ARA Santa Cruz (BB-1937)


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My original thought for this class of battleships was to have two 5 turret ships with heavy-ish armour and reasonable 27-28 knot speed. The ships were to use the turrets removed from the ex-Helgoland class battleships. The other recycled turrets were to provide the armament for two lightly armoured and faster battlecruiser type ships. (See bottom of page for drawings.) The new drawings are of an upgraded Derfflinger type fast-battleship. The Argentinians had the original Derfflinger in their fleet so it was available to provide the designers with all the information they might have required.

The ARA had purchased 2 of the ex Helgoland dreadnoughts for the specific purpose of utilising the wing turrets and X turret (5 per ship) to build a set of new battleships or battlecruisers in the future. Having the 2 Kaiser and 2 Konig class with the same turrets meant that once all the modernisations and rebuilds were over the ARA would have 16 spare 12" twin turrets. It was decided that these would provide 4 new battleships with 8x12" each. The 4 twin 12" removed from Moreno and Rivadavia would also provide for a new battleship of the same class.

With German technical assistance the first of the five ships was laid down at the Bahia Blanca Navy Yards in 1934. Further ships were laid down as funds were made available. The advantages of using the recycled turrets was: cost, time to build, each being less than normal. Standard battleships were 4-5 years to build, the Argentinian ships were 3-3 1/2 years each. On launching the ships were named Santa Cruz, San Luis, San Juan, San Salvador and Santa Fe.

The twin 12" turrets had also been refurbished to increase the guns elevation and range. These ships were armoured to withstand heavy shells and were fast enough to be classed as 'fast battleships'. Eight 12" may not have scared any of the ARA's potential enemies but the ships were a good compromise and cost effective and utilising the 2nd hand turrets took a 1/3 off the cost and a year off the building time. A big saving the ARA could not ignore. Since its main competitors were Chile and Brazil, which were utilising the British pattern 13.5",  the Germans had always felt was not superior to their 12" gun, these ships would still be as good as any of those countries existing or newly built ships.

Displacement 32,500 tons std, 37,800 full load
Length 737 ft
Breadth 98.5 ft
Draught 29.5 ft
Machinery 2 shaft Steam Turbines 130,000shp
Speed 30 knots
Range 7400 miles at 18 knots
Armour 12" side, 5.1" deck, 12" turrets
Armament 8 x 12" (4x2)

20 x 88mm (10x2)

24 x 40mm (12x2)

50 x 20mm (10x4 10x1)

Aircraft 2
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1450

Santa Cruz

San Luis

San Juan

San Salvador

Santa Fe

Original drawings of the Santa Cruz/San Luis class ships. The new drawings look much better.

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