HMS Swiftsure (08)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Swiftsure.
HMS Swiftsure anchored.jpg
Career RN Ensign
Class and type: Minotaur-class light cruiser
Name: HMS Swiftsure
Builder: Vickers Armstrong at Newcastle-on-Tyne
Laid down: 22 September 1941
Launched: 4 February 1943
Commissioned: 22 June 1944
Decommissioned: 1958
Identification: Pennant number: 08
Fate: Scrapped 1962
General characteristics
Displacement: 8,800 tons standard
11,130 tons full
Length: 555.5 ft (169.3 m)
Beam: 63 ft (19 m)
Draught: 17.25 ft (5.26 m)
Propulsion: Four Admiralty-type three drum boilers
Four shaft Parsons steam turbines
72,500 shp
Speed: 31.5 knots (58.3 km/h)
Range: 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km) at 30 knots (60 km/h)
8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km) at 16 knots (30 km/h); 1,850 tons fuel oil
Complement: 867
Armament:
Armour:
  • 3.25 to 3.5-inch (89 mm) belt
  • 2 inch deck
  • 1 to 2-inch (51 mm) turrets
  • 1.5 to 2-inch (51 mm) bulkheads

HMS Swiftsure was a Minotaur-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was laid down by Vickers Armstrong at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 22 September 1941, launched on 4 February 1943 by Lady Wake-Walker and commissioned on 22 June 1944.

Second World War service[edit]

Swiftsure joined the Home Fleet on commissioning, and in 1944 she was assigned to the Eastern Fleet, where, in November 1944, she became a unit of the newly formed British Pacific Fleet. In the Pacific she participated in the Okinawa Campaign of March–May 1945 and in June took part in the carrier raid on Truk by the British Pacific Fleet as TG 111.2, with the cruisers shelling the islands. On 30 August 1945 this group re-entered Hong Kong and took the Japanese surrender there. HMS Swiftsure was at this time the flagship of the British Pacific Cruiser Squadron, and was selected by Admiral Cecil Harcourt to hoist his flag for the Japanese surrender.

HMS Swiftsure, entering Victoria Harbour through North Point on 30 August 1945.

Post War service[edit]

In 1946 she was the flagship of the 4th Cruiser Squadron and in 1951 she became the flagship of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. In 1953 she took part in the Fleet Review to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[1] In the same year she was involved in a collision with the destroyer HMS Diamond, which led to a fierce fire in the forward paint locker. She remained inactive until beginning a major refit in February 1957 Chatham Dockyard to bring her up largely to the standard of the later Tiger-class. New 70 calibre twin 3 inch guns and L70 bofors would have been fitted, but Swiftsure would have retained its original triple 6 inch turrets. Midway through the conversion in mid 1959, with her new bridge and lattice masts in place, the refit was cancelled and she was put up for disposal. Some reports and the government reply in UK Hansard say the refit was costing too much to produce an obsolete ship, whilst others give the reason that the damage suffered during her earlier collision with HMS Diamond had not been fully surveyed and only became apparent during the refit, the ship was structurally weaker and could not support the weight of its new modernised bridge had which sunk more than 18 inches (45 cm). Slow progress on the debugging of the new 3inch/70 calibre guns, which saw the HMS Victorious armed with slower firing US 3inch/50 calibre mountings and a storm of opposition in the Press and Parliament to the rising cost and slow completion of Lion and Blake, saw the surplus 3in/70 guns sold to Canada and a large order for proximity fused 40mm L70s cancelled and to finance the immensely expensive completion of the 2 incomplete Tigers and nip in the bud the intense opposition to 'obsolete cruisers' and new gunnery perceived as faulty, work on the Swiftsure's refit stopped. Her sister ship HMS Superb, had been paid off into reserve in late 1957 after 12 years service, its similar modernisation plans abandoned April 1957 and was sold for scrap in early 1960, one of the first Fiji or Improved Minotaurs to be scrapped. Alernative plans for converting the Swiftsure to a helicopter carrier were already being considered seriously by 1958,[2] but she was eventually sold, arriving at the Inverkeithing yard of T. W. Ward on 17 October 1962 to be scrapped.The helicopter carrier conversion plans however were largely adopted in the late 1960s on Blake and Tiger.


References[edit]

  1. ^ Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  2. ^ D.Murfin. AA to AA. The Fiji's Turn Full Circle. Warships. (2010)London, p56.

Publications[edit]

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