Posts by Matthew Wright

Ships are more than just statistics – people count

The recent collisions and other incidents with the US 7th Fleet – and the look the US Navy is taking at the fleet’s practises – underscore a point well understood for centuries by naval commanders. People count. Training counts. And morale is part of the mix. History is littered with stories of ships surviving –…

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Ten interesting facts about the Washington Naval Treaty

The ‘ Washington Naval Treaty ’ was one of the world’s few successful naval limitation agreements. It was negotiated between November 1921 and February 1922, in Washington, and signed on 6 February that year. It limited not just numbers of ships, but also the specifications and timing of new-build vessels, but what’s perhaps more interesting…

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Tinclads and cheats – the heavy cruisers of the Washington Treaty

The ‘Washington Treaty’ of February 1922 limited national warship tonnages by ship type, displacement, and gun calibre among other things. It was an unprecedented step, the first effective arms-control arrangement of its kind, made possible largely on the back of financial and human exhaustion following the First World War. It also served to heavily influence…

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Why did Hood blow up so quickly in battle?

When HMS Hood sank in the Denmark Strait on 24 May 1941, the British public reeled. Some 1415 officers and men were lost. It was an appalling human tragedy. Hood went down just a few minutes after tackling the German battleship KM Bismarck. What happened? The origins and design of Hood was covered in the…

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Is there room for nuclear propelled surface ships?

Is there room these days for nuclear propelled surface ships? Times have moved on from the Cold War and the mind-set of the 1950s when nuclear was ‘in’ – when even nuclear powered family cars were proposed. Atomic cars never eventuated, but nuclear-propelled ships and submarines did. The main motive was range: naval tacticians didn’t…

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Project 1047 – the Dutch cruiser-killers of 1939-40

The fastest battlecruisers ever seriously contemplated were the Dutch ‘Project 1047’ class of 1939-40. War prevented their design being finished, but they are fascinating examples of what could have been. They had their origins in the naval challenge the Japanese posed by the late 1930s to the sprawling Dutch East Indies. By this time Japan…

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Battlecruisers – both over-gunned and under-armoured

We popularly envisage ‘battlecruisers’ as heavily armed but badly armoured – trading speed for protection. That criticism was particularly levelled at Britain’s first ships of the type, which emerged from the same Committee on Designs that produced the Dreadnought in the first months of 1905 and, in essence, created the battlecruiser as a type, although…

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HMS Dreadnought – the case for propaganda over engineering

It’s just over 110 years since HMS Dreadnought sailed on her first shake-down cruise under Captain Reginald Bacon. She was a remarkable battleship in many ways, one whose name became synonymous with all battleships during the First World War period, and whose design concepts set the pattern for every battleship that followed in many ways.…

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