Deferring Financial Pain

Audacious before the Great War. © IWM Q 75212.

In the Navy Estimates presented to the House of Commons in March 1910 five armoured vessels were announced for the coming financial year which began on 1 April and ended on 31 March 1911. Four of these armoured vessels would form the Royal Navy’s King George V class of battleship. One of these, eventually named Audacious, was laid down at Cammell, Laird & Co.’s yard at Birkenhead on 23 March 1911, a week before the next Admiralty financial year began. The reason for laying a ship down so late in the financial year was clear: as Reginald McKenna put it in presenting the 1909 estimates, ‘An obvious effect of this system is to postpone for some two years a large part of the financial burdens of the programme to which the ships belong.’ I decided to look at how this worked, using the Dockyard Expense Accounts:

Financial Year Sum
1910-1911 £48,157
1911-1912 £624,756
1912-1913 £771,566
1913-1914 £340,590
Total £1,785,069

The ship was completed on 15 October, 1913. Incidental expenses over the course of her construction amounted to £31,746, and along with the total of £1,785,069 were considered her first cost of £1,816,315. Material connected to her armament accounted for £436,911, or 24% of the cost.

It is not known where on earth R. A. Burt got his total of £1,918,813, quoted by Wikipedia, from.