The Cruiser in the Royal Navy

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Protected Cruiser

The "protective deck system" was introduced in the Comus class corvettes in the late 1880s. In this class it comprised a 1.5 inch armoured deck three feet below the waterline stretching from beam to beam over a length of 100-feet. Above it, at the sides, were nine foot deep coal bunkers, equivalent in resisting shot to about 4.5 inches of iron.[1]

In the following Leander class of "Second-class Steam Cruiser",[2] the protective deck of 1.5 inches over a length of 165 feet was centred above the waterline with the sides sloped down to protect against shells entering at the waterline.[3] The Mersey class ordered in 1883 increased the thickness of the armoured deck to 2 inches on the flat and 3 inches on the sides, and was extended to the full length of the ship, curving down at the bow to support the ram.[4]

Armoured Cruiser


In an Admiralty Weekly Order of 31 January, 1913, it was announced that henceforth all vessels hitherto classified as Armoured Cruisers and Protected Cruisers First Class would be designated as "Cruisers". Protected Cruisers Second and Third Class, Unarmoured Cruisers and Scouts were to be designated "Light Cruisers." The term "Battle Cruiser" continued to be used as before. The three classes of warship were then "grouped tactically and administratively in— (a) Battle Cruiser Squadrons. (b) Cruiser Squadrons. (c) Light Cruiser Squadrons."[5]


  1. Brown. Warrior to Dreadnought. p. 109.
  2. Navy List (December, 1884). p. 223.
  3. Brown. Warrior to Dreadnought. p. 111.
  4. Brown. Warrior to Dreadnought. p. 111.
  5. The National Archives. ADM 1/8327. My thanks to Dr. John Brooks for a copy of this document.


See Also