BAV Caracas (AC/BC-1908 (TS-1934))
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Before Wrangels Fleet came to the attention of the Venezuelan Admiralty and Government, a period of expansion of the armed forces of Venezuela was underway. When the Venezuelans were offerred the two ex-Washington class Battlecruisers with a free refit. The Venezuelans jumped at the chance to obtain two such modern ships at a price they could afford. Barely had the two ships arrived in Venezuelan waters and their new crews being trained to take over from the CUA Navy 'caretakers' that had sailed the ships from New York where the ships had been refitted, than news of the Wrangels Fleet arrived in Venezuela. These two ships were dispatched to meet the Fleet at Gibraltar in early 1921. This was done as the two near new Venezuelan Battlecruisers would be able to help shepherd the rag tag fleet accross the Atlantic and insure no interference from any Soviet ships sent out from the Baltic to intercept the fleet. As it turned out the Soviets while hating the 'escape' of so many czarists was in no position to order anything after the fleet. That news notwithstanding the two new Battlecruisers had paid for themselves in their protection of Wrangles Fleet. The actions of the Venezuelan Navy to help protect the fleet was not lost on the White Russians who may have been uneasy about the welcome they may receive to their new 'home'. This helped the smooth integration of the White Russians into Venezuelan society and led to the expansion of Venezuela into its neighbouring countries.
While the arrival of Wrangels Fleet the position of these two ships as the 'Pride of the Fleet' fell a few notches as the Battleships and cruisers brought with the fleet were their equals and betters. The further expansion of the fleet during the 1920's and 30's left these two ships getting older and less usefull. After 15 years service it was these two ships turn to be turned into Training ships and give up their armament for the production of two new cruisers (see BAV Falcon). The wing turrets from both ships went to the new cruisers and a new set of secondary guns replaced them and the old single 4" anti-torpedoboat guns.
The replacement 5.1" dual purpose single guns were locally made. In the 15 years since Wrangels fleet had arrived, Puerto Caballo had been improved to the point where the armoury was producing up to the 5.1" guns and the local shipyard was producing its own destroyers and escorts. Heavy armour was still outside its capabilities and full capital ships still had to be sourced from the CUA Navy. These two ships spent there war as training ships while undertaking the task of convoy duties to the tankers that went from Maracaibo up to Newfoundland.
|Displacement||15,800 tons std 18,400 tons full load|
|Length||583 ft as AC|
|Machinery||2 shaft steam turbines 45,000shp|
|Range||8,000 miles at 12 knots|
|Armour||7" side armour, 2" deck armour|
|Armament||As Armoured/Battle Cruiser
12 x 10" (6x2)
8 x 4" (8x1)
2 x 3" AA (2x1) 1917
10 x 0.5" mg (10x1)
|As Training Ships
4 x 10" (2x2)
12 x 5.1" (12x1)
20 x 40mm (5x4)
10 x 20mm (10x1)
8 x 0.5" mg (8x1)
Aft turret of Caracas circa 1920 handover.
The Information below refers to the USS Tennessee class which no longer exists in my world. The new page for these ships will be for two ships Venezuela sourced from the Commonwealth Union of America Navy which were the "Washington" class (of 4) Armoured/Battle Cruisers of which the two CUS Navy ships become aircraft carriers. A complete new background and drawings will be required to 'fix' this small 14,000 ton problem. See above.
With the Royal Navy doing its best to sew up Brazil and Chile for ship sales and replacements, this left the northern South American nations open to US Navy influence. While Venezuela did not really need large ships, prestige and National honour does come into purchases for your naval vessels. When the US Navy, in 1919, offered two of the Tennessee class armoured cruisers for virtually scrap price plus a cheap refit price the Venezuelan Navy jumped at the chance of adding two large ships at a price they could afford.
After 5 years of service (to 1925) the Venezuelans looked at what could be done to improve the ships and keep them in service through to age 30+. The Venezuelans being a producer of oil, the conversion of the ships to oil firing made sense. One of the updates the US Navy yards offered for the ships was the upgrading of the engines boilers to a plant of 55-60,000 SHP that would not change the layout of the current drive train. This would increase the speed of the ships from 22 knots (on a good day) to 25-26 knots. The major difference is with the upgraded turbine machinery the speeds could be maintained for days on end, while the current reciprocating engines could only maintain full speed for about an hour at a time.
Various gunnery upgrades were also offered to the Venezuelans for these ships. The first was to keep the two twin 10" guns, fit another 4 x 10" in single casemates to replace the single 6" casemates and end with a uniform armament of 8 x 10". While this was a reasonable idea that looked good on paper, the single 10" casemate guns would have to be manually serviced and ammunition supply / magazine would require a lot of work. The second was to fit 2 triple 8" turrets (same as Pensacola type) in place of the 10" turrets. The idea was either to keep the single 6" and have a mixed armament (shell splashes at long ranges become a problem) or replace the single 6" with single 8". Again the single 8" become a problem with manual shell handling. There is a big jump from a 100-105lb 6" shell to a 250lb+ 8" shell. The 3rd option was to fit two new triple 6" turrets in place of the 10" and retain the single 6" to give a uniform armament of 14 x 6" with 10 guns per broadside being available.
|Displacement||14,500 tons std 17,800 tons full load|
|Machinery||2 shaft steam turbines, 57,500shp
2 shaft reciprocating 22,000ihp orig
|Speed||26 knots (22 knots orig)|
|Range||5000 miles at 15 knots (2,200 nm at 25 knots)|
|Armour||5" side, 3" deck, 5" turrets|
|Armament||Original 1922 refit.
4 x 10" (2x2)
8 x 6" (8x1)
6 x 5" (6x1)
12 x 0.5" mg (12x1)
|6" US Upgrade 1934+
14 x 6" (2x3 8x1)
8 x 5" (4x2)
8 x 40mm (4x2)
10 x 20mm (2x2 6x1)
|Notes||BAV Caracas (ex Montana-1908)
BAV Apure (ex North Carolina-1908)
Lead ship of the Tennessee class showing the original armament layout. All of the lower deck 6" and 3" casemate guns were removed and plated over with only 2 of the single 6" being resited at main deck level.
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