Force 38 on 28 July 1945.

Japanese battleship Hiei

Hiei (比叡) was a warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I and World War II. Designed by British naval architect George Thurston, she was the second launched of four Kongō-class battlecruisers, among the most heavily armed ships in any navy when built. Laid down in 1911 at the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal, Hiei was formally commissioned in 1914. She patrolled off the Chinese coast on several occasions during World War I, and helped with rescue efforts following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake.

Starting in 1929, Hiei was converted to a gunnery training ship to avoid being scrapped under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty. She served as Emperor Hirohito's transport in the mid-1930s. Starting in 1937, she underwent a full-scale reconstruction that completely rebuilt her superstructure, upgraded her powerplant, and equipped her with launch catapults for floatplanes. Now fast enough to accompany Japan's growing fleet of aircraft carriers, she was reclassified as a fast battleship. On the eve of the US entry into World War II, she sailed as part of Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's Combined Fleet, escorting the six carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

As part of the Third Battleship Division, Hiei participated in many of the Imperial Japanese Navy's early actions in 1942, providing support for the invasion of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) as well as the Indian Ocean raid of April 1942. During the Battle of Midway, she sailed in the Invasion Force under Admiral Nobutake Kondō, before being redeployed to the Solomon Islands during the Battle of Guadalcanal. She escorted Japanese carrier forces during the battles of the Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz Islands, before sailing as part of a bombardment force under Admiral Kondō during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. On the evening of 13 November 1942, Hiei engaged American cruisers and destroyers alongside her sister ship Kirishima. After inflicting heavy damage on American cruisers and destroyers, Hiei was crippled by American vessels. Subjected to continuous air attack, she sank on the evening of 14 November 1942.

Japanese battleship Kirishima

Kirishima (霧島) was a warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I and World War II. Designed by British naval engineer George Thurston, she was the third launched of the four Kongō-class battlecruisers. Laid down in 1912 at the Mitsubishi Shipyards in Nagasaki, Kirishima was formally commissioned in 1915 on the same day as her sister ship, Haruna. Kirishima patrolled on occasion off the Chinese coast during World War I, and helped with rescue efforts following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake.

Starting in 1927, Kirishima's first reconstruction rebuilt her as a battleship, strengthening her armor and improving her speed. From 1934, a second reconstruction completely rebuilt her superstructure, upgraded her engine plant, and equipped her with launch catapults for floatplanes. Now fast enough to accompany Japan's growing carrier fleet, she was reclassified as a fast battleship. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Kirishima acted primarily as a support vessel and troop transport, moving army troops to mainland China. On the eve of World War II, she sailed as part of Vice-Admiral Chuichi Nagumo's Kido Butai as an escort for the six carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

As part of the Third Battleship Division, Kirishima participated in many of the Imperial Japanese Navy's early actions in 1942, providing support for the invasion of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and in the Indian Ocean raid of April 1942. During the Battle of Midway, she provided escort to Nagumo's four carriers, before redeploying to the Solomon Islands during the Battle of Guadalcanal. She escorted Japanese carrier fleets during the battles of the Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz Islands, before sailing as part of a bombardment force under Admiral Nobutake Kondō during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. On the evening of 13 November 1942, Kirishima engaged American cruisers and destroyers alongside her sister ship Hiei. On the night of 14/15 November, in one of only two battleship duels of the Pacific War, Kirishima attacked and damaged the American battleship USS South Dakota before being fatally crippled in turn by the battleship USS Washington. Kirishima capsized and sank in the early morning on 15 November 1942 in Ironbottom Sound.

Japanese battleship Kongō

Kongō (金剛, "Indestructible Diamond", named for Mount Kongō) was a warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War I and World War II. She was the first battlecruiser of the Kongō class, among the most heavily armed ships in any navy when built. Her designer was the British naval engineer George Thurston, and she was laid down in 1911 at Barrow-in-Furness in Britain by Vickers Shipbuilding Company. Kongō was the last Japanese capital ship constructed outside Japan. She was formally commissioned in 1913, and patrolled off the Chinese coast during World War I.

Kongō underwent two major reconstructions. Beginning in 1929, the Imperial Japanese Navy rebuilt her as a battleship, strengthening her armor and improving her speed and power capabilities. In 1935, her superstructure was completely rebuilt, her speed was increased, and she was equipped with launch catapults for floatplanes. Now fast enough to accompany Japan's growing carrier fleet, Kongō was reclassified as a fast battleship. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Kongō operated off the coast of mainland China before being redeployed to the Third Battleship Division in 1941. In 1942, she sailed as part of the Southern Force in preparation for the Battle of Singapore.

Kongō fought in a large number of major naval actions of the Pacific War during World War II. She covered the Japanese Army's amphibious landings in British Malaya (part of present-day Malaysia) and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in 1942, before engaging American forces at the Battle of Midway and during the Guadalcanal Campaign. Throughout 1943, Kongō primarily remained at Truk Lagoon in the Caroline Islands, Kure Naval Base (near Hiroshima), Sasebo Naval Base (near Nagasaki), and Lingga Roads, and deployed several times in response to American aircraft carrier air raids on Japanese island bases scattered across the Pacific. Kongō participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944 (22–23 October), engaging and sinking American vessels in the latter. Kongō was torpedoed and sunk by the submarine USS Sealion while transiting the Formosa Strait on 21 November 1944. She was the only Japanese battleship sunk by submarine in the Second World War.

List of battlecruisers of World War II

This is a list of battlecruisers of World War II.

A battlecruiser, or battle cruiser, was a capital ship built in the first half of the 20th century. They were similar in size, cost, and carried similar armament to battleships, but they generally carried less armour to obtain faster speeds. The first battlecruisers were designed in the United Kingdom, in the first decade of the century, as a development of the armoured cruiser, at the same time as the dreadnought succeeded the pre-dreadnought battleship. The original aim of the battlecruiser was to hunt down slower, older armoured cruisers and destroy them with heavy gunfire. However, as more and more battlecruisers were built, they increasingly became used alongside the better-protected battleships.

Battlecruisers served in the navies of Britain, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, Australia and Japan during World War I, most notably at the Battle of the Falkland Islands and in the several raids and skirmishes in the North Sea which culminated in a pitched fleet battle, the Battle of Jutland. British battlecruisers in particular suffered heavy losses at Jutland, where their light armour made them very vulnerable to large-caliber shells. By the end of the war, capital ship design had developed with battleships becoming faster and battlecruisers becoming more heavily armoured, blurring the distinction between a battlecruiser and a fast battleship. The Washington Naval Treaty, which limited capital ship construction from 1922 onwards, treated battleships and battlecruisers identically, and the new generation of battlecruisers planned was scrapped under the terms of the treaty.

From the 1930s on, only the Royal Navy continued to use 'battlecruiser' as a classification for the World War I-era capital ships that remained in the fleet; while Japan's battlecruisers remained in service, they had been significantly reconstructed and were re-rated as full-fledged battleships.

Battlecruisers were put into action again during World War II, and only one survived to the end. There was also renewed interest in large "cruiser-killer" type warships, but few were ever begun, as construction of battleships and battlecruisers were curtailed in favor of more-needed convoy escorts, aircraft carriers, and cargo ships.The List of ships of World War II contains major military vessels of the war, arranged alphabetically and by type. The list includes armed vessels that served during the war and in the immediate aftermath, inclusive of localized ongoing combat operations, garrison surrenders, post-surrender occupation, colony re-occupation, troop and prisoner repatriation, to the end of 1945. For smaller vessels, see also List of World War II ships of less than 1000 tons. Some uncompleted Axis ships are included, out of historic interest. Ships are designated to the country under which they operated for the longest period of the Second World War, regardless of where they were built or previous service history.

Click on headers to sort column alphabetically.

List of battleships

The list of battleships includes all battleships built between 1859 and 1946, listed alphabetically.

The boundary between ironclads and the first battleships, the so-called 'pre-dreadnought battleship', is not obvious, as the characteristics of the pre-dreadnought evolved in the period from 1875 to 1895.

As they can be considered as reduced versions of battleships, coastal defence ships (sometimes also referred to as coastal defence battleships) are included in the list.

Mine countermeasures vessel

A mine countermeasures vessel or MCMV is a type of naval ship designed for the location of and destruction of naval mines which combines the role of a minesweeper and minehunter in one hull. The term MCMV is also applied collectively to minehunters and minesweepers.

Minehunter

A minehunter is a naval vessel that seeks, detects, and destroys individual naval mines. Minesweepers, on the other hand, clear mined areas as a whole, without prior detection of mines. A vessel that combines both of these roles is known as a mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV).

Ocean boarding vessel

Ocean boarding vessels (OBVs) were merchant ships taken over by the Royal Navy for the purpose of enforcing wartime blockades by intercepting and boarding foreign vessels.

Repair ship

A repair ship is a naval auxiliary ship designed to provide maintenance support to warships. Repair ships provide similar services to destroyer, submarine and seaplane tenders or depot ships, but may offer a broader range of repair capability including equipment and personnel for repair of more significant machinery failures or battle damage.

Submarine tender

A submarine tender is a type of depot ship that supplies and supports submarines.

United States Eighth Fleet

The United States Eighth Fleet was a numbered fleet of the United States Navy established 15 March 1943 from Northwest African Force. It operated in the Mediterranean Sea during World War II with a main mission of amphibious warfare, and then was active in 1946–47 as the heavy striking arm of the United States Atlantic Fleet.

In 1941, the forces that eventually evolved into the Eighth Fleet were designated Amphibious Forces, Atlantic Fleet, under the command of Admiral Henry Kent Hewitt, who took command in April 1942. This force, also called Task Force 34, became the U.S. component of the Operation Torch landings in November 1942. The force was then renamed U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest Africa Waters or COMNAVNAW. On 1 February 1946, U.S. Naval Forces, Northwest African Waters, were redesignated U.S. Naval Forces, Mediterranean, which later became the United States Sixth Fleet.

Still under Hewitt's command, the renamed Eighth Fleet supported the landings in Sicily, Operation Husky, and at Salerno, Operation Avalanche, the first sustained land assault and invasion of the European mainland in World War II. Eighth Fleet then supported the August 1944 landing of Allied troops on the coast of southern France, Operation Dragoon, with heavy naval gunfire and naval air attacks. Hewitt remained as the fleet commander until 1945, when he moved on to chair a Pearl Harbor investigation. The fleet was disbanded on 15 September 1945, with its forces becoming part of United States Twelfth Fleet.

With the reorganization of the Navy after World War II in December 1945, Eighth Fleet was reactivated on 1 March 1946 under the command of Admiral Marc A. Mitscher. Under the overall command of Commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Eighth Fleet was the heavy striking arm of the Atlantic Fleet. It consisted of the preponderance of Atlantic Fleet aircraft carrier assets, initially including the new fast carriers Midway and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and their escorts and support ships. These latter did not include the fast Battleship Division (Battleship Division Two?) made up of USS Wisconsin and Missouri, retained under direct command of Atlantic Fleet. In January 1947, the US Eighth Fleet was redesignated as the Second Task Fleet, a part of the Atlantic Fleet.

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