Dreadnoughts and Jutland
The name Superb was once more at the forefront of technology when on 16 February 1907 the seventh ship to bare the name was launched at Elswick. Superb number seven came in the guise of a 'Bellepheron Class' Battleship, the first class of 'Dreadnoughts' to enter service with the Royal Navy. Displacing 18,600 tons, with a massive armour belt, she was propelled by ultra modern and revolutionary steam turbines, turning twin shafts giving her a top speed of 21 knots. Her main armament consisted of 10 x 12 inch guns housed in 5 turrets, with a secondary armament of 11 x 4 inch guns.
The events of the First World War dominated her career. At the outbreak of war she was in the 1st Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet under the overall Flag of Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Jellicoe. As heavier ships of the Royal Sovereign and Queen Elizabeth Classes joined the fleet she was reassigned to the 4th Battle Squadron on 26 October 1915.
On Tuesday the 30 May 1916, the news reached the Admiralty that a large portion of the German High Seas Fleet was at sea. Grand Admiral Hipper had sailed 3 days earlier with the intention to lure Admiral Beatty's 1st Battlecruiser Squadron to sea and destroy it. However the British were not deceived and the entirety of the Grand Fleet sailed to intercept the Germans. The die was cast for one of the greatest but controversial actions of the history of the Royal Navy. HMS Superb at Rosyth received the following orders;
Tuesday 30 May
2030: Prepare for Sea
2130: Commence shortening in
2235: Proceed as required for leaving harbour at 12 knots in company with Iron Duke, Royal Oak and Canada
Wednesday 31 May
0935: General Chase to the South
1506: Action Stations.
These signals conveyed to each unit by semaphore started the greatest clash of naval power since the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Surviving the battle undamaged Superb, later joined the Aegean Squadron at Mudros before becoming the Flagship for C in C Mediterranean on 31 Oct 1918. Her last deployment as a front line unit was between November 1918 and January 1919 where she was involved in operations supporting of White Russians fighting the newly formed Red Army in Southern Russia, with port visits to Sevastopol and Batum. In 1919 Superb was put into reserve as a gunnery training ship and sold for breaking up on 12 December 1922. Newer and heavier classes of Battleship had rendered Superb virtually obsolete only 15 years after her launch.
Post War becomes Cold War
The Second World War was declared and won without participation from a unit bearing the name Superb. Number eight in the line although launched on 31 August 1943 was not commissioned until after VJ day, on 16 November 1945. Designed for a war she was too late to participate in Superb number eight was a light cruiser of the 'Minotaur Class'. Displacing 9000 tons she was capable of a top speed of 36 knots. Her primary armament consisted of 9 x 6 inch guns housed in three triple turrets.
Although the end of the Second World War saw the global dominance of the Royal Navy decline, Superb number eight non the less enjoyed a highly active post war career, reflecting Britain's changing interests in the prelude to the Cold War.
Joining the Home Fleet in the spring of 1946, she was immediately transferred to the Mediterranean to help deal with communist forces in Albania. Whilst passing through the Corfu Channel in company with Orion she encountered the only hostile action she would ever encounter, coming under fire by Albanian batteries, suffering no damage. On 13 February 1947 Superb visited Casablanca in company with Dido and other HM Ships as the flagship of Rear Admiral H A Packer. Returning to the Home Fleet she visited Stockholm in June 1947.
On 24 July 1947 Superb had the honour of conveying Their Majesties the King and Queen for a visit to the Isle of Arran. She continued to serve in the Home Fleet until November 1950 when she was allocated as Flagship to C in C America and West Indies Station. She left Chatham first for Gibraltar and then on to Bermuda on 1 November 1950. In 1953 she landed British troops in Guiana to assist with preserving law and order.
Superb left the West Indies Station in September 1955 proceeding to Chatham for refit. In March 1956 post refit she commenced her last foreign deployment, sailing for the East Indies Station. First proceeding to the Persian Gulf she remained in the region enforcing security during a time when Britain's colonial presence in the Gulf was under constant pressure from Soviet backed insurgence. She returned to Chatham via the Cape (post Suez) in February 1957.
Back in the Home Fleet she was paid off into extended reserve on 23 October 1957 and in 1960 handed over for scrapping. Thus ended Superb's 250-year affiliation with the surface fleet!
Superb enters the 'Silent Service'
A gap of sixteen years passed until Superb's ninth reincarnation came about. On 13 November 1976 Lady Williams commissioned HM Submarine Superb at Barrow in Furness. A 'Nuclear Powered, Hunter Killer Submarine', Superb is third in a class six 'Swiftsure Class' SSNs.
Superb is powered by a PWR 1 nuclear steam raising plant, providing steam for two steam turbines giving a top speed of 25+ knots. She is equipped with 5 x 21 inch torpedo tubes and carries as a primary weapon system, Spearfish anti ship/submarine wire guided torpedoes.
Undertaking many Cold War patrols, Superb has had no less than 14 Commanding Officers amongst them Admiral Sir Michael Boyce the recently retired Chief of Defence Staff. On 18 May 1987 SUPERB surfaced at the North Pole in company with USS Billfish and USS Sea Devil sending the signal 'On top of the world! The reply from FOSM 'Steer South'
With the end of the Cold War Superb's tasking has become no less active in 2001 she was deployed in support of operations in Afghanistan completing a 7 month deployment 'East of Suez' before returning to Faslane for a two year RAMP.
Superb is currently completing an extended period of maintenance and will be ready to sail once more at the end of 2004. Currently under the command of Commander N J Hibberd, Superb looks forward once more to playing a key role in Britain's Global Defence Policy. She follows in the footsteps of eight previous incarnations upholding the traditions of all who have served, throughout history in HMS Superb!