GRN Besarabia (BB-1917 (1938-mod))


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These two ships were the Austro-Hungarian answer to the "Super-Dreadnoughts" that were being built by Britain. The design was promulgated in 1912 and the first ship of the class was completed in 1917, the second in 1918 and the third was never completed. The First World War was the reason the class was not completed within time. The Navy was very much second in line for funds once the war had begun. With no priority and no funds progress was slow. Once they were completed, time had passed them by, as the British had completed more than a dozen 15" gunned warships. Despite this these ships were as good a naval ship as produced anywhere in its category. The 13.8" main armament was designed in conjunction with the Germanic States and were slated as the main armament for three classes of ship.

These were handsome well proportioned ships, and each spent 6 months turn-about as flagship of the Galician fleet till the arrival of the Bucharesti replaced them. The three dreadnoughts with the armoured cruiser Ploesti then made up the 'battlefleet' for the next 20 odd years. The ten guns were split A triple, B twin, X twin, Y triple with only a slight difference in length between the turrets to differentiate between them. The original A-H design kept with the heavy secondary and tertiary armaments as it was still felt that destroyers, torpedo boats and even cruisers could be a danger ro battleships with their torpedoes.

Like the other large dreadnoughts the two Besarabia class ships were sent off to Italy for modernisation, the first in 1935 the next in 1937. To keep to a 'look' to make identification of ship difficuilt the ships were rebuilt with similar superstructures to the Bucharesti. Seeing them in a line it was difficuilt to distinguish between them until you got up close and personal wich was not something an enemy wanted to do to these ships.


Displacement As built 1917

24,400 tons std

30,700 tons full load

As rebuilt 1935-39

25,300 tons std

31,800 tons full load

Length 575 ft
Breadth 93.5 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft steam turbines, 32,000shp (65,000shp)
Speed 21 knots as built (25 knots as rebuilt)
Range 7000 miles at 15 knots (3000 at 24knots)
Armour 12" side, 2.8" (5.1" R) deck, 13"/10"/7" turrets
Armament As built

10 x 13.8" (2x3 2x2)

14 x 5.9" (14x1)

20 x 88mm (20x1)


As Rebuilt 1936-38

10 x 13.8" (2x3 2x2)

18 x 5.3" (6x3)

14 x 37 mm (5x2 4x1)

28 x 20mm (28x1)

Aircraft nil
Torpedoes nil
Complement 1250
Notes GRN Besarabia


Original line drawing of the layout of the Monarch class super-dreadnoughts showing the main armament layout.

Builders model of the Monarch class battleships. Note the original aerial layout, most of which had been rendered obsolete by the time the ships were transferred to Galicia. Like all things 5 years of war had powered improvements to wireless communication and its range. The forward 88mm close to the bow were never mounted, being plated over prior to completion and with the experience with the Viribus Unitus class dreadnoughts.


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