Launched – 24th January 1898
Ship Yard – Fairfield Goven (Glasgow)
Hospital Ship – 1916
Decommissioned – 18th May 1920
Argonaut was deployed in the Far East from 1900 – 1904 During this time the ships Captain “Captain G.H. Cherry” ruled the ship with a rod of iron issuing around 600 warrant punishments. Captain Cherry was just as tough on the officers with only four remaining aboard throughout the commission.
When the Argonaut returned to Plymouth in 1904 to be reduced to the reserve fleet (eventually at Chatham ) a sister of Lieutenant Arthur Ross declared that they “deserved a medal”, and designed one. The joke went one step further when the London store Gamages agreed to make 100 ” Cherry medals” all officers that had served 6 months on the Argonaut were allowed a medal. The news soon spread far and wide in the Navy, with Admiral Lord Fisher claiming one based on the fact that he had served with Cherry on another ship he was refused, however King George was presented with an honorary medal.
This class of ship was not like the typical heavy cruisers of the day, in that they were deprived of side amour in order to increase their speed. They were well protected, however, for they were fitted with an armoured deck and amour around their vital parts (sometimes called the Citadel). But the most powerful guns were only protected by gun-shields.
The top speed of her reciprocating engines was between 15 and 17 knots, the latter for only short periods. Although she had a design speed of 20.5 knots, her normal cruising speed was around 10 knots. At this cruising speed, she would consume about 1 ton of coal for every 10 nautical miles she steamed, while her bunkers could hold up to 1000 tons of coal. Endurance was, until the creation of the ‘cruising turbine’ the only advantage that the steam reciprocating engine had over the steam turbine.
Her ships company complement was around 675 of all rates and ranks.
In 1906 Argonaut was refitted for special service and joined the Home fleet at Portsmouth she was then paid of in February 1911 but recommissioned in 1912 and joined the 3rd Fleet until again being paid off in pril 1914. Recommissioned once again in April 1914 she joined the 9th Cruiser Squadron off Cape Finisterre from August 1914 until July 1915. Argonaut captured the German Merchant ship “Graecia” on October 10th 1914.
Argonaut was finally laid up in Portsmouth in 1915 and used as a hospital ship until 1917 after that she was used as accommodation for stokers until 1920 when she was finally broken up.
You can read the ships log for the period of August 1914 - September 1915 by visiting the Naval History Webite.