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HMS Tiger (C20): Wikis


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HMS Tiger (C20).png
HMS Tiger before conversion
Career RN Ensign
Class and type: Tiger-class light cruiser
Name: HMS Tiger
Ordered: 1942 Additional Naval Programme
Builder: John Brown Shipyard
Laid down: 1 October 1941
Launched: 25 October 1945
Commissioned: 18 March 1959
Decommissioned: 20 April 1978
Fate: Scrapped starting October 1986
General characteristics
Displacement: 11,560 tons as built
12,080 tons after conversion
Length: 555.5 ft (169.3 m) overall
538 ft (164 m) between perpendiculars
Beam: 64 ft (20 m)
Draught: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Propulsion: Four Admiralty-type three drum boilers (400 psi)
Four shaft Parsons steam turbines
80,000 shp
Speed: 31.5 knots
Range: 8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 16 knots
Complement: 716 (885 after conversion)
Armament: As built:
  • Four × 6 in guns (2 × 2)
  • Six × 3 in (3 × 2)
After Conversion:
  • Two × 6 in (1 × 2)
  • Two × 3 in (1 × 2)
  • Two × Seacat quad missile launchers
Aircraft carried: After conversion: Four helicopters (originally Westland Wessex, then Sea King)

HMS Tiger was a conventional cruiser of the Royal Navy, one of a three ship class known as the Tiger class.


Construction, redesign and commissioning

Tiger started out as Bellerophon laid down in 1941 at the John Brown Shipyard as part of the Minotaur class of light cruisers. They had a low construction priority due to more pressing requirements for other ship types during World War II, particularly anti-submarine craft. Bellerophon was renamed Tiger in 1945, and was launched, partially constructed, on 25 October 1945. She was christened by Lady Stansgate, the wife of William Benn, the Secretary of State for Air, and mother of MP Anthony Wedgewood Benn. However, work on Tiger was suspended in 1946, and she was laid up at Dalmuir.

Construction of Tiger resumed, but to a new design, with Tiger becoming the name ship of the class. The new design was approved in 1951, but construction did not resume until 1954. She would have semi-automatic 6-inch (152 mm) guns in twin high-angle mounts with each gun capable of shooting 20 rounds per minute, and a secondary battery of fully-automatic 3-inch (76 mm) guns which delivered 90 rounds per minute per gun. She would have no lighter anti-aircraft armament or torpedo tubes. Air conditioning was fitted throughout the ship, and a 200-line automatic telephone exchange was installed. Each 6 inch and 3 inch mounting had its own director, linked to a dedicated radar on the director. Tiger was finally commissioned on Clydebank in March 1959.


The early part of Tiger's first commission was spent, under Captain RE Wasbourn, on trials trying to make her new armament actually work. After workup under Captain R Hutchins Tiger went on a round of autumn flag-showing visits to Gdynia, Stockholm, Kiel and Antwerp. At the end of 1959 she deployed to the Mediterranean for a year as Fleet Flagship, under Admiral Michael Pollock.

She took part in operations in the Far East during the Indonesian Confrontation in the early 1960s. In 1966, she hosted talks between Prime Ministers Harold Wilson (UK) and Ian Smith of Rhodesia. The latter had unilaterally declared independence from Britain due to Britain's insistence on the removal of white minority rule. Tiger was placed in reserve in 1966 before undergoing conversion to a "helicopter and commando cruiser" from 1968-72 in HMNB Devonport.

Conversion, obsolescence and decommissioning

This reconstruction included replacing the after 6 inch mount and 3 inch mounts with a flight deck and hangar. She also had new radars and taller funnels. She had excellent command, control, and communications facilities installed, and found use as a flagship to task groups. The refit was very expensive; some say the many millions to convert Tiger, as well as her sister ship Blake to helicopter cruisers drained much needed resources better used elsewhere. She was recommissioned in 1972. Her large crew made her an expensive ship to operate and maintain. When the economic difficulties of the early seventies came around this led to a defense manpower drawdown that resulted in manpower shortages, although Tiger remained in service long enough to take part in the 1977 Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II. In 1978 Tiger was placed in reserve, subsequently being placed on the disposal list in 1979. Both Tiger and sister-ship HMS Blake were listed as part of the Standby squadron, and stored at HMNB Chatham. When the Falklands War broke out in late March 1982, both ships were rapidly surveyed and it was determined both were in good enough material shape that both were drydocked (Tiger in Portsmouth and Blake at Chatham) and recommissioning work was begun, as it was deemed that their 6" guns would be useful for shore bombardment. By mid-May it was realized that neither could be made ready in time for deployment and work was stopped. Tiger lingered on tied to a mooring buoy in Portsmouth Harbour in a deteriorating condition until mid-1986, when she was sold for scrap. She was towed to Spain and scrapping started in October 1986.




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