HMAS Hobart (D63)

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HMS Apollo.jpg
HMAS Hobart, prior to her transfer to the RAN
Career (United Kingdom)
Builder:HM Dockyard, Devonport, England
Laid down:15 August 1934
Launched:9 October 1934
Commissioned:13 January 1936
Decommissioned:1936
Identification:Pennant number: D63
Fate:Sold to RAN
Career (Australia)
Namesake:City of Hobart
Commissioned:28 September 1938
Decommissioned:20 December 1947
Identification:Pennant number: D63
Motto:Ubertas et Fidelitas
(Latin: "Richness and Faithfulness")[1]
Honours and
awards:
Battle honours:
Mediterranean 1941
Indian Ocean 1941
Coral Sea 1942
Savo Island 1942
Guadacanal 1942
Pacific 1942–45
East Indies 1940
Borneo 1945
Fate:Sold for scrap in 1962
General characteristics
Class & type:Modified Leander-class light cruiser
Displacement:7,105 tons
Length:562 ft 3 in (171.37 m)
Beam:56 ft 8 in (17.27 m)
Draught:15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)
Installed power:72,000 shaft horsepower (54,000 kW)
Propulsion:4 Parsons geared steam turbines, 4 boilers, 4 shafts
Speed:32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph)
Complement:570
Armament:Original configuration:
8[2] × BL 6 inch Mk XXIII naval guns[3]
8 × 4-inch (100 mm) guns
4 x QF 3 pounder guns
8 × 21-inch (530 mm) torpedo tubes (quadruple mounts)
Aircraft carried:1 Supermarine Walrus, 1 catapult
 
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HMS Apollo.jpg
HMAS Hobart, prior to her transfer to the RAN
Career (United Kingdom)
Builder:HM Dockyard, Devonport, England
Laid down:15 August 1934
Launched:9 October 1934
Commissioned:13 January 1936
Decommissioned:1936
Identification:Pennant number: D63
Fate:Sold to RAN
Career (Australia)
Namesake:City of Hobart
Commissioned:28 September 1938
Decommissioned:20 December 1947
Identification:Pennant number: D63
Motto:Ubertas et Fidelitas
(Latin: "Richness and Faithfulness")[1]
Honours and
awards:
Battle honours:
Mediterranean 1941
Indian Ocean 1941
Coral Sea 1942
Savo Island 1942
Guadacanal 1942
Pacific 1942–45
East Indies 1940
Borneo 1945
Fate:Sold for scrap in 1962
General characteristics
Class & type:Modified Leander-class light cruiser
Displacement:7,105 tons
Length:562 ft 3 in (171.37 m)
Beam:56 ft 8 in (17.27 m)
Draught:15 ft 8 in (4.78 m)
Installed power:72,000 shaft horsepower (54,000 kW)
Propulsion:4 Parsons geared steam turbines, 4 boilers, 4 shafts
Speed:32.5 knots (60.2 km/h; 37.4 mph)
Complement:570
Armament:Original configuration:
8[2] × BL 6 inch Mk XXIII naval guns[3]
8 × 4-inch (100 mm) guns
4 x QF 3 pounder guns
8 × 21-inch (530 mm) torpedo tubes (quadruple mounts)
Aircraft carried:1 Supermarine Walrus, 1 catapult

HMAS Hobart was a modified Leander-class light cruiser which served in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during World War II. Originally constructed for the Royal Navy as HMS Apollo, the ship entered service in 1936, and was sold to Australia two years later. During the war, Hobart was involved in the evacuation of British Somaliland in 1940, fought at the Battle of the Coral Sea and supported the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi during 1942, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1943, then returned to service in 1945 and supported the landings at Tarakan, Wewak, Brunei, and Balikpapan. Hobart was placed in reserve in 1947, but plans to modernise her and return her to service as an aircraft carrier escort, training ship, or guided missile ship were not followed through. The cruiser was sold for scrapping in 1962.

Contents

Design and construction

The ship was one of three Modified Leander-class light cruisers constructed for the Royal Navy. The main difference to the previous five Leanders was that the newer ships had their machinery and propulsion equipment organised in two self-contained units (separated fore and aft), allowing the ship to continue operating if one set was damaged.[4] The two exhaust funnels, one for each machinery space, gave the modified ships a different profile from the early Leanders, which had a single funnel.[4] To cover the separate machinery spaces, the side armour was extended from 84 to 141 feet (26 to 43 m), negating the weight reduction created by the separation.[5] During design, it was planned to modify the forward-most and aft-most 6-inch turrets to be fitted with three guns instead of two, but the plan was cancelled when it was determined that the required alterations would cause several negative side effects, including reducing the ship's top speed and causing problems with effective fire control.[6]

The cruiser was laid down at HM Dockyard, Devonport, England on 15 August 1933 as HMS Apollo.[7] She was launched on 9 October 1934 by Lady Florence, wife of Admiral Sir William Boyle.[7][8] The ship was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 13 January 1936.[7][8]

Operational history

Royal Navy service

Apollo served on the North American and West Indies Station until 1938.[9]

Australian acquisition

HMAS Hobart at Brisbane in 1939

The ship was purchased by the Australian Government in 1938, with the transfer of the seaplane tender HMAS Albatross to the Royal Navy part of the payment.[8][9] She was originally to be renamed and transferred to the RAN on 6 October, but the mobilisation of the British Home Fleet in response to the Munich Crisis brought this forward to 28 September.[9] The cruiser arrived in Australia at the end of 1938, and visited her namesake city during February 1939.[9]

World War II

At the start of World War II, Hobart was initially deployed on patrols of Bass Strait.[7] A month later, on 13 October, the cruiser sailed for Singapore with several RAN destroyers.[7] After arrival, she was assigned to patrols and convoy escort duties in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.[7][9] In February 1940, she escorted an Australian troop convoy from Colombo to the Middle East, then spent time in Ceylon as flagship of the East Indies Station before being transferred to Aden with HMS Liverpool in April to form the core of the Royal Navy's Red Sea Force.[7]

The cruiser fired in anger for the first time on 12 June 1940, in retaliation to Italian aircraft attacking Aden.[9] On 19 June, the cruiser's Walrus amphibious aircraft dropped bombs on an Italian wireless station on Centre Peak Island in the Red Sea.[9] At the start of August, Hobart escorted a relief force to Berbera, in response to the Italian invasion of British Somaliland.[9] Two weeks later, the decision was made to abandon British Somaliland, and Hobart was designated headquarters for the evacuation.[9] The Walrus was used to successfully fend off air raids and bomb the Italian headquarters at Zeila, while a 3-pounder Hotchkiss saluting gun was converted into an anti-tank gun and sent to assist in the rearguard action, although the three volunteers crewing the weapon were captured.[9] Hobart's captain orchestrated the evacuation of over 7,000 soldiers and civilians aboard a heterogenous flotilla of vessels.[9] The cruiser was the last ship to leave on 19 August, collecting stragglers in the ship's boats while demolition teams and the ship's guns destroyed anything of value.[9]

Hobart remained in the Red Sea until October, when she sailed to Colombo for refit, then returned to Australia.[9] Shortly after arrival, Rear Admiral John Gregory Crace transferred his flag from HMAS Canberra to Hobart.[10] The cruiser was used as an escort in Australian waters until June 1941, when the ship's seaplane and catapult were removed, Crace transferred his flag back to Canberra, and Hobart was sent to the Mediterranean to relieve sister ship HMAS Perth.[10][9] On 13 July, Hobart was in Port Tewfik when the area was bombed.[9] The troopship Georgic was damaged by bombs and attempted to beach, but collided with the transport Gleneran and forced her ashore as well.[9] Hobart's company helped to evacuate crew and passengers from the ships during the evening, and helped to refloat Georgic the next day.[9] On joining the Mediterranean Fleet, Hobart was assigned to support Allied forces during the Western Desert Campaign until December 1941, when the Japanese declaration of war required the ship to relocate to Australian waters.[10]

The cruiser was diverted to escort a convoy from Colombo to Singapore; the ships arrived on 3 January, the same day as a Japanese air raid.[10] Hobart reached Fremantle on 11 January, then escorted a convoy to Java before the month's end.[10] On 3 February 1942, while sailing from Singapore to Batavia, Hobart and the destroyer HMS Tenedos came to the aid of the merchant ship Norah Moller, which had been bombed by three aircraft.[9] The cruiser collected 57 of the 70 aboard, with the rest aboard Tenedos.[9] From this point, the ship was almost constantly deployed on convoy escort duties in the [{Far East Station]].[10] On 25 February, the cruiser was attacked by 27 bombers while refuelling from a tanker at Tanjong Priok.[11] There was only minor damage, but the fuelling operation could not be completed, and Hobart was unable to join the Allied force that was defeated during the Battle of the Java Sea two days later.[11]

Hobart participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942, as part of the Allied cruiser force shielding Port Moresby. The Australian squadron (Task Force 44) was commanded by Royal Navy Admiral Sir John Gregory Crace, and included the US cruiser Chicago and the destroyers Perkins, Walke, and Farragut in addition to Australia and Hobart. Crace's squadron, away from the main scene of battle, had been ordered to patrol the Jomard Passage, through which a Japanese invasion force bound for Port Moresby would pass. Crace's ships were vulnerable as they had no air cover, and adopted an anti-aircraft diamond formation. In the late morning of 7 May a Japanese reconnaissance plane sighted the squadron and reported its position to Rabaul. That afternoon, eleven Japanese torpedo bombers attacked the Allied ships, which retaliated with a strong barrage. No ships were severely damaged during the five-minute engagement, but six Australians and three Americans were casualties. A second Japanese attack was mounted almost immediately, this time with accurate pattern bombing from high altitude, but the ships were successful in evading. Minutes later, a third wave of three bomber aircraft flew overhead and narrowly missed the American destroyers; it was later learned that these were B-17 Flying Fortresses of the United States Army Air Force, which believed they were attacking a squadron of Japanese ships.

On 7 August, Hobart supported the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal and Tulagi.[11]

The damage from a torpedo attack against Hobart on 20 July 1943

On 20 July 1943, while in the Solomon Islands, Hobart was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.[11] The torpedo struck the port quarter and caused serious damage.[11] The damage included a huge hole in the side, a badly distorted forward deck and stern, both portside propellers blown off by the impact, many pipes broken, bulkheads crushed and power cables severed.[citation needed] Fourteen personnel, including a visiting US officer, were killed.[citation needed] The cruiser limped to Espiritu Santo for temporary repairs, then sailed for Australia with the destroyers Arunta and Warramunga escorting.[11] The cruiser arrived in Sydney on 26 August, and was docked at Cockatoo Island Dockyard for repairs and refurbishment; the quantity of damage meant that she was out of service until 1945.[12]

Following her return, Hobart was involved in the landing at Tarakan on 25 April, at Wewak on 11 May, at Brunei in June, and at Balikpapan in July.[11] Hobart entered Tokyo Bay on 31 August, and was present for Victory over Japan Day (2 September 1945), when the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed.[11][13] Following the war, Hobart spent 1946 and 1947 in Japanese waters.[14]

Hobart received eight battle honours for her wartime service: "Mediterranean 1941", "Indian Ocean 1941", "Coral Sea 1942", "Savo Island 1942", "Guadacanal 1942", "Pacific 1942–45", "East Indies 1940", and "Borneo 1945".[15][16]

Hobart exercising with Shropshire off Subic Bay in August 1945

Decommissioning and fate

Hobart was paid off into the reserve fleet on 20 December 1947.[14] In 1950, following the failure to find a suitable new British cruiser design, and a dollar shortage preventing the purchase of US vessels, it was decided to modernise Hobart and use her as a stop-gap aircraft carrier escort until the Daring class destroyers entered service, after which she would serve as a troop convoy escort to the Middle East in the event of a future conflict.[17] This planned role changed in 1952 following a series of financial cutbacks and the realisation that the Battle class destroyers were suitable carrier escorts; instead, Hobart was to replace Australia as the training cruiser.[17] She was taken to the Newcastle State Dockyard for modification.[17]

During 1953 and 1954, further reductions in the RAN saw one carrier taken off active duty for use as a training vessel, eliminating the need to return Hobart to service.[17] Other options for reactivating the cruiser were explored, including conversion to a guided missile ship, but by April 1955, all proposals were abandoned.[17] Despite the conversion work to date having cost £A1 million, the modification was cancelled, and Hobart was returned to the reserve fleet and marked for disposal.[17] Hobart was sold for scrap on 22 February 1962 to Japanese firm Mitsui & Co (Aust) Pty Ltd.[8] The ship left Sydney under tow on 3 March, and arrived in Osaka on 2 April for breaking up.[8]

Citations

  1. ^ Cassells, The Capital Ships, p. 76
  2. ^ Lenton & Colledge 1968 p.39
  3. ^ Campbell 1985 p.34
  4. ^ a b Frame, HMAS Sydney, p. 15
  5. ^ Frame, HMAS Sydney, pp. 15–16
  6. ^ Frame, HMAS Sydney, p. 16
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 124
  8. ^ a b c d e "HMAS Hobart (I)". Sea Power Centre – Royal Australian Navy. http://www.navy.gov.au/HMAS_Hobart_(I). Retrieved 16 September 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Cassells, The Capital Ships, p. 73
  10. ^ a b c d e f Bastock, Australia's Ships of War, p. 125
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Cassells, The Capital Ships, p. 74
  12. ^ Cassells, The Capital Ships, pp. 73–5
  13. ^ "Allied Ships Present in Tokyo Bay During the Surrender Ceremony, 2 September 1945". Naval Historical Center – U.S. Navy. 27 May 2005. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq69-2.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-13. "Taken from Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas (CINCPAC/CINCPOA) A16-3/FF12 Serial 0395, 11 February 1946: Report of Surrender and Occupation of Japan" 
  14. ^ a b Cassells, The Capital Ships, p. 75
  15. ^ "Navy Marks 109th Birthday With Historic Changes To Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. http://www.navy.gov.au/Navy_Marks_109th_Birthday_With_Historic_Changes_To_Battle_Honours. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  16. ^ "Royal Australian Navy Ship/Unit Battle Honours". Royal Australian Navy. 1 March 2010. http://www.navy.gov.au/w/images/Units_entitlement_list.pdf. Retrieved 14 March 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f Donohue, From Empire Defence to the Long Haul, pp. 148–9

References

External links