The Death of HMS Vanguard

Look at Life was  a popular British film series, short 8-10 minute documentaries shown in British theaters before a main attraction. Most were upbeat and interesting, if somewhat overly chipper.

But the short on the end of HMS Vanguard, in spite of the relentless optimism of the of the narrator, is poignant and sad.

HMS Vanguard was the last battleship completed anywhere. Laid down during World War II, competing shipbuilding needs meant she wasn’t completed until after the end of the war. A modified Lion class, she bore King George VI on a Royal Visit to South Africa. Other than that, she mostly spent her time in routine training, and serving as the flagship for various fleets and stations. And in 1960, she was decommissioned, and sent to the Clyde for scrapping.


9 thoughts on “The Death of HMS Vanguard”

  1. The current HMS Vanguard is one of the four British nuclear ballistic missile submarines, which carry the entirety of our active deterrent (the Trident missiles). Still enough firepower to destroy a large country! Of course depending what happens this week, we may have to be moving them soon …

  2. Ahh, Vanguard. A truly beautiful ship, though an anachronism from the time of her launch. Her forward turrets (A and B) came from those removed from Courageous and Glorious, later converted into aircraft carriers. Her aft turrets (Y and Z) were from what was supposed to have been the fourth turrets of the Renown-class battlecruisers (Renown and Repulse) before their designs were reduced in length and displacement by war exigencies in 1915. All four mounts were extensively modified in 1939-40 to be useful on a modern battleship.

    1. US and British BBs did many good and useful things in WW2. Just too bad Vanguard didn’t get into service soon enough to contribute.

    2. They did, and she would have. But she would also have been extremely useful in the post-war period as a large gun/missile platform with her speed and size. As would ours.

      1. It’s interesting that in our Navy, they were quite willing to rebuild heavy and light cruisers to missile ships, but not the fast battleships. Of course, the older “fast” battleships with a speed of only 26 knots couldn’t keep up with the carriers.

    3. Certainly the Iowas were candidates, as were the 12-inch gunned Alaskas, nearly brand-new units.

      1. Particularly Hawaii, which was never completed, but was kept on the stocks for a long, long time in anticipation of just such a conversion.

        We both read Friedman’s US Cruisers, right?

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