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.
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.
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.
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.