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HMS Arethusa (26): Wikis


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HMS Arethusa
HMS Arethusa entering Grand Harbour Malta, pre-war
Career (UK) Royal Navy Ensign
Class and type: Arethusa-class light cruiser
Name: HMS Arethusa
Builder: Chatham Dockyard (UK)
Laid down: 25 January 1933
Launched: 6 March 1934
Commissioned: 23 May 1935
Decommissioned: 1945
Fate: Scrapped. She was handed over to BISCO for disposal, arriving at Cashmore's yard at Newport on 9 May 1950 for breaking up.
General characteristics
Displacement: 5,220 tons standard
6,665 tons full load
Length: 506 ft (154 m)
Beam: 51 ft (16 m)
Draught: 14 ft (4.3 m)
Propulsion: Four Parsons geared steam turbines
Four Admiralty 3-drum oil-fired boilers
Four shafts
64,000 shp
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h)
Range: Unknown; 1,325 tons fuel oil
Complement: 500
Armament: Original configuration:
6[1]× BL 6 inch Mk XXIII naval guns[2]
4x 4-inch (102 mm) single AA guns
2x 0.5 inch quadruple machine guns
2x 21-inch (533 mm) triple torpedo tubes April 1942 - October 1942 configuration:[3]
3x 6-inch (152 mm) dual guns
4x 4-inch (102 mm) twin AA guns
2x 2-pdr (40 mm) pom-pomquad AA guns
6x 20 mm Oerlikon single AA guns
2x 21-inch (533 mm) triple torpedo tubes. April 1944 - 1946 configuration:[3]
3x 6-inch (152 mm) dual guns
4x 4-inch (102 mm) twin AA guns
2x 40 mm Boforsquad AA guns
4x 20 mm Oerlikon dual power-operated AA guns
3x 20 mm Oerlikon single AA guns
2x 21-inch (533 mm) triple torpedo tubes.
Armour: Original configuration:
1to 3inches - magazine protection
2.25inches - belt
1inches - deck, turrets and bulkheads
Aircraft carried: One aircraft (removed 1940).
Notes: Pennant number 26

HMS Arethusa (26) was the name ship of her class of light cruisers built for the Royal Navy. She was built by Chatham Dockyard (UK), with the keel being laid down on 25 January 1933. She was launched on 6 March 1934, and commissioned 21 May 1935 by Captain Philip Vian.


Arethusa was assigned to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean on completion, and was still there at the onset of World War II in September 1939. However, early in 1940 she and her sister HMS Penelope were recalled to the Home Fleet, where they formed the 2nd Cruiser Squadron with the remainder of the class. She participated in the Norwegian campaign in April 1940, but on 8 May she joined the Nore Command, where she supported the defending forces in Calais and later aided the evacuations from French Atlantic ports.

On 28 June 1940 she was a component of the newly formed Force "H" at Gibraltar, with whom she participated in the action against Vichy French forces at Mers el Kebir in July 1940. With Force "H" she took part in convoy protection patrols in the Atlantic and operated in the Mediterranean.

During the Bismarck sortie in May 1941 she was employed in Iceland and Faroes waters, but by July she had returned to the Mediterranean, where she escorted Malta convoys and ran supply trips to the island herself. Towards the end of 1941 she returned to home waters and took part in the Lofoten raid in December, where she was damaged by near misses. After refit and repair at Chatham until April 1942, she returned to the Mediterranean in June 1942, where she joined the 15th Cruiser Squadron, operating mostly in support of the resupply of Malta.

Position of HMS Arethusa during the Invasion of Normandy

While on operation "Stoneage", a torpedo from an Italian aircraft struck her on 18 November 1942 and caused heavy casualties. She received temporary repair work in Alexandria that lasted until 7 February 1943, after which she proceeded to Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, USA, for full repair. These were completed by 15 December 1943, and the ship then returned to Britain.

She did not become fully operational again until early June 1944, when she sailed for the invasion of Normandy, forming part of Force "D" off Sword Beach. She had the honour of carrying King George VI across the channel to Normandy, when he toured the beaches and visited the allied command headquarters. By January 1945, she was part of the 15th Cruiser Squadron with the Mediterranean Fleet and stayed there until October 1945 when she returned to the United Kingdom and was immediately placed in the reserve (at the Nore).

There was a tentative plan to sell her to the Royal Norwegian Navy in 1946 but this came to nothing and she was placed in category 'B' reserve. Because the Navy considered her class of ships too small to be worth modernising, the Navy used Arethusa for trials and experiments in 1949 before allocating her to BISCO for disposal. On 9 May 1950, she arrived at Cashmore's, Newport, for breaking up.


  1. ^ Lenton & Colledge 1968 p.41
  2. ^ Campbell 1985 p.34
  3. ^ a b S.V. Patyanin, Kreysera tipa Arethusa, series Morskaya Kollektsya 6/2002




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