HMS Phoebe (43)

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For other ships with the same name, see HMS Phoebe.
HMS Phoebe FL5271.jpg
HMS Phoebe at anchor on completion
History
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Phoebe
Builder: Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company (Govan, Scotland)
Laid down: 2 September 1937
Launched: 25 March 1939
Commissioned: 27 September 1940
Decommissioned: 14 March 1953
Out of service: 14 March 1951
Fate: Scrapped, Arrived at Blyth on 1 August 1956 to be scrapped by Hughes Bolckow
Notes: Pennant number 43
General characteristics
Class and type: Dido-class light cruiser
Displacement:
  • 5,600 tons standard
  • 6,850 tons full load
Length:
  • 485 ft (148 m) pp
  • 512 ft (156 m) oa
Beam: 50.5 ft (15.4 m)
Draught: 14 ft (4.3 m)
Propulsion:
  • Parsons geared turbines
  • Four shafts
  • Four Admiralty 3-drum boilers
  • 62,000 shp (46 MW)
Speed: 32.25 knots (60 km/h)
Range:
  • 2,414 km (1,500 miles) at 30 knots
  • 6,824 km (4,240 miles) at 16 knots
  • 1,100 tons fuel oil
Complement: 480
Armament:
Armor:
  • Original configuration:
  • Belt: 3 inch,
  • Deck: 1 inch,
  • Magazines: 2 inch,
  • Bulkheads: 1 inch.

HMS Phoebe was a Dido-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company (Govan, Scotland), her keel was laid down on 2 September 1937. She was launched on 25 March 1939, and commissioned on 30 September 1940.

History[edit]

Mediterranean[edit]

Phoebe with HM King George VI and HM Queen Elizabeth on board, coming alongside the quay at Belfast in 1942

Phoebe's first six months were spent in the Home Fleet, escorting troop convoys on the first stage of their long voyage via the Cape to the Middle East. In April 1941 she was transferred to the 7th Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean. Enemy-held territory here was to keep the British Fleet busy for the next two and half years, and Phoebe was to have her fair share of the action. One of her first operations was the evacuation of troops from Greece and Crete, which was followed quickly by the Syria landings and transporting troops to and from Tobruk, where she was torpedoed by an Italian plane and went to the USA for repair. The damage she sustained put her out of action for eight months.

Phoebe returned to the Mediterranean in the summer of 1942 to escort the last heavily opposed convoy to Malta.

Africa[edit]

On 23 October 1942, Phoebe was torpedoed by the German submarine U-161 off the Congo Estuary, while on passage to French Equatorial Africa. Her route was from Simonstown in South Africa to Freetown Sierra Leone, but the ship had to refuel at Pointe Noire. Two U-boats (U-161 and U-126), were patrolling that area at the time.

After the hit, a corvette coming up from the harbour prevented the U-boat from finishing off the cruiser. About 60 crew members were killed (and three more died from malaria in the following days). After provisional repairs, Phoebe made for New York for complete repairs. It was an incredible feat to sail 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km) with a gaping hole (60 by 30 feet (18.3 m × 9.1 m)) in her hull. The repairs were not completed until June 1943. In October 1943 she returned to the Mediterranean to take part in the Aegean operations.

Far East[edit]

The Commanding Officer leading the cheers for HM King George VI, on board Phoebe, part of the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1943

In May 1944, Phoebe was transferred to the Eastern Fleet and was involved in strike operations against the Andaman Islands, Sabang in Northern Sumatra and the Nicobar Islands. In January 1945, a busy month, she was switched to supporting amphibious operations in Burma and was engaged in actions against Akyab, Ramree Island off the Arakan Coast, and Cheduba Island. In May 1945, Phoebe was involved in the amphibious assault on Rangoon.

Post war[edit]

Three sailors from HMS Phoebe in Barracca Gardens, Malta

After VJ-Day, Phoebe returned home for refitting and spent five years in the peacetime Mediterranean Fleet. In early 1948 the cruiser took elements of Royal Marines 40 Commando to Haifa, to assist in the British withdrawal from Mandate Palestine. On 30 June Phoebe embarked the last G. O. C. Palestine and rearguard troops, as the evacuation was completed.[1] After a period in reserve she was sold for scrap in 1956. This brought to an end a relatively short but eventful career.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Palestine Patrol by the Royal Navy, article in Shipping - Today & Yesterday No. 203 January 2007 pp.44-5

External links[edit]