H.M.S. Goliath

One of 6 'Canopus' class - described as 1st Class Battleship; 4 survived the war and were sold in early 1920's.

12,950 tons, 390' x 74' x 25'; 18.25 knots; complement 682 men.

Armanent 4 x 12", 12 x 6", 12 x 12pdr, 6 x 1 pdr, 5 x 18" torpedo tubes.

Laid down Chatham Dockyard 4th January 1897; launched 23 March 1898; commissioned Chatham 27 March 1900.

Designed for the China Station with a shallow enough draught to allow her to use the Suez canal. Remained there until 1903, in July 1904 went into commissioned reserve at Portsmouth. In May 1905 joined the Mediterranean Fleet, transferred to the Channel Fleet in December, remaining there until March 1907.

April 1909 Commissioned at Sheerness for the 4th Fleet (Nore Reserve).

In 1913 mothballed as joined the 3rd Fleet (Pembroke Reserve) to be brought out in August 1914 to join the Battle Squadron operating from Devonport. Later transferred to Loch Ewe for defence of the Grand Fleet anchorage. Her complement would have been drawn from the called up Naval Reserve (which included many Manx sailors) - as described in an article in Ellan Vannin - " The first real misgivings arose with the mobilisation of the Royal Naval Reservists, who had received urgent instructions to report to their depots immediately, and Sunday, the 2nd August, 1914, witnessed the departure of 85 men, mostly taken at a moment's notice from their employrnent on our steamers, fishing vessels, and pleasure yachts."

In September 1914 dispatched to the East Indies for escort duties, operating against the German light cruiser Konigsberg in November (Rufigi river, East Africa).

But in April 1915 transferred to the Dardanelles, to support the ill-considered and ill-fated landings around Cape Helles. Damaged on 25th April and 2nd May.

On the 13th May 1915 sunk by 3 torpedoes fired from the Turkish torpedo boat Muavenet which was manned by a German crew at the time. 570 of her complement were lost.

The following extract from: Dardanelles: A Midshipman's Diary 1915-16 (H. M. Denham) John Murray, 1981 describes the sinking (the Author was on the Agamemnon):

THURSDAY MAY 13TH At about 1.15 a. m. it was realised that the battleship Goliath, anchored in our usual berth in Morto Bay, was in trouble. Cornwallis, anchored some distance astern, had heard three dull thuds and, after hearing yells from men struggling in the water as they were swept past her by the current, realised that Goliath had been torpedoed and sunk.*

All ships were informed, weighed anchor and proceeded seawards.

Although Cornwallis soon got out her boats to rescue survivors, less than 200 were saved of a complement of about 800. Later we learnt that the ship was sunk by the Turkish torpedo-boat Muavanet (with a German officer's help) which had eluded our patrol destroyers by creeping down the Gallipoli shore towards the entrance of Morto Bay.

*The wreck of Goliath now lies in position 40° 02' 22"N, 26° 12' 23"E, very broken up and largely salvaged.

 Extracts from Naval Review vol IV (pub by Naval Society) re Goliath

p99 - HMS Amethyst at the Dardenelles

12th.-The Goliath while acting as right flank ship was torpedoed and sunk by an enemy torpedo boat, which under cover of a fog, slipped down the Straits, passed our destroyer patrol, fired her torpedoes, and escaped. There was a large loss of life. The casemate-doors jambed and imprisoned many of the guns' crews. An enemy " enclair " wireless message was intercepted, which stated that a British transport had been sunk by three torpedoes.

p144 - HMS Agamemnon in the Mediterranean

10th. It was reported today there were four or five Turkish destroyers above the Narrows. Destroyers on patrol are warned that they may come down the Straits during the night.

Took in ammunition all night and left at 7.10 a.m. on May 11th for our anchorage off X Beach. At 8 a.m. on the 12th left for Morto Bay, anchoring at 9.20 to renew our attentions on the Asiatic batteries, the Grampus (destroyer) accompanying us to intercept floating mines. Owing to mist and drizzle the aeroplane was unable to spot for us and the Asiatic batteries never fired a round all day. The afternoon was clearer. The Soghon Dere batteries fired three rounds only. The Ghurkas at dusk captured an important gulley on the left flank.

Orders were received at 11p.m. on the11th, that Brigadier-General Fuller, R.A., had taken over direction of firing of ships with the assistance of Commanders Collard, Douglas, and Lieutenant Bent, at the Naval Observation Station.

Position 10.53 p.m. on the 11th.

Situation unchanged. E.14 has sunk a large army transport. Patrols from the Allied Fleet are in search of the enemy's submarines south of Cape Matapan and near the Doro and Mykoni Channels ; coast of Asia and islands are being closely watched.

At 7 p.m. on May 12th when we left, the Goliath had arrived off the right flank ahead of us and subsequently appears to have anchored in the position we were in, in Morto Bay. A bank of fog was slowly spreading down the Straits on the Asiatic side from Chanak and Kephez Point; remained under weigh off Y Beach. At 1.30 a.m. on May 13th a general signal was made by the Cornwallis, lying at anchor inside the transports about a mile and a half from Seddul Bahr, to send all boats to pick up men in water floating down the Straits. As we were about seven miles off and the current was running at three knots, we made for a position off Rabbit Island in hopes of saving anyone who had been missed in the dark. Day broke at 3.45, but there was no sign of anyone. Many steamboats and trawlers were searching with the same purpose between us and the Straits ; Rabbit Islands were hidden in fog, also a portion of the Asiatic coast, which cleared off about 8 a.m. Heard that the Goliath had been sunk by three torpedoes fired from a Turkish destroyer which had apparently drifted down stern first in the mist, and had been taken for one of our patrols. The O.O.W. of the Goliath challenged her and an officer in the boat hailed the ship in good English. The Goliath sank in about four minutes, 22 Officers and 164 men being saved, over 500 drowned, including the captain (Shelford), who was on the bridge.

p232 Dardenelles Notes HMS Prince George

19th.-At Mudros. We join the Rear Admiral at Helles to-morrow at 4 a.m. The arrangements now for covering seem to be better. The French look out for the Asiatic batteries (when they feel inclined), two cruisers support the left flank, each taking a certain number of hours, three ships anchor off Cape Helles for bombarding, being spotted for by a station ashore, and two ships take it in turn to lie off Sed-ul-Bahr to do anything that may be required.

One great change, all ships anchor outside the straits at night off Cape Helles. That is because of the Goliath. We only heard rumours at Malta as to what had happened to her. The facts appear to be that one night she was anchored in our billet under the cliffs in Morto Bay and a Turkish T.B. got through our destroyer patrol without being seen, ran up almost alongside the Goliath, and fired three topedoes at her. They all hit, and the ship went down with nearly all hands. -No one in the Goliath seemed to have seen her, although there is a story that she was hailed by someone but fired her torpedoes at once. The extra-ordinary part of the thing is that she was not even seen on her way up again, and reached the Narrows in safety. It was a very smart piece of work on their part, but one wonders what the devil our patrol was doing to let her get back. The submarine scare does not seem to have put off anchoring the ships off Cape Helles by day. They would be a fine and not very difficult bag.

Ships that are fitted with them get their nets out each evening.

p290 - operations in the Dardenelles in 1915 -
notes from HMS Prince of Wales

13th.-10.30 a.m. Goliath was torpedoed by an enemy destroyer at entrance of Dardanelles at 1.29 this morning. Two torpedoes were fired, and destroyer escaped, but apparently did not go back up the Straits. Four of our destroyers were on watch at the time. The night was very dark, and the Goliath is believed to have been burning search lights. Approximate number of survivors 20 officers, 160 men.


1.30 p.m. It has now been officially reported, from Malta that there are three enemy submarines between that place and here, believed to be making their way to Smyrna which they could use as a base. One of the submarines was a large German one.

Re the torpedoing of the Goliath; the Majestic apparently was relieved by the Goliath and had protested against the burning of search lights as giving away her position; a protest that events have justified. Presumably the four destroyers were without lights and it appears to me that a more efficient watch could have been kept had they been burning searchlights on the beam, so that no surface craft could pass them without coming into the beam of the lights.



list of those lost

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2000