Builder: Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness
Laid down: 1907
Launched: 23 March 1908
Out of service: Chartered by the Royal Navy on 1 January 1915
Name: HMS Ben-my-Chree
Operator: Naval flag of United Kingdom Royal Navy
Commissioned: 3 March 1915
Fate: Sunk on 11 January 1917 by shore-based Turkish artillery fire.
Hull scrapped 1921
Displacement: 3,880 tons
Length: 375 ft (114 m)
Beam: 46 ft (14 m)
Draft: 18 ft (5.5 m)
Installed power: 14,000 horsepower
Propulsion: Three steam turbines, triple screw
Four 170 psi coal-fired double-ended cylindrical boilers.
Speed: 24.5 kn (45.4 km/h) maximum
* Four quick-firing 12-pounder guns
* Two 3-pounder guns
Additionally from May 1916:
* 12-pounder guns
* 2-pounder pom-poms
* 3-pounder guns
Aircraft carried: Up to six seaplanes, usually four.
HMS Ben-my-Chree (manx: "Lady of My Heart") was a Royal Navy seaplane carrier of the First World War. She had been built as a fast passenger ferry for the Isle of Man Steam Packet, the third to bear her name, in 1908 by Vickers for the England–Isle of Man route
As built, she had a capacity of 2,500 passengers in two classes but she was chartered by the Royal Navy on 1 January 1915 and converted to a seaplane carrier by Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. A hangar occupied much of the aft part of the ship with cranes at the back for lifting the seaplanes from the sea. A flying-off deck covered most of the forward part, and a workshop for aircraft maintenance was also added.
She was originally based at Harwich, England, under the command of Commander Cecil L'Estrange Malone, where on 3 May she took part in an abortive air raid on Norddeich using a Sopwith Schneider to be launched from a trolley on the fore deck. The raid was abandoned because of thick fog and the ships returned to harbour the following day. On 6 May she was accidentally rammed by the destroyer HMS Lennox in thick fog, although damage was slight. Another attempt at raiding Nordeich was made on 11 May but was again abandoned because of several mishaps. During this raid Ben-my-Chree attempted to launch her Schneider seaplane to attack an airship, but the engine failed to start.
At the end of May 1915 she sailed for the Dardanelles, where her aircraft were mainly involved spotting for naval artillery. However one of her Short 184 seaplanes (piloted by Flight Commander Charles Humphrey Kingsman Edmonds) made the first ever aerial torpedo attack on 12 August 1915. Although the 14 inch (356 mm) diameter torpedo hit the Turkish ship and exploded, the vessel had been previously torpedoed by the British submarine HMS E14 and beached. This was followed by a successful attack on 19 August against a 5,000 ton ship by Edmonds and Flight Lieutenant George Dacre. On the 2 September 1915 she participated in the rescue of Australian troops from the torpedoed HMT Southland off Lemnos.
Following the abandonment of the Gallipoli Campaign, she was transferred to Port Said in Egypt. SS Uganda collided with her on 11 February 1916 and caused serious damage to Ben-my-Chrees bows, which were temporarily repaired. Permanent repairs in dry dock took from 13 March until 26 April. Commander Charles Samson replaced L'Estrange Malone as captain of the ship on 14 May 1916. A few days later, Lieutenant William Wedgwood Benn, later Secretary of State for India (1929-1931), joined the ship as an observer.
Over the next few months, she operated from Port Said and Aden provided artillery spotting aircraft for the bombardment of El Arish, reconnaissance around Jaffa and Ramleh and bombing raids.
She was sunk on 11 January 1917 by shore-based Turkish artillery fire commanded by Mustafa Ertugrul whilst at anchor at Castellorizo, in the Dodecanese Islands. The hull was salvaged for scrap in 1921.
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