Chilean Battleship Almirante Latorre - Construction, Purchase and First World War Service

Construction, Purchase and First World War Service

See also: Specifications of the Almirante Latorre-class battleships

On 6 July 1910, the National Congress of Chile passed a bill allocating 400,000 pounds sterling to the navy for two 28,000-long-ton (28,449 t) battleships—which would eventually be named Almirante Latorre and Almirante Cochrane—six destroyers, and two submarines. The contract to build the battleships was awarded to Armstrong Whitworth on 25 July 1911. Almirante Latorre was officially ordered on 2 November 1911, and was laid down less than a month later on 27 November, becoming the largest ship built by Armstrong at the time. The New York Tribune reported on 2 November 1913 that Greece had reached an accord to purchase Almirante Latorre during a war scare with the Ottoman Empire, but despite a developing sentiment within Chile to sell one or both of the dreadnoughts, no deal was made.

Almirante Latorre was launched on 27 November 1913, in an elaborate ceremony that was attended by various dignitaries and presided over by Chile's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Agustín Edwards Mac Clure. The battleship was christened by the ambassador's wife, Olga Budge de Edwards. After the First World War broke out in Europe, Almirante Latorre was formally purchased by the United Kingdom on 9 September 1914; she was not forcibly seized like the Ottoman Reshadieh and Sultan Osman I, two other ships being built for a foreign navy, because the Allies' reliance on Chilean munitions imports made retention of Chile's "friendly neutral" status with the United Kingdom a matter of vital importance.

Almirante Latorre was renamed HMS Canada and slightly modified for British service. The bridge was taken off in favor of two open platforms, and a mast was added in between the two funnels to support a derrick that would service launches. The super-dreadnought completed fitting-out on 20 September 1915, and was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 15 October. She initially served with the 4th Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet. Canada saw action in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May–1 June 1916, firing 42 rounds from her 14-inch guns and 109 6-inch shells during the battle, and suffered no hits or casualties. During the battle, she got off two salvoes at the disabled cruiser Wiesbaden at 18:40, and fired five more at an unknown ship around 19:20. Her 6-inch guns were utilized for firing at German destroyers at 19:11.

Canada was transferred to the 1st Battle Squadron on 12 June 1916. In 1917–18, she was fitted with better rangefinders and range dials, and two of the aft 6-inch secondary guns were removed after they suffered blast damage from the middle 14-inch turret. In the latter year, flying-off platforms for aircraft were added atop the superfiring turrets fore and aft. Canada was put into the reserve fleet in March 1919.

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