Built in 1577, the HMS Revenge was a new design of galleon, built for speed. Designed by Master Shipwright Matthew Baker, she was smaller than her predecessors, and sat lower in the water, but still carried a lot of firepower, 46 cannons to be specific. The four masted ship had a displacement of 400 tons, a length of about 47 metres, and a crew of 121. The design proved to work so well that soon after, all galleons in the British fleet were being built to her specifications. At the time she cost £4000, which after four and a quarter centuries of inflation, works out to a bit less than 700,000 in today's dollars.
She served as Sir Francis Drake's flagship during the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, after his circumnavigation of the globe. He managed to sink about 30 ships in the Spanish Armada, and capture their flagship. Not too shabby.
Later, in 1591, under the command of Sir Richard Grenville, the ship was part of a fleet laying in wait off the Azores, trying to catch Spanish ships returning from the New World, laden with treasure. HMS Revenge was separated from the rest of the fleet, when the captain paused to pick up some of his men, who had been on shore, recovering from a fever. As a result, the Revenge was caught by a Spanish fleet, out gunned 53 to 1. Even still, they fought on through the night, blasting away at any ships who tried to board her. They managed to sink 2 of the Spanish ships, before finally being overcome, and surrendering to the Spanish.
The crew were taken prisoner aboard other ships in the fleet, while 200 Spaniards boarded the Revenge, and headed back to Spain. It didn't make it back, however, as a fierce storm picked up and dashed the Revenge against some cliffs, sinking with all hands aboard. As well as most of the other ships in the Spanish fleet. In other words, the Revenge got her Revenge.
Naturally, this story was rather popular with the men of the Royal Navy, and since then there's been a number of other HMS Revenges, named after it.
The next HMS Revenge was launched in 1805. The ship was, according to the British Navy's 6 point ranking scale, a 3rd rate ship, with 74 guns. If fought alongside Admiral Nelson's HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, the same year she was launched.
In 1865, the HMS Revenge was launched, a 2nd rate ship, with 91 guns.
1892 saw the launch of the Royal Sovereign class battleship, HMS Revenge. This particular vessel served as the flagship during the 1898 blockade of Crete. It was renamed the Redoubtable in 1913, and survived WWI only to be scrapped in 1919.
Just in time for WWI, the Revenge got her own class of ships, the Revenge class battleships. Although this is often mislabeled as the Royal Sovereign class of battleships, for reasons unknown to me, it consisted of 5 dreadnoughts, the HMS Revenge, HMS Ramillies, HMS Resolution, HMS Royal Oak, and HMS Royal Sovereign. These ships were built at a cost of £2.5 million, could travel at 22 knots, were 187 metres long, and held a crew of almost a thousand. The displacement was 31,500 tons, and they had 8 15 inch guns, 14 6 inch guns, and a pair of 3 inch guns, and four torpedo tubes. In other words, a lot more firepower than any of the previous HMS Revenges.
The HMS Revenge fought in the Battle of Jutland, where she took no fire and received no casualties. During this battle, she temporarily became the flagship of Vice Admiral Cecil Burney, after his ship, the HMS Marlborough, was torpedoed. She survived the war, and went on to play a limited role, mostly trans-Atlantic convoy escorts, during WWII. Finally, in 1948, she was decommissioned, and sold for scrap metal.
The latest of her Majesty's ships to bear the name Revenge was also the one with the greatest destructive power. Completed in 1969, this Resolution class nuclear powered submarine, carrying 16 Polaris nuclear warheads, and 6 other torpedo tubes for anti-ship warfare. It was one of the first British submarines carrying strategic nuclear weapons. Her displacement was 8500 tons, and she was 130 metres long, carrying a crew of about 150. She was capable of diving up to 275 metres deep. The HMS Revenge was in service until 1992, after having been replaced by the Vanguard class submarines, carrying the new Trident intercontinental ballistic missile.
Spanning 415 years, from a rickety old wooden galleon, to a top of the line nuclear powered submarine, the name HMS Revenge has spanned almost all of the Royal Navy's history. And I personally don't think it'll be all that long before we see another HMS Revenge being commissioned.
David S. Smith, "HMS REVENGE GALLEON," Ships in Bottles, Scale Reproductions by David Smith. 2000. <seafarer.netfirms.com/2/revenge.htm> (December 17, 2004).
Wikipedia, "Royal Sovereign class battleship," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Sovereign_class_battleship> (December 17, 2004).
Wikipedia, "Revenge class battleship," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revenge_class_battleship> (December 17, 2004).
John Asmussen, "HMS Revenge," British Ships Involved - Battleships. 2004. <www.bismarck-class.dk/other_craft_involved/british_ships_involved/battleships/revenge.html> (December 17, 2004).
www.worldwar1.co.uk, "HMS Royal Sovereign, Revenge, Resolution, Ramillies, Royal Oak," World War 1 Naval Combat. 1998. <www.worldwar1.co.uk/battleship/hms-revenge.html> (December 17, 2004).
Wikipedia, "HMS Revenge (1915)," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Revenge_%281915%29> (December 17, 2004).
Justin, "R Class Submarines," Entrance Hall of Olympus. <www.shima.demon.co.uk/rboat.htm> (December 17, 2004).