HMS Chester (1915)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Chester.
HMS Chester (1915).jpg
Name: Lambros Katsonis
Namesake: Lambros Katsonis
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, England
Laid down: 7 October 1914
Launched: 8 December 1915
Fate: Sold to United Kingdom, 1915
United Kingdom
Namesake: Chester
Launched: 8 December 1915
Acquired: 1915
Commissioned: May 1916
Renamed: HMS Chester
Fate: Sold for scrap, 9 November 1921
General characteristics (as built)
Class & type: Town-class light cruiser
Displacement: 5,185 long tons (5,268 t)
  • 430 ft (131.1 m) p/p
  • 456 ft 6 in (139.1 m) o/a
Beam: 49 ft 10 in (15.2 m)
Draught: 15 ft 3 in (4.65 m) (mean)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 4 × shafts; 3 × Parsons steam turbines
Speed: 26.5 kn (49.1 km/h; 30.5 mph)
Complement: about 500

HMS Chester was a Town-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy, and one of two ships forming the Birkenhead subtype. Along with her sister ship, Birkenhead, she was originally ordered for the Greek Navy in 1914 and was to be named Lambros Katsonis. The order was placed with Cammell Laird and production continued for the Greek account after the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. In 1915, however, the two cruisers were purchased by the British government.

Design and description[edit]

One of Chester‍ '​s 5.5 inch guns at the Imperial War Museum, London. This gun was operated by John Cornwell during the Battle of Jutland.[1]

Based on the Birmingham sub-class of the Towns, the two Greek ships primarily differed from their British half-sisters in their armament. The Greeks specified that they would use the new BL 5.5-inch (140 mm) Mk I gun built by the Coventry Ordnance Works. This weapon was significantly lighter than the standard 6-inch (152 mm) gun, which allowed the ships to mount ten guns, rather than the nine of the Birminghams, and fired an 85-pound (39 kg) shell rather than the 100-pound (45 kg) shell of the 6-inch weapon. It therefore had a higher rate of fire with little loss in hitting power.[2] The Greeks also specified a secondary armament of two 12-pounder anti-aircraft guns, but these were still under development in 1915 and a pair of 3-pounder guns on high-angle mounts were substituted instead. In addition, Chester had a requirement for 26.5 knots (49.1 km/h; 30.5 mph) and only used oil-fired boilers to save weight and increase her power to meet the specification.[3]

The ship was 456 feet 6 inches (139.1 m) long overall, with a beam of 49 feet 10 inches (15.2 m) and a draught of 15 feet 3 inches (4.6 m).[4] Displacement was 5,185 long tons (5,268 t) normal and 5,795 long tons (5,888 t) at full load. Twelve Yarrow boilers fed Chester‍ '​s Parsons steam turbines, driving four propeller shafts, that were rated at 31,000 shaft horsepower (23,000 kW) for her intended speed of 26.5 knots. She carried 1,161 long tons (1,180 t) tons of fuel oil.[2]


Chester, showing damage sustained at the Battle of Jutland, 31 May 1916
Memorial in Chester Cathedral to 29 men killed and 49 wounded on HMS Chester on 31 May 1916 in the Battle of Jutland.

The ship was laid down on 7 October 1914, launched on 8 December 1915 and entered service in May 1916, three weeks before the Battle of Jutland. At Jutland she fought as part of the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron and came under withering fire from German forces. She was hit by 17 150mm shells and suffered casualties of 29 men killed and 49 wounded; many of the wounded lost legs because the open backed gun-shields did not reach the deck and give adequate protection. Amongst the gun crew fatalities was 16-year-old John Cornwell who received the Victoria Cross for his dedication to duty though mortally injured. Chester served with the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron until the Armistice and was subsequently placed in reserve. She was offered for re-sale to Greece but the offer was declined and the ship was sold for scrapping on 9 November 1921 to Rees, of Llanelly. The gun served by Cornwell is preserved in the Imperial War Museum in London.[1]

Mount Chester in the Canadian Rockies was named after this ship, with nearby Mount Cornwell named after John Cornwell.[5]


  1. ^ a b Imperial War Museum (2012). "Naval BL 5.5 in Mk I Gun with Mk I pedestal mount". Imperial War Museum Collections Search. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 58
  3. ^ Lyon, Part 2, pp. 57, 59
  4. ^ Friedman 2010, p. 384
  5. ^ "Cornwell, Mount". BC Geographical Names. 


  • Brown, David K. (2010). The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906–1922. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-085-7. 
  • 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. OCLC 67375475. 
  • Corbett, Julian. Naval Operations to the Battle of the Falklands. History of the Great War: Based on Official Documents I (2nd, reprint of the 1938 ed.). London and Nashville, Tennessee: Imperial War Museum and Battery Press. ISBN 0-89839-256-X. 
  • Corbett, Julian (1997). Naval Operations. History of the Great War: Based on Official Documents II (reprint of the 1929 second ed.). London and Nashille, Tennessee: Imperial War Museum in association with the Battery Press. ISBN 1-870423-74-7. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2010). British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-59114-078-8. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7. 
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5. 
  • Lyon, David (1977). "The First Town Class 1908–31: Part 1". Warship (London: Conway Maritime Press) 1 (1): pp. 48–58. ISBN 0-85177-132-7. 
  • Lyon, David (1977). "The First Town Class 1908–31: Part 2". Warship (London: Conway Maritime Press) 1 (2): 54–61. ISBN 0-85177-132-7. 
  • Lyon, David (1977). "The First Town Class 1908–31: Part 3". Warship (London: Conway Maritime Press) 1 (3): 46–51. ISBN 0-85177-132-7. 
  • Newbolt, Henry (1996). Naval Operations. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents V (reprint of the 1931 ed.). Nashville, Tennessee: Battery Press. ISBN 0-89839-255-1. 

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