Reina Victoria Eugenia-class battleship
The Reina Victoria Eugenia class was a class of three battleships of the Spanish Navy authorized as the Plan de la Segunda Escuadra under the Navy Law of 1913. The class, as well as the lead ship, were named for King Alfonso XIII's English queen consort, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. The other two ships were classified as "B" and "C". It was supposed to be designed by Vickers-Armstrongs, and built by John Brown. The ships were never built due to Britain's involvement in World War I, which halted all foreign projects being constructed in British yards.
|Name:||Reina Victoria Eugenia|
|Preceded by:||España class|
|Displacement:||21,000 long tons (21,337 t)|
|Speed:||21 knots (39 km/h)|
Following disastrous losses in the Spanish–American War of 1898, Spain lacked the money to rebuild its navy, though the naval command made repeated requests for funding to begin reconstruction. The first two attempts, the Fleet Plan of 1903 and the Fleet Plan of 1905, both failed to secure parliamentary funding. By 1907, a new government was in power, prompting the Navy to try again with the Fleet Plan of 1907; this was passed by the legislature early the following year as the Navy Law of 7 January 1908. It authorized three new battleships, which became the España class, consisting of the ships España, Alfonso XIII, and Jaime I, along with supporting destroyers and torpedo boats. The battleships were constrained by the size of existing Spanish harbor facilities to around 15,000 long tons (15,241 t), since the government lacked the funding to dredge harbors and enlarge dry docks to accept larger vessels.
The delay enabled Spain to take advantage of experience gained by Britain with the world's first commissioned all-big-gun battleship, HMS Dreadnought, along with those of other major naval powers that had already built their own "dreadnoughts". As the Navy had little experience designing capital ships, it issued a set of specifications for the battleships and requested proposals from foreign shipbuilders, securing tenders from British, French, Italian, and Austro-Hungarian shipyards. The Navy then took the best characteristics from each submission and made its own improvements before awarding the contract to Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval (SECN), a consortium created by three of the British firms—Armstrong Whitworth, Vickers, and John Brown & Company. In addition to the contracts for the ships themselves, SECN was also contracted to build the shipyard in Ferrol, Spain that would in turn build the ships.
The repeated delays in the Spanish naval reconstruction program proved to be a detriment as well, since the Españas were rapidly surpassed by foreign vessels, most notably the so-called "super-dreadnoughts". A second Navy Law was passed in 1912 named the Plan de la Segunda Escuadra (Second Squadron Plan); it projected a second squadron of three 21,000-long-ton (21,337 t) dreadnoughts to supplement the España class, along with a pair of scout cruisers, nine destroyers, and three submarines. These dreadnoughts were named the Reina Victoria Eugenia class. They were to be in laid down in 1914 and 1915 and completed around 1920.
The class consisted of three ships, Reina Victoria Eugenia, the lead ship, and two others referred to only by the temporary names B and C. The lead ship was named after King Alfonso's British wife. They were designed by SECN and were planned to displace 21,000 long tons (21,337 t) with a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). Early plans for the type called for an armament of eight 15-inch (380 mm) guns in four twin-gun turrets; however, financial difficulties resulted in the selection of an armament of eight 13.5-inch (340 mm) guns instead, which still would have had a longer range than most contemporary ships. The secondary armament would have been twenty 6-inch (150 mm) guns. The propulsion system was to consist of four Parsons steam turbines, driving four screw propellers; speed was to be around 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). Other specifications of the ships were either never decided upon or have not survived, although according to the naval historians Robert Gardiner and Randal Gray, it is probable that they would had an arrangement similar to British battleships of the period, with two pairs of superfiring turrets, one forward and one aft, with two closely spaced funnels.
As with the España-class battleships, the guns, armor plate, and fire-control systems for which were manufactured in Britain, significant technical assistance from the British would have been required. After the July Crisis led to the start of World War I in July 1914, the Reina Victoria Eugenia class was cancelled and a new fleet program was passed with the Navy Law of 30 July 1914. Instead of expensive battleships that would take several years to complete, the program called for a single cruiser; this vessel was laid down in 1915 and was launched in 1920 as Reina Victoria Eugenia. After the war, the navy considered another major construction program centered on four battlecruisers that would have displaced around 30,000 long tons (30,000 t), but it was deemed to have been too ambitious and the plan was not formally proposed to parliament.
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