Battleship HMS Royal Sovereign

The battleship HMS Royal Sovereign belonged to the Revenge class, which consisted of a total of five ships, were put into service during the First World War, with only two ships could be used.


Launching and design:

The battleships of the Revenge class were ordered in 1913 by the Royal Navy. First, the number of pieces was set to eight ships, the end of 1914, it was apparent that the calculated construction time could not be met, so three ships were canceled.

The construction was similar to the Queen Elizabeth class, but was smaller in size and the speed was slightly lower. In return, the belt armor was strengthened and the deck armor set higher and also reinforced. In addition, the ships were equipped with Torpedowülsten to strengthen the protection against torpedoes.

The ships of the Queen Elizabeth class, a pure oil-fired drive system was installed. In the ships of the Revenge class, an oil mixed coal plant should be installed again, as the Marineleitung feared to become too dependent on oil supplies. However, after Lord John Fisher retired from his retirement in November 1914 as First Sea Lord, he also insisted that the Revenge-class ships should receive a pure oil-fueled propulsion system. This should reduce the operator crew by 75, increasing performance and speed.

The launching of the HMS Royal Sovereign took place on April 29, 1915, the commissioning on April 18, 1916.



HMS Royal Sovereign




Use in the war:

After the commissioning on 18 April 1916, the test drives of the ship began. On May 30, the ship was in the port of Scapa Flow, as the fleet chief Admiral John Jellicoe gave the order for the expiry of the Grand Fleet. However, the HMS Royal Sovereign should remain in the harbor, as the crew was not yet fully trained on the ship and was still too inexperienced. Thus, the Royal Sovereign could not take part in the Battle of the Skagerrak from 31 May to 1 June 1916, but urged the British Navy leadership to make the ship as soon as possible operational, so that continued superiority over the German Navy can be maintained.

When on August 18, 1916, the German High Seas Fleet again carried out a thrust into the North Sea, Fleet Chief Admiral John Jellicoe left the Grand Fleet expire again. Due to poor communication of the British ships and the sinking of two small British cruisers by German submarines, Jellicoe kept his battlecruisers and battleships back. He feared in the southern North Sea mines and other German submarines and did not want to risk his big warships for this, so the German ships succeeded unscathed to return to Germany.

In April 1918, the German High Seas Fleet ran out for the last time. The goal was a British convoy to Norway. Due to the absolute radio silence of the German ships, the British could not intercept these and thus knew nothing of the attack. Only when the German battlecruiser SMS Moltke suffered a machine failure and the captain radioed the situation to the German naval command, the British recognized the danger and immediately phased out their ships of the Grand Fleet. However, these came too late to intercept the German ships.

On November 21, 1918, after the armistice of the German Empire, the HMS Royal Sovereign belonged to the British ships, which received the German High Seas fleet and escorted to Scapa Flow.




Use after the war:

After the war, the ship initially remained in the Grand Fleet. In September 1919, it moved to the dry dock of Invergordon, where the ship was overhauled and some repairs were carried out. Subsequently, the transfer to the 1st Battle Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet took place.

Due to the increasing tensions between Greece and the disintegrated Ottoman Empire, the HMS Royal Sovereign had to be relocated together with her sister ship HMS Resolution in April 1920 in the Mediterranean. In Constantinople and other cities British refugees were taken who fled either before the Russian Civil War or the conflict between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. When the situation calmed down in the region, the ship changed again into the Atlantic fleet.

Under the provisions of the Washington Naval Conference of 6 February 1922, Great Britain had to reduce the number of its battleships from 40 to 15. The remaining ships were split between the Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets, leaving the HMS Royal Sovereign in the Atlantic.

From October 4, 1927 to May 15, 1929, some modernizations were made on the ship. It received four new rangefinders and eight searchlights, also the air defense was strengthened. After the modernization, it was assigned to the 1st Battle Squadron in the Mediterranean.

Until the end of 1938, the ship changed again and again between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and participated in the annual exercises and maneuvers.

By Japanese expansion in Asia, the British naval leadership began in early 1939 with the plan to set up a fleet for Asia to protect British interests from the Japanese. However, when it became apparent during the year that the bombers under construction in the King George V-Class would not be ready until 1941 and diplomatic tensions with Germany intensified, planning was changed and the fleet was no longer set up for Asia. Instead, HMS Royal Sovereign, along with HMS Resolution, HMS Royal Oak, HMS Rodney, and HMS Repulse, were prepared for war in Invergordon.




Use in the Second World War:

Already on August 31, 1939, one day before the start of the Second World War in Europe, the HMS Royal Sovereign was sent between Greenland and Iceland to control German merchant ships. A few days after the British declared war on Germany, the ship was assigned to the 2nd Home Fleet Battle Squadron, where it was to protect British convoys.

In May 1940, the transfer to the Mediterranean, where on 25 and 27 June 1940 again convoys were protected.

On July 18, 1940, there was a battle between Calabria between British and Italian warships. Due to their low speed, the HMS Royal Sovereign came too late to intervene in the battle.

From August 1940 to August 1941, the ship was again deployed in the Atlantic, again to protect British convoys.

Already since May 1941, the British naval leadership was working on a plan and the establishment of a squadron for the Pacific, in case of impending war with Japan to have sufficient warships on site to counteract this. After the HMS Royal Sovereign had completed the escorting of the convoys in the Atlantic, it was assigned together with the sister ships HMS Revenge, HMS Ramillies and HMS Resolution the new East Squadron.

In late March 1942, the squadron comprised two aircraft carriers, five battleships, seven cruisers and sixteen destroyers. Apart from the slightly more modern HMS Warspite, the other four battleships were quite outdated and would have been clearly inferior to the fleet of Japanese Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumos. For this reason, the order was issued, if possible, not to seek a fight with the Japanese ships but to keep the British ships defensive.

However, by deciphering Japanese radio traffic, the British received information that the Japanese fleet was planning to attack British ships and several cities. For this reason, the British commander let his ships run out because he wanted to surprise the Japanese in a night attack and thus saw the only possibility to balance the balance of power. After three days of unsuccessful search, however, the British ships had to return to their ports to refuel. While refueling, the Japanese attacked Colombo and Trincomalee.

After the attacks, the four Revenge class ships were relocated to Mombasa and secured the shipping routes in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. It was not until January 1944 that the ship returned to Britain.

After the capitulation of Italy, the Allies made reparation claims to the country, including the Soviet Union. However, since the extradition of Italian warships took longer than planned, the Soviet Navy received some ships of Great Britain as a pledge, including the HMS Royal Sovereign. On May 30, 1944, the ship was handed over and officially placed as Arkhangelsk in the Soviet service.

On August 17, 1944 left the Arkhangelsk in the convoy JW 59 along with 33 merchant ships Britain towards Russia. The convoy was attacked by the German submarine U-711, but this could not achieve a hit. Even later attempts with the German small submarine  beavers failed when the Arkhangelsk was briefly anchored in Kola.

On August 29, 1944, the ship was taken over by a Russian crew, was under the command of Admiral Gordey Levchenko and was at that time the largest warship in the Russian Navy.

Until the end of the war, the Arkhangelsk accompanied convoys in the Arctic Ocean to secure the supplies.



HMS Royal Sovereign in Scapa Flow


HMS Royal Sovereign 1943


The HMS Royal Sovereign as Soviet Arkhangelsk





After the Second World War, the Arkhangelsk remained in the Russian Navy. The ship ran aground in the end of 1947 in the White Sea, the damage was kept secret. When Great Britain subsequently tried to get back the ship, as the Italian battleship Giulio Cesare was available as a reparation service, Russia tried to prevent the release at first by being told that the ship was no longer seaworthy. After an inspection by a British naval officer, Russia finally had to give in and exchange the Arkhangelsk on February 4, 1949 against the Italian ship.

After entering Rosyth Naval Base, the ship was thoroughly inspected. It turned out that the equipment has become almost completely unusable. Further, the main guns were clamped, as these were probably hardly turned and were now firmly rusted. Also, many technical equipment had been removed.

Since the Arkhangelsk in this condition was no longer useful, the ship was on May 18, 1949 to the company Thomas W. Ward Shipbreakers Ltd. sold and then scrapped.




Ship data:


HMS Royal Sovereign

In the Soviet Navy:


Great Britain

From May 30, 1944 to February 4, 1949 Soviet Union

Ship Type:  





Portsmouth Naval Dockyard


2.570.504 pounds sterling


April 29, 1915


April 18, 1916


Sold and scrapped on May 18, 1949


190,95 meters


27 meters


8,5 meters


Max. 31.200 tons


997 - 1146 men


18 Yarrow steam boiler

4 sets of steam turbines
with Parson gear


40.000 shp (30 MW)

Maximum speed:  

23 kn (ca. 43 km/h)




4 x 38,1 cm guns

14 x 15,2 cm guns

2 x 7,6 cm anti-aircraft guns

4 x 4,7 cm anti-aircraft guns

4 x 53,3 cm torpedo tubes


Belt 102 - 330 mm

Deck 20 - 64 mm

Towers 330 mm

Barbettes 100 - 250 mm

Command post 152 - 280 mm

Citadel - 152 mm






You can find the right literature here:


British Battleships of World War One

British Battleships of World War One Hardcover – November 15, 2012

This new edition of a classic work on British battleships is the most sought after book on the subject. Containing many new photographs from the author's exhaustive collection this superb reference book presents the complete technical history of British capital ship design and construction during the dreadnought era. Beginning with Dreadnought, all of the fifty dreadnoughts, 'super-dreadnoughts' and battlecruisers that served the Royal Navy during this era are described and superbly illustrated with photographs and line drawings.

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The British Battleship: 1906-1946

The British Battleship: 1906-1946 Hardcover – October 15, 2015

Norman Friedman brings a new perspective to an ever-popular subject in The British Battleship: 1906-1946. With a unique ability to frame technologies within the context of politics, economics, and strategy, he offers unique insight into the development of the Royal Navy capital ships. With plans of the important classes commissioned from John Roberts and A D Baker III and a color section featuring the original Admiralty draughts, this book offers something to even the most knowledgeable enthusiast.

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British Battlecruisers 1905-1920

British Battlecruisers 1905-1920 Hardcover – December 15, 2016

The brainchild of Admiral Sir John Fisher, battlecruisers combined heavy guns and high speed in the largest hulls of their era. Conceived as "super-cruisers" whose job it was to hunt down and destroy commerce raiders, their size and gun-power led to their inclusion in the battlefleet as a fast squadron of capital ships. This book traces in detail the development of Fisher's original idea into the first battlecruiser Invincible of 1908, through to the "Splendid Cats" of the Lion class, and culminating in HMS Hood in 1920, the largest warship in the world for the next twenty years. The origins of the unusual "light battlecruisers" of the Courageous type are also covered.

The well-publicized problems of British battlecruisers are examined, including the latest research throwing light on the catastrophic loss of three of the ships at the Battle of Jutland. The developmental history is backed by chapters covering machinery, armament, and armor, with a full listing of important technical data. The comprehensive collection of illustrations includes the author's superb drawings and original Admiralty plans reproduced in full color. This revised and updated edition of the classic work first published in 1997 will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in the most charismatic and controversial warships of the dreadnought era.

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British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel)

British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser: 1914–16 (Duel) Paperback – November 19, 2013

Battles at Dogger Bank and Jutland revealed critical firepower, armor, and speed differences in Royal Navy and Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial German Navy) Battlecruiser designs.

Fast-moving and formidably armed, the battlecruisers of the British and German navies first encountered one another in 1915 at Dogger Bank and in the following year clashed near Jutland in the biggest battleship action of all time. In the decade before World War I Britain and Germany were locked in a naval arms race that saw the advent of first the revolutionary dreadnought, the powerful, fast-moving battleship that rendered earlier designs obsolete, and then an entirely new kind of vessel - the battlecruiser. The brainchild of the visionary British admiral John 'Jacky' Fisher, the battlecruiser was designed to operate at long range in 'flying squadrons', using its superior speed and powerful armament to hunt, outmanoeuvre and destroy any opponent. The penalty paid to reach higher speeds was a relative lack of armour, but Fisher believed that 'speed equals protection'. By 1914 the British had ten battlecruisers in service and they proved their worth when two battlecruisers, Invincible and Inflexible, sank the German armoured cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off the Falklands in December 1914.

Based on a divergent design philosophy that emphasised protection over firepower, the Germans' battlecruisers numbered six by January 1915, when the rival battlecruisers first clashed at Dogger Bank in the North Sea. By this time the British battlecruisers had been given a new role - to locate the enemy fleet. Five British battlecruisers accompanied by other vessels intercepted and pursued a German force including three battlecruisers; although the battle was a British tactical victory with neither side losing any of its battlecruisers, the differences in the designs of the British and German ships were already apparent. The two sides responded very differently to this first clash; while the Germans improved their ammunition-handling procedures to lessen the risk of disabling explosions, the British drew the opposite lesson and stockpiled ammunition in an effort to improve their rate of fire, rendering their battlecruisers more vulnerable. The British also failed to improve the quality of their ammunition, which had often failed to penetrate the German ships' armour.

These differences were highlighted more starkly during the battle of Jutland in May 1916. Of the nine British battlecruisers committed, three were destroyed, all by their German counterparts. Five German battlecruisers were present, and of these, only one was sunk and the remainder damaged. The limitations of some of the British battlecruisers' fire-control systems, range-finders and ammunition quality were made clear; the Germans not only found the range more quickly, but spread their fire more effectively, and the German battlecruisers' superior protection meant that despite being severely mauled, all but one were able to evade the British fleet at the close of the battle. British communication was poor, with British crews relying on ship-to-ship flag and lamp signals even though wireless communication was available. Even so, both sides claimed victory and the controversy continues to this day.

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