HMSAS Crocodile (TS/ML-1905)
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The two King Edward VII class pre-dreadnoughts were transferred to Southern Africa specifically for duties as training ships. Both ships had been partially demilitarised before being released to to the SAN. This had removed both 12" turrets, the after pair of 9.2" guns and the broadside casemate 6" guns. The South Africans added a pair of 6" guns to the foredeck and seven 20mm replaced the machine guns fitted for AA work through to the late 1930's. The biggest change for the ships was to be their use as minelayers in time of war. Mine rails that turned the quarterdeck into Paddington Station!
As training ships they were also used to police the coastal waters for pirates and other nasties. The 50ft pinnaces, of which two were carried, were used to send up rivers and into hidden bays and lagoons which gave the marines as much training as the cadets. While the ships were still credited with 18 knots, the SAN limited the engines to no more than 80% of maximum power and most of the time the ships max was 15 knots which reduced to 12 knots the closer the ships came to their refits. The ships with their triple-expansion engines spent all their lives coal fired. This presented no problems as all the ports up and own the coasts of Central and Southern Africa carried stocks of coal. If the war had not started in 1939 both ships were slated for the breakers yard in 1940. Both ships were renamed on arrival to free up the original names for use by the RN.
HMSAS Elephant was working around the Mozambique Channel fixing and laying the mine barriers when the Germanic States ship Kaiserin (6x12") sighted the ship and opened fire. The old guns on the Elephant just did not have the range to hit the Kaiserin, but its 12" armoured belt stopped the German 12" shells, and forced the Kaiserin to close the range. The Elephant got lucky and hit the Kaiserin with a 9.2" shell, doing minor damage to the aft superstructure. Three hits from the Kaiserin on the Elephant's after deck, exploded among the remaining mines on the ship. The subsequent explosion just blew the poor old Elephant apart, not even its tusks were left. Very few crew survived to be picked up by the Kaiserin. The German Propaganda machine crowed to the world that it had sunk a Southern African battleship, which while technically correct, the old Elephant had not been a battleship since about 1918.
|Displacement||15,850 tons standard, 17,500 tons full load|
|Machinery||2 shaft triple expansion, 18,000ihp (coal)|
|Range||8,000 miles at 10 knots|
|Armament||2 x 9.2" (2x1)
2 x 6" (2x1)
4 x 4" (4x1)
7 x 20mm (7x1)
|Mines||300-380 depending on size.|
|Complement||640 + trainees/marines|
|Notes||HMSAS Crocodile (ex Commonwealth) 1905
HMSAS Elephant (ex Hibernia) 1906
HMSAS Crocodile as HMSCommonwealth with the Royal Navy during WW1. The single 9.2"on the sides were retained, the twin 12" removed and replaced with two single 6".
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