HMS Royalist (89)

HMS Royalist (89)

HMS "Royalist" (pennant number 89) 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 AA armament - aka "Dido" Group 2. She was built by Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company (Greenock, Scotland) with the keel being laid down on 21 March 1940. She was launched on 30 May 1942, and commissioned 10 September 1943.

Royal Navy career

"Royalist" joined the Home Fleet and served on Arctic convoy duties. She also covered some of the carrier raids against the German battleship "Tirpitz" whilst the "Tirpitz" was in Norway. "Royalist" was then ordered to the Mediterranean to support the landings in the south of France (Operation Dragoon) in August 1944, as part of the escort carrier squadron TF88.1. On 15 September, accompanied by HMS "Teazer", she sank the transports "KT4" and "KT26" off Cape Spatha. She was then stationed in the Aegean Sea until late 1944, when she was ordered to the East Indies. By April 1945 she was with the 21st Escort Carrier Squadron as Flagship, supporting the Rangoon landings (Operation Dracula), and the following month was part of a force that unsuccessfully attempted to intercept a Japanese cruiser and destroyer evacuating troops from the Andaman Islands. For the remainder of the war she covered the carrier raids against targets in the East Indies and Sumatra.

Scottish author Alistair MacLean served on "Royalist" during the Second World War, and used his experiences as background for his acclaimed first novel "HMS Ulysses" as well as for some of his subsequent works.

Royal New Zealand Navy career

"Royalist" was withdrawn from the East Indies after the conclusion of hostilities, and returned home to Naval Reserve. In 1954 she began a major refit which was completed in April 1956, and the ship was handed over to the Royal New Zealand Navy on 9 July 1956.

When Captain Phipps went to take command of the "Royalist" in 1955, diplomat Frank Corner was shocked to find that Phipps agreed that the "Royalist" was a white elephant and completely unsuitable for the RNZN in the Pacific; she had limited range so could not get as far as Tahiti without refuelling. She was equipped with new equipment for her role as an anti-aircraft escort ship for carriers, and 5.25 inch guns rather than the usual 6 inch (or 4 inch) guns. Her complement was 600 against the 550 of the "Bellona", and with extra equipment the larger crew had to be accommodated in less space. The British Treasury had objected to extra expense for renovating a ship that was to go into the reserve. "Then Whitehall thought of New Zealand!" ["Unofficial Channels: Letters between Alister McIntosh and Foss Shanahan, George Laking and Frank Corner 1946-1966" edited by Ian McGibbon, page 186 (1999, Victoria University Press, Wellington NZ) ISBN 0 86473 365 8] ["Ties of Blood and Empire:New Zealand’s Involvement in Middle East Defence and the Suez Crisis 1947-57" by Malcolm Templeton, page 124 (1994, Auckland University Press, Auckland NZ) ISBN 1 86940 097 6]

In 1956 Prime Minister Sidney Holland did not in the end allow the "Royalist" to be used with the British fleet in the Mediterranean during the Suez Crisis, where her role could have been protecting the British fleet against Israeli Mystere jets if Britain was supporting Jordan against Israel (Cordage) rather than any use against Egypt (Musketeer). ["Ties of Blood and Empire: New Zealand’s Involvement in Middle East Defence and the Suez Crisis 1947-57" by Malcolm Templeton, pages 130-1 (1994, Auckland University Press, Auckland NZ) ISBN 1 86940 097 6]

In early 1957, "Royalist" was invoved in exercises with Australian aircraft carrier HMAS "Melbourne". [cite web |url=http://www.navy.gov.au/HMAS_Melbourne_(II) |title=HMAS "Melbourne" (II) |accessdate=2008-09-15 |publisher=Sea Power Centre]

In November 1965 she suffered a breakdown when her boilers became contaminated with salt water, and had to be towed back to Auckland.

Decommisioning and fate

"Royalist" was paid off on 4 June 1966. After eleven years in the RNZN, "Royalist" reverted back to Royal Navy control in 1967. She was sold for scrapping to Nissho Co, Japan, in November 1967 and was towed from Auckland on 31 December 1967, destined for Osaka.

References

*Colledge
* [http://www.world-war.co.uk/index.php3 WWII cruisers]
* [http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/4024.html HMS Royalist at Uboat.net]


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