Royal Navy post WW1 (1920)


Forum Staff
Aug 2016
In 1918 the RN had 42 battleships and battle cruisers (including Hood). This figure does not include several monitors that were used only for shore bombardment. By 1925 the number had been reduced to 15, including the brand new Rodney and Nelson (which may have still been under construction). 29 capital ships were scrapped as a result of the Washington Naval Treaty. All of the scrapped ships had burned coal. The five R-class battleships, which all survived Washington and fought in WW2, had burned coal but were converted to oil between the wars. Most of the scrapped ships had fired 12 or 13.5 inch shells. All of the survivors fired 15 inch shells except Rodney and Nelson who had 16".

Royal Navy 1914 - naval encyclopedia
The Royal Navy - Size and Strength Over Time in Visuals


Ad Honoris
Jul 2009
Among the capital ships in the R.N. at the end of WW I, there were four that were converted to aircraft carriers. One was a battleship that was being built for Chile and was acquired by the R.N. during the war. Three were rather odd battle cruisers for which the navy had no use but were larger hulls that could be converted: HMS Glorious, Courageous and Furious. Furious was classified as a carrier in 1925. The other two completed conversion in the following 2-3 years.

There was also the "first ship to be designed as an aircraft carrier." HMS Hermes was ordered before the end of the war (1917 or 18) and was not commissioned until 1924 or 25.

No further aircraft carriers were added until the late 1930s (HMS Ark Royal).

EDIT: There was also HMS Argus, converted from an ocean liner. This was a small ship along the lines of USS Langley or the IJN's Hosho. Argus was more experimental than a major fleet unit.
Oct 2015
In 1920 the Royal Navy had retained 40 modern cruisers plus 5 older vessels which were sold between 1926-27 (83 old cruisers were disposed of 1919-23). 9 new ships were under construction and completed in the early 1920's. 9 of the ships retained were pre-war "Town" class (6 of which were sold 1928-30) the rest were the 5-6,000 ton 6" gun "C" and "D" classes built during the war, plus the larger "E" (~9,000 tons), and "Hawkins" classes (7.5" guns).
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Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
I'm sure you can still get retro Janes Fighting Ships. If not they will be in a library somewhere
Oct 2015
The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 created the benchmark for capital ships in the 1920's.

The initial proposals were that the US was to scrap 15 ships under construction and 15 pre-dreadnaughts, leaving 18 capital ships in service. Japan would scrap 15 ships proposed or under construction and 10 pre-dreadnaughts, leaving 10 in service. UK would scrap 19 old ships and proposed new construction (including the remarkable 48,000 ton G3 battlecruisers and N3 battleships) leaving 22 ships in service. And there would be a 10 year break in capital ship construction, after which battleships would be limited to 35,000 tons and 16" guns.

Further negotiations allowed Japan to complete the Mutsu, the US to complete Colorado and West Virginia, and Great Britain to build 2 new battleships which became Nelson and Rodney. In addition, Japan would scrap one more old ship, the US two, and UK four as soon as the new ships were completed (Nelson joined the fleet in Aug 1927 and Rodney in Dec). Other disposals would establish the 5:5:3:1.75:1.75 ratio of naval strength between the UK, US, Japan, France and Italy.