HMS Diadem (84)

HMS Diadem was a Dido-class light cruiser of the Bellona subgroup of the Royal Navy. She was a modified Dido design with only four turrets but improved anti-aircraft armament – also known as Dido Group 2. She was built by R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie and Co., Ltd. at Hebburn-on-Tyne, UK, with the keel being laid down on 15 December 1939[1][2][3]. She was launched on 26 August 1942[1][2][3], and completed on 6 January 1944[1][2][3].

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Diadem
Builder: R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie and Co., Ltd, (Hebburn-on-Tyne, UK)
Laid down: 15 December 1939
Launched: 26 August 1942
Completed: 6 January 1944
Decommissioned: 1950
Reclassified: In reserve between 1950 to 1956
Fate: Sold to the Pakistan Navy on 29 February 1956
Name: Babur
Acquired: 29 February 1956
Commissioned: 5 July 1957
General characteristics
Class and type: Dido-class light cruiser
  • 5,950 tons standard
  • 7,200 tons full load
  • 485 ft (148 m) pp
  • 512 ft (156 m) oa
Beam: 50.5 ft (15.4 m)
Draught: 14 ft (4.3 m)
Speed: 32.25 knots (60 km/h; 37 mph)
  • 2,414 km (1,303 nmi; 1,500 mi) at 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph)
  • 6,824 km (3,685 nmi; 4,240 mi) at 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph)
  • 1,100 tons fuel oil
Complement: 530

Service history

Royal Navy service

Diadem served on the Arctic convoys and covered carrier raids against the German battleship Tirpitz in the early months of 1944, then became part of Force G off Juno Beach during the invasion of Normandy in June. After the landings she carried out offensive patrols against German shipping around the Brittany coast, sinking, with destroyers, Sperrbrecher 7 off La Rochelle on 12 August. She returned to northern waters in September, where she covered Russian convoys and carrier raids against German shipping routes along the Norwegian coast, as well as making offensive sweeps herself. In the course of one such sweep, accompanied by HMS Mauritius on 28 January 1945, the cruiser engaged three German destroyers, damaging Z31. Diadem remained with the 10th Cruiser Squadron until after the war, and served in the Home Fleet until 1950. She was placed in reserve between 1950 to 1956.

She was sold to the Pakistan Navy (announced) 29 February 1956 and refitted at Portsmouth Dockyard before being handed over to the Pakistan Navy as Babur on 5 July 1957.[4]

Pakistan service

The refit was substantial, the light armament was standardised as 14 40mm guns in three twin mounts, Mk 5, and eight single mounts. Radar was substantially updated to 974 navigation, 293 target indicator and air warning 281B at near 960 capability similar to HMS Euralyus in 1954. She was renamed Babur, after the founder of the Mogul empire. The cost of the refit, far exceeded the 400,000 pound allocated by the Pakistan Government [5] even with considerable US MAP aid and with the work done by the Royal Navy dockyard below cost. The Royal and Pakistan Navy had known from the start of 1956 the refit cost far exceeded Pakistan budget, but the new RN First Sea Lord, Admiral Earl Mountbatten, as the last Viceroy, was determined Pakistan would have a cruiser, as was head of Pakistan's Navy and the main proponent of the cruiser C-C Choudri. Despite his government's attempt to first cancel the deal in mid-1957, then its demand the cruiser be decommissioned as an extravagance when it arrived in 1958, the British Government demanded a payment, which even the British Far East Command considered outrageous and likely to promote a political crisis. [6] Defence cuts saw it temporarily laid up as a fully manned static training ship for cadets in 1961.[7] However, by 1963 the cruiser was back in full operational service [8] and deployed as a fighting unit in a clash with India in 1965. Babur carried out a shore bombardment of Dwarka in September 1965.[9] Fitting the cruiser with Styx missiles was considered in 1968 [10] to counter the Soviet missiles provided to India, but Russia was only prepared to offer the missile for fast attack crafts, not larger cruisers and destroyers. The outbreak of war again with India in December 1971 saw Babur deployed again as one of Pakistan's few available large warships, taking station 70 miles west of Karachi,[11] in an outer patrol zone, intending to protect the major ports of West Pakistan and oil tankers from the Gulf. Pakistans light AA at Karachi and other ports and even the 40mm Mk 5/7s on Babur discouraged low level IAF bombing which would have been more effective than the Canberra raids that occurred on Karachi. This led India to use its Styx Osa missile boats for its major strike against the Pakistan Navy and the Karachi port installations and tank farm. While the Pakistan naval group eventually detected the incoming FAC squadron on the third radar indication, an hour later one of Pakistan destroyers was sunk by a Styx missile fired at 20 miles range from an Osa. The Indian FAC squadron then proceeded to attack shipping in the Karachi vicinity and during the night hit Karachi oil refineries with a couple of Styx missiles causing a firestorm seen for 60 miles. Babur lacking any anti missile ECM or chaff, and the modern radar and processing needed to identify and distinguish air, missile boat and surface unit attack and was recalled to the naval base as a static flag ship.


  1. Robert Gardiner, ed., Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press (1980). ISBN 0-87021-913-8, p.35.
  2. H. T. Lenton,British and Empire Warships of the Second World War, Annapolis: Naval Institute Press (1998) ISBN 1-85367-277-7, p.67.
  3. G. Moore,Building for Victory: The Warship Building Programmes of the Royal Navy 1939-1945, Gravesend: World Ship Society ISBN 0-9543310 1 X, p.143.
  4. Blackman, Raymond V B, Jane's Fighting Ships 1967–68, Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd, London, p210
  5. J. Goldrick RAN.ret. No Easy answer. The development of the Navies of India,Pakistan,Bengaldesh & Siri Lanka 1945–1996.Lancer.(1997)Delhi,p62
  6. J Goldrick.The Development of the Navies of India and Pakistan 1945–1996.(1997) Delhi,p56
  7. Blackman, Raymond V B, Jane's Fighting Ships 1963-4, Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd, London, p193.
  8. J. Goldrick. The development of the Navies of India and Pakistan
  9. N.Hall.Royal Navy Cruisers in Focus. Favoured by the Gods. Ships Monthly. July 2015, p50
  10. J. Goldrick. Dev of Navies of India & Pakistan (1997) Delhi, p62
  11. J. Goldrick. The development of the Navies of India and Pakistan, p80-90


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