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Goliath, a Canopus-class battleship, was launched in March 1898. Joining the British navy in 1900, the ship was 23 metres wide and

It was 128.5 m long and weighed 14,300 tonnes. One of the fastest ships of her era, Goliath could reach a speed of 18 knots (33 km) per hour. Goliath became part of the Gallipoli Campaign from March 1915 and started to support the landings at Gallipoli. On 13 May 1915, she was sunk in Morto Bay by three torpedoes fired by the Ottoman destroyer Muâvenet-i Millîye. 

During the second phase of the Gallipoli War, when the naval operations of the Gallipoli War became land and sea battles, the ships Goliath and Cornwallis were deployed in the bay to support the French troops under great pressure in Morto Bay. The Ottoman soldiers nicknamed these ships, which were constantly beating the shores, as “crones” because of the noise they made. It was then decided to organise an operation against this fleet.

Muavenet-i Milliye, which anchored towards midnight for the Goliath operation, passed only a few hundred metres away from the two allied destroyers (HMS Beagle and HMS Bulldog), but managed to go unnoticed due to the blackout. As she approached Goliath, one of the two allied battleships, she took advantage of the lookouts’ momentary hesitation to ask for “password” and fired three accurate torpedoes from the closest possible distance. The torpedoes pierced the Goliath’s armour, causing a huge explosion inside the ship, and the ship sank within minutes, drowning 570 of her 700-man crew, including the ship’s captain, Colonel Thomas Lawrie Shelford.

The sinking of Goliath caused a crisis at the highest command level of the British Navy. As soon as the news of the sinking of the ship reached London, the ongoing cabinet meeting was interrupted, and on 15 May 1915, Admiral Fisher, the Commander of the British Navy, resigned after fierce discussions within the command. This resignation was followed two days later by the resignation of Winston Churchill, the Minister of Navy. The reason for Churchill’s resignation was the decision to send the Goliath to the Gallipoli Front despite objections. The sinking of the Goliath also caused a change in Britain’s war plans, and the Queen Elizabeth, one of the most modern warships, was withdrawn from the Gallipoli Front.

L-r: 1st Destroyer Flotilla Commodore Captain lieutenant Rudolph Firle.
Ali Riza Bey the Commanding officer of the Turkish torpedo boat Sultanhisar
Commander of the Muavenet-i Milliye, major Ahmet Saffet Efendi


While the newspapers published in England gave the news on the front page, the phrase they used was also interesting: “David threw a stone with a slingshot and hit the giant Goliath in the head”. Because Goliath was the name of the giant that plagued the people of Prophet David, according to the story told in the Qisas al-Anbiya. And Prophet David, who was a shepherd, defeated this giant with a stone thrown from a slingshot. On the Ottoman side, the captain of the Muavenet-i Milliye, Major Ahmed Saffet (Okkay) and the crew of about 90 people were welcomed as heroes on their return to Istanbul, and all the lights on both coasts were lit in honour of the ship’s entrance to the Bosphorus. The crew was awarded with medals and decorations.