HMS Neptune (20)
|Career (United Kingdom)|
|Laid down:||24 September 1931|
|Launched:||31 January 1933|
|Commissioned:||12 February 1934|
|Identification:||Pennant number: 20|
|Motto:||Regnare est servire
(Latin: "To reign is to serve")
|Fate:||Sunk 19 December 1941 by mines off Tripoli|
|Class & type:||Leander-class light cruiser|
|Displacement:||7,270 tons standard
9,740 tons full load
|Length:||554.9 ft (169.1 m)|
|Beam:||56 ft (17 m)|
|Draught:||19.1 ft (5.8 m)|
|Installed power:||72,000 shaft horsepower (54,000 kW)|
|Propulsion:||4 x Parsons geared steam turbines
6 x Admiralty 3-drum oil-fired boilers
|Speed:||32.5 knots (60 km/h)|
|Range:||5,730 nautical miles (10,610 km) at 13 knots (24 km/h)|
|type 284/286 air search radar
type 273/271 surface search
type 285 6 inch (152 mm) fire control
type 282 40 mm fire control
|Armour:||4 in (102 mm) main belt
2.5 in (64 mm) ends
1.25 to 2 in (32 to 51 mm) deck
1 in (25 mm) turrets
|Aircraft carried:||One catapult-launched aircraft
Original type was a Fairey Seafox
catpult and aircraft later replaced with Supermarine Walrus
Neptune was the fourth ship of its class and was the ninth Royal Navy vessel to carry the name. Built by Portsmouth Dockyard, the vessel was laid down on 24 September 1931, launched on 31 January 1933, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 12 February 1934 with the pennant number "20".
During World War II, Neptune operated with a crew drawn predominantly from the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy.
In December 1939, several months after war was declared, Neptune was patrolling in the South Atlantic in pursuit of German surface raider pocket battleship (heavy cruiser) Admiral Graf Spee. Neptune, with other patrolling Royal Navy heavy units, was sent to Uruguay in the aftermath of the Battle of the River Plate. However, she was still in transit when the Germans scuttled Graf Spee on 17 December.
Neptune was the first British ship to spot the Italian Fleet in the battle of Calabria, on 9 July 1940, marking also the first time since the Napoleonic wars that the Mediterranean Fleet received the signal 'Enemy Battle Fleet in Sight'. During the subsequent engagement, she was hit by the Italian light cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi. The 6-inch shell splinters damaged her floatplane beyond repair, its wreckage being thrown into the sea. Minutes later her main guns struck the heavy cruiser Bolzano three times, inflicting some damage on her torpedo room, below the water line and the "B" turret. During 1941, she led Force K, a raiding squadron of cruisers. Their task was to intercept and destroy German and Italian convoys en route to Libya. The convoys were supplying Rommel's Afrika Korps in North Africa with troops and equipment.
While reversing out of the minefield, Neptune struck a third mine, which took off her propellers and left her dead in the water. Aurora was unable to render assistance as she was already down to 10 knots (19 km/h) and needed to turn back to Malta. Penelope was also unable to assist.
The destroyers Kandahar and Lively were sent into the minefield to attempt a tow. The former struck a mine and began drifting. Neptune then signalled for Lively to keep clear. (Kandahar was later evacuated and torpedoed by the destroyer Jaguar, to prevent her capture.)
Neptune hit a fourth mine and quickly capsized. Only 30 seamen, out of her complement of 767, initially survived the sinking, and only one was still alive when their lifeboat was picked up five days later by the Italian torpedo boat Achille Papa.
- Lenton & Colledge 1968 p.39
- Campbell 1985 p.34
- Thomas, David A. (1999). Malta Convoys. Leo Cooper, p. 25. ISBN 0-85052-663-9
- Action of Calabria, by Christian D'Adamo
- Jordan, John (2008). Warship 2008. Conway maritime press, p. 32. ISBN 1-84486-062-0
- Smith, Peter Charles (1980). Action imminent: three studies of the naval war in the Mediterranean theatre during 1940. Kimber, p. 66. ISBN 0-7183-0197-8
- Green, Jack & Massignani, Alessandro (1998). The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1940–1943, Chatam Publishing, pp. 74–75. ISBN 1-885119-61-5
- Taverner, Nixie (2003). Neptune's Legacy. Arcturus Press. ISBN 0-90732-286-7.
- Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.
- Lenton, H.T. & Colledge, J.J (1968). British and Dominion Warships of World War Two. Doubleday and Company.
- HMS Neptune at Uboat.net
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