HMS Duke of York (17)

HMS "Duke of York" (pennant number 17) was a "King George V" class battleship of the Royal Navy, and the second of the name, the predecessor having been a 4-gun cutter purchased in 1763 and sold in 1766. The ship was originally to be named "Anson" but adopted its final name in December 1938.

She was laid down at the John Brown & Company shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland, 5 May 1937 and launched on 16 September 1939. She was commissioned too late to see action against the "Bismarck", or any other German naval surface raider in the early Atlantic battles of World War II. However, "Duke of York" did play a role in reducing German naval power. On her shakedown cruise in December, 1941, she embarked Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill for a trip to confer with United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, arriving in Annapolis on 22 December 1941. In March, 1942, she escorted the Russia-bound convoy PQ-12 with the intention of intercepting the German battleship "Tirpitz". On 6 March, "Tirpitz" did put to sea, but no contact was made.

In late December 1943, "Duke of York" was part of the Home Fleet, covering convoys between the UK and the Soviet Union. German surface vessels based in Norway were a constant threat to these convoys, and the German fleet-in-being forced the retention of powerful naval forces in British home waters.

One of those vessels was the battlecruiser "Scharnhorst". During the passage of convoy JW55B, "Scharnhorst" left her base and steamed to engage. In the unfolding battle, "Duke of York" scored a vital hit in "Scharnhorst's" boiler room which prevented her escape and led to her destruction in the Battle of North Cape. After the sinking of "Scharnhorst" and the retreat of most of the other German heavy units from Norway, the need to maintain powerful forces in British home waters was diminished. After a modernization in Liverpool during 1944 which included the enhancement of her anti-aircraft armament, "Duke of York" headed east to join the British Pacific Fleet, then assembling to take part in the invasion of Okinawa. She was flagship of the British Pacific Fleet when Japan surrendered.

Following the end of the war, "Duke of York" remained in service until April 1949. Battleships were now, if not completely obsolete, rapidly approaching obsolescence. They were also money- and crew-intensive units, two things that Britain of the postwar era could not afford. The ship was scrapped in 1957 at Faslane.

A distinguishing feature of the "Duke of York" was the extended fire control platform located on the after funnel. On this ship it extended out over the boat deck (after the refit during which the aircraft equipment was deleted from the ship's configuration).


*Siegfried Breyer, "Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905-1970" (Doubleday and Company; Garden City, New York, 1973) (originally published in German as "Schlachtschiffe und Schlachtkreuzer 1905-1970", J.F. Lehmanns, Verlag, Munchen, 1970). Contains various line drawings of the ship as designed and as built.
*Robert Gardiner, ed., "Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1922 - 1946" (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1980)

External links

* [ Maritimequest HMS Duke of York pages]
* [ Alan Sutherland RN Collection on MaritimeQuest]
* [ resolution picture]

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