HMS Neptune (20)

HMS Neptune (20)

HMS "Neptune" was a "Leander" class light cruiser which served with the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom during World War II.

The "Neptune" was the fourth ship of its class and was the ninth Royal Navy vessel to carry the name "Neptune". Built by Portsmouth Dockyard, the vessel was laid down 24 September 1931, launched 31 January 1933, and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 12 February 1934 with pennant number 20.


During World War II, "Neptune" operated with a crew drawn predominantly from the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy.

In December 1939, several months after war was declared, "Neptune" was patrolling in the South Atlantic in pursuit of German surface raider pocket battleship (heavy cruiser) "Admiral Graf Spee". "Neptune", with other patrolling Royal Navy heavy units, was sent to Uruguay in the aftermath of the Battle of the River Plate. She was still in transit however on December 17 when the Germans scuttled the "Graf Spee".

"Neptune" participated in the battle of Calabria, on 9 July 1940, during which she was hit by the Italian light cruiser "Giuseppe Garibaldi". The 6" shell splinters damaged her floatplane beyond repair, its wreckage being thrown into the sea.

During 1941, she led "Force K", a raiding squadron of cruisers. Their task was to intercept and destroy German and Italian convoys en route to Libya. The convoys were supplying Rommel's Afrika Korps in North Africa with troops and equipment.


Force K was sent out on 18 December 1941, to intercept a convoy bound for Tripoli.

On the night of 19 December–20 December, "Neptune", leading the line, struck two mines, part of a newly laid Italian minefield. The other cruisers present, "Aurora" and "Penelope", also struck mines.

While reversing out of the minefield, "Neptune" struck a third mine, which took off her propellers and left her dead in the water. "Aurora" was unable to render assistance as she was already down to convert|10|kn|km/h|0 and needed to turn back to Malta. "Penelope" was also unable to assist.

The destroyers "Kandahar" and "Lively" were sent into the minefield to attempt a tow. The former struck a mine and began drifting. "Neptune" then signalled for "Lively" to keep clear. ("Kandahar" was later evacuated and torpedoed by the destroyer HMS "Jaguar", to prevent her capture.)

"Neptune" hit a fourth mine and quickly capsized. Only 30 seamen, out of her complement of 767, survived the sinking, and only one was still alive, when their lifeboat was picked up five days later, by an Italian torpedo boat.


* [ HMS Neptune at]

See also

* List of World War II ships

External links

* [ HMS "Neptune" Association]

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