HMS Hermione (74)

HMS Hermione was a Dido-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy, She was built by Alexander Stephen and Sons, (Glasgow, Scotland), with the keel laid down on 6 October 1937. She was launched on 18 May 1939 and commissioned 25 March 1941. On 16 June 1942, Hermione was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-205 in the Mediterranean. Eighty-seven crewmembers perished.

Aerial photograph of Hermione at sea, January 1942
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Hermione
Builder: Alexander Stephen and Sons (Glasgow, Scotland)
Laid down: 6 October 1937
Launched: 18 May 1939
Commissioned: 25 March 1941
Identification: Pennant number 74
Fate: Sunk 16 June 1942 by German submarine U-205
General characteristics
Class and type: Dido-class light cruiser
  • 5,600 tons standard
  • 6,850 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)
  • Parsons geared turbines
  • Four shafts
  • Four Admiralty 3-drum boilers
  • 62,000 shp (46,000 kW)
Speed: 32.25 knots (60 km/h)
  • 1,500 nmi (2,800 km; 1,700 mi) at 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph)
  • 4,240 nmi (7,850 km; 4,880 mi) at 16 kn (30 km/h; 18 mph)
  • 1,100 tons fuel oil
Complement: 480

Construction and design

The Dido-class were designed as small cruisers capable of being built quickly and in large numbers to allow a shortfall in numbers of cruisers against the numbers which were required to meet the Royal Navy's requirements. Rather than the mixed armament of single purpose 6-inch (152 mm) low-angle (anti -ship) and 4-inch (102 mm) high-angle (anti-aircraft) guns carried by previous light cruisers, it was decided to fit a dual purpose main armament, capable of both anti-ship and anti-aircraft fire. This used the new 5.25-inch (133 mm) gun as used in the King George V-class battleships.[1][2]

Hermione was one of two Dido-class cruisers ordered under the 1937 construction programme for the Royal Navy,[lower-alpha 1] following on from 5 ships ordered the previous year.[3] Hermione was laid down at Alexander Stephen and Sons Linthouse, Glasgow shipyard as Yard number 560 on 6 October 1937,[4][5] was launched on 18 May 1939 and completed on 25 March 1941.[4]

Hermione was 512 ft (156.06 m) long overall and 485 ft (147.83 m) between perpendiculars, with a beam of 50 feet 6 inches (15.39 m) and a mean draught of 16 ft 6 in (5.03 m) (increasing to 17 ft 3 in (5.26 m) at full load. Displacement was 5,600 long tons (5,700 t) standard and 6,850 long tons (6,960 t) full load.[4][6] The ship's machinery was arranged in a four-shaft layout, with four Admiralty 3-drum boilers supplying steam at 400 psi (2,800 kPa) to Parsons single-reduction geared steam turbines, rated at 62,000 shp (46,000 kW), giving a speed of 32.2 kn (37.1 mph; 59.6 km/h).[4] 1,100 long tons (1,100 t) of fuel oil were carried, giving a range of 4,240 nmi (4,880 mi; 7,850 km) at 16 kn (18 mph; 30 km/h), reducing to 3,480 nmi (4,000 mi; 6,440 km) at 20 kn (23 mph; 37 km/h) and 1,500 nmi (1,700 mi; 2,800 km) at 1,500 kn (1,700 mph; 2,800 km/h).[6]

The ship's main armament consisted of ten 5.25-inch guns in five twin turrets on the ship's centreline, with three forward and two aft. Two quadruple 2-pounder (40 mm) pom-pom mounts were mounted on the ship's beams to provide close-in anti-aircraft protection, backed up by two quadruple .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns on the bridge wings.[7] Two triple 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes provided additional anti-ship capability.[6] Fire control for this armament was provided by a single low angle director control tower (DCT) on the ship's bridge, together with two High Angle Control System (HACS) director towers, one on the ship's bridge and one aft.[3][7] A 3 in (76 mm) armour belt protected the ship's machinery and magazines with 1 in (25 mm) protecting the ship's shell rooms. Deck armour was 1 in (25 mm) thick, with 3 in (76 mm) caps over the magazines.[4] The 5.25 inch gun turrets had armour of 1 12–1 in (38.10–25.40 mm) thickness.[6]


While several of the Dido-class completed with reduced main armaments owing to production problems (the King George V-class battleships had priority for the new guns),[8][2] Hermione completed with the full ten-gun outfit. In October–November 1941, the ship's .50 in machine guns were replaced by five single Oerlikon 20 mm cannon.[3]


After commissioning and workup, Hermione joined the 15th Cruiser Squadron of the Home Fleet.[9][10] Hermione took part in the pursuit of the German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen when they sortied into the North Atlantic in May 1941. Hermione left Scapa Flow on 22 May as part of a force including the battleship King George V and the aircraft carrier Victorious.[11][12][lower-alpha 2] On 24 May, Victorious, escorted by Hermione, Aurora and Kenya, was detached to launch an air attack against Bismarck. The attack by Victorious's Swordfish torpedo bombers resulted in a single torpedo hit on Bismarck which did little damage to the German ship.[13] On 25 May, Hermione, short of fuel, was detached from the chase in order to refuel at Iceland.[14] Following the sinking of Bismarck, the British launched a major operation against German supply ships in the Atlantic which supported the operations of surface raiders, with Hermione taking part in searches for these supply ships and German blockade runners before joining Force H, based at Gibraltar on 22 June.[15][10]


  1. The other being Sirius.[3]
  2. The force consisted of King George V, Victorious, the cruisers Galatea, Aurora, Kenya and Hermione and the destroyers Intrepid, Inglefield, Punjabi, Lance, Nestor and Active.[11]


  1. Lenton 1973, pp. 112–113
  2. Brown 2012, p. 77
  3. Whitley 1999, p. 113
  4. Whitley 1999, p. 112
  5. "Hermione". Caledonian Maritime Research Trust. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  6. Lenton 1973, p. 119
  7. Lenton 1973, p. 113
  8. Lenton 1973, p. 117
  9. Whitley 1999, p. 115
  10. Mason, Geoffrey B. (5 June 2011). "HMS Hermione - Dido-class cruiser". Service Histories of Royal Navy Warships in World War Two. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  11. Rohwer & Hümmelchen 1992, p. 63
  12. Barnett 2000, p. 287
  13. Barnett 2000, p. 301
  14. Barnett 2000, p. 304
  15. Rohwer & Hümmelchen 1992, p. 66


  • Barnett, Corelli (2000). Engage The Enemy More Closely. London: Penguin. ISBN 0-141-39008-5.
  • Brown, David K. (2012). Nelson to Vanguard: Warship Design and Development 1923–1945. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-149-6.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. 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.
  • Lenton, H. T. (1973). Navies of the Second World War: British Cruisers. London: Macdonald & Co. ISBN 0-356-04138-7.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen; Hümmelchen, Gerhard (1992). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-117-7.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1999). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Brockhampton Press. ISBN 1-86019-8740.

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