HMS Carlisle (D67)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Carlisle.
HMS Carlisle.jpg
In wartime camouflage, 1942
Career
Class and type: C-class light cruiser
Name: HMS Carlisle
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Laid down: 2 October 1917
Launched: 9 July 1918
Commissioned: 11 November 1918
Out of service: Sold 5 April
Reclassified: Converted to anti-aircraft ship in 1940
Base ship in Alexandria, March 1944
Hulk at Alexandria 1948
Fate: Broken up at Alexandria in 1949
General characteristics
Tons burthen: 4,190 tons
Length: 451.4 ft (137.6 m)
Beam: 43.9 ft (13.4 m)
Draught: 14 ft (4.3 m)
Propulsion: Parsons geared turbines
Yarrow boilers
Two propellers
40,000 shp
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h)
Range: carried 300 tons (950 tons maximum) of fuel oil
Complement: 330-350
Armament: 5 x 6in guns
2 x 3in anti-aircraft guns
4 x 3pdr guns
2 x 2pdr pom-poms
1 x machine gun
8 x 21in torpedo tubes
Armour: 3in side (amidships)
2¼-1½in side (bows)
2in side (stern)
1in upper decks (amidships)
1in deck over rudder

HMS Carlisle was a C-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy, named after the English City of Carlisle. She was the name ship of the Carlisle group of the C-class of cruisers. Carlisle was credited with shooting down eleven Axis aircraft during the Second World War, and was the top scoring anti-aircraft ship in the Royal Navy.[1]

Construction and early years[edit]

She was laid down by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company in 1917, and launched on 9 July 1918. She was completed with a hangar positioned under the bridge, and she was to carry aircraft. This was never carried out and the hangar was later removed. Carlisle was commissioned too late to see action in the First World War, and in 1919 Carlisle joined the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron at Harwich. During March she left Harwich in company with the squadron, and took up station in China. She was refitted between 1921-1929 and went on to serve on the Africa Station with the 6th Cruiser Squadron. In February 1930, Carlisle was docked in the Selborne dry dock at Simon's Town, South Africa prior to becoming a unit of the 2nd cruiser squadron Atlantic (Home Fleet). On 16 March 1937 she was relieved by the cruiser HMS Neptune and returned to the U.K. to be reduced into the reserve. In June 1939 Carlisle started a conversion to an A/A cruiser, with 8-4" QF MK16 and 1 quadruple 2 pdr Pom-Poms being fitted. This conversion was completed in January 1940. Carlisle was fitted with radar during her conversion and introduced the Type 280 radar combined air warning and gunnery radar into the Royal Navy; she thus became the first naval vessel to be equipped with an anti-aircraft fire control radar system.[2]

Early war service[edit]

She then spent a brief period with the Home Fleet, in which she participated in the allied opposition to the German invasion of Norway. She was employed on escort duties of a troop convoy consisting of the 148th Infantry Brigade who went ashore at Åndalsnes; with this the German position in Trondheim was threatened from the north and south (Operation Sickle). Later during the month the sloop HMS Bittern was mistaken for a cruiser and was badly damaged by German JU88s and had to be sunk by Carlisle. In August Carlisle was serving in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden area when she assisted in the evacuation of British troops, civilians and the sick from Berbera in British Somaliland to Aden before Berbera was occupied by Italian troops.

Mediterranean[edit]

She returned to the Eastern Fleet in August 1940 after being converted to an anti-aircraft ship in 1940. Like most of her sisters, she was then assigned to the Mediterranean Sea, departing the Far East in March 1941. Once in the Mediterranean, she was used to escort convoys as an A/A vessel of the 15th cruiser squadron for convoys from Alexandria to Greece (Operation Lustre). She became involved in Battle of Cape Matapan, as well as the first and second battles of Sirte. She was also involved in the naval attack during the Battle of Crete in 1941, and was hit and damaged in an air attack on the 22 May whilst attacking an enemy convoy. A direct hit killed her Commanding Officer, Capt. Thomas Cloud Hampton, RN. The British destroyer HMS Kingston went alongside to give assistance, whilst Carlisle continued to engage the enemy. She went on to rescue the survivors of the SS Thistlegorm after the ship was sunk in an air attack on 5 October 1941. By December, the cruiser was back performing convoy duties between Alexandria and Malta, she was tasked to support the commissioned auxiliary supply ship HMS Breconshire.

Damage and reclassification[edit]

In July 1943, she provided escort for the support force for the Allied landings in Sicily. During September-October, during the German counterattack in the Aegean Sea, Carlisle made a sortie into the area south of Piraeus with the destroyers HMS Panther and HMS Rockwood in order to intercept German convoys in the Scarpanto Strait. On 9 October 1943 they were spotted by German Ju 87 dive bombers from I. StG 3 of Megara Air Base which succeeded in sinking HMS Panther at 12.05 hrs and later on seriously damaged Carlisle. She was taken in tow to Alexandria by Rockwood. She was considered to be beyond economical repair as a warship, and instead was converted to serve as a base ship in the harbour of Alexandria in March 1944. She was last listed as a hulk in 1948 after the war had ended, and was broken up in 1949.

Carlisle's badge can still be seen painted on the side of the Selborne dry dock wall at Simonstown, South Africa.

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