HMS Vanguard

HMS Vanguard (23) a British Lion Class Battleship that was being built during the Second World War and when the war in Europe ended in May of 1945, the decision was made to complete her in case the war in the Pacific against Japan dragged on.

As such, Vanguard was launched in 1944 but not formally commissioned until August 9th, 1946. She was completed larger than the predecessor King George V battleship and with greatly increased armament capability.

The King George V class of battleships each held 14-inch main guns and with the development and use of 16-inch guns by the United States and Japanese navies, the King George V class was suddenly viewed as under-armed.

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 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.

In 1947, she became a Royal Yacht, taking the Royal Family to South Africa. A historic note for a mighty ship was in having a badminton net set up on her battle deck for a bit of Royal Family fun. Nevertheless, she did participate in a number of NATO duties during the Cold War before going into reserve.

Some in her crew had requested Vanguard be saved as a museum ship since she was the last British battleship build and the last such class of vessel built anywhere in the world. The gesture was not received fondly and she ultimately sold for scrapping in 1960, bringing an end to the rather quiet career of the powerful HMS Vanguard.

 

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