Battleships in the Gareloch
The inlet waterway known as the Gareloch located in the Rosneath Peninsula in Scotland was home for three British battleships of the KGV class. They were the HMS Anson, HMS KGV, and the HMS Duke of York. The decision to place these battleships there came about in July of 1949. The battleship era had come to an end and the Admiralty decided that the cost of keeping these beamoths operating and manned was to great so they were laid up in the Gareloch in a state of preservation.
The first to arrive there was the HMS Anson in November of 1949 followed by the HMS KGV in June of 1950. The HMS Duke of York arrived there in November of 1951, being towed from Birkenhead. All three lay moored bow and stern in the Gareloch until 1957. HMS Howe spent these years being separated from her sisters, being mothballed at Devonport. In the event of a national emergency and with the Cold War in full swing they could have been reactivated in short order. The need never arose.
Mothballing, officially described as concooning, was a new method of preserving warships, and was first applied to the HMS King George V. The process involved sealing a ship's armarment inside cocoons constructed of a timber and webbing material, covered with fish netting, sprayed with a lacquer and coated with a latex of plastic, a dessicant being placed inside to absorb moisture. To preserve the underwater section of the hull, dehumidification units were fitted in all the internal compartments. The main and auxiliary machinery and the boilers, together with the electrical and radio equipment, were packed and sealed.
For six years these battleships lay empty and motionless. Finally in April of 1957 the axe was lowered, when all four ships were approved for scrap. HMS Anson was the first to be towed from her mooring in the Gareloch on December 17th 1957 to arrive at the shipbreakers. The HMS King George V was towed from the Gareloch on January 20th 1958 and sold to Arnott Young and Co, Dalmuir for breaking up. Duke of York was moved out of the Gareloch on February 18th 1958 and sold for scrap to Shipbreaking Industries Ltd. of Faslane, only a short distance from were she was moored for the last 6 years.