HMS Raleigh (1919)

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HMS Raleigh at Pier D Vancouver 1921.jpg
Raleigh visiting Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1921
United Kingdom
Name: Raleigh
Namesake: Sir Walter Raleigh
Ordered: 12 December 1915
Builder: William Beardmore, Dalmuir
Laid down: 9 December 1915
Launched: 28 August 1919
Completed: July 1921
Fate: Wrecked, 8 August 1922
Status: Demolished, 1926, diveable wreck
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Hawkins-class heavy cruiser
Length: 605 ft (184.4 m) (o/a)
Beam: 65 ft (19.8 m)
Draught: 19 ft 3 in (5.9 m) (deep load)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 4 × shafts; 4 × geared steam turbines
Speed: 31 knots (57 km/h; 36 mph)
Range: 5,640 nmi (10,450 km; 6,490 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 690
  • Belt: 1.5–3 in (3.8–7.6 cm)
  • Deck: 1–1.5 in (2.5–3.8 cm)
  • Gun shields: 1 in (2.5 cm)

HMS Raleigh was one of five Hawkins-class heavy cruisers built for the Royal Navy during the First World War, although she was not completed until 1921. She was assigned to the North America and West Indies Station when she commissioned. The ship ran aground off Newfoundland in August 1922 with the loss of eleven crewmen. Raleigh was salvaged in place and was destroyed with explosives in 1926, although she remains a diveable wreck.

Design and description[edit]

The Hawkins-class cruisers were designed to be able to hunt down commerce raiders in the open ocean, for which they needed a heavy armament, high speed and long range.[1] The ships had an overall length of 605 feet (184.4 m), a beam of 65 feet (19.8 m) and a draught of 19 feet 3 inches (5.9 m) at deep load. They displaced 9,750 long tons (9,906 t) at normal load and 12,190 long tons (12,386 t) at deep load.[2] Their crew consisted of 690 officers and ratings.[3]

The ships were originally designed with 60,000-shaft-horsepower (45,000 kW) propulsion machinery, but the Admiralty decided in 1917 to replace their four coal-fired boilers with more powerful oil-burning ones. This change could only be applied to the three least-advanced ships, including Raleigh, although she was the only one who received the full upgrade. Raleigh was powered by four Brown-Curtis geared steam turbine sets, each driving one shaft, using steam provided by a dozen Yarrow boilers. The turbines were rated at 70,000 shp (52,000 kW) for a speed of 31 knots (57 km/h; 36 mph).[4] When the ship ran her sea trials off the Isle of Arran from 7–9 September 1920, she reached her designed speed from 71,350 shp (53,210 kW).[5] Raleigh carried enough fuel oil to give her a range of 5,640 nautical miles (10,450 km; 6,490 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph).[6]

The main armament of the Hawkins-class ships consisted of seven 7.5-inch (191 mm) Mk VI guns in single mounts protected by gun shields. They were arranged with five guns on the centreline, four in superfiring pairs fore and aft of the superstructure, the fifth gun on the quarterdeck and the last two as wing guns abreast the aft funnel. Their secondary armament consisted of ten 3-inch (76 mm) 20 cwt guns.[Note 1] Six of these were in low-angle mounts, two in casemates between the forward 7.5-inch guns, another pair on platforms abreast the conning tower and the remaining guns on a platform between the funnels; they were removed in 1921. The last four served as anti-aircraft guns and were positioned around the base of the mainmast. The ships were also fitted with six 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, one submerged and two above water on each broadside.[7]

The Hawkins class were protected by a full-length waterline armoured belt that covered most of the ships' sides. It was thickest over boiler and engine rooms, ranging from 1.5 to 3 inches (38 to 76 mm) thick. Their magazines were protected by an additional 0.5 to 1 inch (13 to 25 mm) of armour. There was a 1-inch aft transverse bulkhead and the conning tower was protected by 3-inch armour plates.[3]

Construction and career[edit]

Raleigh aground

Raleigh, named for the Elizabethan explorer and statesman, was laid down by William Beardmore & Company at their shipyard in Dalmuir on 9 December 1915, launched on 28 August 1919 and completed in July 1921.[8]

In April 1922, Sir William Pakenham was commander of the North America and West Indies Station and he chose Raleigh as his flagship. Sir Arthur Bromley was the captain of Raleigh and it was through his negligence that the ship was lost. On 8 August 1922, Bromley sped the flagship through thick fog and ran her aground at L'Anse Amour, Newfoundland. Eleven sailors were drowned in the shipwreck. Bromley and his navigator were both court martialled and found negligent in their duty; they were subsequently reprimanded and discharged.[9][10]

The ship remained hard aground and upright for four years. During this period, she was paid off and stripped of all salvageable items and was then destroyed with explosives by a party from HMS Calcutta in September 1926.[11][12][Note 2] The residents of L'Anse Amour commemorate the event on the anniversary of the disaster.[14]


  1. ^ "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 20 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.
  2. ^ There is much confusion as to when the ship was demolished. Naval historian M. J. Whitley states that Raleigh was blown up in July 1928, although naval historian Antony Preston says that it was in 1927.[13][2]


  1. ^ Raven & Roberts, p. 51
  2. ^ a b Preston, p. 63
  3. ^ a b Raven & Roberts, p. 404
  4. ^ Friedman, p. 69; Raven & Roberts, p. 52–53
  5. ^ Engineering, issue of 24 September 1920
  6. ^ Friedman, p. 390
  7. ^ Friedman, pp. 66–67; Raven & Roberts, p. 404
  8. ^ Morris, p. 170
  9. ^ "Arthur Bromley, Eighth Baronet". The Dreadnought Project. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  10. ^ See also: UK National Archives
  11. ^ Friedman, p. 66
  12. ^ Gallant, Jeffrey. "Royal Eyesore in Labrador". Diving Almanac Book of Records. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  13. ^ Whitley, p. 80
  14. ^ "Remembering HMS Raleigh - Provincial Historic Sites". Retrieved 26 May 2019.


  • Friedman, Norman (2010). British Cruisers: Two World Wars and After. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-59114-078-8.
  • Morris, Douglas (1987). Cruisers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies Since 1879. Liskeard, UK: Maritime Books. ISBN 0-907771-35-1.
  • Raven, Alan & Roberts, John (1980). British Cruisers of World War Two. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-922-7.
  • Preston, Antony (1984). "Great Britain". In Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal (eds.). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Cassell. ISBN 1-86019-874-0.

Further reading[edit]

  • Extract from the diary of Vice Admiral Sir Stephen Carlill, KBE, CB, DSO "The Wreck of HMS Raleigh", Naval Review, 1982.
  • Rohmer, Richard (2003). 'Raleigh' on the Rocks: The Shipwreck of HMS 'Raleigh'. St. John's: Creative Publishing.

External links[edit]