HMS Calypso (D61)

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HMS Calypso.jpg
HMS Calypso
United Kingdom
NameHMS Calypso
BuilderHawthorn Leslie and Company
Laid down17 February 1916
Launched24 January 1917
Commissioned21 June 1917
FateSunk 12 June 1940
General characteristics
Class and typeC-class light cruiser
Displacement4,120 long tons (4,190 t)[1]
Length450 ft (140 m)
Beam42.9 ft (13.1 m)
Draught14.3 ft (4.4 m)
Installed power40,000 shp (30,000 kW)
Speed29 kn (33 mph; 54 km/h)
CapacityFuel oil: 300 short tons (270 t) (normal); 935 short tons (848 t) (maximum)
Armament5 × BL 6 in (150 mm) Mk XII guns, 2 × QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti-aircraft guns, 4 × QF 3-pounder guns, 1 × machine gun, 8 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
  • Side: 3 in (7.6 cm) (amidships); 1.25–2.25 in (3.2–5.7 cm) (bow); 2–2.5 in (5.1–6.4 cm) (stern)
  • Deck: 1 in (2.5 cm) (upper, amidships); 1 in (2.5 cm) (over rudder)

HMS Calypso (D61) was a C class cruiser of the Caledon sub-class of the Royal Navy, launched in 1917 and sunk in 1940 by the Italian submarine Alpino Bagnolini.

HMS Calypso was built by Hawthorn Leslie and Company. Her keel was laid down in February 1916 and she was completed in June 1917.

Calypso was involved in the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight on 17 November 1917, when she and her sister ship Caledon were part of the force that intercepted German minesweepers near the German coast. During the battle, Calypso's bridge was struck by a 5.9 in (150 mm) shell which killed all personnel on the bridge including the captain, and causing the accidental firing of a ready torpedo.[2][3]

Calypso went to the rescue of the Greek royal family in 1922 after King Constantine of Greece abdicated and a military dictatorship seized power. The King's brother, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark was banished for life by a revolutionary court and was forced to flee with his family, which included his 18-month-old son Philippos who would later become Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.[4] The British Government had received news of the situation, and dispatched Calypso to evacuate the family. They boarded with minimal possessions. Philippos was carried on board in a cot made from an orange box. The family were taken to Brindisi, Italy, where they were put on a train to Paris.

On 2 November 1924, the destroyer HMS Venomous (D75) was steaming in the Grand Harbour upon returning to Valletta, Malta, from a cruise in the Western Mediterranean Sea when she accidentally rammed and sank a motorboat from Calypso. All four people aboard the motorboat were saved by a boat from the destroyer HMS Umpire.[5][6]

During the early part of the Second World War, Calypso served with the 7th Cruiser Squadron on Northern Patrol duty as a blockade ship in the North Sea between Scotland and Iceland. On 24 September 1939, Calypso intercepted the German merchant ship Minden south of Iceland. The crew of Minden scuttled their ship before she could be captured. On 22 November, Calypso captured the German merchant ship Konsul Hendrik Fisser off Iceland.

Following the sinking of the Rawalpindi on 23 November, Calypso was involved in the search for the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau.

In early 1940, Calypso was sent to Alexandria in the eastern Mediterranean.

Calypso was the first British Royal Naval vessel to be sunk by the Regia Marina in the Second World War. Two days after Italy declared war on Great Britain, Calypso was on an anti-shipping patrol against Italian ships travelling to Libya when she was struck by one torpedo from an Italian submarine about 50 mi (80 km) south of Cape Lithion in Crete in the Eastern Mediterranean. The sinking occurred at 00:59 on 12 June 1940. The submarine was the Alpino Bagnolini captained by C.C. Franco Tosoni Pittoni. Thirty nine sailors from Calypso perished in the sinking.[7] The majority of her survivors were rescued by the destroyer Dainty and taken to Alexandria.


  1. ^ Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. 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., p. 65
  2. ^ Grand Fleet Gunnery and Torpedo Orders, 530/1/5/1918, p. 36.
  3. ^ Newbolt, Henry (1931). History of the Great War: Naval Operations Vol. V , pp. 176
  4. ^ The Times (London), Monday 4 December 1922, p.12
  5. ^ A HARD FOUGHT SHIP: The story of HMS Venomous: What's New
  6. ^ "A Hard Fought Ship, The Story of HMS Venomous: The Grand Harbour, Valletta, 2 November 1924". Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  7. ^ Playfair, Vol. I, pages 109-110.


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Coordinates: 34°03′N 24°05′E / 34.050°N 24.083°E / 34.050; 24.083