BNS Esperito Santo (BC-1940)


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The Brazilian navy had the four spare turrets from the rebuilding of the Orion class battleships. The Orion class rebuildings did not make the turrets available till 1937. Planning for the ship had started in 1936 with a contract sent out for the building of the ship. Several yards were interested. The contract was awarded to the Portsmouth dockyard where two of the Orion's had been rebuilt. Construction started mid-1937. Having the turrets and guns to hand for fitting to the ship made construction years sooner than having to wait for the same weapons and turrets to be built.

It had been decided early that the ship would partner the Pernambuco and would be a battlecruiser rather than a battleship. The threat of the Argentinian minelayers disrupting the commerce in and out of Brazil was taken very seriously. The two ships would be the fast response group tasked with interception of the Argentinian ships.

The ship was officially handed over to the Brazilian Navy on the 2nd January 1940. It passed down to Brazilian waters and arrived on the 20th January. On the 25th of January the Esperito Santo and the rest of the Fast Reaction Force were called to action as the Argentinian minelayers were spotted. (I have the page "Battle of the Uruguayan Shelf" done, I just have to write the battle.)


Displacement 32,500 tons std 37,750 tons full load
Length 696 ft
Breadth 92 ft
Draught 30 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 160,000shp
Speed 33 knots
Range 8500 miles at 16 knots
Armour 11" side, 5" deck, 11" turrets
Armament 8 x 13.5" (4x2)
20 x 4.5" (10x2)
56 x 2pd (6x8, 2x4)
18 x 20mm (18x1)
Aircraft 2
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1500

Nice thought, but it might be a bit big for the 12" trial ship the British might have built. I explored this further in HMS Bellerophon.

The British offered to build this ship at a discount as this was the type of ship they were trying to get all the nations to adhere to under the Washington Treaty, 30,000 tons and 12" guns. The Brazilians supplied the guns from those removed from the older ships when they went through their 20 year refurbishments. The British supplied 3 new quadruple turrets and other new weaponry as it was completed.

While the ship was termed a 'fast' battleship the ship really was a battlecruiser type. The British did not get the type through the Naval Treaty process and so the Esperito Santo became a one of a kind. The Brazilians were happy to get a new ship at a much reduced price. The ship operated with British observers aboard for much of its life and the ship was active in the coming world war.


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