HMS New Zealand Visits Esquimalt BC.

by John MacFarlane 2017

New Zealand

HMS New Zealand on a Visit to Vancouver BC in 1913. This visit was intended to garner support for a scheme whereby Canada would purchase a battleship for the Royal Navy as part of the defence of the British Empire. (Photo from courtesy of Vancouver City Archives CVA 152–10.05)

The battle–cruiser HMS New Zealand was built in Govan Scotland in 1912. 590.3’ x 80’ x 27’ (179.9m x 24.4m x 8.2m) She carried armament of 4 × 2 BL 12–inch Mk X guns and 16 × 1 – BL 4–inch Mk VII guns and 2 × 1 submerged 18–inch torpedo tubes. She was powered by Four&ndah;shaft Parsons direct&ndah;drive steam turbines. She was commissioned in 1912 into the Royal Navy. She was sold for scrap, on December 19, 1922.

From July 25–27, 1913 HMS New Zealand (Captain Lionel Halsey RN in command) visited Esquimalt BC as part of a world tour. While there they were approached by a committee of citizens intent upon establishing a naval reserve in Canada. The encouragement and advice they received stimulated their efforts, resulting in the formation of the Canadian Naval Volunteers and then formally as the Royal Navy Canadian Volunteer Reserve. She went to Vancouver and back to Esquimalt BC August 4&ndah;9 to land a large party of Royal Marines and seamen for review by the Lieutenant&ndah;Governor on Beacon Hill with the 5th Regiment, Canadian Artillery and the 88th Fusiliers.

New Zealand

HMS New Zealand on a Visit to Esquimalt 1919. Notice that there is a tompion in the barrel of one gun but not the other. These covers prevent foreign matter or water from penetrating the barrel. (Photo courtesy of MMBC.)

After the war, New Zealand was sent on a second world tour, and visited Esquimalt, Victoria, Port McNeill and Vancouver. On that trip Admiral John Jellicoe RN reviewed the naval defences of the Dominions and attempted to generate support for another naval funding scheme. The nautical historian Major F.W. Longstaff was very impressed when HMS New Zealand visited Victoria (at Esquimalt Harbour) in 1919. He states

"In November 1919, an epoch-making Naval Mission arrived in Esquimalt Harbour in the battle&ndah;cruiser New Zealand (built 1911), flying the flag of Admiral of the Fleet, Viscount Jellico of Scapa. At Ottawa on the 31st of December of that year the gallant Admiral of the Fleet reported to the Duke of Devonshire, the Governor General: "Sir, I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that in accordance with instructions received from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, issued as the result of a request from the Government of Canada, I arrived at Esquimalt in HMS New Zealand on the 8th of November, 1919.

The object of my visit is defined in my terms of reference as follows:– ‘To advise the Dominion Authorities whether, in the light of the experience of war, the scheme of naval organization which has been adopted, or may be in contemplation, requires reconsideration; either from the point of view of the efficiency of that organization for meeting local needs, or from that of ensuring the greatest possible homogeneity and co–operation between all the naval forces of the Empire; and should the Dominion Authorities desire to consider how far it is possible for the Dominion to take a more effective share in the naval defence of the Empire, to give assistance from the naval point of view in drawing up a scheme for consideration’." This report takes 52 pages to print the findings and suggestions of Lord Jellicoe. It shows four establishments of fleets, from great to small; one chapter deals with administration, one with personnel, and a long one on discipline."

New Zealand

HMS New Zealand on a Visit to Esquimalt 1919. (Photo from courtesy of MMBC.)

Jellicoe left the ship and travelled on to Ottawa to lobby the Prime Minister for Canada’s participation in his Imperial scheme. Discussions went on for some time but Canada’s eventual decision to build up her own navy contributed in part to the growing sense of nationhood and the need for a local defence rater than relying on the UK to defend Canada.



To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2017) HMS New Zealand Visits Esquimalt BC. Nauticapedia.ca 2017. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/New_Zealand.php

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