Hawkins-class cruiser

The Hawkins class was a class of five heavy cruisers of the Royal Navy designed in 1915 and constructed throughout the First World War. All ships were named after Elizabethan sea captains. The three ships remaining as cruisers in 1939 served in the Second World War, with Effingham being an early war loss through wreck; Raleigh had been lost in a similar shipwreck on uncharted rocks in 1922 (and Vindictive was nearly lost to grounding in 1919). Vindictive, though no longer a cruiser, also served throughout the War. This class formed the basis for the definition of the maximum cruiser type under the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

HMS Raleigh at Pier D Vancouver 1921
Class overview
Name: Hawkins class
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: None
Succeeded by: County class
Built: 1916 - 1925
In commission: 1919 - 1949
Completed: 5
Lost: 2
Scrapped: 3
General characteristics
Type: Heavy cruiser
  • 9,750 tons (standard)
  • 12,190 tons (full load)
  • 565 ft (172 m) (p/p)
  • 605 ft (184 m)(o/a)[1]
Beam: 58 ft (18 m) (65 ft across bulges)[1]
Draught: 17.25 ft (5.26 m)[1] (20.5 ft (6.2 m) full load)
Speed: 31 knots (57.4 km/h) (30 knots (55.6 km/h) Hawkins)
Range: 5,400 nmi (10,000 km) at 14 knots (26 km/h)[1]
Complement: 712 / 750 flag
  • Main belt;
  • 1.5–2.5 in (38–64 mm) forward
  • 3 in (76 mm) amidships
  • 2.25–1.5 in (57–38 mm) aft
  • Upper belt;
  • 1.5 in (38 mm) forward
  • 2 in (51 mm) amidships
  • Upper deck;
  • 1–1.5 in (25–38 mm) over boilers
  • Main deck;
  • 1–1.5 in (25–38 mm) over engines
  • 1 in (25 mm) over steering gear
  • Gunshields;
  • 2 in (51 mm) face
  • 1 in (25 mm) crown & sides
Aircraft carried: See Vindictive


Hawkins class cruiser diagrams Brasseys 1923
Right elevation and deck plan as depicted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1923

Although the Hawkins class were the first heavy cruisers built for the Royal Navy, they were designed as improved versions of the Birmingham sub-class of the Town-class light cruisers, thus they were initially known as the "Improved Birmingham" type. Their lineage descended through an intermediate sketch design of 1912 known as the "Atlantic Cruiser", armed with a combination of 7.5 and 6-inch (190 and 152 mm) guns, designed to counter reported large German cruisers armed with 7-inch (170 mm) guns.

In 1915, a new design of cruiser was prepared for trade protection on distant waters, for which a heavy armament, long range and high speed was required; meaning a large ship. Previous large cruisers had been of the armoured cruiser or protected cruiser type. These ships had been made obsolete by the adoption of oil-firing and the steam turbine engine and had been superseded by the battlecruiser and the light cruiser. The Hawkins design was basically a light cruiser enlarged sufficiently to increase their range and armament as required. A mixed armament of 9.2 and 6-inch guns was rejected after wartime experience illustrated the difficulty of controlling a mixed battery as shell splashes could not be differentiated. Thus, a uniform battery of 7.5-inch calibre was adopted, controlled by the innovation of director firing.

The development of director firing made the planned armament obsolete, as director control relies on "straddles" in which some shells in a given salvo are seen to fall short of the target and some long. As long as straddles are maintained, some percentage of the shots will be hits. With a main battery consisting of only two guns, a straddle of one shell falling short and one long mathematically eliminates the possibility of a hit, while a uniform six-gun broadside allows the possibility of up to four hits out of a straddle.

The boilers were initially a combination of coal and oil firing to ensure a supply of fuel on distant stations; coal being more available and the ships could cruise on coal firing alone. The installed power was 60,000 shp (45,000 kW) for 30 knots (56 km/h). However, only Hawkins and Vindictive were completed as such. The other ships were not constructed with as much haste and were completed post-war with oil-firing only, increasing power to 70,000 shp (52,000 kW) for 31 knots (57 km/h).

These ships did not suit the Royal Navy's post-World War I needs well, as Britain needed numbers of cruisers, rather than individually powerful ships. As breaking them up on the slips would have been an unwarranted waste of money, they were completed anyway. At just under 10,000 tons and armed with 7.5-inch guns, they became the prototype of the heavy cruiser designs based on limitations set by the Washington Naval Treaty in 1922.


HMS Vindictive carrier
Vindictive shortly after completion

The fifth and last ship of the class - laid down as Cavendish - was altered to an aircraft carrier while building, renamed Vindictive to perpetuate the name of the cruiser sunk at the Second Ostend Raid and her construction was rushed to bring her into service before her cruiser sisters. She had a 100-foot (30 m) flying-off platform forwards and a 215-foot (66 m) landing deck aft and a hangar for up to eight aircraft. She was armed with four 7.5 inch and six 12-pounder guns. In 1923 she reverted to a cruiser, but retained the hangar forwards and did not carry a 'B' gun; a crane and catapult being carried instead for seaplanes. After 1935 she did not serve in a cruiser role.


Heavy cruiser HMS Effingham (D98) in 1938
Effingham after being rebuilt as a light cruiser.

No ships were completed with the original design secondary armament. Hawkins carried only the 12-pounder anti-aircraft (A/A) guns, her sisters having two (Raleigh) or three (Frobisher, Effingham) QF 4-inch Mark V guns on mountings HA Mark III. In 1929, Hawkins had her 12-pounder guns replaced by an equal number of the same model of 4-inch (102 mm) guns as her sisters. Frobisher was partially disarmed as a training ship in 1932, but reverted to a cruiser in 1937 when Vindictive was specially demilitarised for this role.

The ships were scheduled for disposal in 1936, but rising international tensions caused their retention. In 1937, Effingham was rebuilt as a light cruiser with nine BL 6-inch Mark XII guns on single mountings CP Mark XIV. These were shipped superfiring forwards in 'A', 'B' and 'C' positions, on either wing, triple aft in 'W', 'X' and 'Y' positions with the ninth gun being on the quarterdeck in position 'Z'. The after boiler rooms were removed and the remaining uptakes trunked into a single large funnel. Secondary armament was eight QF 4-inch Mark XVI on twin mountings HA/LA Mark XIX, eight QF 2-pounder Mark VIII guns on two quadruple mountings Mark VII and twelve 0.5 inch Vickers machine guns on three quadruple mountings Mark I. The submerged torpedo tubes were removed. She had a new bridge and spotting top and carried a crane amidships; the catapult and aircraft were never fitted.

It had been planned to rebuild Hawkins and Frobisher on similar lines, but other priorities prevented this. They were re-armed for war with all their 7.5-inch (191 mm) guns, except in Frobisher which had the wing guns removed so that the 4-inch (102 mm) gun deck could be extended out to the ship's sides. In 1940, they received two (Hawkins) or four (Frobisher) quadruple 2 pounder "multiple pom-pom" mountings and seven (Frobisher) or eight (Hawkins) 20 mm Oerlikon guns on single mountings P Mark III. They received an outfit of centimetric Radar Type 273 target indication on the bridge, Type 286 air warning at the mastheads, Type 275 on the HACS 4-inch (102 mm) gun director for ranging and bearing and, in Frobisher only, a pair of Type 282 sets on the pom-pom directors on the bridge. Further wartime additions increased the number of 20 mm guns.


Hms raleigh
Raleigh grounded on Point Amour in 1922
  • Raleigh had the shortest career of any ship of the class, spending just one year in commission before being wrecked and subsequently broken up.
  • Effingham was an early war loss, during the Norwegian campaign; grounding on an uncharted shoal, she had to be destroyed by friendly forces.
  • Hawkins served in World War II as a convoy escort in the Indian Ocean, and provided gunfire support during the Normandy landings.
  • Frobisher served in World War II as a convoy escort and a depot ship for the Normandy landings. It was relegated to training roles by 1945, with a corresponding reduction in armament.
  • Vindictive served in two World Wars, in a wide variety of roles, finally being scrapped in 1946.


HMS Raleigh at Vancouver 1921
Raleigh in 1921 at Vancouver
Name Named for Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Fate
Hawkins John Hawkins HM Dockyard Chatham 3 June 1916 1 October 1917 19 July 1919 Broken up at Dalmuir, 1947
Raleigh Walter Raleigh William Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir 4 October 1916, 28 August 1919, July 1921 Ran aground at Point Amour, Forteau Bay, Labrador 8 August 1922
Demolished September 1926.
Frobisher Martin Frobisher HM Dockyard Devonport 2 August 1916 20 March 1920 3 October 1924 Broken up at Newport, 1949
Effingham Charles Howard, Lord Effingham HM Dockyard Portsmouth 2 April 1917 8 June 1921 9 July 1925 Wrecked Faksen Shoal, Bodø, Norway 18 May 1940
Sunk by gunfire & torpedoes by HMS Matabele 21 May 1940
Cavendish Thomas Cavendish Harland & Wolff, Belfast 29 May 1916 17 January 1918 1 October 1918 Converted to aircraft carrier and renamed Vindictive, June 1917
Broken up at Blyth, 1946


  1. ^ a b c d e f Whitley 1995 p.77


  • Brown, D. K. The Grand Fleet, Warship Design and Development 1906-1922. Chatham Publishing. ISBN 1-86176-099-X.
  • Whitley, M. J. Cruisers of World War Two; An International Encyclopedia. Caxton Editions. ISBN 1-86019-874-0.
  • Gardiner, Robert (ed.). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1922-1946. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-913-8.
  • Lenton, H. T. British and Empire Warships of the Second World War. Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-277-7.
HMS Cavendish

HMS Cavendish has been the name of two Royal Navy ships:

HMS Cavendish (1918), a Hawkins-class cruiser built in 1918, renamed HMS Vindictive, and converted to an aircraft carrier

HMS Cavendish (R15), a C-class destroyer built in 1944

HMS Vindictive

HMS Vindictive has been the name of several Royal Navy ships

HM galley Vindictive was the six-gun galley Lee of the Georgia Navy that His Majesty's galley Comet captured on the Savannah River in March 1779. The Royal Navy took Lee into service as Vindictive and sold her at Jamaica in 1786.

HMS Vindictive was the Dutch navy's frigate Bellona launched at Rotterdam in 1786 that the Royal Navy captured at the Capitulation of Saldanha Bay in 1796 and broke up in 1816.

HMS Vindictive (1813), a 74-gun third rate ship of the line launched in 1813 and sold in 1871.

HMS Vindictive (1897), an Arrogant-class cruiser used in the Zeebrugge Raid

HMS Vindictive (1918), a Hawkins-class cruiser built in 1918 and converted to an aircraft carrier

HMS Vindictive (1918)

HMS Vindictive was a warship built during the First World War for the Royal Navy (RN). Originally designed as a Hawkins-class heavy cruiser and laid down under the name Cavendish, she was converted into an aircraft carrier while still being built. Renamed in 1918, she was completed a few weeks before the end of the war and saw no active service with the Grand Fleet. The following year she participated in the British campaign in the Baltic against the Bolsheviks during which her aircraft made numerous attacks against the naval base at Kronstadt. Vindictive returned home at the end of the year and was placed in reserve for several years before her flight decks were removed and she was reconverted back into a cruiser. The ship retained her aircraft hangar and conducted trials with an aircraft catapult before she was sent to the China Station in 1926. A year after her return in 1928, she was again placed in reserve.

Vindictive was demilitarized and converted into a training ship in 1936–1937. At the beginning of the Second World War she was converted into a repair ship. Her first role after the conversion was completed in early 1940, however, was to transport troops during the Norwegian Campaign. She was then sent to the South Atlantic to support British ships serving there and, in late 1942, to the Mediterranean to support the ships there. Vindictive returned home in 1944 and was damaged by a German torpedo off the coast of Normandy after the Allies invaded France. She was reduced to reserve after the war and sold for scrap in 1946.

Heavy cruiser

The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range and high speed, armed generally with naval guns of roughly 203 mm (8 inches) in caliber, whose design parameters were dictated by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.

The heavy cruiser is part of a lineage of ship design from 1915 through the early 1950s, although the term "heavy cruiser" only came into formal use in 1930. The heavy cruiser's immediate precursors were the light cruiser designs of the 1900s and 1910s, rather than the armoured cruisers of before 1905. When the armoured cruiser was supplanted by the battlecruiser, an intermediate ship type between this and the light cruiser was found to be needed—one larger and more powerful than the light cruisers of a potential enemy but not as large and expensive as the battlecruiser so as to be built in sufficient numbers to protect merchant ships and serve in a number of combat theaters.

With their intended targets being other cruisers and smaller vessels, the role of the heavy cruiser differed fundamentally from that of the armored cruiser. Also, the heavy cruiser was designed to take advantage of advances in naval technology and design. Typically powered by oil-fired steam turbines rather than the reciprocating steam engines of the armoured cruiser, heavy cruisers were capable of far faster speeds and could cruise at high speed for much longer than could an armoured cruiser. They used uniform main guns, mounted in center-line superfiring turrets rather than casemates. Casemate guns and a mixed battery were eliminated to make room for above deck torpedoes, and ever increasing and more effective anti-aircraft armaments. They also benefited from the superior fire control of the 1920s and continually upgraded through the 1950s. Late in the development cycle radar and electronic countermeasure would also appear and rapidly gain in importance. These developments meant that the heavy cruiser was an overall more powerful ship type than the armoured cruiser had been.

List of shipwrecks in 1922

The list of shipwrecks in 1922 includes ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during 1922.

List of shipwrecks in 1926

The list of shipwrecks in 1926 includes all ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during 1926.

List of shipwrecks in May 1940

The list of shipwrecks in May 1940 includes ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during May 1940. Most of the ships listed here were lost in connection with World War II.

Martin Frobisher

Sir Martin Frobisher (; c. 1535 – 22 November 1594) was an English seaman and privateer who made three voyages to the New World looking for the North-west Passage. He probably sighted Resolution Island near Labrador in north-eastern Canada, before entering Frobisher Bay and landing on present-day Baffin Island.

On his second voyage, Frobisher found what he thought was gold ore and carried 200 tons of it home on three ships, where initial assaying determined it to be worth a profit of £5.2 per ton. Encouraged, Frobisher returned to Canada with an even larger fleet and dug several mines around Frobisher Bay. He carried 1,350 tons of the ore back to England, where, after years of smelting, it was realised that the ore was comparatively worthless iron pyrite. As an English privateer, he plundered riches from French ships. He was later knighted for his service in repelling the Spanish Armada in 1588.

Hawkins-class cruisers
British naval ship classes of the First World War
Aircraft/Seaplane carriers
Dreadnought battleships
Pre-dreadnought battleships
Armoured cruisers
Heavy cruisers
Light cruisers
Protected cruisers
Scout cruisers
Destroyer flotilla leaders
Torpedo boats
British naval ship classes of the Second World War
Aircraft carriers
Light aircraft carriers
Escort carriers
Heavy cruisers
Light cruisers
Destroyer leaders


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