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Type: BB
Class: KING GEORGE V - four in class
Builder: Devonport Dockyard
Commissioned: May, 1913
Displacement: 23,000 tons

Dimensions: (in feet and inches)

597' 6" x 89' x 28' 8"

Belt: 8" - 12"
Bulkheads: 4" - 10"
Barbettes: 3" - 10"
Turret faces: 11"
Decks: 1" - 4"
Machinery: 4-shaft Parsons turbines, 18 Babcock & Wilcox boilers; 31,000shp.  Coal:  2870-3150 tons;  oil:  800 tons.  Range:  6,730nm at 10 kts.
Speed: 21 knots
10 13.5" / 45 cal. 5x2
16 4" / 50 cal. 16x1
4 3-pdr. (47mm) 4x1
3 21" TT submerged
Compliment: 782






Notes:  The four battleships ordered by the Royal Navy in the 1910 Program were to have been repeat ORIONs, but lessons learned from their predecessors allowed for some alterations to be made.  Most notable was the relocation of the pole foremast ahead of the funnels, instead of between them.  Consideration was made to upgrade the secondary battery to 6" guns, but as this would have not only added to the weight (by nearly 2,000 tons), but the overall cost, the 4" battery remained.  This decision was soundly criticized, especially when it was compared to the secondary batteries being installed in foreign battleships.  However, Lord Fisher believe that the volume of fire from the 4" guns would compensate for the smaller "hitting power" of each individual shell, and they were built with the 4" guns.  Later, the criticism proved valid, and succeeding classes carried 6" guns in their secondary batteries.  Deck armor in the KING GEORGE V class was improved over the ORION class, and the class was fitted with taller funnels.  The 13.5" guns were upgraded, allowing them to fire a slightly heavier shell which aided in accuracy at longer ranges.


While on trials, CENTURION collided with and sank the Italian merchant ship DERNA; subsequent repairs delayed her completion by nearly five months.  She was commissioned into the 2nd Battle Squadron, Home Fleet; in August, 1914, she was transferred to the Grand Fleet, where she served throughout World War I.  CENTURION took part in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916; due to problems sighting the enemy, she only fired 19 rounds of 13.5" ammunition (all at the battlecruiser LÜTZOW) with no hits scored; while trying to adjust her ranging, her line of fire was blocked (first by the ORION, then by the ships of the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron), which effectively ended her active participation in the battle. 


CENTURION was transferred to the Mediterranean in 1919 for operations in the Black Sea.  She returned to home waters in 1924, and went into reserve at Portsmouth until paid off in April, 1926.  All of her guns were removed and she was converted to a radio-controlled target ship (replacing the LORD NELSON class battleship AGAMEMNON) in 1927, and was used in this role (for gunfire of up to 8") until April, 1941 at Plymouth.  Then, in a "conversion" that took less than a month, CENTURION was made to resemble the new KING GEORGE V class battleship ANSON, with fake superstructure and main battery turrets, made of wood and canvas.  CENTURION did receive an AA battery of two 40mm and eight 20m guns.  She sailed for Alexandria in May, 1941, then made several "sorties" pretending to be ANSON.  During one of those sorties, she collided with the troop ship CHRISTIAAN HUYGENS, but little damage was incurred.  Early in 1942, CENTURION's  fake superstructure was damaged in a storm, and her "A turret" was completely destroyed; she put into port at Aden, and rumors were spread that she (as ANSON) had been damaged in a "battle with a raider".  Following repairs to her appearance (and the addition of two more 40mm and nine more 20mm AA guns), CENTURION continued to impersonate ANSON in "sorties".  While in a convoy bound for Malta on 16 June 1942, and carrying 2,500 tons of supplies, CENTURION was hit by an aerial bomb on her forecastle, and she had to return to Alexandria.  Following repairs, she served as a stationary floating AA battery until February, 1944.  Then CENTURION returned to Devonport, arriving on 12 May 1944.  She was fitted with explosives in the bottom of her hull at Portsmouth, and was expended as a part of the artificial breakwater formed off the Normandy beachhead on 9 June 1944.  For a while, CENTURION was used by the U. S. Navy as a harbor signal station.  CENTURION was gradually broken up on site following World War II.




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