HMS Lion (C34)
HMS Lion underway
|Ordered||1942 Additional Naval Programme|
|Laid down||6 June 1942|
|Launched||2 September 1944|
|Commissioned||20 July 1960|
|Out of service||Used as a parts hulk for sister ships from 1973|
|Fate||Sold for scrap 12 February 1975|
|Class and type||Tiger-class light cruiser|
|Beam||64 ft (20 m)|
|Draught||21 ft (6.4 m)|
|Speed||31.5 knots (58 km/h)|
|Range||8,000 nautical miles (14,816 km) at 16 kn (30 km/h)|
HMS Lion was a Tiger-class light cruiser of the British Royal Navy, originally ordered in 1942 as one of the Minotaur class and laid down that same year as Defence by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company at Greenock in Scotland on 6 June 1942.
Work was stopped and not begun again until the mid-1950s for completion as an air-defence cruiser pending the introduction of guided missile-equipped County-class destroyers into the navy. She was commissioned in 1960. All three Tigers were to be converted into helicopter carriers but Lion was placed into reserve in 1965 and served as a supply of spares for the other two until decommissioned in 1972 followed by selling for scrap in 1975.
Design and construction
Partially complete, Lion was launched on 2 September 1944 by Lady Edelson, but work was suspended in 1946. The cruiser was further advanced than the two other Tigers and its completion as HMS Defence in 1947 was anticipated. The new Mk 25 triple six inch turrets for all three Tiger-class ships were 75-80% complete, but the guns were eventually mounted on the ships in Mk 26 twin turrets.[note 1] Still named Defence, she was laid up at Gareloch, a Scottish loch, for 8 years in dehumidified sealed state in official RN reserve, while the other incomplete Tigers remained with their builders. By 1954 the condition of HMS Defence "was not so good", but it was felt Defence, Blake, and Tiger could still be completed, with new armament in three years at a cost of 6 million pounds. While construction of equivalent new cruisers would cost 12 million pounds and take 5 years. Construction of Defence and two other cruisers was resumed to a revised Tiger-class design. Defence was renamed Lion in 1957 and construction continued at the Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson yards at Wallsend on the Tyne. Its final cost was 13 million pounds.
She was finally commissioned in July 1960, having been rushed into service with some shortcuts in the engineering department, due to political pressure to get her to sea. Initial trials were disrupted by severe rotor, turbine and vibration problems and a further three months in Portsmouth dockyard were required before she became fully operational in February 1961.
Lion recommissioned at Devonport for service in the Home Fleet and Far East on 31 July 1962 and sailed to the Mediterranean for work-up at the end of November. She reached the Far East in March 1963 and was present at the Malaya independence celebrations in September. She subsequently visited Australia before returning to the UK via the Suez Canal. In early 1964, Lion took part in major NATO and other national exercises; she then visited Spain and Portugal before returning to the UK.
In September 1964 Lion was present at the Maltese independence celebrations. Earlier that year she had been rammed under the Forth Road Bridge by the frigate Lowestoft. Emergency repairs were carried out in Rosyth dockyard before she sailed for Malta with only hours to spare. Early in 1965, Lion was present at the Gambian independence ceremony on Bathurst, now Banjul. Later that year, she was flagship of a small force for an official visit to Sweden. The ship was present at Portsmouth Navy Days in August 1965, before being decommissioned into the reserve at Devonport until 1972, when she was placed on the disposal list.
Plans to convert Lion along the lines of her sisters Tiger and Blake were rejected as too costly. On 15 May 1973, she arrived at Rosyth and was subsequently stripped of parts and equipment for use in Tiger and Blake. Lion was sold for breaking up on 12 February 1975 for £262,500. On 24 April 1975 she arrived at Inverkeithing where she was scrapped by ship breakers Thos W Ward. Some equipment from her was salvaged and sold to Peru for use in their former British Fiji-class cruisers.
|1960||1962||Captain J E Scotland DSC RN|
|1962||1964||Captain Ian McGeoch RN|
|1965||1965||Captain E F Hamilton-Meikle MBE RN|
|1966||1966||Captain G D Van Someren RN|
- The new turrets were slightly improved, 60 degree elevation for Dual Purpose, Remote Power Control, power rammed and with a powered breech, versions of the standard RN triple six inch structures fitted, from Belfast in 1939 to Superb in 1945, with a rate of fire 5-8 rpm ( N.Friedman. British Cruisers of WW2 and After. Seaforth. UK (2010)).
- A. Preston. Janes Fighting Ships of WW2 (Reprint of Janes Fighting Ships 1946-47- incorporating 40-45, p 8
- Brown & Moore 2003, p. 47-8.
- HMS LION First Commission 1960-62.[permanent dead link]
- Commissioning Book, HMS Lion, HMSO, 1960-1962
- Programme, Portsmouth Navy Days, 28–30 August 1965, HMSO, p12
- Navy List, HMSO, 1966
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . 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.
- Brown, D K; Moore, G (2003), Rebuilding the RN. Warship Design Since 1945, Seaforth