List of Dreadnought Battleships of The Royal Navy

This is a list of dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.

In 1897, before the revolution in design brought about by HMS Dreadnought, the Royal Navy had 62 battleships in commission or building, a lead of 26 over France and 50 over Germany. However, the launch of Dreadnought in 1906 prompted an arms race with major strategic consequences. Major naval powers raced to build their own dreadnoughts. Possession of modern battleships was not only vital to naval power, but also, as with nuclear weapons today, represented a nation's standing in the world. Germany, France, Russia, Italy, Austria, and the United States all began dreadnought programmes; and second-rank powers including Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, and Chile commissioned dreadnoughts to be built in British and American yards.

The Royal Navy at the start of the First World War war was the largest navy in the world due, in the most part, to The Naval Defence Act 1889 and the two-power standard which called for the navy to maintain a number of battleships such as their strength was at least equal to the combined strength of the next two largest navies in the world, which at that point were France and Russia. The majority of the Royal Navy's strength was deployed at home in the Grand Fleet, with the primary aim of drawing the German High Seas Fleet into an engagement. No decisive victory ever came. The Royal Navy and the German Imperial Navy did come into contact, notably in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, and the Battle of Jutland.

The inter-war period saw the battleship subjected to strict international limitations to prevent a costly arms race breaking out. While the victors were not limited by the Treaty of Versailles, many of the major naval powers were crippled after the war. Faced with the prospect of a naval arms race against Great Britain and Japan, which would in turn have led to a possible Pacific war, the United States was keen to conclude the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. This treaty limited the number and size of battleships that each major nation could possess, and required Britain to accept parity with the U.S. and to abandon the British alliance with Japan. The Washington treaty was followed by a series of other naval treaties, including the First Geneva Naval Conference (1927), the First London Naval Treaty (1930), the Second Geneva Naval Conference (1932), and finally the Second London Naval Treaty (1936), which all set limits on major warships. These treaties became effectively obsolete on 1 September 1939 at the beginning of Second World War, but the ship classifications that had been agreed upon still apply. The treaty limitations meant that fewer new battleships were launched from 1919–1939 than from 1905–1914. The treaties also inhibited development by putting maximum limits on the weights of ships. Designs like the projected British N3 class battleship continued the trend to larger ships with bigger guns and thicker armour, but never got off the drawing board. Those designs which were commissioned during this period were referred to as treaty battleships. After the Second World War the Royal Navy's four surviving King George V class ships were scrapped in 1957 and Vanguard followed in 1960. All other surviving British battleships had been sold or broken up by 1949.


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