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HMS Argonaut, built by Fairfield, laid down November 1896, launched 24th January 1898, completed April 1900. She was a ship of the Diadem-class of protected cruiser in the Royal Navy. This class of ship was not like the typical heavy cruisers of the day, in that they were deprived of side armour in order to increase their speed. They were well protected, however, for they were fitted with an armoured deck and amour around their vital parts (sometimes called the Citadel). But the most powerful guns were only protected by gun-shields. The top speed of her reciprocating engines was between 15 and 17 knots, the latter for only short periods. Although she had a design speed of 20.5 knots, her normal cruising speed was around 10 knots. At this cruising speed, she would consume about 1 ton of coal for every 10 nautical miles she steamed, while her bunkers could hold up to 1000 tons of coal. Endurance was, until the creation of the ‘cruising turbine’ the only advantage that the steam reciprocating engine had over the steam turbine.

Size: Length 435 feet pp 462 feet 6 inches overall, beam 69 feet, draught 25 feet 6 inches, displacement 11,00 tons load.
Propulsion: 2 shaft triple expansion engines, 16.500/18,000 ihp, 20/20.5 knots. Armour: 6in gun shields, 4.5-2in decks.
Armament: 16 x 6in Mk VII (16 x 1), 14 x 12 pounder (14 x 1), 3 x 3 pounder (3 x 1), 2 x 18in TT. Crew 677.

HMS Argonaut was deployed in the Far East from 1900 - 1904 (as seen below when, in 1898, she was in dock in Whampoa, Hong Kong). During this time the ships Captain "Captain G.H. Cherry" ruled the ship with a rod of iron issuing around 600 warrant punishments. Captain Cherry was just as tough on the officers with only four remaining aboard throughout the commission. When the Argonaut returned to Plymouth in 1904 to be reduced to the reserve fleet (eventually at Chatham ) a sister of Lieutenant Arthur Ross declared that they "deserved a medal", and designed one. The joke went one step further when the London store Gamages agreed to make 100 "Cherry medals" all officers that had served 6 months on the Argonaut were allowed a medal. The news soon spread far and wide in the Navy, with Admiral Lord Fisher claiming one based on the fact that he had served with Cherry on another ship he was refused, however King George was presented with an honorary medal.

In 1907, Argonaut rejoined the Home fleet in Portsmouth and in 1912 became a training ship for stokers until the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, when she now joined the 9th Cruiser Squadron. In 1915 she was converted to a hospital ship in Portsmouth and in 1918, to an accommodation ship. She was sold to Ward, of Milford Haven, on 18th May 1920, and arrived there for breaking up on 4th September 1921.

War Service -

  • 1914: 9th Cruiser Squadron Atlantic.
  • 1915: Hospital ship Portsmouth.
  • 1918: Accommodation ship.
  • 1920: Sold for scrap.

Last updated 14 November, 2008

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